Internal investigation launched to see why incompetent man sat in jail for months
An internal investigation was launched by the district attorney to find out why a mentally ill man sat in jail for months.
BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) – Elected officials in Brunswick County are trying to figure out why one man sat in jail for at least six months.
Phillip Kennedy is a convicted felon and was facing breaking and entering charges in Brunswick County.
In November 2011, an assistant district attorney dismissed the charges after doctors and the court system found him to be incompetent. The charges were dismissed with leave meaning the courts could go back and revisit the case at a later time.
While the criminal charges were dropped by the DA's office for the time being, a civil proceeding continued in the court system.
In December 2011, Kennedy was transported by the Brunswick County Sheriff's Office to get another mental health evaluation in Wayne County. When Kennedy returned, he sat in jail until June 8, 2012.
According to District Attorney Jon David, a court hearing was never scheduled upon Kennedy's return to the jail in December.
David launched an internal investigation to figure out what went wrong even though his office does not handle civil matters, only criminal charges.
David told WECT.com that he believed there was a "breakdown of the system" and that for some reason the civil hearing was never scheduled.
David said attorneys typically schedule civil hearings for their clients, but for some reason Kennedy's defense attorney never did.
Kennedy was represented by William Peregoy, who is an attorney out of Wilmington, in this case.
WECT.com made numerous attempts to make contact with Peregoy, but our calls have not been returned.
Kennedy ended up sitting in jail from the beginning of January 2012 until June 2012.
According to a public records request from the Brunswick County Sheriff's Office, it costs about $70 a day to keep an inmate. It cost county taxpayers at least $12,000 to feed and house Kennedy in jail.
David could also not say if a mistake was made and explained his internal investigation is still pending.
However, he did tell WECT.com that preliminary findings show his office and staff did not do anything wrong and that as of now Kennedy was not unlawfully held in the Brunswick County Detention Center.
WECT.com tried to speak with David twice to learn more about the situation. He felt "ambushed" the first time we interviewed him and asked us to come in for a second interview to sit down and talk about it. When our reporter drove out to Brunswick County, he refused to go on-camera to answer any questions.
Superior Court Judge Ola Lewis was the judge who presided over this case and is the judge who signed off on many of the corresponding court documents. Lewis had no comment when we reached her by phone.
WECT.com reached out to Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram numerous times as well. Ingram has not returned our requests for comment on the situation.