The Douglas Kennedy trial opened Monday with two sharply contrasting protrayals of the man from each side. On one side was a person who disregarded orders in the hospital and rushed through with his baby. On the other was a man who calmly tried to negotiate a way to spend time with his son but became the victim of overraction from nurses.
It is now up to Mount Kisco Village Justice John Donohue to decide which protrayal suffices, as Kennedy faces charges of child endangerment, a misdemeanor, and harassment, a violation, in connection with his removal of newborn son, Bo, from Northern Westchester Building maternity ward in Mount Kisco.
Both sides were adament in their portrayals.
"No one has informed him of any hospital policy that would prohibit him from taking his son outside," said Kennedy attorney Celia Gordon in his opening statement.
Gordon argued that the hospital's transport policy, which requires movement in a bassinet or isolette through the premises, does not apply in the case of a parent trying to take his child out for fresh air as Kennedy conveyed was his right on the night of Jan. 7. She also argued that Kennedy was reasonable and calm during his dialogue with staff at the nurses' station, but that Lane escalated the situation when she arrived without prior knowledge of Kennedy's request.
Additionally, Gordon blasted the nurses, Anna Lane and Cari Luciano, who were involved in alleged altercations with Kennedy as he moved with Bo through a stairwell door on the third floor. She argued that evidence from video footage shows he was able to get past Lane, who accused him of twisting her limb to remove it from the door knob, without such a need. Gordon then argued that an alleged scuffle between Kennedy and Luciano, who then responded after he was going through the stairwell, was a natural thing and not intentional on Kennedy's part as a knee-jerk defense of his son.
"What happened next was instinctual," she said, adding that Kennedy did not intend to kick or harass Luciano. Kennedy is accused of deliberately acting in the alleged scuffle. Gordon argues that Kennedy calmly traveled through the building.
Gordan made the situation personal, accusing the nurses of being liars and interested in a monetary payoff, citing a proposed settlement that was obtained earlier this month by the press.
Amy Puerto, one of two prosecutors handling the case, argued that it was Kennedy who overreacted. She described Kennedy as defying Lane's order against moving Bo, and how she blocked him as he was attempting to use an elevator by holding down the open button. Puerto then described Kennedy's subsequent attempt to head for the stairwell as "some kind of bizarre desperation."
During this time, Puerto asserted, nurses panicked over the state of the baby. Kennedy was then caught by a security guard, she claimed, and responded "do you know who I am?"
Both sides sparred over two codes called for the situation: purple, which signals a person who needs to be calmed down, and pink, which deals with child abduction. Two witnesses were called so far Monday: Eric Hartmann, the hospital's director of fire safety and security, and Angela Adamo, a charge nurse present on the night of the incident.
Gordan went over a dispatch call that Hartmann made to Mount Kisco police after the altercation was over, in which it appeared that he did not view the problem with major sense of urgency. However, it was also noted during the trial that the information Hartmann had was still not fully detailed, and the prosecution questioned the relevence of asking him about what he recalled.
Adamo said that, when speaking with Kennedy about his request to move Bo, she wanted to de-escalate the situation and to prevent him from leaving.
"I was trying to do anything so they would not leave the unit," she said. Adamo cited safety concerns over the potential for Bo getting hurt or sick.
"The baby was not appropriately dressed," she added. Adamo told Puerto that Kennedy was not given permission to leave.
Adamo said that she called a code pink after hearing a woman shout "he's taking the baby!"
Robert Gottlieb, Kennedy's other attorney, got her to acknowledge that he did not raise his voice during the time frame, and she acknowledged that he kept a calm demeanor during his negotiation attempt.
Upon asking questions from Adamo regarding the letter of the transportant policy—they included her acknowledging the bassinet is used for hallway transportation and the isolette is for department to department—he argued that there was nothing specifically denying Kennedy from moving Bo through the building.
Kennedy's team argues that he did not break the law because he did not act intentionally in the alleged altercation with the nurses. The argument against child welfare endangerment was that Kennedy did not knowingly act in a way that was injurious to the baby. On the contrary, as the defense stated, Bo was fine.
The trial is continuing Monday and is expected to continue for multiple days, with future witnesses including Lane, Luciano and Dr. Timothy Haydock, who was in charge of the ER at NWH and was present with Kennedy.
This is an ongoing story. Check back for updates.