Prosecutor confirms Benton Harbor teen's New Year's Day death accidental


Around 6 a.m. New Year's Day, 18-year-old Karrington Penny was found dead in the snow in the front yard of a home in the 400 block of East Empire.

Police quickly learned Penny had been at a New Year's Eve social gathering where several people admitted drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana.

Toxicology tests found Penny's blood alcohol level at .247, three times the legal limit to drive, and he had an active marijuana ingredient in his system.

The medical examiner has ruled the cause of death was hypothermia coupled with substance abuse and is officially calling Penny's death accidental.

The overnight temperature was between 14 and 16, and 6-8" of snow was on the ground.

The Berrien County prosecutor's office issued a detailed statement late Friday afternoon, confirming earlier police findings that evidence shows shortly after midnight New Year's, some partygoers took Penny home. However, he asked them to drop him off at Empire, about 1 1/2 blocks from his father's home in the 1000 block of Superior.

Police retraced Penny's steps, revealing he left the car on Empire, went between several houses to the 900 block of Superior where he crossed the street and walked to the porch of a home.

Penny knocked on the door. The homeowner answered and found Penny acting strange. The homeowner also say two young men standing in the distance, people who said Penny was just drunk.

Penny then jumped off the porch and ran between the houses in the block.

Police say he walked in the snow, through an alley in the 400 block of Empire where he climbed two chain link fences, entered the front yard and fell where he was found some five hours later.

Berrien County's prosecutor says investigators spent a lot of time trying to determine if a particular person was responsible for providing Penny with alcohol and marijuana that night, which may have contributed to his condition, but they were unable to develop any leads.

However, Shari Mucia, who hosted the New Year's Eve party has been charged with a misdemeanor since she allowed minors to drink alcohol was served to minors at the event.