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Kerry Kennedy pleads not guilty again in I-684 crash

Kerry Kennedy makes an appearance in North Castle

Kerry Kennedy makes an appearance in North Castle court to re-enter a not-guilty plea. (Sept. 11, 2012) Photo Credit: Faye Murman

Kerry Kennedy made a brief appearance in North Castle Town Court with her new, high-powered legal team Tuesday and re-entered a not-guilty plea to a charge that she crashed while driving under the influence of Ambien.

Kennedy is now represented by William Aronwald and Gerald Lefcourt -- her third legal team since her July 13 arrest.

Aronwald, a former prosecutor, defended former Yonkers council member Sandy Annabi. Lefcourt counts among his former clients former Yippie leader Abbie Hoffman and actor Russell Crowe.

Kennedy is accused of driving while under the influence of the prescription sleep aid Ambien when she sideswiped a tractor trailer July 13 on Interstate 684.

Dressed in a black business suit with a pink blouse, Kennedy, 52, remained silent as she entered and left the court, refusing to answer questions from the media throng.

A mother of three who is the ex-wife of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and daughter of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy, she initially pleaded not guilty July 17 to the misdemeanor charge of driving while ability impaired by drugs.

After that hearing, she said the crash was caused by a seizure and not by the prescription drug.

She said a complete neurological examination and battery of tests at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City had revealed she suffered a "complex partial seizure" which caused her to sideswipe a tractor trailer driven by a LaGrange trucker about 8 a.m.

She admitted to police, however, after the crash that she might have accidentally taken an Ambien pill instead of her daily dose of Synthroid, a medication prescribed to treat a thyroid condition. Police found her by the side of the road on Route 22 near Exit 3 after she was reported slumped over the wheel of her damaged Lexus SUV.

The truck driver whose rig she hit on I-684, Rocco Scuiletti, was issued a traffic violation summons for leaving the scene of an accident without reporting it.

He decided at a hearing last week in North Castle Town Court to go to trial on the summons, saying he didn't want his license penalized with points when he was the one who was hit.

Kennedy apologized to Scuiletti after her first court appearance.

He said last week he accepted her apology.

After the crash, State Police brought Kennedy to Northern Westchester Hospital, where blood was drawn and analyzed by technicians with the Westchester Department of Laboratories and Research. It revealed the presence of zolpidem, the generic name for Ambien, in her blood five hours after the crash. The drug is usually eliminated within 5 1/2 to eight hours after ingestion, experts said.

Kennedy is next due in court Nov. 20.

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