Ex-‘American Idol’ star charged in fatal crash still in jail

Posted at 7:02 PM, March 10, 2022 and last updated 4:34 PM, July 5, 2023

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) — The former “American Idol” contestant accused of barreling into a man with his pickup truck, killing him, will remain in a South Carolina jail while toxicology results from state investigators are still pending, a judge said Thursday.

Circuit Judge Daniel Hall ended the hearing without setting bond for 17-year-old Caleb Kennedy, according to news outlets.

This photo provided by Spartanburg County Jail shows Caleb Andrew Kennedy. Kennedy, a country music singer who was a finalist on TV’s “American Idol” is charged with drunken driving resulting in death, South Carolina authorities said Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. He is accused of driving his pickup truck onto a residence, killing a man who was inside a building on the property in Spartanburg County on Tuesday, said Master Trooper Mitchell Ridgeway of the South Carolina Highway Patrol. (Spartanburg County Jail via AP)

The country music singer has been charged as an adult and could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted of driving under the influence resulting in death.

Officials said Kennedy on Feb. 8 inhaled marijuana from a vape pen before he drove up a residential driveway and ran over Larry Duane Parris outside the workshop where the 54-year-old repaired boats in Spartanburg County.

Kennedy’s lawyer, Ryan Beasley, said Thursday that his client is now on suicide watch in jail and needs to be freed or sent to an alcohol and drug treatment center, The State newspaper reported. Beasley has previously called the incident a “terrible accident” and said his client is deeply sorry.

Hall said a different judge has already ordered Kennedy to remain in jail until toxicology results are available. Hall said those results still weren’t in as of Thursday.

Kennedy advanced into the Top 5 of the ABC talent show last year, but dropped out of the singing competition after a video circulated of him sitting next to someone wearing what appeared to be a Ku Klux Klan hood. Kennedy apologized at the time for the video, saying “it displayed actions that were not meant to be taken in that way.”

Kennedy’s mother, Anita Guy, told news outlets that the video was filmed when Kennedy was 12 and had been taken out of context. She said Kennedy had been imitating characters from the film “The Strangers: Prey at Night.”

Kennedy’s hometown is listed as Roebuck, which is just south of Spartanburg.