Bond denied for SC ‘Idol’ star Caleb Kennedy for drunk driving


‘American Idol’ star Caleb Kennedy has been charged with a felony DUI resulting in death.


Bond was turned down on Wednesday for former “American Idol” contestant Caleb Kennedy, a teenage singer from northern South Carolina.

Kennedy was arrested and charged Tuesday with felony driving under the influence resulting in death. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison.

South Carolina Highway Patrol said Kennedy, 17, was driving a 2011 Ford pickup truck on West Murph Road in Pacolet shortly after noon Tuesday when the truck veered off the road, into a driveway and crashed into a garage .

Photos from the scene show the truck inside the garage.

Outside the garage stood Larry Duane Parris, 54, who died hours later at Spartanburg Regional Hospital.

Kennedy was taken to the same hospital for treatment of unspecified injuries. He was arrested at 7:21 p.m. and spent the night in the Spartanburg County Detention Center.

Ryan Beasley, Kennedy’s attorney, said in an interview Wednesday that keeping his client in jail was too harsh a punishment.

“He’s a kid,” Beasley said.

Beasley said he would seek another bond hearing in the Court of General Sessions, which is scheduled to take place on February 21.

Beasley said that in similar cases, defendants are given bail. He reiterated the claim he made earlier in court that the prosecutor’s office was taking a hard line because of Kennedy’s notoriety on “American Idol.”

Attorney Barry Barnette denied this during the hearing.

Beasley said Kennedy took a puff from a vape, given to him by a friend at a local store. He had a bad reaction on his way to his girlfriend’s house in Union.

“He was lost,” Beasley said.

When Kennedy realized what had happened, he tried to resuscitate Parris, holding him in his arms and crying, Beasley said.

Kennedy cried in the courtroom when he heard Parris’ daughter’s 911 tape pleading, “Dad, please.” Dad, please.

Several members of the Parris family were in the courtroom. They asked Magistrate Daniel Burns to deny bail.

Kennedy’s mother, stepfather and father watched from a separate area.

Kennedy, a native of Roebuck, SC, made his way to the final five contestants on “American Idol” in 2021 but quit the show on May 12 after speaking to producers about a video that showed him sitting with someone dressed in what appeared to be a Ku Klux Klan Balaclava.

The video was released at her school, Dorman High School, and made its way onto social media.

Kennedy’s mother, Anita Guy, said at the time the video was made when her son was 12. The hood was meant to look like the one in “The Strangers” movie, she said. She believed it had been leaked by someone jealous of her son’s success.

Kennedy was in season 19 of American Idol, which premiered on February 14, 2021.

Kennedy has been performing at local shows in South Carolina since leaving “Idol.”

When Kennedy announced on Instagram that he was leaving the show last spring, he said the video “showed actions that weren’t meant to be taken that way. I was younger and didn’t think actions, but that’s no excuse.

He said he knew he had hurt and disappointed many people and lost their respect. “I’m so sorry! I pray that I can one day regain your trust in who I am and have your respect! he said. He said he was taking time off from social media ‘to better myself’.

Kennedy received praise for his songwriting talent, even after leaving the show, from “Idol” judges Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan and Katy Perry.

His song, “Nowhere” was No. 4 on the iTunes Music Chart in March and he was named one of the top songwriters of the 2021 season.

Richie said, “You have the voice of a storyteller”, and later added, “I have high expectations for your life.”

This story was originally published February 9, 2022 11:57 a.m.

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