Crime

Inmate’s death marks the 4th in Centre County since Jan. 20

Benner state prison inmate Derric Harsh, 23, was found unresponsive in his cell on Wednesday, and was pronounced dead at Mount Nittany Medical Center. His is the fourth inmate death reported in Centre County since Jan. 20.
Benner state prison inmate Derric Harsh, 23, was found unresponsive in his cell on Wednesday, and was pronounced dead at Mount Nittany Medical Center. His is the fourth inmate death reported in Centre County since Jan. 20. Centre Daily Times, file

Benner state prison announced Thursday the death of inmate Derric Harsh.

He is the fourth inmate to die in Centre County since Jan. 20.

The 23-year-old was found unresponsive in his cell at 11:54 Wednesday, Superintendent Robert Marsh said in a release from the state Department of Corrections. Prison staff responded and performed life-saving measures until facility medical personnel arrived.

Harsh was taken to Mount Nittany Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 1:08 a.m. The cause of death has not yet been released, and will be determined by the Centre County Coroner’s Office.

Harsh, of Millersville, plead guilty to charges of rape, corruption of minors and unlawful contact with a minor in Lancaster County Court in 2016, according to court documents. He was sentenced to eight to 16 years at Benner state prison, where he had been held since February 2017.

This is the third inmate death reported at Benner in just a little more than a month. Conrad Carpenter, 54, who was serving a sentence for sexual assault out of Lycoming County, died Jan. 20. Joseph Little, 39, who was serving a sentence for theft out of Lycoming County, died Feb. 9.

David Fry, a 40-year-old convicted in 1998 of second-degree murder in Erie County, died Feb. 3 at Rockview state prison. He was serving a life sentence and arrived at the prison Jan. 24.

On Feb. 6, Coroner Scott Sayers said the deaths of Carpenter and Fry were isolated incidents. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Lauren Muthler covers what’s happening right now in Centre County, from breaking news, road closures and weather, to cool and interesting stories she finds along the way. Oh, and Penn State wrestling.


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