Two Fort Bliss soldiers charged with murder in separate deaths
Stars and Stripes February 2, 2023
AUSTIN, Texas — Two Fort Bliss soldiers were arraigned Tuesday on murder charges in two separate deaths, according to court records from the west Texas Army base.
Spc. Francisco R. Cardenas, 26, is accused of providing fentanyl to another person on March 28, 2022, and the person died, according to the soldier’s charge sheet. Fort Bliss redacted the name of the victim from the court document. Cardenas is charged with murder and manslaughter, as well as nine other crimes.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 times stronger than heroin and about 100 times stronger than morphine, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Cardenas also faces charges for possessing a firearm in June 2021 while also possessing illegal drugs, according to the charge sheet. Other charges include distributing, possessing and using fentanyl between Oct. 1, 2021, and Sept. 7, 2022; using cocaine in July 2022; possessing dimethyltryptamine, a hallucinogenic drug, in June 2022; and disobeying orders between May and August 2022.
Cardenas, who enlisted in January 2020, was put into pretrial confinement Sept. 9, 2022, according to his charge sheet. Fort Bliss officials declined to say where he is being held.
Spc. Mason Klippert, 25, is charged with murder and manslaughter in the death of a child who was younger than 16 years old, according to the soldier’s charge sheet. The incident occurred Aug. 9, 2019, in El Paso, the city where Fort Bliss is located. The victim’s name was redacted from the court document.
Klippert, who is not in pretrial confinement, suffocated a young girl and caused a brain injury, according to the charge sheet. He enlisted in May 2017.
Both men are assigned to the 1st Armored Division and were arraigned Tuesday by military judge Col. Robert Shuck of the 4th Judicial Circuit at Fort Bliss. Both pleaded not guilty and will face a jury of enlisted soldiers, according to online court records.
Cardenas is scheduled to face a court-martial Feb. 27, according to online court records. Klippert’s court-martial is scheduled for July 24.