The evidence will show that NCIS targeted one man for this investigation, put words in his

mouth and thought that this would be enough. Justice deserves more, this court deserves more, and that Marine sitting over there deserves more. The government's burden is much higher than that. There are two themes in this trial from the defense perspective. One, credible evidence; and, two, \ government burden. They're intertwined and dependent upon one another. For the government to meet their burden of beyond a reasonable doubt, you must be / presented facts, credible evidence. We ask that this / court not be fooled by that house of straw. ^x As defense counsel, I want to present the whole story and all the facts to show you how flimsy the government's argument truly is. That is my best defense. At the end of this trial when you finally consider everything presented to this court, I ask this court to ask itself some questions. Was this piece of evidence credible enough to convict this Marine? Have I been presented enough evidence? The answer is no. And as badly as it is to discredit a child, the worse crime is convicting an innocent Marine. MJs Thank you, Lieutenant Melowcowsky. Captain Ellis, call your first witness,
TC:

Aye, aye, sir.
Captain Ellis, who is your witness? Sir, it's going to be Gloria Ehlers.

MJ: TC:

Ms. Gloria Bhlsrs, a civilian, was called as a witness by the prosecution, was sworn, and testified as follows: DIRECT EXAMINATION Questions by the prosecution:

Q.
A.

Would you please state your name and spell your last for
the record, please. Gloria Ehlers, E-H-L-E-R-S.

258

Q. A. MJ: WIT: MJ:

And what's your current city and state of residence? Rossville, Georgia. Could you spell the name of that town, please, ma'am. R-O-S-S-V-I-L-L-E. Thank you, ma'am. Captain Ellis.

Questions by the prosecution continued: Q. A, Q. A. Q. A. Q. A. Q. A. Q. A. Ma'am, could you give the military judge a little bit about your background, where you grew up and where you're from? I grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, lived in Rossville, Georgia, and that's where I grew up and lived. Do you know the accused in this case? Yes, I do. How do you know him? I was married to him. When did you first:meet him? December of '99. And how long did you date before you were married? Just a month or so. After you got married, where were you living? I -- when we first got married, I stayed in Chattanooga and then the accused got his place in Jacksonville, North Carolina, and then I moved there. At some point, did you come to Camp Pendleton in California? Yes, I did. Do you remember when that was? It was 2001. And did you have any --do you have any children? Yes, I do. What are their names? Randi and Samuel Hester.
259

Q.
A.

Q. A. Q. A. Q. A.

QA.

Are they children by you and the accused? No, it's from a previous marriage. And what was the accused's relationship with your stepchiIdren? It wasn't nice, but he was only a stepdad when he wanted to be. Did you have any additional children when you were married to the accused? No.
m>

Q. A. QA.

Q. Q.
Q. A.

Where was the first place you lived on Camp Pendleton? 204 Alderwood. And you lived there when you originally came to Base? Yes, December the 15th of 2001 I believe it was. Could you briefly describe what the layout of that house was? If you come in the front door, I have a living room and a dining room connected, offset was the kitchen and a laundry room, down the hall was a bedroom, a bathroom, a bedroom, and another bedroom. You said when you came in there's a living room and a dining room. Is there anything to separate those two rooms? No, there's not.

Q. A,

Q. A.
Q. A. Q.
A.

Are there any other floors to the house? No, just that one.

L

1

Did your family have a computer while you lived in this house? * Yes, we did. Where was that located? Which room? In between the dining room and living room. What would your family use the computer for? Check e-mails, games. Would the accused check e-mail? Yes, he would. Did you have access to his e-mail accounts? Yes, I did.

Q. A.

QA. Q. A.

260

Q. A. Q. DC: MJ: TC: MJ:
TC:

Would you ever view his e-mail? Yes, I would. What would you find when you viewed his e-mail? Obj ection, relevance, Captain Ellis? Sir, it goes to means, availability of pornography on his computer? In his e-mail?

