Derek Connell

Derek Connell, accused of killing his mother and stepfather, hides his face as he stands next to Deputy Public Defender Paul Cadman in court in this file photo.

Felix Adamo / Californian file

A man accused of gunning down his mother and stepfather suffered a "medical complication" earlier this week at Lerdo Jail and was rushed to a local hospital, according to authorities.

Derek Connell is now brain dead, according to a source with knowledge of the incident who asked to remain anonymous because he was unauthorized to speak on the matter. 

Kern County sheriff's spokesman Ray Pruitt confirmed Connell was treated for a medical complication at Lerdo sometime before 2 a.m. Tuesday. He said Connell was transported to a hospital, but he did not know his current condition or if he was even still at the hospital.

Connell is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the shootings of Christopher Tare Higginbotham and Kim Higginbotham, both 48, at their home on Lily Pad Court the night of April 30, 2016. Kim Higginbotham was his mother, Christopher Higginbotham his stepfather. 

Police said in court filings that Connell used FaceTime to send video of the bodies to a relative outside the country, who then contacted police. He told the relative he found the couple dead upon entering the home.

But he changed his story during questioning, telling police, "I think it was me" when asked who killed the Higginbothams, the filings said. He said he had no memory of what happened.

Connell said he began living with the Higginbothams after serving a nine-month jail sentence for a DUI in Colorado.

He told investigators he served in the U.S. Army from 2005 to 2008, and was less than honorably discharged due to an incident involving alcohol. He said he continued drinking heavily upon his return from overseas, the filings said. 

His trial is scheduled to begin in January. 

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