This is the story of Edwin's wrongful conviction put together with the documentation I have accumulated over the last 4 1/2 years.
Included are the links to the referenced documents showing that I have gone to the Judge Advocate General, the Secretary of the Navy, Commandant of the Marine Corps, NCIS IG, DOD IG, the Government attorney and the Courts with this documentation. NO ONE has done anything about it.
Included in the documentation is NCIS documents showing there was NO CONFESSION given, a statement from the military judge also stating there is no confession, letters sent/received from various military departments proving they have been made aware of these lies, but done nothing to correct it; statements given to NCIS agents during the course of their investigation, testimony given at trial (which when compared to earlier statements from the alleged victim and her family, shows significant inconsistencies), letters/e-mails sent from Edwin's ex-wife Gloria Ehlers (aka Gloria Johnson/Hester) and also the forensic interview and testimony of the alleged "victim" herself, H.S.
I have removed certain personal details for privacy reasons and also the fact that I had to file a police report against Edwin's ex-wife, Gloria Ehlers and a few of her family members for stealing Edwin's identity and running up bills in his name at various addresses.
After reading this, you will see that Edwin was not given a fair trial and is still a victim of the military justice system to this day. The investigation itself was not thorough or impartial at any point, and this fact was acknowledged by NCIS Special Agent Eric Muelenberg in his testimony. Edwin has also had many of his Constitutional rights either willfully ignored or completely disregarded all together.
In March 2012, I contacted a man who is doing a documentary film called Lawless America. There are over 650 people who are being interviewed about the corruption in our government, courts, etc.
Edwin's story will be filmed in August and I will be giving a 3 minute testimony that will be played before Congress. I will also be personally interviewed about Edwin's wrongful conviction. All documentation will be provided as well as the names of the individuals/government offices involved.
NOTE: This "timeline" is not in chronological order since it took months to receive responses to letters and Court submissions. The dates that everything occurred on are included.
To start at the beginning, Edwin was married to Gloria Ehlers (aka Gloria Johnson/Hester) when they resided on base at Camp Pendleton. Gloria became friends with their neighbors, Paul and Stacey Skovranko when the Skovranko’s moved in next door to them in the summer of 2002.
In January/February 2004, Gloria and Edwin split up and Gloria moved from California back to North Carolina.
At the end of May 2004, Gloria had taken her 2 children from a previous marriage, Randi and Samuel Hester to South Carolina to visit the Skovranko’s, who had moved there in October of 2003.
The night of June 1, 2004, while visiting the Skovranko’s, Randi Hester (Edwin's former step-daughter) and Stacey Skovranko (the alleged victim's mother) talked about Edwin and Gloria's separation. NCIS documents and court testimony state that Randi and Stacey talked about Gloria’s financial issues and hardships since she and Edwin had separated.
According to Stacey, Randi, a 13 yr old child at the time, approached Stacey and told Stacey that she witnessed H.S. (the alleged victim) touching herself in her bedroom. Stacey told Randi to talk to H.S. about it because H.S. wouldn’t tell Stacey anything and Stacey stated that she suspected someone had touched H.S. and wanted to see what H.S. would tell Randi.
Randi confronted H.S. and specifically asked H.S. if someone had touched her. According to Randi’s statement to NCIS, H.S. responded that “someone had touched her” but H.S. refused to provide the name of the person who did it and if she (H.S.) told, her "mommy would be mad at her." Randi then told H.S. that they would have to tell Stacey about this and H.S. agreed.
Now, Randi gave a statement to NCIS in June 2004 about the events that took place on June 2, 2004, when the allegations came out. In Randi’s own words, when she and H.S. went to Stacey to tell her that H.S. had said someone touched her, Randi told NCIS agents that H.S. refused to provide the name of the person to her mother Stacey. Randi then stated to the agents that Stacey provided Edwin's name to H.S., and H.S. agreed. Otherwise H.S. never said the name of the person who allegedly did this to her.
This is how Edwin’s name was brought into these lies.
Stacey called her husband, Petty Officer Paul Skovranko at work. Paul stated to NCIS that he went to his commanding officer, Chaplain Gibson, and told him that Stacey said H.S. had been sexually assaulted by Edwin. Paul then stated that he was told by Chaplain Gibson to go home and take H.S. to the Beaufort Naval Hospital, which according to him--he did.
Paul arrived home at approximately 2:20 pm, questioned his daughter for several hours before taking her to the Beaufort Naval Hospital. Paul, in his sworn statement, stated “I took H.S. to the naval hospital at 4:45 pm. I spoke to the officer of the day, hospital staff, and security. They refused to treat my daughter”.
Paul also said that he signed H.S. into the emergency room because the pediatrics department was closed, allowed the nurses to take her vitals (so there should be a record of H.S. being at the hospital) and then they waited in the exam room for several hours and NO ONE came into the room to treat his daughter.
After waiting for several hours for treatment, H.S. told Paul that Edwin did not do anything to her. So he said he became frustrated, he signed her out of the hospital and took her home. He arrived home and ordered dinner, called friends and family, then at approximately 9:00 pm he contacted NCIS.
NCIS and the Military Police did not come to the home the night on June 2, 2004, when the allegations were first made and the same night that Paul allegedly took H.S. to the hospital, so Paul and Stacey had to go to the NCIS office the next morning aboard Parris Island MCRD to give their sworn statements.