Yes, sir.
Sir, I don't believe that Sergeant Ehlers is charged with distributing pornographic images. That's the only way that I can see the e-mail being relevant. Well, it does indicate -- the Specification of the Additional Charge indicates — or alleges that he exposed H Skovranko to pornographic images. I will allow it. The objection is overruled,

DC:-

MJ:

WIT:

Yeah, there was porn on it.
~-~

Questions by the prosecution continued; Q. A. Q. A. Q. A. What type of pornography would you find? Hot young teens, stuff like that. Did he keep any type of pornography in the house? He had a DVD collection, it was three disks. How did you know it was pornography? Because I wouldn't allow him to watch it in the living ^_,_—room and I didn't want it put out. He had to keep it either in the trunk of the car or in the closet. What became of that computer? What did you end up doing with it? When the hard drive crashed, I gave it to Thomas Kirk. I'm sorry, who did you give it to?

Q. A. MJ:

261

WIT:

Thomas Kirk.

Questions by the prosecution continued: Q,
A.

Ma'am, at some point when you lived on Alderwood Drive did you meet Paul and Stacy Skovranko? Yes, I did. Do you remember approximately when that was? No. How did you end up meeting them? H« come over when they were viewing the house next door to ours and wanted a peanut butter and jelly sandwich* And did they end up moving into the house next door to yours? Yes, they did. What was your relationship like with the Skovrankos? It was a pretty good relationship. You said H . That's -- you're referring to H; Is that their child? That's their daughter, yes. Okay. Yes. Did your children and H/ have a relationship?

Q. A. Q. A.

Q. A. Q. A. Q. Q. Q. A. Q. A.

What would they do together? Sammy, he was young and he thought girls was nasty. He wouldn't hang out with her that much. But Randi, being a little older, she would do her nails, put make up on her, fix her hair, that sort of thing. Were there occasions where your children visited their house? Yes, there was. And were there occasions when F Yes, there was. visited your house?

Q. A, Q. A. Q. A. Q. A.

During some of those times, would the accused be home? Some times. What would you and Stacy do together typically? Drink coffee and tea, smoke.
262

Q. A. Q. A. Q. A. Q.
A.

Where did that take place? It would be in the living room, dining room, outside in the yard. Where would the kids be during those times? Outside playing. Would they ever be inside? Sometimes if Randi was home it would be inside. Ma'am, have you ever had any serious operations around the time you were living on Camp Pendleton? I had one. What was that? A complete hysterectomy. And what is a hysterectomy? It's where they go in and they remove the womb and the ovaries. Did you experience any type of side effects because of that? Yeah. Could you describe what those were briefly, please? Lack of sexuality, mood swings, lots of things. Did this affect your living arrangement with the accused in any way? Yes, it did. How? Well, right after the surgery sleeping in the bed with him he would curl up and I would get hit in the stomach and it would really irritate me so I started sleeping on the couch and that's where I stayed. How long approximately -- let me back up a second, ma'am. When was your surgery? August of 2002. When did that take place? How long

Q. A, Q, A. Q. A. Q. A, Q.
A.

Q. A,

Q.

A. Q. A.

And you said.you began sleeping on the couch. did that last? I still sleep on the couch.

263

Q. A. Q.
A.

Could you describe what your sexual relationship was with the accused after the operation? There wasn't one. At some point, ma'am, did you guys move from Alderwood Drive? Yes, we did. Where did you move to? To Pinyon. Do you remember approximately when that was? Hold on a minute, Captain Ellis, Where did you move to, ma'am?

Q. A. Q. MJ:

WIT: MJ: WITt MJ: WIT:

Pinyon Drive. Spell the name of the drive, please, P-I-N-Y-O-N, Thank you. I think it was in April 2003.

