After hearing closing statements Friday in the Douglas Kennedy trial, Mount Kisco Village Justice John Donohue did not give a date for when he will reach a verdict but said it would come in "a reasonable period of time."
Donohue made his reply at the end of the fifth day in the non-jury bench trial, in which Kennedy is facing charges of child endangerment and harassment in connection with his movement of 2-day-old son Bo from the maternity ward of Northern Westchester Hospital. He is accused by the prosecution, in his movement attempt, of twisting the arm of nurse Anna Lane to get through a doorway, and in allegedly kicking nurse Cari Luciano when she tried to take his baby.
Prior to giving their statements, which served as recaps of the prior week's arguments, lawyers on both sides began the day continuing to cross examine Dr. Timothy Haydock, an NWH emergency room phyisician a Kennedy family friend who was present during the Jan. 7 dispute.
Kennedy did not testify in the trial.
The prosecution spent Friday, in both its questions to Haydock and in closing statements, hit at his credibility. Examples included the fact that he is not a maternity doctor and did not have jurisdction on the floor, that he was anticipating a supervising nurse to arrive at the nurses' station after his impression that moving Bo outside was ok based on initial feedback from nurses posted there, and in how he described Kennedy making contact with Luciano after she attempted to remove Bo when she was near the stairwell doorway. In the later case, Haydock described Kennedy as bending his knee and using his foot to push her, while also saying that she flew back by an estimated eight feet.
A skeptical Amy Puerto, one of the prosecutors for the case, said Haydock's description "sounds like a fancy way of saying kicked."
Defense attorney Robert Gottlieb, in his closing statement, reiterated his earlier point that Kennedy's action towards Luciano was not on purpose.
"He pushed her away instinctively," he said.
Gottlieb, during the trial, has described Kennedy's action with Luciano as a quick attempt to protect Bo, while Luciano testified that her act was meant to support the infant because she saw his head shaking when the door opened. Kennedy entered the door after an alleged scuffle with Lane, who accuses him of twisting her arm to remove it from the door knob. The defense denies this is the case, while Puerto, in her closing statement, cited the door's strength as a reason for why Lane's scenario, in addition to her testimony, was more plausible.
At one point duirng Haydock's testimony, prosecutor Michael Borrelli whether he had a phone conversation with Kennedy after the incident and told him that he's "not taking me down with you..." on the incident. Haydock denies making such a comment.
Credibility attacks were routine in the closings. Puerto's negative desciption of Haydock's tesimtony paled in comparison to how defense attorney Robert Gottlieb blasted Lane and Luciano in his closing statement, which went on for roughly an hour and a half.
Gottlieb described the pair as overracting during that night, and said there is a "vindicative vengence they have for somebody who dared to defy them."
Gottlieb also argued that before Lane and Luciano came into the picture, the situation was calm and under control. He called the nurses liars and that the evidence contracted their accounts.
The lawyer said that Lane and Luciano are waiting for the outcome of the criminal trial before they file a civil lawsuit against Kennedy, and that their lawyer told them a conviction would bolster their changes of winning.
"This criminal court is being used by two nurses to line their pockets and it's wrong," Gottlieb said.
Ultimately, however, both sides in their closings went back to whether or not Kennedy violated the letter of the law.
In the case of child endangerment, the burden of proof relies on whether the defendent acted in a way that would likely be injurous to the child and that he knowlingly did so. The defense argues that Kennedy appropriately took care of his son through his dress and hold position, and that his interaction with Luciano was because he wanted to protect his child. Gottlieb also urged Donohue to consider that the hospital's discussed policy - he claims Kennedy did not violate any because there is no specific provision for how to deal with moving his son outside for fresh air as he requested - is not one and the same as the law.
With regards of the two harassment counts against Kennedy, the defense argued that Kennedy did not act intentionally to harass or injure the nurses, which is the burden of proof for the violation offense. Celia Gordon, one of Kennedy's lawyers, argued that Kennedy was calm and tried to be reasonable, that was no struggle and no arm twisting of Lane at the stairwell, and he quickly reacted to a lunging Luciano.
"He pushed her away instinctively," she said.
Gottlieb described the legal situation as a difficult tme for the family.
"Your honor has the power to end this nightmare," he said.
Puerto, in her statement, replied: "Judge, it's not your job" to end a nightmare. Rather, the prosecutor argued, it is to weigh the evidence by using his common sense and determine if he broke the law.
Puerto argued that each of Kennedy's actions with Bo were intentional, saying that he was warned to change his plan for moving Bo outside, including an offer from Lane to get in touch with a physician who could decide on whether his request was okay. She also stated that while NWH does not have a specific policy addressing a father wanting to remove his child, it was not reasonable that the hospital could have anticipated it, and that it does have policy against a child's unauthorized removal from the floor.
Kennedy, Puerto explained, had made up his mind that he was getting out of the building "however he can." She also described the defense's action as "a classic case of blaming the victim."
With regards to intention, Puerto argued that having it can be made "in an instant," and cited his reaction to Luciano as an example. In that matter, the prosecutor noted both the distance that Haydock described Luciano's fall and the fact that Kennedy fell on the other side of the door as proof that he kicked her on purpose.
"He kicks her in the gut, she goes down and so does he," she said.
The prosecutor hit back at Gottlieb's assertion that the nurses are out for money, citing their heading to the emergency room shortly after for examination as proof. She also vouched for Lane's claim by noting her testimony that her arm was twisted, that the stairwell door could not have been easily opened and that Lane lost her balance.
Talkin to reports after the trial date, Gottlieb said they, referencing the defensive side, would “patiently await for the judge's decision.”
“I hope for Douglas and his family that it can be resolved quickly" with a verdict, Gottlieb said.