Paul's statements to this point don't make any sense. On a military base, the MP’s would have been at the home within minutes to take statements. We later found out that Petty Officer Skovranko, not only being a Religious Program Specialist, is also a trained victim’s advocate and is trained to work with rape victims so he has extensive knowledge about how the investigations, both at the hospital and NCIS work (Paul stated this to the Court in his closing testimony).
There were also several inconsistencies with Stacey Skovranko's sworn statement to NCIS agents. At NO TIME were the guns removed from Edwin's home after he allegedly threatened Randi with a bee bee gun. I contacted the Military Police Station at Camp Pendleton and requested copies of all reports pertaining to Edwin, Gloria Ehlers, Samuel Hester, Randi Hester, Paul Skovranko and his wife Stacey. The MP's have NO record of this alleged even ever having taken place. Before they lived at Camp Pendleton, Edwin did own a rifle. While he was out of the country doing training in Japan, Gloria Ehlers pawned the rifle to pay for her vacation.
Stacey also talks about an incident where H.S. is at the hospital and tells a nurse not to touch her "privates". Stacey says that this hospital visit happened AFTER meeting Edwin and Gloria Ehlers. Stacey also implied that this hospital visit was after Edwin babysat for H.S. and allegedly sexually assaulted her. H.S.'s medical records reflect that she visited the Camp Pendleton Naval Hosptial on 12/12/01, 7 months prior to meeting Edwin and Gloria Ehlers. Unfortunately, I am unable to upload copies of her medical record for viewing because of privacy rights, but I do have them in my possession. They came from the case file Lt. Michael Melocowsky gave to Edwin before his wrongful conviction.
It was discovered after the conviction, that Petty Officer Skovranko never took H.S. to the hospital on June 2, 2004. I have an e-mail, from a FOIA request from Edwin's former attorney who contacted the Family Advocacy Program (a Department of Defense program under DoDD 6400.1) that states H.S. was NEVER at the Beaufort Naval Hospital in the month of June 2004. Petty Officer Skovranko lied about going to the hospital to seek treatment.
Where did he go when he left his home at 4:45 pm and returned home several hours later?
The next day, June 3, 2004, Paul and Stacey went into the NCIS office and gave their sworn statements regarding the above information. NCIS did not verify any of the information supplied by Petty Officer Skovranko and his wife Stacey. If they had, they would have known that H.S. was NOT at the hospital the previous evening.
On June 9, 2004, NCIS conducted a forensic interview with H.S.
During the interview, H.S. requested to use the bathroom and you can hear her mother coaching her in the bathroom while on a break in the video. H.S. also told the NCIS agent that “Miss Gloria”, Edwin’s ex-wife, and a boy named James, witnessed Edwin raping her, threatening her, spanking her and sodomizing her.
H.S. was also asked to demonstrate with the anatomical dolls her alleged rape and sodomy, as she claims to have happened, yet when she was unable to perform the tasks with the dolls that NCIS requested, there is a knock at the door and the tape and interview abruptly end (this is also in a video that I unable to post because of privacy reasons but have in my possession). At the end of the interview, H.S. thanked the NCIS agent for “telling me what he did to me” and also admitted to being coached in her statements but could not remember who told her to say those things.
H.S. later stated at trial that she NEVER told anyone that Gloria, James or Donna Kerr (Gloria's mother) were present. She also denied stating that she had been raped, threatened or coached. She also could not remember that a neighborhood child had put his hands in her pants and exposed himself to her during the same time frame that the Government alleged these acts having taken place.
Gloria Ehlers testified against Edwin at the trial. Gloria stated that she wasn't angry when her and Edwin split up, then recanted her testimony later and said she was extremely angry at him. The defense asked Gloria at the trial if she had witnessed anything involving Edwin and H.S., mind you, Gloria had never been questioned about it before (and it was over 3 yrs earlier when she was accused of being party to this alleged sexual assault). Gloria specifically told the court that she did not witness anything and if H.S. said that she did then H.S. was untruthful.
In other words, H.S. was LYING.
Petty Officer Paul Skovranko stated at trial, he took his daughter to the Beaufort Naval Hospital. Which we now know never happened, the hospital confirmed this and the medical records support it as well. Petty Officer Skovranko also talked about the child James, who put his hands in H.S.'s pant when they resided at Camp Pendleton had also exposed himself to H.S. This is the same James who H.S. told NCIS was present and witnessed her alleged sexual assault, along with Gloria Ehlers, but neither one of them was ever questioned.
Stacey Skovranko's testimony at trial was impeached by the military judge. She was found to be inconsistant and untruthful in her testimony. She couldn't keep her lies straight.
What else are these people lying about? What are they hiding and why the drastic inconsistencies of events they participated in?
So, there are no witnesses to the alleged crime. The child, H.S., admitted that she had not been raped or threatened. She also told the military judge that she did not “remember” what happened to her, but Edwin was still convicted and given a 25 year sentence based on a trial that was held "on the merits" meaning NO EVIDENCE.
But it doesn't end here.
June 15, 2004, H.S. had her forensic exam done. The doctor noted that there were no signs of a rape, sexual assault or any other type of trauma to her body in his official report. Her hymen was still intact as well.
Charges were preferred for trial against Edwin by the Marine Corps in mid June 2004, after NCIS conducted the interviews with Gloria Ehlers, Randi Hester, Samuel Hester, Donna Kerr, Paul Skovranko, Stacey Skovranko and H.S.
