The daughter of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy is accused of driving while drugged.
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Kerry Kennedy's 2000 book, Speak Truth To Power, profiled dozens of human rights workers and featured blurbs from Muhammad Ali, Nelson Mandela, and Aung San Suu Kyi.
In a move that elicited some gasps, Assistant District Attorney Doreen Lloyd of Westchester Countyy alluded to the book's title in urging jurors to find Kennedy guilty as part of closing arguments Thursday in her drugged-driving case.
"On any given day, anybody could engage in conduct that could be a crime," Lloyd said, after dismissing Kennedy's expert witness as a "paid pro." "She should be held accountable."
Then Lloyd went in for the kill: A guilty verdict would "speak truth to power," she said.
Kennedy, 54, is charged with a single count of driving while ability impaired by drugs, stemming from a July 13, 2012, incident in which she drove for miles down Interstate 684 while under the influence of Ambien, a fast-acting sleeping pill.
Her trial on the charge began Monday at the Westchester County courthouse here, and wrapped up just before 4 p.m. ET when the six-member jury began deliberating. They asked Judge Robert Neary of Westchester County Supreme Court for readings of some testimony before breaking for the day at 4:30 p.m.
They will return Friday morning to resume deliberations.
The four-man, two-woman panel began discussing the case after Lloyd and Gerald Lefcourt, a lawyer for Kennedy, made their closing arguments. If convicted, Kennedy could face up to a year in jail though as a first-time offender she would be unlikely to serve that much time.
Lloyd's dig at Kennedy was the most striking moment of the trial, and the first time that prosecutors explicitly appealed to jurors' sense of fairness in the face of Kennedy's privilege as the ex-wife of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, daughter of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, niece of President John F. Kennedy and member of a prominent Democratic political family.
But even if it lacked a defining catchphrase, Lefcourt's presentation was polished and insistent. He did not dispute the underlying facts but called the prosecutors' case nonsense said no one showed proof that Kennedy continued to drive knowing that she took zolpidem, the generic name for Ambien.
"That's what they're saying, that she figured it all out, and she drove anyhow," Lefcourt said. "It's just nonsense."
Kennedy sped about 5 miles down I-684, swerved dangerously, hit a tractor-trailer, popped a tire, and, for some portion of the trip, drove on a bare rim before coming to a stop on New York 22 in Armonk, N.Y.
Lefcourt also delved into Kennedy's personal biography, referring to her family, her civil-rights work, and the testimony of Gerard Creedon, a Roman Catholic priest who called Kennedy "very sober."
"Is this an honest person?" Lefcourt asked. "Or is this someone who has led a life of lying and cheating?"
Near the end, Lefcourt showed a picture of a bumper sticker in the back of Kennedy's Lexus SUV. It read "God Bless The Whole World No Exceptions."
"That's who she is," Lefcourt said.
Lloyd started her summation by planting questions in jurors' minds.
"What was she aware of, and when did she become aware if it?" Lloyd said.
Defense lawyers wanted jurors to believe that the Ambien kicked in swiftly after Kennedy had performed a series of complex actions that morning, including operating her 15- or 20-step cappuccino machine and driving on a road full of hairpin turns.
But Lloyd argued that wasn't plausible, saying that Kennedy had to have felt "onset symptoms."
"It affected her like it affects everybody else," Lloyd said.
Lloyd then built to her climax, saying that once Kennedy realized she might have broken the law, she went into "damage control" mode and began releasing statements to the media.
Ethel Kennedy, the mother of Kerry Kennedy and the widow of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, again came to court to observe the proceedings, as did Rory Kennedy, Kerry Kennedy's sister.
Closing arguments began after the conclusion of testimony from Kerry Kennedy's expert witness, David Benjamin, a pharmacologist who said that Ambien can cause "zombieism."
Benjamin also said that Kerry Kennedy's apparent error — mixing up Ambien with her daily thyroid medication — was common.
"She grabbed the wrong bottle and took the medication by mistake," said Benjamin, who also helped oversee clinical trials during the Food and Drug Administration's approval process for the drug.
Kerry Kennedy did not comment as she left court pushing her mother in a wheelchair. Asked whether they liked their chances, Kerry Kennedy's lawyers, Lefcourt and William Aronwald, answered almost in unison.
"Of course, we do," they said.