Courts & Crime

Fort Lewis soldier charged in death of his 16-year-old girlfriend

The Fort Lewis soldier whose 16-year-old girlfriend died in his barracks room after overdosing on prescription pills will face involuntary manslaughter and drug-related charges in a general court martial, the post announced Friday.

If convicted, Pvt. Timothy E. Bennitt faces up to 82 years in prison, a reduction in rank, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and a dishonorable discharge from the Army.

A date for his court martial has not been set.

Bennitt, a 19-year-old Indiana native, has pleaded not guilty. He is confined at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor.

The charges stem from the Feb. 15 death of Leah King, a student at Lakes High School, in Bennitt’s room on North Fort Lewis. King and a friend, Trashauna Yoacham, overdosed on a combination of the painkiller oxymorphone and the anxiety pill Xanax.

Bennitt, a heavy-equipment operator with the 617th Engineer Company, 864th Engineer Battalion, faces a charge of involuntary manslaughter. The government alleges Bennitt bought oxymorphone and gave it to King, who he knew had a history of substance abuse, and allowed her to mix the painkiller with Xanax.

Bennitt also faces charges he distributed oxymorphome, oxycodone, marijuana and Xanax. In addition, he is charged with using oxycodone, oxymorphone, marijuana and cocaine.

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