About the same time that H.S. had her forensic exam; NCIS received copies of her medical records. They noted she had been seen at the naval hospital on several occasions for various reasons, but were careful not to admit they found no evidence of her having been there on 6/2/04.
In the meantime, Edwin was still allowed to deploy with his unit to Iraq from the end of June/beginning of July 2004 until the end of January 2005 (give or take a few days) even though he had charges pending against him for these alleged acts. When it was discovered through his command that he had deployed, the charges was “suspended” in August 2004 and preferred again for trial in March/April 2005 after he returned.
Edwin was not contacted by NCIS regarding these allegations against him until the end of March 2005, when his commanding officer approached him and told him that he was to report for duty at the NCIS building on April 4, 2005 for an interview.
On April 4, 2005, Edwin was interrogated by two NCIS Agents, Special Agent Art Spafford and Special Agent Laura Merz. He told them that he did not know H.S. very well, but knew of her since his ex-wife was friends with the child’s mother. Edwin told them that she was falsely blaming him and that this may have been instigated by his ex-wife Gloria, who was angry at him because he did not have to pay her spousal support anymore (which Gloria admitted at trial that at the time these allegations came forward in June 2004, she was extremely angry at Edwin). Edwin even volunteered to take a polygraph to prove his innocence.
The next time Edwin was contacted by NCIS, he was told by his commanding officer again to report for duty at the NCIS building on May 25, 2005. Edwin submitted to a polygraph exam. He actually took 4 of them in a 12 hour time period. The NCIS Agent conducting them, Special Agent Eric Muelenberg, told Edwin that he was not going to video or audio record the exam because the results would speak the truth, but it is noted in documents that a video camera was present in the room, although not utilized.
Special Agent Muelenberg stated that Edwin did not pass any of the tests and he wanted Edwin to write down a confession. According to testimony at trial, Edwin did not write down a confession because Special Agent Muelenberg said that he would dictate what to write and Edwin stated there was nothing to write because he did not do anything wrong. Edwin then requested to speak to an attorney.
Special Agent Muelenberg admitted to the court that he continued to interrogate Edwin until the duty driver arrived even after Edwin requested an attorney. This is a violation of Edwin's Miranda Rights. The judge, Lt. Col. Brian E. Kasprzyck told the court the day Edwin was convicted that he "would not consider the testimony of Special Agent Muelenberg with regards to Sgt Ehlers requesting to terminate the interview and speak to an attorney".
Now, the actual testimony, with regards to the Miranda rights violation was removed from the record of trial, but the judge's statement remains. In March 2011, while still in the appeals process, I brought this fact up to the military courts. The Marine Corps contacted Edwin in writing stating that the tapes from the trial were being erased to hide the fact that there is testimony missing from the required verbatim record of trial.
A violation of someone’s Miranda Rights is enough to have the case thrown out, aside from the fact that there was perjured testimonies used at the trial, but the judge just ignored everything.
Special Agent Eric Meulenberg testified that he received a full confession about the acts that allegedly occurred with H.S. I found it extremely interesting that Special Agent Meulenberg's alleged confession from Edwin DOES NOT match what H.S. says happened.
The military judge, at one point, announced to the Court that he "has no evidence as to this alleged confession made by Sgt. Ehlers. There's references in Appellate exhibit XXVI, a passing reference by Special Agent Meulenberg. There's nothing in the body of the Governments motion that I see".
The Government says that they had not submitted it yet. What they submitted was Meulenberg's statement about the confession. Nothing was ever written or recorded showing Edwin "confessing". Special Agent Meulenberg was even asked at the trial if it would be more credible evidence to have a signed confession, or at the very least a video tape of the alleged confession. He stated no, he did not believe it would be more credible than his word.
The defense objected to the admission of Special Agent Muelenberg's write up about the alleged confession because they could not test it's credibility because Special Agent Meulenberg couldn't prove it happened.
Lt. Michael Melocowsky had also written to Edwin's attorney Mike and reiterated the fact that there was no confession from Edwin (contrary to what Lt. Melocowsky has said to me over the phone). Lt. Melocowsky stated "I will contact NCIS and CAPT Ellis about the polygraph ASAP. Most of those documents will be in the record of trial. You will see there really isn't a confession. They looked ridiculous on the stand trying to say that it was".
Edwin was arraigned on 4/27/07, 5/17/07 and then again on 8/20/07. During his arraignments, charges were being dropped left and right because of the recantations from H.S. and her family.
Edwin was then wrongfully convicted on 8/21/07, sentenced to 25 years (reduced to 19 yrs by the convening authority Lt. Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser in Feb 2008) and taken to the brig aboard Camp Pendleton.
In October 2007, Gloria Ehlers (Edwin’s ex-wife) wrote a letter to him while he was still at Camp Pendleton. In the letter, she talks about how sorry she is about what happened and begs for his forgiveness. She says that she found out “things” the Tuesday before the trial that she did not know about before. Gloria also makes it clear that she will help Edwin, even if it cost her the friendship she has with Paul Skovranko and his family.
In January 2008, while incarcerated at Camp Pendleton, Edwin was “snuck out” of the brig for an appointment by a former military attorney, Lt. Col. Colby Vokey (Ret.). I had spoken to Lt. Col. Vokey (Ret.) for several hours after getting his name from a family member who heard about him on the radio in Southern California (Thanks Karen!).
