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Drug specialist testifies at Kerry Kennedy trial

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — The prosecution’s toxicology specialist testified Tuesday that she does not know whether Kerry Kennedy would have realized she was driving erratically after taking a sleeping pill.

The testimony from Elizabeth Spratt, director of toxicology at the Westchester County Department of Laboratories and Research, did not seem to help the drugged-driving case against Kennedy, former wife of Governor Andrew Cuomo and daughter of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.

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It touched on what appears to be the main point of contention: whether Kennedy, who says she accidentally took an Ambien instead of a thyroid pill before getting into her Lexus, should have recognized the effects of the pill and pulled over before she swerved into a tractor trailer in 2012.

Defense attorney William Aronwald asked Spratt if impairment after taking the Ambien ingredient zolpidem is ‘‘often not recognizable’’ by the driver. Spratt said, ‘‘Yes.’’ Then he asked if Spratt could say Kennedy’s impairment ‘‘was in fact recognizable by her.’’

‘‘I don’t know if she was aware,’’ Spratt said. However, she would not go so far as to agree that Kennedy definitely felt no effects.

Spratt also acknowledged the possibility of ‘‘sleep driving,’’ which she defined as, ‘‘You’re driving without being aware that you’re driving.’’

She said the drug’s effects include sleepiness, poor motor coordination, and headaches, and can cause amnesia .

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