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Soldier heads to court-martial in death of West Point cadet

A soldier will be heading to court-martial for involuntary manslaughter, among other charges, in the case of a vehicle rollover that killed a West Point cadet and wounded about 20 others in June.

Charges against Staff Sgt. Ladonies P. Strong were referred to a general court-martial Tuesday by 3rd Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Tony Aguto, according to division spokesman Lt. Col. Patrick Husted.

The decision was made based on facts presented during an Article 32 hearing in October, but officials declined to discuss the case.

“Additional and specific facts in this case will be presented during the upcoming court-martial, at a time to be decided by a military judge; it would be premature to speculate as to the outcome of the trial or any possible punishment at this point," Husted told Army Times. “Strong remains on active duty, where she continues to perform normal duties with Task Force 1-28."

That unit is a subordinate command to 3rd Infantry Division and is located at Fort Benning, Georgia.

As a general rule, “all charges are merely accusations” and Strong is presumed innocent until proven guilty at trial, a statement announcing the charges reads. Army Times was not able to reach Strong or her attorney for comment Wednesday.

Strong faces charges of one specification of involuntary manslaughter; one specification of negligent homicide; one specification of prevention of authorized seizure of property; one specification of reckless operation of a vehicle; and two specifications of dereliction of duty under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Cadet Christopher J. Morgan, Class of 2020, died June 6 due to injuries sustained from a military vehicle accident in the U.S. Military Academy’s training area.
Cadet Christopher J. Morgan, Class of 2020, died June 6 due to injuries sustained from a military vehicle accident in the U.S. Military Academy’s training area.

She was driving an M1085 medium tactical vehicle long wheelbase cargo truck on June 6 when it overturned near the Camp Natural Bridge training site at the U.S. Military Academy.

The incident took the life of Cadet Christopher J. Morgan, a member of West Point’s Class of 2020. He died at the scene of the accident from the injuries he sustained during the rollover. Two soldiers and 19 cadets were injured in the incident.

Morgan, 22, was from West Orange, New Jersey. He was majoring in law and legal studies, and was a recruited athlete for the Army Wrestling Team.

“Chris had an infectious personality with a smile big enough to fill any room, and a heart big enough to love everyone around him. He made everyone around him better and he will be greatly missed," Army West Point Wrestling Coach Kevin Ward said at the time of Morgan’s death.

The cadet was laid to rest at West Point’s cemetery on June 15. Local media reported that former president Bill Clinton spoke at the memorial service. Morgan’s father had previously been part of Clinton’s security detail.

West Point’s Commandant of Cadets, Maj. Gen. Steve Gilland, called the 22-year-old “an exemplary classmate and teammate” and said the young man was “tremendously proud to be a cadet.”

More than 1,500 family, friends and military personnel attended the memorial service.

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