Lt. Col. Vokey (Ret.) suggested, after hearing that Special Agent Art Spafford and Special Agent Eric Muelenberg were involved with the investigation of Edwin’s case, to have another series of polygraph examinations done. This was also suggested because NCIS was (and still is) unable to locate the actual graph for the exam itself. So before the convening authority, Lt. Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser acted on the case, Edwin underwent 4 more polygraph exams.
Mr. Paul Redden, a polygraph examiner for the San Diego Police Department came to Camp Pendleton and conducted four polygraph exams. This time, they were video and audio recorded for quality assurance. A few days after the examination, Mr. Redden along with 3 other associates concluded that Edwin was telling the truth when he denied having any sexual contact with H.S. The other examiners were used to quality check Mr. Redden's testing procedures and the test itself. Something that NCIS never did before they “lost” the results of the exam.
We did find in the record of trial, the polygraph log from NCIS dated May 25, 2005. On the paper it was P 1:18, I :23, P: 4:15. These notations mean Pass, Inconclusive, Pass. According to the Military Rules of Evidence, Rule 707(a), the polygraph log and OPINION of the examiner are not allowed into evidence. Yet, they are in the record of trial and listed as evidence and show Pass, Inconclusive, Pass.
Edwin and I have also done numerous FOIA requests to NCIS HQ for the graph print out of the test taken at the Camp Pendleton NCIS building on May 25, 2005. The last of those FOIA requests dated April 6, 2010 says that the files have still not been located.
February 2008, Edwin’s former attorney Mike asked for the sign in/out for the Naval Hospital for the night of June 2004. The Convening Authority’s Staff Judge Advocate, Lt. Col. Robert M. Miller (Ret.) declined to provide any information because it does not exist.
Mike also contacted the Family Advocacy Program (F.A.P.) under DoD 6400.1, who are required to be involved with investigation when allegations of a sexual assault occur on or off base, and especially when a minor is involved. They responded that they had no knowledge about H.S. and her accusations against Edwin nor any file on the Skovranko’s at all. The hospital would have been required to make this mandatory report to the F.A.P. if Paul had taken H.S. to the naval hospital for treatment in June 2004. Being that he is a trained victim's advocate, he knew the reporting requirements the hospital was legally required to make.
The Convening Authority, Lt. Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, acted on Edwin’s case near the end of February 2008 and granted 6 years clemency. This reduced Edwin’s sentence to 19 years.
On April 25, 2008, after conformation through hospital sources that Petty Officer Skovranko DID NOT take H.S. to the hospital as stated; Stacey Skovranko was incorrect in her sworn statement when she stated that H.S. had vaginal issues AFTER Edwin babysat and a few other discrepancies, I contacted the Officer in Charge of Legal Support Services at Camp Pendleton, the prosecuting attorney's office.
Little did I know that the OIC was Maj. Clay A. Plummer, who was the supervising attorney at Edwin’s trial. Maj. Plummer is currently a military judge on the east coast.
Now, I was calling to report that not only was perjured testimony used but also that a defense witness and I had received strange phone calls (which were previously reported to Edwin’s military defense attorney, Lt. Michael Melocowsky, who did nothing about it) from the prosecuting attorney Capt. John Ellis. When called, the caller identified himself as the defense attorney for Edwin and started asking questions. Capt. Ellis had mistaken me for Edwin’s ex-wife Gloria (because he started asking about my brother James and if he had a criminal history) and I responded that I did not have a brother named James or criminal history, so he must have realized his folly at that point and ended the call before I could ask more questions. Thank god for *69, because that was how I found out who the caller really was. He was in fact, the prosecuting attorney and NOT the defense attorney as he had previously identified himself to be before hanging up the phone on me.
The other defense witness had an entirely different experience.
Apparently, Capt. Ellis called Angela R. and told her that he was a defense attorney and was calling to ask her a few questions about her upcoming testimony for Edwin’s trial. Angela R. was more than happy to speak to him, until Capt. Ellis told her that Edwin admitted to this misconduct just a few days ago.
Angela R. and I had just spoken earlier that morning and she knew that there was no such admission from Edwin, because he did nothing wrong. Angela R. immediately started taking notes during the call, and when she questioned Capt. Ellis, he admitted that he was the prosecuting attorney and had every right to speak to her. Angela R. "literally" called him a liar and his response was that this was the only way to get her to talk to him (by misrepresenting himself). She asked him for his personal information and then declined to speak further.
After the call, Angela R. called me and told me to get in touch with Edwin about it so he could tell his attorney Lt. Michael Melocowsky. In the meantime, Angela R. also sent an e-mail to the Judge Advocate General’s office to report her conversation with Capt. Ellis. She never received a response from JAG.
Lt. Melocowsky, with the information supplied by Angela R. and myself, refused to do anything. He told Angela R.’s husband John and I on the first day of the trial, that he would call her to get more details but he never followed though. Lt. Melocowsky also refused to take our statements about Capt. Ellis’ misconduct to be used later if necessary. When I confronted Lt. Melocowsky about why he refused to do anything about the calls, I was told I had no idea what I was talking about because I had no legal training and that my husband admitted to everything, and “how dare I question his methods” and he hung up on me.
