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Fentanyl drug mix blamed in death of Fort Bliss soldier who reported sexual assault

A soldier who Army prosecutors say was sexually assaulted by another soldier at Fort Bliss, Texas, later died from a mixture of fentanyl and synthetic cannabinoids, according to a military medical examiner’s findings released Wednesday.

Pfc. Asia Graham, 19, was assigned to 1st Armored Division when she was found unresponsive in her Fort Bliss barracks room on the morning of Dec. 31, 2020.

Another 1st Armored Division soldier, Pfc. Christian G. Alvarado, is facing court-martial this week for multiple sexual assaults over the past year, including the alleged 2019 rape of Graham while she was unconscious.

The Armed Forces Medical Examiner, based out of Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, determined that Graham’s cause and manner of death was “Accidental Mixed Drug (Fentanyl and Multiple Synthetic Cannabinoids) Intoxication,” according to a brief description of the findings released by Fort Bliss officials.

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid similar to morphine but 50 to 100 times more potent, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Synthetic cannabinoids are man-made, mind-altering chemicals that can be sprayed on dried plants to smoke or vaporized and inhaled in e-cigarettes.

Other details surrounding Graham’s death remain under investigation by Army CID. A spokesman for CID did not immediately return a request for comment Wednesday afternoon.

Alvarado was arraigned in January at Fort Bliss on three specifications of sexual assault, two specifications of making false statements and one specification of aggravated assault in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Alvarado’s court-martial began Monday and is expected to last the remainder of the week, according to Army trial records posted online.

Alvarado is accused of raping Graham while she was unconscious in late December 2019, at Fort Bliss, according to his charge sheets. Graham was found dead roughly one year after the alleged assault took place.

Graham had been assigned to Fort Bliss, her first duty station, for only one month before the incident. Army CID officials said earlier this year that they did not suspect foul play in her death.

Alvarado’s trial follows a year in which sexual assault and harassment in the Army garnered increased public scrutiny and revealed chronic failings at Fort Hood, another Texas military post, that an independent committee said could mirror problems at other installations.

Alvarado is also accused of committing two other sexual assaults on May 8 and Aug. 26. Those victims’ names were redacted from the charge sheets, though Graham’s name was not.

In the May 8 accusation, Alvarado had sex with a woman who was too intoxicated to consent, charge sheets stated. On Aug. 26, he sexually assaulted another woman, the charge sheets added.

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