Arrest made in Florida hit-and-run that killed MMA fighter Jordan Parsons

A 28-year-old Boca Raton man with a history of arrests for DUI, driving with a suspended license and marijuana possession was jailed Saturday and charged with last week’s hit-and-run crash that killed mixed martial arts fighter Jordan Parsons.

Dennis Wright, who was driving with a suspended license, never stopped before he plowed his mother’s 2013 Range Rover Sport into Parsons, 25, as he was crossing Federal Highway at Lindell Boulevard shortly after midnight May 1, said Delray Beach police spokeswoman Dani Moschella. Neither did friends, who were driving behind Wright in a Mercedes, she said. A witness estimated Wright was travelling at speeds of 100 to 120 mph.

Anna Morsaw, who sat by her son’s bedside for four days at Delray Medical Center, willing Parsons to live until it became clear he wouldn’t survive his injuries, said she hopes Wright is punished. After Parsons’ leg was amputated, he lingered in a coma until Wednesday, when his family tearfully decided to take him off life support.

“It would give me relief as long as I know he’s going to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Morsaw said when reached by phone at her home in Atlanta. “I just hope justice prevails.”

Fort Lauderdale attorney Robert Resnick, who was with Wright when he turned himself in at the Delray Beach police station, said he hopes people don’t pre-judge his client.

“Obviously what happened was a tragedy,” he said. “But there’s some statements out there that are very unsubstantiated. I hope people allow justice to take its course.”

Friends of Wright voiced surprise that he was involved in the crash that snared national headlines.

“He’s always been a stand-up guy,” said Naithan Arroyo, who owns an information technology company and worked on projects at Wright’s various companies. “He’s well-spoken. He’s a well-educated guy.”

“I couldn’t get a hold of him this week,” Arroyo continued. “I guess this kind of explains why.”

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Moschella credited anonymous tipsters with leading traffic homicide investigators to Wright. Armed with his name, investigators learned his mother owned the same type of SUV that was involved in the crash and that Wright had been driving it, she said.

Further, they tracked down the owner of a body shop, who said Wright brought the Ranger Rover in for repairs. The unidentified owner refused to do the work, Moschella said.

Instead, she said, Wright hid the vehicle at a rented storage unit. Investigators recovered it Friday. It was missing the driver’s side mirror officers recovered at the crash scene, she said.

Wright was booked into the Palm Beach County jail on charges of leaving the scene of a crash involving death, driving while his license was suspended as a habitual offender and two counts of tampering with evidence, according to jail records. He will appear in court today or Monday.

Piecing together what happened the night of the crash, investigators said they received reports that Wright was at Buddha Sky Bar on East Atlantic Avenue. He was driving south on Federal Highway when he struck Parsons, who was wearing headphones and may not have heard the Range Rover approaching, Moschella said.

Parsons had moved to Boca Raton to train with the Blackzilians team at JACO Hybrid Training Center in Boca Raton, a half-mile from where he was killed. A featherweight, he was 11-2 in 13 Bellator fights and was preparing for a match in Bellator 154 on Saturday. Bellator is a mixed martial arts promotion company.

Wright, on his Linked In page, describes himself as “a consultant in the call center industry, focused toward management, leadership, and strong sales training.” A 2009 Florida State University graduate, with a bachelor’s degree in business management, he said he is a partner in the West Palm Beach area South Beach Media and had been director of business development for Better Off Healthy, in Boca Raton.

Arroyo said Wright is an entrepreneur involved in several companies: “He helps find investors to start businesses. He’s pretty good at winning people over.”

Since Wright didn’t have a driver’s license, he may have been unable to put the Range Rover in his own name and put it in his mother’s name instead, Arroyo suggested. Court records shows his mother is Patricia Faller, who also lives in Boca Raton.

Records of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement show Wright has been arrested several times, beginning in 2008 when he was charged in Boca Raton with driving under the influence. The records indicate that charge was dropped. Since then, he has also been charged with reckless driving, failing to appear, possession of marijuana and driving while his license was suspended. Moschella said his license had been suspended six times.

In 2012, he was charged with resisting arrest in Tallahassee. He was found guilty. As part of his sentence, he was ordered to seek substance abuse counseling and refrain from using alcohol.

Social media erupted with news of Wright’s arrest. Many of Parsons’ friends and fellow fighters who last week posted prayers that he would survive, spread the news that Wright was in custody.

Morsaw said her son’s funeral will be held May 21 at Berrien Springs High School in Michigan. He grew up in the small town in southwestern Michigan. She said a large venue was needed. “When he was in the hospital, 400 people came to visit him on one day,” she said.

Moschella emphasized that the investigation is ongoing. Police are particularly interested in talking to anyone who saw Wright on the night of the crash.

Staff researcher Melanie Mena contributed to this story.