Questions by the prosecution continued; Q. A. What was the layout of the house on Pinyon Drive? If you corae up the front door, when you come in the front door to the left was a dining room and kitchen. You can go straight down the hall, there's a bathroom and then the living area. Up the stairs was three bedrooms and a full bath. It was a two floor house? Yes? Three bedrooms and a full bath. Was there any other type of bath? There was a half bath in the master bedroom. Where was the full bath upstairs located at? In between the first bedroom and the second bedroom.

Q. A. Q. A. Q. A.

264

Q.
A.

When you lived at Pinyon Drive, you weren't neighbors with the Skovrankos anymore, correct? No, sir. Did you maintain a relationship with them? Yes, I did. What was that like? They would visit us and we would go over and visit them. Would you ever baby sit for them? Some times. How often would you say you baby sat for them on Pinyon Drive? Maybe three or four times. Who did you baby sit? H at first and then T
Who is T; ? Stacy and Paul's son» Ms, Skovranko's son.

*x

\ / . A*^

I v»y«Q. A.

N^

Q. A.

Q. A. ft/ QA. Q.

How old was he when you would baby sit him? Newborn. So when you were baby sitting for H and T where was the majority of your time spent? Most of my time was with T' being a baby. And what would H be doing during those times? ,

A.
Q. A. Q.
A,

If Randi was home she would be with Randi, and if Randi
wasn't there she would be in the living room watching cartoons or in the backyard playing. Was the accused home during some of those times where you baby sat? Some times. Ma'am, living in that house did you have -- did you maintain any type of lotions or anything like that in the house? Yes, I did, What type of lotions did you keep in the house? Hand lotions, tanning lotions, moisturizers.

Q. A.

265

Q. A. Q. A. Q. A. Q. A. Q. A. Q.
A.

For hand lotions and moisturizers, can you remember what type they were? They were Jergens and then Johnson's baby lotion\« Do you remember the color of the bottles on either one of those? The Jergens bottle is white with blue writing, the Johnson's baby lotion is pink with white writing. Did you ever keep any pets? Yes, I did. What type of pets did you have at the second house on Pinyon? We had three kittens. .And anything else? We had fish. Did you ultimately end up becoming separated from the accused? Yes, we did, And why was that? I don't understand the -Why did you guys end up deciding to separate? Objection, relevance. Captain Ellis? I believe -- I think the -- I believe the defense said in their opening that there was a motive here for stepdaughter -Captain Ellis, is anything that was said by counsel for either side evidence?
No, sir.

Q. A. Q. DC: MJ: TC:

MJ:
TC:

MJ: TC:

All right. What's the relevance then as the basis for this witness* separation from Sergeant Ehlers? Sir, to show the reason that they separated was not -didn't have -- there were no bad motives during the separation is essentially it.
•'

rC

U

* 266

MJ:

Lieutenant Meloweowsky, do you wish to be heard?

DC:
MJ: WIT:

No, sir,
The objection is overruled. I will allow it.

We just grew apart. He — I'm 12 years older than him. I was ready-to settle down and raise my kids. He wanted to drink and have fun and it just wasn't working. Thank you, ma'am. I have no further questions.

TC: DC:

Sir, may I have just one moment.

The military judge nodded in the affirmative. The accused and his counsel conferred.

DC: MJ:

Sir, may I?
You may.
CROSS-EXAMINATION

Questions by the defense: Q. A. Q. Good afternoon. Is it all right if I call you Gloria? (witness nodded head in the affirmative.) I just want to clarify a few things that were brought up on direct if you don't mind. You had said that there was no ill will between you and Sergeant Ehlers before you got divorced, correct? (Witness nodded head in the affirmative.) Hold on, Lieutenant Melowcowsky. Ma'am, the Sergeant here to my immediate left is striking everything that is said, and as you can see I'm taking notes myself using the laptop. I need for^your responses at all times to be^ audible yestfe or no*s or words to that effect. I cannot, nor can Sergeant Jordan, record nods or uh-huhs.

