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YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea – Did a U.S. Army staff sergeant fake a marriage, give himself a college degree, lie about a training course and award himself a medal?

Military judge Col. Gregory Gross will have to decide when he begins deliberations Friday morning in a general court-martial that began Thursday against Staff Sgt. Karl Alderman Jr.

Government prosecutors Capt. Joon Hong and Capt. Matthew Williams argued that Alderman is guilty of seven specifications of making false official statements, two charges of larceny and one specification of wrongfully wearing the Meritorious Service Medal.

Alderman pleaded not guilty to all charges through defense attorneys Lt. Col. Mike Black and Capt. Lynn Williams.

During a motions hearing Wednesday, the defense team asked Gross to suppress some evidence and to dismiss some of the charges.

Key evidence — namely a medal award and training certificate, which prosecutors say are false — was discovered by a soldier who happened to notice a folder on Alderman’s desk in an Army workspace while Alderman was on leave.

Sgt. 1st Class Hampton, who declined to give his first name, testified during Wednesday’s hearing and Thursday’s trial that he noticed a suspicious medal citation in Alderman’s folder while paging through it.

Hampton said it looked like his own medal citation and he returned later to make a photocopy. He also copied a training certificate stating that Alderman had attended the Battle Staff Noncommissioned Officer Course as a junior soldier.

Hampton later informed his commander, Capt. Michael Norman, who alerted investigative agents.

But Gross ruled early Thursday morning that he would not grant the defense motion to suppress the evidence because Alderman had no “reasonable expectation of privacy” with a binder left on his desk in the workspace and that Hampton conducted a “private search motivated by his own curiosity.”

During opening statements Thursday, prosecutor Hong called the case unique “because the government must prove a negative” by showing that Alderman forged documents and that the real documents don’t actually exist.

Defense attorney Williams countered that the government was conducting a witch-hunt and that there is no way to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Alderman is guilty.

The prosecution called 12 witnesses Thursday, including Criminal Investigative Command agents, administrative specialists and the civilian woman Alderman claims he married in January 2001 and divorced in November 2005.

Defense attorney Williams repeatedly began questions to the woman — Shakia Short — by referring to her marriage to Alderman.

Short repeatedly – and increasingly testily — replied there was never a marriage and said the signature on a marriage application signed in Madison County, Fla., about 33 miles from her home of Valdosta, Ga., wasn’t hers.

“There is no marriage, ma’am,” Short responded to defense statements and questions. “I didn’t marry him.”

Following prosecution objections, Gross finally warned Williams about her line of questioning.

“You are badgering the witness at this point,” Gross stated.

Shakia said she married Air Force Staff Sgt. Jaierre Short on July 2, 2005, after dating him for four years. She added she had Short’s child in early 2002.

She admitted to dating Alderman for a year or two but claimed they broke up in 2000, her senior year in high school, months before meeting her husband.

“He kept cheating on me,” she said Thursday of Alderman. She said the last straw was when he cheated on her with another high school girl who he later married.

According to testimony and court documents, Alderman is accused of fraudulently receiving more than $50,000 in housing and family separation allowances by claiming he was married to Shakia and that she resided – with his son - in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

He also is accused of telling the Army in early October 2005 that he earned a bachelor’s degree from Georgia Southern University.


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