Crime

Man accused in DUI death had four previous DUI arrests, prosecutor says

A state trooper investigates a three-vehicle crash that that claimed the life of Robert Ivey on March 19, 2017. Michael Joseph Kennedy allegedly struck Ivey and his car on the side of Interstate 10 and a borrowed pickup truck and trailer.
A state trooper investigates a three-vehicle crash that that claimed the life of Robert Ivey on March 19, 2017. Michael Joseph Kennedy allegedly struck Ivey and his car on the side of Interstate 10 and a borrowed pickup truck and trailer.

The man accused of driving impaired in a three-vehicle crash that killed Robert Ivey had been arrested four times on DUI charges, a prosecutor said.

Also, court papers show Michael Joseph Kennedy had failed to complete a drug-court program while on probation for a felony conviction.

Kennedy, 26, of Biloxi, is accused of driving under the influence of liquor when he caused Ivey’s death, an affidavit says.

Kennedy waived the right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday, declining to hear evidence compiled during the Mississippi Highway Patrol investigation. He could go to prison on a probation violation before a grand jury considers the DUI death charge.

Ivey, 22, of Gulfport, had borrowed a pickup truck and trailer March 19 to haul a car he had repaired in Louisiana, but ran out of gas in Harrison County on Interstate 10 just east of the Menge Avenue exit, an MHP spokesman said. Ivey unloaded the car from the trailer to go get gas and was pouring gas in the pickup’s fuel tank when he was hit.

Kennedy reportedly lost control of his SUV and hit Ivey, his car and the pickup and trailer, and his SUV overturned in the median. Ivey was killed in the crash.

Results of a toxicology test are pending.

Ivey worked for a boat company in Hammond, Louisiana, and was a part-time mechanic. Friends and family have said he was “a really great kid” who loved to make others happy.

State troopers arrested Kennedy after he was released from a hospital, where he was treated for injuries from the crash.

Probation violations alleged

A probation warrant shows Kennedy had been convicted of grand larceny in Jackson County on Aug. 29, 2014. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison but a circuit judge allowed him to serve five years on probation instead of in prison.

Kennedy failed to complete a drug-court program as part of his probation and was then arrested on the DUI death charge, the warrant says.

“This is a deadly example of the consequences of driving under the influence,” said Herman Cox, Harrison County prosecuting attorney. “This would have been his fifth DUI arrest.”

Four DUI arrests found

Cox said this information on Kennedy’s DUI arrests turned up in the investigation:

Sept. 10, 2008, a DUI in Jackson county. The charge was dismissed the next year; the arresting deputy was no longer employed by the sheriff’s department.

July 17, 2015, a first-offense DUI in Gulfport. Kennedy failed to appear in court and has not been prosecuted yet.

Sept. 7, 2015, a DUI charge in Plaquemines Parish, La. The charge was amended to reckless driving; he served 90 days in jail.

Nov. 7, 2015, a DUI charge in Plaquemines Parish that apparently has not been resolved.

A state probation officer and the judge who sentenced Kennedy for grand larceny must not have known of his DUI arrests, Cox said.

Denied criminal conviction

Kennedy denied having a criminal conviction in a document he signed March 22 requesting a court-appointed attorney for the DUI death case. He said he lives in Biloxi, is unemployed, single and has no assets.

He had identification with an address in New Orleans when he was arrested, a court paper said.

He has a $250,000 bond on the DUI death charge and no bond on the probation warrant.

DUI causing death is punishable by five to 25 years in prison.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

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