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Colin McKernon

Wallingford man sentenced to nine years for injecting girl with fatal dose of heroin

NEW HAVEN — A Walling­ford man was sentenced Wed­nesday to nine years in prison for injecting a woman with heroin, causing her death.

Colin McKernon, 24, of 34 Cornwall Road, pleaded no contest in February to first-degree manslaughter, tampering with evidence and illegal distribution of narcotics. He was sentenced to a total of 15 years, suspended after nine years, and three years of probation.

On Jan. 15, 2013, police responded to McKernon’s home for a report of an unresponsive woman. Brittney Williams, 21, of Wallingford, was taken to MidState Medical Center in Meriden, where she was pronounced dead. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined Williams died of “multiple drug toxicity.”

Before the sentencing in Superior Court, McKernon apologized to the victim’s family, saying she was a “great girl” and that he hoped he could “take the opportunity to learn from this mistake and pass on his learning to the community.”

State’s Attorney Kevin Doyle said McKernon’s actions on the night of the incident were “cowardly and self-serving.” He did not immediately call 911 and when emergency workers responded he did not tell them he had injected Williams with heroin. If he had acted differently, there might have been a better outcome for Williams, Doyle said.

“His own self-serving behavior led to the death of this young, vibrant woman,” Doyle said.

Williams’ mother also spoke.

“On January 16, a mother’s worst nightmare became a reality,” she said. “I keep waiting for the pain to dissipate. Any sentence is not long enough.”

Williams’ mother said the family, which includes two young siblings, will never know if she might have been saved had McKernon acted differently that night.

Judge Patrick Clifford said his heart went out to the victim’s family, and acknowledged that no sentence would bring Williams back. Clifford said McKernon lied to the first responders about what Williams had ingested, and had they known, Williams might be alive.

“No number can be put to the value of the loss to the family,” Clifford said. “I can’t picture a mother burying her child.”

McKernon told police Williams came to his house after she left work the night of the incident. According to the arrest warrant, he told police several versions of what happened that night, including that he had driven to New Haven to purchase five bags of heroin for Williams.

McKernon told police Williams became “slow” and was moaning, but he thought she was “just high,” the warrant said. He played video games while she was lying on the bed.

When McKernon later checked on Williams, her lips had turned blue and she felt cool to the touch, the warrant said. McKernon told police he cleaned the needle and bottle cap, removed the remaining heroin from her purse and later used it himself to shoot up. McKernon asked his mother for help and she called 911.

McKernon initially denied helping Williams inject heroin but later admitted to police that he had injected the heroin into Williams’ arm because she tried to do it and couldn’t find her vein.

Clifford said McKernon is being punished not only for his actions that night, but also the “cold, callous behavior” of covering up the incident by lying to the first-responders, and playing the video games while Williams was having a “horrible reaction.”

McKernon has three convictions for driving under the influence, and owes two years on a probation from the most recent case. Those two years will run concurrently with the sentence for the manslaughter case. (203) 317-2225 Twitter: @LaurenSievertRJ

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