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Judge Declines To Set Bond For ‘American Idol’ Alum Caleb Kennedy In Fatal Crash

“I see my daddy laying in his own shop, moaning and groaning, with a stranger not even calling 911,” Larry Parris’ daughter said.

By Jill Sederstrom
Caleb Kennedy Pd

“American Idol” alum Caleb Kennedy will stay in jail—at least for now—after emotional testimony from the family of the man Kennedy is accused of fatally striking with his truck earlier this month.

A South Carolina circuit court judge declined to set bond during a hearing on Thursday, deciding to wait until the results of Kennedy’s blood tests have been completed before any decisions about bond will be made in the case, according to The State.

The 17-year-old is facing charges of felony driving under the influence after he allegedly crashed his truck into the garage workshop of 54-year-old Larry Duane Parris on Feb. 8—killing the Spartanburg County father and husband.

The judge’s decision Thursday came after emotional testimony from Parris’ wife and daughter pleading to keep the teenager behind bars.

“For two weeks now I’ve laid down at night and closed my eyes only to see and hear the same things over and over again," his daughter Kelsi Parris Harvell said in the virtual hearing, according to local station WYFF. "My daddy laying in his own shop moaning and groaning and hollering with a stranger. A stranger that wasn’t calling 911 or even calling for help. Just sitting there with a blank look on his face.”

As she fought back tears, she continued to recount the traumatic loss.

“I hear screams begging for him to look at me and stay awake. I hear the firefighters cutting the door to get in there to him. I hear the surgeon telling us he’s not going to survive,” she said.

Prosecutors have alleged that Kennedy took a hit of a vape pen from a friend at an area Walmart before barreling down the private driveway and crashing into a garage on W. Murph Road in Pacolet, according to WSPA.  

Parris, who had been inside the garage on the phone with his best friend, was struck and killed by the vehicle.

“He did not run out and off the road and strike and kill Larry. He ran out of road, that is what he did and would have probably continued on through that building had that large piece of machinery not stopped him,” said Kimberly Cockrell, a MADD victim’s advocate, who spoke on behalf of the family.

Parris’ family is hoping to keep the teenager behind bars as he awaits trial.

If I have to relive that everyday for the rest of my life, please explain to me how he even has the opportunity to see the light of day ever again,” Harvell asked the judge, according to the news outlet. “Him! He did this! He should have to sit there. We request that bond be denied.”

As Kelsi delivered the emotional testimony, Kennedy cried.

Kennedy’s attorney Ryan Beasley said that shortly before the fatal crash, Kennedy’s prescription for Prozac had been doubled.

“He had a bad reaction,” Beasley said, according to The State. “This is a very, very sad situation and accident.”

He added that Kennedy had been disoriented and “didn’t know what he was doing.”

He argued for a $20,000 bond and home detention.

Seventh Circuit Solicitor Barry Barnette told the court that Kennedy had told someone at the scene that he was “f---ed up,” and “tripping.” He also showed photos of the scene, including one image that showed Kennedy’s Ford F-150 completely inside the Parris’ garage.

Rather than making a decision, the judge continued the hearing until the test results are available.

Beasley objected to the decision, arguing that his client could be held for “months and months” because the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is currently backed up on testing.

“It is unfair to this kid to be sitting in jail for months on a backlog with SLED and the fact that a magistrate judge down in jail didn’t do his job anyway and set a bond,” he said, according to WSPA. “I am just sorry judge, but I am standing up and saying a bond should be set today.”

Despite the protest, the judge remained committed to his decision to delay the hearing.

Kennedy appeared on “American Idol” last season and made it into the top five before he was kicked off the show two episodes before the finale after a controversial video emerged of him sitting next to someone that appeared to wearing a hood similar to those worn by the Ku Klux Klan.

He later apologized on Instagram, saying the video “displayed actions that were not meant to be taken in that way,” according to People.

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