Boca man accused in DUI crash that killed MMA fighter denied reduced bond

To the relief of family and teammates of MMA fighter Jordan Parsons, the man accused of killing the 25-year-old in a drunken accident in May on Wednesday was told he must come up with $450,000 to be released from the Palm Beach County jail.

Dennis Wright stands in court during a pre-trial hearing Wednesday, August 3, 2016. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

Cheers and whistles went up in the courtroom when Circuit Judge John Kastrenakes denied Dennis Wright’s request for a bond reduction. Pointing out that Wright, 28, of Boca Raton was a habitual traffic offender and eight times failed to appear in court on previous charges, Kastrenakes said he wasn’t a good risk for house arrest.

“Despite this young man’s apparent responsible position in our community (as business owner), his behavior in the past has been irresponsible,” Kastrenakes said. Wright’s history of ignoring court orders “tells me that this person doesn’t abide by the rules of society or rules of the court.”

Wright, who faces a possible 70-year prisons sentence on various charges in connection with Parson’s death, was arrested days after the rising mixed martial arts champion died of injuries sustained when Delray Beach police said he was hit by a Range Rover traveling at speeds of up to 110 miles per hour on Federal Highway at Lindell Boulevard. Wright’s attorney, Robert Resnick, said there are questions whether Wright was driving the car or whether the Range Rover, which was registered to Wright’s mother, was involved in the crash. A witness told police that a silver two-door sports car struck Parsons, he said.

Jordan Parsons
Jordan Parsons

Assistant State Attorney Laura Burkhart-Laurie disagreed. Witnesses say Wright was driving the Range Rover and there is video of Wright talking about being involved in the crash, she said. Wright had spent the day at Sunfest, then hit bars in Delray, she said. Friends said he was impaired but he ignored their entreaties not to drive, she said.

Wright and his mother, Patricia Faller, told Kastrenakes they don’t have the means to raise $450,000 to secure his release. Faller said friends and family have pledged roughly $10,000 to $15,000. Since his arrest, Wright said he has received no income from a medical marketing firm he owns. While Resnick insisted Wright and his mother aren’t wealthy, before the crash Wright testified that he was splitting the rent for a $4,000 to $5,o00-a-month condominium. Faller said the monthly payment on the Range Rover is about $985.

“When he was working he was making pretty good money but he wasn’t saving it,” Resnick said. The attorney said he plans to return to court soon to again ask that Wright’s bond be reduced.

Linton Vassell, one of Parsons’ teammates on the team that trains in Boca Raton, said he was satisfied with Kastrenakes’ ruling. “Justice has been served,” he said.

More charges for Dennis Wright, accused in fighter’s hit-and-run death

MMA fighter Jordan Parsons
MMA fighter Jordan Parsons

A vehicular manslaughter charge has been added to the list of charges prosecutors are pursuing against the 28-year-old Boca Raton man accused of killing a rising MMA star in a May hit-and-run.

Prosecutors in a hearing before Circuit Judge Jack Cox Wednesday said Dennis Wright now also faces vehicular homicide charges in addition to charges of leaving the scene of an accident involving a death, DUI manslaughter, evidence tampering and driving on a suspended license in the death of Jordan Parsons. Parsons, whose family filed a wrongful death suit against Wright, his mother and the bar where Wright allegedly drank before the crash, had been training for a May 14 fight and was walking in a crosswalk on U.S. 1 when he was hit by a car.

He died three days later.

Dennis Wright, 28
Dennis Wright, 28

Parsons’ mother, younger brother, and other fighters at the gym he attended were in court Wednesday morning.

“It’s hard to keep going every day, but I know I have to,” said Anna Morsaw, saying that what she missed most about his son was the sound of his laughter and his smile.

The next hearing in Wright’s case is set for Aug. 17.