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WüRZBURG, Germany — Ordered by one of his two wives to choose between his fractured family and the Army he claimed to love, Sgt. Basil O. Osbourne Jr. left his unit in Kuwait and spent 2½ years on the lam.

On Friday, a military judge ordered him to spend nine months in prison and gave him a bad-conduct discharge after Osbourne, 31, pleaded guilty to charges of absence without leave and bigamy. He also was reduced to the lowest enlisted rank.

“This is a case about a soldier who chose one love over another,” said Capt. Catherine Robinson, his defense attorney. “Sgt. Osbourne didn’t leave the Army with joy, he left with sadness.”

Osbourne grew up in a religious, close-knit family in Mount Laurel, N.J., according to testimony from his parents. He used a track-and-field scholarship to go to college for two years and earn a nursing degree, but he wanted to join the Army.

Osbourne told the court he enlisted in 1994, and two years later was assigned to the 17th Signal Battalion in Kitzingen, Germany. He met and, in June 1997, married a German woman, Alexandra Hedwig. They had a son, Basil Osbourne III, who is now 6.

According to testimony from Osbourne and Alexandra, she traveled with him when he was transferred to Fort Huachuca, Ariz., in February 1999 and left him 14 months later.

“We had arguments; our marriage wasn’t going too well,” Alexandra Osbourne testified. “And I found out he was dating another girl.”

Osbourne said he didn’t hear from his wife for six months. In March 2001, he married his girlfriend, Sgt. Molly M. Jones, while they vacationed in Hawaii. He said a lawyer there told him he needed no divorce since he had been married in another country.

A month later, he rotated to the 385th Transportation Company at Camp Doha, Kuwait. For his mid-tour leave that October, he visited Alexandra and Basil III at their home near Würzburg. Angry over his second marriage, she allegedly told him he wouldn’t see his son again if he went back to the Army.

So, Basil Osbourne said, he stayed in Germany and got a job with a U.S. shipping company. He and Alexandra Osbourne separated permanently last August.

Although he visited American bases frequently to shop, he wasn’t caught until March 2, 2004, after a German police officer checked his ID during a traffic stop and grew suspicious.

Alexandra Osbourne told police her now-estranged husband was a deserter, according to a court document, and the Germans notified military police.

“I was quite relieved when they apprehended me, because I didn’t have to look over my shoulder anymore,” Basil Osbourne said.

His second child — a daughter, Michelle — was born 10 days after his arrest, while he was jailed at the military prison in Mannheim. Capt. Matthew Brown, the military prosecutor, said he could not locate Basil Osbourne’s second wife, so she did not testify.

Basil Osbourne and his parents begged that he be allowed to stay in the Army, and his former commanding officer at Fort Huachuca, Capt. Travis Robinette, testified by telephone from the United States that he believed Osbourne “had a lot of potential for greater responsibility.”

But Brown argued successfully for a punitive discharge, arguing Osbourne’s deceit was unworthy of a noncommissioned officer.

“He should have known what he was doing,” Brown said, “and he should not have done it.”

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