Rome teen pleads not guilty to charges in fatal February 2020 crash

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WESTMORELAND — The Rome teenager behind the wheel in a February accident that killed two people has been charged with multiple counts of manslaughter, according to court officials.

Lincoln J. Armstrong, 17, of Coleman Mills Road, pleaded not guilty before County Court Judge Randall Caldwell this week on one count of first-degree vehicular manslaughter, two counts each of second-degree manslaughter and second-degree vehicular manslaughter, and one count each of driving under the influence of drugs, failure to stay in lane, failure to keep right and unreasonable speed, court officials said.

He was scheduled to reappear in court today.

State police said Armstrong was southbound at more than 55 mph on Bartlett Road in Westmoreland at about 3:17 p.m. Feb. 14, 2020, when he was unable to stop for another vehicle at the intersection with Dix Road. Troopers said 42-year-old Hector J. Rodriguez, of Rome, was crossing the intersection when his 2003 Toyota Tundra pickup truck was hit by Armstrong’s 2005 Ford Taurus.

Troopers said Rodriguez was pronounced dead at the scene. Troopers said his truck was T-boned by Armstrong’s vehicle and was flipped onto its roof.

Armstrong’s passenger, 19-year-old Noah G. Lekki, of Waterville, was air-lifted to University Hospital in Syracuse after the crash, authorities said. He was pronounced dead a short time later. Armstrong was also hospitalized.

No charges were initially filed following the accident. The crash was under investigation and the case was eventually presented to a grand jury once pandemic restrictions allowed the grand jury to return. Court officials said Armstrong was indicted by the grand jury on Dec. 21.

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