Judge again denies bond for American Idol star, orders mental evaluation

American Idol star Caleb Kennedy appears virtually in bond court after a deadly crash.
Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 9:56 AM PDT|Updated: Apr. 29, 2022 at 12:45 PM PDT
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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Former “American Idol” contestant Caleb Kennedy appeared before a judge in a hearing Thursday, his fourth hearing since a deadly crash in February.

Kennedy, 17, is charged with DUI in the crash killing 54-year-old Larry Parris on Feb. 8. Officials say he traveled 175 yards off the road to a garage where Parris was working when he ran him over.

Larry Duane Parris, his daughter Kelsi and wife Donna.
Larry Duane Parris, his daughter Kelsi and wife Donna.(Provided by family)

In previous hearings, a bond was not set until the judge received Kennedy’s toxicology results. Ryan Beasley, Kennedy’s attorney, has continually pushed for him to be released on bond.

During Thursday’s hearing solicitor Barry Barnette said Kennedy admitted to law enforcement he took a hit off a vape pen and “started tripping.” Barnette also said Prozac bottles were found in his truck.

Beasley said a doctor recently increased Kennedy’s dose of Prozac.

Toxicology reports showed THC in Kennedy’s system on the day of the crash, although Beasley has argued it is a “trace amount.”

Beasley said Kennedy is not a flight risk or danger to the community when he asked a judge to grant bond for the teen. He said Kennedy remained on the scene after the crash and was holding Parris and crying when first responders arrived.

Beasley said Kennedy has no prior criminal record, calling it a “bizarre and tragic accident.”

Parris’ wife, Donna, spoke at the hearing on Thursday and was very emotional when she asked the judge to deny Kennedy bond.

During the hearing, Kimberly Cockrell, a victims’ services manager for Mothers Against Drunk Driving South Carolina, comforted Parris during the hearing.

“The family is in an emotional rollercoaster at this point,” Cockrell told FOX Carolina. “They’re living in a crime scene. They can’t leave their home without seeing where Larry was killed.”

Circuit Court Judge Grace Knie considered the information and issued a written statement on Friday say she was denying bond pending a mental evaluation.

Knie said in the order that she has concerns about Kennedy’s mental health, given the change in his Prozac dosage before the crash and the fact he was temporarily placed on “suicide watch” while in the jail. She said she is concerned he could be a danger to himself or the community if released.

Kennedy has 45 days to have the mental evaluation completed and then can ask to be granted bond again.