Fort Lewis soldier charged in teen’s death
A Fort Lewis private has been charged in the death of his 16-year-old girlfriend.
The Army has charged a 19-year-old soldier from Indiana in the fatal drug overdose of a 16-year-old girl at a Fort Lewis barracks.
Pvt. Timothy E. Bennitt, a heavy construction equipment operator from Rolling Prairie, Ind., faces charges of involuntary manslaughter, wrongful use and distribution of controlled substances, and conspiracy to use controlled substances. He is assigned to the 555th Engineer Brigade.
The girl, Leah King, a high school sophomore from Lakewood, had been dating Bennitt for about a month, officials said. She was found dead in the barracks early on Feb. 15. Another 16-year-old girl was found unconscious and eventually recovered. Army pathologists and investigators determined that King overdosed on an antidepressant marketed as Xanax and a painkiller called oxymorphone, some of which she had apparently inhaled after the pills were crushed.
Army officials said Bennitt, 19, is also under investigation for distributing drugs to other soldiers, including oxycodone and marijuana, and taking drugs himself. If convicted of all charges he could face up to 82 years in confinement, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and a dishonorable discharge.
This video is from KOMO, broadcast Mar. 10, 2009.