A bond hearing for former American Idol contestant Caleb Kennedy who is charged in the death of a man who was run over by his pickup truck took place on Thursday. Circuit Court Judge Edward Miller ruled that the bond continue. Caleb will remain in jail pending the results of a blood test.
Caleb, 17, is being held without bond at Spartanburg County Detention Center on a charge of felony DUI result in death pending his first court appearance April 14 in General Sessions court.
He is accused of running over Larry Parris, 54 in the driveway at his home on Feb. 8. Parris was pronounced dead at Spartanburg Medical Center that afternoon.
The arrest warrant by the South Carolina Highway Patrol said Caleb was under the influence of marijuana at the time of the 12:41 p.m. incident.
Caleb’s attorney argued for a $2o,ooo bond, said his Prozac dosage was recently increased
Caleb’s attorney, Ryan Beasley, argued for a $20,000 bond insisting that it was more of a reckless homicide case rather than a felony DUI resulting in death case. Caleb has no prior record and poses no threat to the community, he said.
Beasley said that Caleb was recently taking prescription Prozac, a medication to treat depression and that the dose had been doubled recently. Prosecutors said he “took a hit off a vape pen,” but there was no evidence of drugs or alcohol at the accident scene.
“He had some bad reaction and got lost on his way to his girlfriend’s house and randomly wrecked down this dirt road inside a garage,” Beasley said. “When law enforcement got there, Caleb was holding Mr. Parris in his arms, crying. It was a very sad, sad situation. It’s a very confusing situation. We’re still trying to figure it out.”
“I think he’s a danger to the community”
Seventh Circuit Solicitor Barry Barnett argued that no bond be set. He said he is awaiting results of a blood test that would turn up what was in Caleb’s system at the time of the accident.
“He’s taking Prozac on top of I don’t know what medication,” Barnette said. “He’s definitely under the influence of something. He basically said he had an out-of-body experience. I think he’s a danger to the community.”
Beasley countered, “He barely just turned 17. It’s unfair to this kid to be sitting in jail for months with a backlog from SLED. A bond should be set today.”
But Judge Miller said the bond hearing should be continued to a future date after the Solicitor’s Office receives the blood test results. No date was set.
Family tearfully pleaded for Caleb’s bond to be denied
During the hearing, Caleb appeared to hold back tears as the wife and daughter retold the details of the incident. They pleaded no bond be set.
Through tears, the 25 year old daughter said, “For two weeks now, I lay down and close my eyes, only to see my daddy laying in his own shop, moaning and groaning and hollering with a stranger — a stranger that wasn’t calling 911 or calling for help, just sitting there with a blank look on his face,” she told the judge. “I have to relive that day for the rest of my life.”
Spartanburg County Coroner Rusty Clevenger said the preliminary cause of death for Parris was blunt force trauma to the chest and extremities.
“He hit (him) in the driveway and ran on top (of him) and into the garage,” Barnette said. “He was working in front of the garage … he went underneath the garage door.”
Kennedy was charged with felony DUI resulting in death and faces up to 25 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,100 if convicted.
Caleb was disqualified from American Idol after racist video surfaced
Caleb Kennedy made it to the Top 5 on American Idol 19 last year based on the strength of his songwriting ability. But before the Top 5 took to the Idol stage to compete, a video surfaced of Caleb sitting next to a male wearing what looked like a white K-K-K hood. Producers disqualified him immediately, and erased all traces of the country singer from their site, including video performances. An original song he recorded never dropped. But He later recorded and released the song, “Raised on Dirt” on his own.
Despite the setback on Idol, Kennedy was lining up Nashville songwriters who were collaborating with the young singer on his next record. His hometown never stopped believing in him, as fans lined up to attend his first concert after leaving the show.