A. MJ:

^

267

WIT: MJ: WIT: MJ:

Okay. Thank you very much, Sorry. That's okay. ^

Lieutenant Melowcowsky, please -- tJ±t3 your last question with respect to the ill will?
DC:

Yes.

Questions by the defense continued: Q. A. Q.
A.

You said that there was no ill will between you and Sergeant Ehlers before you got divorced? True. Isn't it true that you found another woman's number in his pants? Yes, I did. And that you thought maybe he was -- had an extramarital affair? I had already talked to the person that I know what was going on. But that didn't make you angry? No. What made me angry was he lied about. So there was some ill will? No. I wasn't ill with him when I left. separated and it was done, I was fine. When we

Q. A. Q. A. Q. A. Q. A. Q. A. Q. A. Q. A, -

Now, you said that you had your surgery in 2002? I believe it was, yes. You didn't have your surgery in 2001 in Jacksonville? He aaked here --he asked me about the surgery here, not in Jacksonville. So there were two surgeries? I had a mass removed in Jacksonville. You also talked about the computer in Alderwood -Uh-hmm.

268

Q. A. Q.

-- and you said that -- and if I remember correctly, and correct me if I'm wrong, you said something like Hot Teens or something on a Yahoo account? Uh-huh. Yes. I'm sorry. Would it surprise you to know that NCIS did an investigation on Sergeant Ehlers' Yahoo account and discovered that there were no -Objection.

TC:

MJ: TC: MJ:
TC:

Basis? Relevance, sir. You opened the door to this, Captain Ellis.

Yes, sir.
Overruled. Sit down. Lieutenant^" 4aTi^
,

MJ:

^—

tfStf^VCur

3&^\

Questions by the defense continued: Q. A. Q. A. Q. That NCIS did an investigation into Sergeant Ehlers' Yahoo account and found that there was no child porn sites? He has two accounts. Do you agree that they investigated the accounts that you told them that he had and that they found no child porn sites? I can't argue with it,

A.
MJ:

i | Okay. Would you also say that — would you also be surprised to know that at one point during the investigation into the crimes alleged that H Skovranko claimed that you are in the house during one of the alleged incidents? I was told that, yes.
I'm sorry, what was your last response, ma'am? / I was told that.

WIT:

269

Questions by the defense continued:
Q. A. QA.

Was that true? I don't know. Did you witness anything? Ho, I haven't. Did you kick Sergeant Ehlers out of the house — did you walk in on a situation that you saw, yell at Sergeant Ehlers, tell H . to leave the house and then tell Eddie to leave the house? No, I didn't. So if the child said that she would be wrong? Yes. Hold on. Lieutenant. So I understand correctly, ma'am, there was never an occasion wherein you yelled at Sergeant Ehlers in front of H Skovranko and told him to leave the house?

Q.

A.

Q. A.
MJ:

WIT:
MJ: WIT: MJ:

No.

So that never happened? I never hollered at him in front of Hv Thank you ma'am. Lieutenant.

Questions by the defense continued: Q. A. Q. A. Q.
A.

How long have you been friends with Stacy Skovranko? Since 2001. Would you consider yourself close friends? Yes, I would. Close enough where you watch their children when they need babysitters? Yes, I did. Have you continued to keep in touch even after you moved? Yes, we have.

Q. A.

270

DC:

I have nothing further, Your Honor. I'm sorry. Your Honor, may I have one second?

MJ:

You may,

The defense counsel conferred, DC: Sorry, ma'am. May I continue?
MJ:

Yes. -

Questions by the defense continued: Q. A. Q. A. Q. A. MJ: You also have a brother, don't you? Yes, I do. And what's his name? Jimmy Johnson. And would Jimmy come to visit you during this tiroefratne? ! I He come out and stayed a couple of months and then — J \ </ Hold on, ma'am. Which titneframe are you referring to, Lieutenant? DC: MJ: The time alleged in the charge sheet, Your Honor. Okay. Thank you.

