Nightly News   |  March 03, 2014

Kerry Kennedy on Drugged Driving Trial: ‘I Was Innocent’

Robert F. Kennedy’s daughter, Kerry Kennedy, speaks exclusively to NBC News about her trial and her opinions about the nation’s criminal justice system.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> when a member of the kennedy family is caught up on the other side of the law, lots of judgments are made. most recently, the daughter of bobby kennedy had been in a traffic accident under the influence of what we later learn learned was a sleeping pill . but the case went all the way to trial, and received a not guilty. now, kerry is talking about all the lessons learned .

>> reporter: on friday, her relief was visible, kerry kennedy , the 7th of robert kennedy 's 11 children, herself a human rights activist was acquitted by a jury who deliberated for just an hour.

>> you think your case says something about the american justice system?

>> i worked on this case for 20 months and it was five days in court. most people can't take off that length of time for work. so they end up pleading, which is essentially signing a false confession for something that they did not do.

>> reporter: do you think the jury's verdict had anything to do with the kennedy name?

>> you know, i really don't. i believe it was because i was innocent and i was proven innocent and i had good, solid lawyers.

>> reporter: what her lawyers argued was that kennedy did not commit a crime when she mistakenly took an ambien and then headed out in her car to go to the gym.

>> i made a terrible mistake that i completely regret. i went to take my thyroid medication, which i take every day of my life and by mistake i took a sleeping medication. i blacked out. i have no memory of what happened. but i apparently swerved down the highway and i hit a truck. and i was found slumped over my steering wheel.

>> reporter: you didn't realize you had taken the ambien?

>> well, of course not. i would never have gotten in my car if i thought i had taken a sleeping pill . it was a mistake, not a criminal action and really should not have been taken to trial.

>> reporter: the charged kennedy said today her case was treated no differently than any other. kennedy said her experience with the judicial system has only made her work she does in her father's name more important,