Kennedy was punched in the face as he was leaving a bar in Greenville County, South Carolina. He fell to the ground and injured his head. He later died of his injuries. Stephen Andrew Moller, (age 18) was charged with Kennedy's murder. The warrant stated that the act was "a result of the defendant (Moller) not liking the sexual identity of the victim."
Kennedy was mentioned by Senator Gordon Smith in a speech on the floor of the US Senate advocating for hate crimes legislation. The case was turned over for investigation by the Greenville County Sheriff to the FBI for investigation as a hate crime, but the state of South Carolina does not currently have hate crime legislation. and federal hate-crimes legislation does not include sexual orientation.
In November 2007, Stephen Andrew Moller was released to home detention upon paying a $25,000 bond. He is required to stay with his mother until his trial. The charge of murder was reduced to manslaughter not only because there was no conscious premeditated desire to kill Kennedy, but also because there is no middle step in South Carolina law between murder and manslaughter. Unable to secure a conviction for murder, the trial lawyers opted for manslaughter in order to get the violent activity onto Moller's record. The sentence carries a 0-5 years prison term, and it is likely that Moller will be released for time served.