Anyway, getting back to my conversation with Major Plummer, when Maj. Plummer asked me what the call was about and I provided him with all the information I had. He then stated that he was there at the trial and remembered Edwin’s conviction and case well. Major Plummer informed me that it was Capt. Ellis’ first “win” in the court room which is why he (Maj. Plummer) was supervising and sitting second chair. He was very cordial during our approx. hour long conversation and I brought things to his attention that he did not know about previously. I also asked him that if he knew (as he did at that point) that perjured testimony was used in the proceedings, would he be required to report it. He stated, yes he would. It was his “legal and judicial obligation” to report to the court that the proceedings were invalid, especially if there was perjured testimony used to gain a conviction. He then told me about his family and asked me several more questions.
The one that I remember clearly was if I resided in the San Diego area so I could bring in the paperwork myself that I had found. I told Major Plummer no, but I would be happy to send it to him. He gave me his mailing address and we amicably ended the call. Immediately, I wrote out a letter documenting our call (from the notes I had taken) and sent it, along with all the evidence he requested showing the perjured testimony the next morning.
I sent the letter, as well as the requested documents certified mail.
Once I got the notification that the letter was received at the LSS office at Camp Pendleton and on Maj. Plummer’s desk, I informed Edwin’s attorney Mike and Mike called there himself. He was eager to work with Maj. Plummer to correct the proceedings that were not conducted according to the law.
Maj. Plummer had different ideas.
Maj. Plummer first denied ever having spoken to me or receiving any letters and it was only when Mike brought up some specific information that Maj. Plummer shared with me about his own family, did Maj. Plummer suddenly dance a different tune.
Maj. Plummer acknowledged that he spoke to me and got the information that I had sent, per his request, but declined to make any official reports. He said that I was nothing but a distraught wife and mother and didn’t know what the hell I was talking about and ended the call with Mike.
So I decided, after hearing about the conversation with Maj. Plummer from Mike, to go far above Maj. Plummer and directly to the Judge Advocate General of the Navy whose office is supposed to supervise all attorneys and judges acting on the Navy’s behalf. I also sent the information to the Commandant of the Marine Corps. I supplied the information discovered at that point; including the letter and certified mail receipt from the letter sent to Maj. Plummer and asked them to conduct an investigation.
I received several responses; the first dated June 9,2008 was from a G.L. Simmons, stating that would do nothing because of the pending judicial review (appeal) that was in progress.
The second letter is dated October 7, 2008 from a Col. V. A. Ary concerning my letter complaining of the professional misconduct concerning Maj. Clay Plummer and Capt. John Ellis. In the letter, it states that there was an extensive review of the allegations and underlying facts of the cases presented. In accordance to the professional misconduct procedures, they allowed Maj. Plummer and Capt. Ellis to respond to my allegations against them. “After reviewing all of the pertinent facts related to these matters, I have determined that you allegations do not establish probable cause to believe that they have violated any of the governing rules of professional conduct. This case is now closed.” Was the ending of the letter.
My reaction was and is still to this day: WTF!!??!! This letter would hold up in a Court of law as evidence, yet OJAG just blew it off, like it didn't even matter.
In the meantime, I also filed a complaint with the Judge Advocate General’s office against Edwin’s Detailed Defense Counsel (which is really just a fancy military name for a public defender), LT. Michael Melocowsky on May 27, 2008.
I got my response dated November 19, 2008. Again it states, there was no misconduct—signed Capt. C.N. Morin.
I continued researching everything I could find about the inconsistencies that were in the record of trial and documents that had been given to Edwin in his case file.
On December 11, 2008, on a hunch I contacted the NCIS office located at Parris Island and spoke to Special Agent J. R. Crandall, who immediately informed me that he was a 25 year veteran of NCIS and was more than willing to discuss the role he played within NCIS.
At first, I got the impression that he thought that maybe I was some student calling to ask the “big N-C-I-S agent” how he did his job and what sort of daily activities he participated in (and yes, there was the whole Scarlett O’Hara/southern belle theatrics in that last sentence).
I think once he realized that I was not going to *sigh* over his job and position within NCIS and that I was also equally unimpressed with his qualifications; but had actually called to ask him specific questions as to how investigations are run, he realized that I was not some idiot mooning over his job or a student calling in.
And he realized it a little too late.
Under pressure, this man did not perform well at all. At first, he said that he knew about H.S.’s allegations but did not actively participate in the investigation. He also said that the Family Advocacy Program (F.A.P.) was not available in 2004, when the investigation was started into these allegations. I corrected him and told him that the F.A.P. has been available since the early 80’s, at least according to Department of Defense (DoD) records and I’m pretty sure it covered the year I was asking about. I also wanted to know why the local police and child services were not involved with this investigation since that is also a requirement when an investigation involves a minor per the U.S. Code.
Special Agent Crandall quickly changed his position and said that the F.A.P. was available and assured me that his people made the mandatory report per DoDD 6400.1. When I corrected him yet again, that as of January 2008, no they had not been contacted he became extremely uncomfortable and stated “I don’t want to talk about this anymore”. So I asked him for the mailing address of NCIS Headquarters, which he gave me and then he hung up on me.
At this point, I went to work and started writing a letter to Special Agent Crandall and also a letter to the NCIS HQ to report my findings (obviously I don't give up easily). I sent Special Agent Crandall a letter thanking him for speaking to me and then ripping strips off his hide throughout the rest of it. Needless to say, I received no response from that quarter. I guess he did not like my suggestion of updated training for their out-dated investigation techniques.
