American Idol Star Implicated In Fatal DUI Crash
A former American Idol finalist, Caleb Kennedy, is accused of barreling over a man’s property and driving him through his storefront. The man was found by his daughter hours later. According to a prosecutor, Kennedy literally “ran over the top of the man”. Kennedy was found at the scene holding the victim in his arms, his lawyer said in response to the charges. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison. The accident occurred in South Carolina, not Florida. In Florida, he would face a maximum 14-year sentence with a 10-year recommended sentence and a 4-year minimum sentence.
Kennedy told authorities that he was hanging out with a friend when he took a “deep draw” from a vaping pen that left him more intoxicated than he thought it would. Kennedy was also on prescription medication at the time and his lawyer offered that as a second reason why the crash occurred. Kennedy had not consumed any alcohol at the time of the crash, according to police. It appears that Kennedy is suggesting that he didn’t know what was in the vape pen at the time. However, some vape pens have marijuana in them and not all of the marijuana is necessarily illegal.
Kennedy was a top-5 finalist and country singer. He was dismissed from the competition after video surfaced of him sitting next to someone wearing a white hood. The video was taken when the boy was 12 years old. He is currently 17 and will be tried as an adult.
Analyzing the defense
Despite the fact that he will be tried as an adult, most states consider extenuating circumstances in DUI arrests and this is likely to be one of them. The results of the crash are tragic and there is a man dead. However, the only reason the prosecutors have a case is because the young man stayed at the scene and explained to them what happened. While his conduct will not bring back the man’s life, it indicates a soul that is deeply saddened and remorseful over what happened. The law will also take that into consideration.
However, if the accident occurred in Florida, even with all of the extenuating circumstances including the suspect’s age, the defendant would face a mandatory minimum of 4 years even with a downward departure. The standard sentence for DUI manslaughter is 10 years. In order for a judge to depart from the standard sentence, they must find that there are enough extenuating circumstances to warrant that. To avoid prison, the boy would need to plead down to a lesser offense, if the prosecutors are willing to offer one.
In this case, you have ambiguous facts. We know the boy was probably under the influence of something but his lawyer contends that his medication produced a bad reaction that caused a perception disturbance. It will be up to a jury to decide how strong that argument is.
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