Continue. WIT: And we went back to Chattanooga to visit #aet him and a friend of his drove us back out here and then went home on a bus.

ee*.

Questions by the defense continued; Q. A, MJ: And approximately how old is James? Thirty-four. Hold on. You said -- first you said your brother's name is Jitrany Johnson.
271

WIT: DC: MJ:

Well, James, I'm sorry. It's --

Are we talking about the same person?

WIT:
DC: WIT: MJ:

Yes.
It is. Sorry. Okay. Everyone needs to stop talking. This may be new. Only one person can talk at a time in my courtroom and when I'm talking it's me. The reason for that is Sergeant Jordan here can only type one person talking at a time and he's sworn an oath that he is going to type everything that happens in here. Only one of us can go at a time. Okay, ma'am? I apologize, Your Honor,

WIT: MJ:

{Witness nodded head in the affirmative.) Thank you. Now, Jimmy Johnson and James Johnson is the same person. Lieutenant, is that your understanding?

DC:
MJ:

Yes, sir.
And, ma'am, that's your testimony?

WIT:
MJ:

Yes.
Thank you. All right. Please continue.

Questions by the defense continued: Q. A. DC: And so approximately how old? Thirty-four. Thank you. I have nothing further, Your Honor.

272

MJ:
TC:

Redirect, Captain Ellis?

Yes, sir.
REDIRECT EXAMINATION

Questions by the prosecution:

Q, A. Q. A. Q.
A.

Ma'am, have you ever in your marriage yelled at the accused -- during your ex-marriage, excuse me, yelled at the accused? Yes, I have. Is it possible that during one of these times H< have been around? It's possible. may

Ma'am, are you currently — is your divorce final with the accused? Yes. Can you possibly gain anything out of these proceedings? No. Nothing further, sir, Lieutenant Melowcowsky, recross?
No, Your Honor. EXAMINATION BY THE COURT

Q. A, TC: MJ:
IDC:

Questions by the military judge:

Q. A. Q. A.

Ma'am, when did you divorce Sergeant Ehlers? I don't know. You'll have to ask him. You couldn't tell me a month or a year when you decided to divorce your husband? I didn't know anything about the divorce. I wasn't living here, I was in Georgia. And when I had contacted him he said that our divorce would be final in a few days and hung up. When did you move to Georgia? 2004 I believe it was.

Q. A.

273

Q. A. Q.
A.

Why did you move to Georgia? I was closer to my family. Had you been separated from Sergeant Ehlers at that point when you moved? Yes. When did you separate from Sergeant Ehlers, if you recall? I think it was April of 2004. Whose idea was it to separate? -Well, he had already moved out of the house on Pinyon and I was trying to get an extension to stay until the end of the school year in Base Housing, and then I just changed ray mind and then we moved to Jacksonville, North Carolina, first and stayed there a couple of months. Do you recall when Sergeant Ehlers moved out of the house? I think it was in January or February of '04. Had you and he been having problems prior to that? Yes. Do you recall Problems. My evening — or problems just when these problems began? son got attacked by a dog on Base and that before that we had gotten into it and the never went away.

Q. A. Q. A.

Q. A. Q. A. Q. A.

Q. A. Q. A. Q. A. Q.
A.

Okay. Ma'am, when was your son attacked by a dog on Base? August the 7th of '02. And if I understand your earlier testimony, then you and Sergeant Ehlers got into an argument that evening? We had got into it that afternoon. And it's that argument that never resolved itself? Not really. Do you recall in general terms what that argument was about? Yes, I do. And what was it? Can I say all of it?

