Michael Joseph Kennedy, 28, of New Orleans, pled guilty before Mississippi Second District Circuit Court Judge Roger T. Clark Monday afternoon to DUI Causing Death of a Long Beach resident.
The Mississippi Highway Patrol investigated the death of 21-year old Robert Ivey March 19, 2017, after Ivey was struck by the defendant’s vehicle as Ivey was putting gas in his car on the shoulder of Interstate 10 in Gulfport, shortly before 9:00p.m. During his guilty plea, the defendant admitted that he had been drinking beer earlier in the evening while at a friend’s house. The defendant stated that he believed that he had to swerve to miss a car driving in front of him and claimed to be unsure of how fast he was driving.
Chief Assistant District Attorney Crosby Parker informed the Court of the defendant’s four prior DUI arrests and provided the Court with the evidence gathered during the investigation. Second Circuit ADA Parker stated that “[r]econstruction of the collision showed that not only did the defendant bypass an interlock system installed in his car as a condition pursuant to his prior DUI arrests, but also that the defendant was traveling approximately 97 miles per hour when he struck the victim on the shoulder of the interstate and that the defendant’s blood alcohol level was 0.13% at the time of the collision.” The victim’s parents were also present during the hearing. Emotional and distraught during the proceedings over the death of their child, Ivey’s mother told the Court that “[b]urying my child was forced upon me when he was killed by a drunk driver… my son’s killer chose to drink and drive.”
After accepting the defendant’s guilty plea, Judge Clark sentenced the defendant to the maximum incarceration of 25 years, suspending 5 of those years, leaving 20 years to serve in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Judge Clark stated that certain aggravating factors led him to this sentence, such as his prior criminal history and the fact the defendant bypassed the interlock system in his vehicle that was designed specifically to prohibit this type of conduct. The defendant had a 2015 felony Grand Larceny conviction in Jackson County where he received probation. Due to the DUI Causing Death conviction, he was revoked on his earlier Grand Larceny felony and sentenced to 10 years. Further, his new sentence on the DUI Causing Death will run consecutive to his 10 year sentence.