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Ex-‘American Idol' contestant Caleb Kennedy given bond after fatal DUI crash

WWLP Springfield logo WWLP Springfield 5/20/2022 Bethany Fowler
Ex-‘American Idol' contestant Caleb Kennedy given bond after fatal DUI crash © Provided by WWLP Springfield Ex-‘American Idol' contestant Caleb Kennedy given bond after fatal DUI crash

SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – Former “American Idol” contestant Caleb Kennedy was given bond Friday following a fatal DUI crash in February.

In a court hearing Friday, a judge addressed his mental health, granting Kennedy a $50,000 bond and ordering him to have mental health treatment outside of jail while on home detention.

Kennedy has appeared before a judge four times prior to Friday in hopes of receiving bond following the crash that killed 54-year-old Larry Parris.

South Carolina Highway Patrol said Kennedy was driving his truck on Feb. 8 on West Murph Road when it traveled onto a private driveway and hit a building.

According to investigators, Kennedy struck Parris with the vehicle, pushing him into the building during the crash.

‘American Idol' alum Caleb Kennedy, 17, charged with DUI in deadly crash

Parris was taken to the hospital where he died from his injuries.

Later that evening, Kennedy was charged with felony driving under the influence resulting in death.

On Feb. 9, Kennedy appeared in his initial hearing during which he was not given a bond.

During the bond hearing, Spartanburg County Solicitor Barry Barnette said the crash happened shortly after Kennedy met a friend at a nearby Walmart. He told law enforcement on the scene that he took a hit of a vape pen before getting behind the wheel.

An arrest warrant said Kennedy had marijuana in his system.

"He is very, very scared and very sorry for what happened. He doesn't know what happened," said Ryan Beasley, Lawyer representing Caleb Kennedy at the initial bond hearing. "One thing they do know is that alcohol was not involved."

Kennedy appeared before a circuit court judge on Feb. 24 who delayed the bond decision a second time. Following that bond hearing, a motion was filed requesting his medical records for further details.

During the virtual court hearing, new details revealed that Kennedy was recently prescribed double his dose of Prozac.

On March 10, Kennedy's attorney requested an emergency hearing where he asked for a judge to set a bond.

The circuit court judge said the conditions set in the previous circuit court hearing had not been met to allow a bond to be set.

On April 28, Kennedy appeared before a different judge who delayed a decision regarding his bond.

In that hearing, the Spartanburg County Solicitor said the toxicology report revealed Kennedy had 1.5 ng/mL of THC and 66 ng/mL of prescribed Prozac in his system at the time of the crash.

The next day the judge denied bond for Kennedy pending a psychiatric evaluation. She wrote in her ruling that there is concern that Kennedy presents a danger to both himself and to the community if released.

Every time Kennedy appeared in court, the Parris family asked the judge to deny the bond.

"Larry doesn't have the option to come home and spend time with his family and sleep in his own bed," Donna Parris, the victim's wife said with tears in her eyes during the third bond hearing. "He didn't do anything wrong. I ask you to deny bond please."

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