In January 7, 2009 I also wrote to Special Agent Art Spafford, at the NCIS Camp Pendleton building where Edwin had two interrogations and a polygraph done. Special Agent Spafford was the agent who took over the investigation once it was transferred from Parris Island to Camp Pendleton and also the supervisor for NCIS West.
I questioned Special Agent Spafford as to where I could request a copy of the polygraph that his co-conspirator, Special Agent Eric Muelenberg had conducted in May 2005. Remember that since only the opinion of the examiner was ever produced and nothing ever went to the NCIS quality control as required, I wanted the actual graph print out with Edwin’s signature on it.
I also asked him about the NCIS document dated 8/1/06, which was recovered after the trial and clearly states:
“A review of s/Ehlers SRB was unremarkable. Criminal histories were likewise unremarkable. When interrogated, s/Ehlers denied wrongdoing. S/Ehlers subsequently submitted to a polygraph examination, at the conclusion of which, it was the OPINION of the examiner that s/Ehlers had been deceptive to the relevant questions. During a subsequent interrogation, s/Ehlers made tactic admissions, however continued to deny wrongdoing.”
I wanted to know why in this document, which is NCIS’ own report of investigation (ROI), does it show that there was NO CONFESSION OR ADMISSION but at trial Special Agent Muelenberg testified that he got a confession.
I just wanted an explanation why would Muelenberg testify to getting a confession when this says there was no confession, was that too much to ask?
This should come as no surprise, Special Agent Spafford never responded.
On April 25, 2009, I wrote to the Director for Inspections at NCIS HQ; the Executive Assistant Director for Criminal Investigations at NCIS HQ Mark D. Ridley and (again) my special friend, Special Agent J. R.Crandall at Parris Island NCIS.
In my letters to NCIS HQ, I reported the conversation and letters sent to Special Agent Crandall. I reported the misconduct of several people, who up until that point, had been contacted about this issue and done nothing about it. But to Special Agent Crandall I wrote something entirely different.
I informed Special Agent Crandall that this was the 2nd time I was contacting him regarding the faults throughout the entire investigation that started within his office. I also let him know that I had read the NCIS internal manual which provides the reporting requirements of sexual assault cases and the reporting of misconduct and fraud to the Assistant Director for Inspections.
I let Special Agent Crandall know that I knew since the report of misconduct is mandatory (according to the NCIS manual) and that it was a priority II complaint, he only had 3 working days to report it and he had failed to do so. Being that he was also a Government employee, he was violating many of the fourteen principles of ethical conduct for federal employees and gave him 20 days to respond to my letter as to why he did not make this mandatory report to NCIS HQ. Instead of responding directly to me, he forwarded my earlier and newest correspondence to the NCIS Inspector General Robert D. Mulligan for response.
At the end of April 2009, I got a call to come to the Officers Club located on the base near my home. There was dinner in honor of Lt. Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser (NOTE: Lt. Gen. Waldhauser was Edwin’s former C.O. for his division and also the acting convening authority in Edwin’s case who gave Edwin 6 years clemency) who would be there to speak with after this honorary dinner. I grabbed a copy of the Article 73 petition for a new trial, shaved my legs, donned a dress and headed out.
After the dinner and a few glasses of “liquid courage” to calm my nerves, I walked up to Lt. Gen. Waldhauser and introduced myself. I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to approach the man, so I asked him about something that only someone in his unit would know. I asked him how his Staff Judge Advocate, Lt. Col. Robert Miller (Ret.) was fairing. Lt. Gen. Waldhauser gave me this confused look and said the he was retired. I told him who I was and that I had the Article 73 petition I had written and would like him to review it since he signed off on charges that violated the law.
Lt. Gen. Waldhauser pulled me off to the side and asked for me to write my address, etc., in the “book” (the Article 73 petition for a new trial was extensive) so he would be able to contact me when he had finished reviewing it. We even spoke about Edwin and how he was for a few minutes before Lt. Gen. Waldhauser told me that his S.J.A., Lt. Col. Miller (Ret.) had apparently not given him all of the documentation that I had mentioned was included in the petition which showed Edwin’s innocence and the perjured statements. I thanked him for taking the time to speak with me and turned to walk back to the parties that had invited me to the dinner.
After that evening talking to Lt. Gen. Waldhauser, I wrote to him on May 9, 2009, because I had not received a response at that time. I got a very nice letter back saying that he was unable to do anything at that point because the case was with the Judge Advocate General's office.
It’s interesting, he signed off on a conviction that was not obtained in accordance to the law, also making him legally responsible for the wrongful conviction and there was nothing he could do?
May 15, 2009, I was contacted by the NCIS Inspector General Robert D. Mulligan. Inspector General Mulligan acknowledges my letters sent to Special Agent Crandall in January and again in April regarding the wrongdoing by NCIS. Inspector General Milligan stated “as the organizational office responsible for addressing allegations of employee misconduct, I thank you for bringing your concerns to my attention. I will evaluate the information you have provided and take the action I deem appropriate.” Signed Robert D. Mulligan.
At this point I’m thinking: Great! Someone is actually going to look at what happened from the beginning and will see that all the information I have been sending them does exist and its their own documents.
To my disappointment, no investigation was ever done. At least not to my knowledge since after that first letter, the NCIS IG never responded to any of my follow up letters.
I was ignored yet again.
I wrote two follow up letters over the next few months. One on July 9, 2009 and the other September 12, 2009, to the address that was provided from Inspector General Mulligan and never once did I get a response from anyone in the office. All letters were sent certified mail so I know they made it there. They just continued to ignore me.
