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.

A man charged with murder in the shooting deaths of his mother and stepfather was in critical condition following an apparent suicide attempt Saturday, according to a source with knowledge of the incident.

Derek Connell, 29, remains hospitalized at Kern Medical Center. His next court hearing is scheduled for Jan. 10.

Connell has worn paper clothing in previous court hearings, an indication he is on suicide watch. He's charged with two counts of first-degree murder and could face the death penalty if convicted. 

Connell is accused of shooting Christopher Tare Higginbotham and Kim Higginbotham, both 48, multiple times on April 30 in their home on Lily Pad Court.

He had been living with his mother and stepfather after serving a jail sentence for a DUI in Colorado.

According to court documents, Connell told investigators he had been drinking heavily that day. He said he spoke with his stepfather before going to bed, and the next thing he remembered was finding their bodies.

He told investigators he's not sure what happened, the documents said, but believes he is responsible. He said he used bleach in an effort to clean up blood that pooled around the bodies. 

"I had to have done it," he told investigators. "There was no one else in the house."

Connell served in the U.S. Army from 2005 to 2008, and was less than honorably discharged due to an incident involving alcohol, he said in court filings.

Two shotguns, five handguns and seven rifles were seized from the home. Connell said the weapons belonged to his stepfather, the documents said.

Kim Higginbotham was a 16-year teacher with the Delano Union School District and one of four kindergarten teachers at Princeton Street Elementary School in Delano. Christopher Higginbotham worked for Chevron Global Power at the Bakersfield Kern River Cogen, a co-generation power plant.

A trial is scheduled for January 2018. 

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