Five Clay County charged after teen killed leaving a house party

Four months after a Clay County teen was hit by a car leaving a beer pong party, five people were charged for their role in hosting the party and providing the alcohol. Hollee Marie Krueger, 19, was killed after she stepped into the road while walking home from the party, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Tests done at the hospital where she was pronounced dead showed Krueger’s blood-alcohol level was .16, more than twice the legal limit. Last week, police announced Clay County criminal charges for the two people, both age 20, who lived in the house. They were charged with holding an open house party where alcohol is served to minors. They are among the first to be charged locally under the law that was passed by the state legislature last year. Three others, two 21-year-olds and a 22-year-old, were charged with buying or giving alcohol to minors.

All five are facing Clay County second-degree misdemeanor charges and could face up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. They were booked into jail and their bonds were set between $50,000 and $60,000, the newspaper reported. In terms of jail time and the fine, the charges may seem rather minor. Most of the cases discussed on this blog are cases where people are at least facing time in prison. But this is significant because it is part of an overall effort from the state and law enforcement to crack down on underage drinking. Police have been conducting stings for years when they send a teen into a store to buy alcohol, checking to see if the person at the register checks for ID. But in many cases, teens are getting the alcohol elsewhere – not directly from the store itself. The new law is designed to make homeowners and people who are of age think twice about being responsible for underage people drinking.

To prove the criminal case in Clay County, the state would have to show that a reasonable person should have known there was underage drinking going on at the time. The party, where about 15 to 20 people were playing beer pong in a garage, was advertised on Facebook, the newspaper reported. Unlike some cases where parents may be asleep while teens are drinking in another part of the house, it appears that the people who lived there were part of the party and knew what was going on. People do not always have to be the ones actively committing a crime to be charged with one. None of these five are the ones who hit and killed Krueger. In fact, that driver is not facing charges. But these five are now facing charges, and state officials have said part of the reasoning is to let other parents and people of legal drinking age that there are serious consequences for letting teens drink.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Clay County or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Clay County Misdemeanor Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.