Q. A.

274

Q. A. Q. A. Q. A. Q. A. Q. A. Q. A. Q. A.

Well, tna'am, I need you to answer my question. He called my daughter an unruly bitch and I hit him. How did you hit him? With my fist. Was there anything in your fist at the time? Nope. Where on his body did you hit him? The jaw. How many times did you hit him? Once. What happened after you punched him in the face? He called the MPs, they came out, he had to pack some stuff and leave. What is your understanding of why he had to leave? There was a protection order and I think what they had said was it was for the interest of both of us that he left. Was there a protection order prior to 7 August 2002? No. Who was being protected from who? I don't know. They made him leave. So if I understand this correctly, ma'am, on August the 7th, 2002, your son Samuel was attacked by a dog on Base? Right. And this same day Sergeant Ehlers referred to your daughter as an unruly bitch and you punched him? Yes, I did. When Sergeant Ehlers left that house on 7 August 2002 did he ever return? Yes, he did. Did he return to stay or to visit? To start out with it was just visiting and then he said that he had to move back in, so he moved back in.

Q. A. Q. A. Q. A. Q.
A.

Q.
A.

Q. A.

275

Q. A, Q. A.
L

When did he move back in? I believe it was in November. This is in 2002? Yes,
1

Q.
A.

And then he moved out again in January or February timeframe of 2004? Yes, Between November 2002 until January or February 2004, did you have any additional arguments or problems between you and your husband? We argued but we didn't fight anymore. There was no punches thrown. So I take it then when you make the distinction in your mind the difference between arguing and fighting that if there are punches thrown that's what makes it a fight. Is that correct? No. I know that -- what I'm saying is we argued -Okay. -- but through these arguments there was no physical altercations. It was just verbal.
. ^

Q. A, Q.

A. Q. A. Q. A. Q.

Okay. Well, didn't fight Well, I know there was no Okay.

you starir telling me," we argued but we anymore.'*' it's the same, but when I say fight I mean punches.

That's my question.

A. Q. A. Q. A. Q. A.

Why did your husband move out in January or February of 2004? I don't know. Did you ever ask him why? No. Why not? The marriage was over. In your mind, when was this marriage over? I don't know. It just - - i t just didn't feel right anymore.

276

Q. A.

Were you surprised when he moved out? No. Was there some sort of gradual thing or did one day he just pack up in the heat of the moment and he packed up all his stuff and left? No, it was just over a couple of weeks, you know. Okay. What happened over a couple of weeks? He just would talk about not being happy anymore, not wanting to be married so many more years down the road and then ending up in divorce, so it would be better just to go ahead and end it now. So you had conversations with him about this? Oh-hnsn -- yes. How many conversations? Three or four. Did you want this marriage to end? Not right when it did. Why? I wanted my kids to be able to finish the school year out here. I had even talked to him about staying in the house until the end of the school year. What did he say to that? No. How did that make you feel? I was mad but there wasn't nothing I could do about it.

QA.

Q. A.

Q. A.

Q.
A.

QA.

Q.
A.

MJ

Thank you, ma'am.

Questions in light of mine, Captain Ellis?
TC

Yes, sir,
REDIRECT EXAMINATION

Questions by the prosecution:
Q.

A.

Was your hysterectomy operation before or after the incident where you struck the accused? It was after.

277

A

TC: MJ: DC: MJ:

Thank you, ma'am. Defense? I'm sorry, sir. May I have just one moment? Please.

The defense counsel conferred. DC: I'm sorry, sir. No further questions. MJ:
TC:

Warning or recall?

Yes, sir.
Which? Both, sir.

MJ: TC:

The witness was warned, excused subject to recall, and withdrew from the courtroom. MJ: TC: MJ: Additional evidence from the government? Sir, the government calls Special Agent Eric Meulenberg of NCIS, Very well. Actually before we do that, Captain Ellis, we're going to take a brief health and comfort break. The court will be in recess.
The court-martial recessed at 1302, 20 August 2007. The court-martial was called to order at 1311, 20 August 2007.

MJ:

The court is called back to order. All parties present when the court last recessed are once again present. Captain Ellis, you may proceed.

TC:

Sir, the government calls Special Agent Eric Meulenberg, NCIS.

278 •»