Being really pissed at this point, and also disappointed by the lack of propriety that all these people to this point have shown, I decided it was best to start writing to any and all high-ranking military officials, DoD officials, and ethics committees I could find.
July 31, 2009, I wrote to Maj. Gen. Richard P. Mills, who had taken over command of 1st Marine Division, replacing Lt. Gen. Waldhauser. I sent him an extremely detailed letter about when went on with Edwin’s wrongful conviction since he was the Commanding Officer of 1st Marine Division when these allegations were made against Edwin. I got a letter dated August 6, 2009, stating that he could no longer give this case a second look because it was no longer under his control but that I had his best wishes.
On August 8, 2009, I wrote to the Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. In my 6 page letter, I explained the evidence that was discovered after the conviction, the roles certain people played in the wrongful conviction and who I had contacted. I let him know that something needed to be done. I even put a reference to Muelenberg’s polygraph questionnaire that was in the record of trial and that Edwin took 4 more tests and passed all of those, but that the "official report" from NCIS, i.e. the graph print out is unable to be located.
I told the Secretary of the Navy that the convening authority’s S.J.A. made a visit to Edwin while he was still at Camp Pendleton and told Edwin that he (the S.J.A.) did not believe that Edwin did anything wrong, even though the e-mails from Lt. Col. Miller to Edwin’s attorney Mike painted an entirely different story. I let him know that I had proof of Unlawful Command Influence (even a suspicion of UCI is the killer of all military cases) and I gave him details about my dealings with Maj. Plummer and also the documentation to support my claims.
I got a response from the Judge Advocate General, Vice Admiral James W. Houck on October 7, 2009. He stated they would do nothing but made sure he added this:
"As a separate matter I note that the Office of the Judge Advocate General and the Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandant of the Marine Corps have thoroughly reviewed your claims concerning the counsel involved in your husband’s case and have provided a direct response to you concerning the outcome of that review process.” Signed, Vice Admiral James W. Houck.
Uh, yeah they responded and didn’t do a damn thing even when the information was staring then in the face! How hard is it to read NCIS documents, ask questions about the information contained within, and then set about to correct the discrepancies? Apparently, it’s extremely difficult within our military.
On August 9, 2009 I wrote to the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Carleton W. Kent. On September 14, 2009 I wrote to Brigadier General James C. Walker in the Judge Advocate General’s office. Not a single one of them responded.
August 25, 2009, I found a letter sent from the Commandant of the Marine Corps to all the Marine Corps Judge Advocates (military lawyers). In the letter, he tells the Judge Advocates they are not carrying out their duties with regards to sexual assault cases.
Why, if Judges Advocates who have legal training to carry out their duties, do they have to be told how to do their jobs properly? Should that not be something automatically required in their positions? They should know the law right? Common sense would say that if someone reports a sexual assault, certain steps are to be followed (exams, statements, HOSPITAL visit, etc.).
December 14, 2009, I contacted the Defense Hotline Program. In my letter, I advised this unit that DoD Directives (Department of Defense), JAGINST (Judge Advocate General Instructions) and OPNAVINST (formally documented lawful order that is issued by the Chief of Naval Operations) were being violated by very the people charged to uphold them. I told them about the Family Advocacy Program (DoDD 6400.1) not being contacted, Maj. Plummer’s refusal to report fraud on the courts (as required by JAGINST), the perjured testimony that was used at trial...everything. I even listed the numerous directives, instructions and parts of the U.S. Code that were applicable with all the documentation to make it easier for them to understand what I was referring to.
Guess what? The response I got was that they were not going to do anything about these violations.
As a matter of fact, Mr. Leonard Trahan, the Director of the DoD Defense Hotline program specifically stated that in order for the DoD Hotline to initiate an inquiry of any complaint that we receive, it must be determined that:
1) The matter concerns a violation of Federal law within the DoD’s investigative purview;
2) The DoD has sufficient facts to initiate an inquiry;
3) The DoD Hotline is the most appropriate agency to take action on the complaint.
“Based on a thorough review, there does not appear to be a sufficient basis for the DoD Hotline to initiate an inquiry. We recommend that Private Ehlers seek guidance from legal counsel regarding appealing his conviction to the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.”
NEVER ONCE have I asked ANY of these people to overturn the conviction. All I have asked of them was to investigate the claims of fraud, perjured testimony, misrepresentation and take the corrective action against the people who caused Edwin’s wrongful conviction.
They have refused to do so time and time again.
To add to everything, here is what the DoD Hotline Program’s website says: The Department of Defense, Office of Inspector General Hotline ("Defense Hotline") is an important avenue for reporting fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement regarding programs and personnel under the purview of the U.S. Department of Defense. The Defense Hotline continues its primary mission of providing a confidential and reliable vehicle for military service members, DoD civilians, contractor employees and the public to report fraud, waste, mismanagement, abuse of authority, threats to homeland defense and leaks of classified information.
The Defense Hotline is staffed by professional investigators.
They are knowledgeable of military, criminal and civil laws and procedures; Defense Department and military services regulations; Defense contracting procedures; as well as provisions of agency ethics regulations. Complaints are received, evaluated, investigated, and corrective measures are instituted. Complaints appropriate for inquiry are referred to the appropriate inspector general, Defense agency or organization, or investigative agency for inquiry, investigation, or other appropriate action. All completed investigations are then reviewed by our office to assure independence and thoroughness. The Hotline staff works closely with the military services and Defense agencies Inspector General points of contact to ensure that complaints are efficiently and effectively investigated and reported.
