Kerry Kennedy, the daughter of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy, was found not guilty of drugged driving by a jury in New York Friday after her 2012 arrest for plowing her Lexus into a tractor-trailer on an interstate highway while on sleeping medication.
Kennedy smiled as the verdict was read while her mother, Ethel Kennedy, hugged other relatives in the courtroom. Outside court, Kennedy said she was "completely blessed by this amazing family" that supported her.
"And I really did have great, great lawyers," she added. "And most people don't have access to that. And we need to take a hard look at our criminal justice system in the United States to make sure that it truly is just and that everyone in our country has true access to fair chance."
Kerry Kennedy was arrested after she swerved into the tractor-trailer on I-684 at about 8 a.m. on July 13, 2012, and tests later revealed a small amount of a sleeping medication in her blood.
She said on the stand during the trial that she believes she accidentally took the sleeping pill instead of her daily thyroid medication. Both were set out on the counter, in similar bottles, in preparation for an upcoming overseas trip.
Prosecutors had argued that she should have pulled over once she realized something was wrong. Her lawyers argued that she never realized she was impaired until after the crash.
The jury began deliberating Thursday afternoon after a trial that started on Monday.
The Westchester DA said in a statement, "we respect their verdict."
Kennedy is the ex-wife of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the niece of President John F. Kennedy. Her famous family was brought up in court when she was asked about her background while on the stand.
Kennedy testified that she and her siblings were raised by their mother after their father died when she was 8.
"He was shot when he was running for president," she said.
The family lived in Virginia, she said, because "daddy" was the attorney general there.