It also states in their mission statement:
The mission of the Defense Inspector General is to promote integrity, accountability, and improvement of Department of Defense personnel, programs, and operations to support the Department's mission and serve the public interest.
Yeah right! If they don’t follow their own “rules” then what good are they to have to begin with?
June 2, 2010, I contacted the Department of Defense Inspector General Gordon S. Heddell. Again, in my letter I gave him all of the information that was available at that point, along with the letter from Mr. Trahan at the DoD Hotline.
I never heard anything from his office.
Meanwhile, Gloria Ehlers (Edwin’s ex-wife) continued her tirade against Paul and Stacey Skovranko. On January 12, 2009, Gloria sent me two e-mails. In the e-mail, after requesting my information through my sister-in-law she asked to if she could get the transcripts from the trial to “find weaknesses” in everyone’s statements. I sent her the requested documents.
The second e-mail, also dated January 12, 2009, she apologizes for contacting me but wants more information.
January 13, 2009, she wrote me a third e-mail and said that she “never witnessed Eddie do anything to H.S. and that Randi didn’t testify at the trial because she could remember everything H.S. had said to her (Randi) and that she (Randi) said that she (H.S.) was going to get up on the stand and lie about it but they brought her to Cali. So they could talk to her (Randi) again and she what she did remember and that was that. And for the things Paul and Stacey was lying about just some odds and end things that I think would help” “make no mistake about it I’m not happy with the way he was dune”.
Read the e-mails and you can see why I was a little confused when I first read them too. I don't speak "Gloria", so the e-mails were a little hard to understand at first glance.
In March 2009, Gloria went even further into conversation with my sister-in-law and said she doesn’t believe Paul and Stacey, she wants to help anyway she can and she (Gloria) hopes they get what is coming to them.
At one point during all of this, Gloria contacted me through my blog and denied ever writing these letters or e-mails that don't say anything about Paul or Stacey. She also wanted to see Randi’s statement to NCIS where Randi witnessed Stacey tell H.S. it was Edwin who committed this alleged act. At Gloria’s request, I sent her Randi’s statements to NCIS, as well as Gloria's own letters and e-mails that mentioned Paul and Stacey Skovranko in them. I sent her everything I had and BCC’d a producer that I am currently working with on Edwin’s story. She never responded and has also refused to go on camera to answer for her involvement in this wrongful conviction. Same as her daughter Randi Hester. They were more than willing to run their mouths in the beginning to condemn an innocent man, yet when given documentation proving them to be the liars they are, they threaten legal action and adamantly REFUSE to be further contacted.
Now at the beginning of 2010, I decided to try something a little different. I tracked Paul Skovranko to his command at Parris Island MCRD, where all this started.
On January 22, 2010 I wrote to Brigadier General Frederick M. Padilla who was the Commanding General for the Eastern Recruiting Region at MCRD Parris Island. I told him about Paul’s lies about taking H.S. to the hospital, Chaplain Gibson not reporting this alleged sexual assault, I told him about the F.A.P. not being involved with the investigation at all, everything. I sent all the referenced documents...again, and awaited his response.
February 24, 2010, I got the letter that started the next chain of events.
Brigadier General Padilla was unable to do anything about these issues because Paul had changed commands. Ok, no big deal. It happens a lot in the military. Now once you read the letter you will see that although he could not give me the name of the place Paul was currently stationed at, he did narrow down and eliminate several of the places that Paul was not at.
So I began to search.
I had a suspicion that Paul Skovranko may have ended up back in Southern California so I made inquiries at a few of the commands there. I mean, to go back to the very “scene” of the alleged crime under the full protection of the United States Navy was a logical choice and laughable in my book. I sent the same letters out to the different commands informing the Commanding Generals of the situation that needed reporting if Paul Skovranko was under their command.
Stacey Skovranko had started posting on her Facebook account that she was “freaking out” because I was contacting Paul’s commanders and asking for an NCIS investigation to be done. If one of them actually conducted an investigation and discovered Paul’s lies, she and her children would be in danger of losing their only means of support.
March 1, 2010 I wrote to Colonel Frank Richie, the Commanding Officer at MCAS Miramar.
I then contacted Commander Oakey, the Commanding Officer of the USS New Orleans and passed along the information about Paul Skovranko. March 25, 2010, Commander Oakey sent me a letter telling me that Paul had changed commands to the Transient Personnel Unit at Naval Base San Diego and supplied the contact information for that unit.
April 19, 2010, I got a letter from Commander Kathleen Kerrigan. One of my previous letters was forwarded to her command because, wouldn’t you know it, that’s where Paul Skovranko was. In the letter I had requested that an NCIS investigation be opened into the misconduct and violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). She refused to conduct an investigation.
May 7, 2010 I wrote back to Commander Kerrigan and thanked her for her letter and then I proceeded to tell her that she needed to do an investigation per the USN/USMC Commander’s Quick Legal Reference Handbook for Legal Issues before conducting a command review.
I told her that “I personally do not care what you or your SJA’s opinions are as to whether the evidence I submitted warrants further investigation by your command. Simply put, by not referring this to NCIS, you are allowing RP1 (he had been promoted since the wrongful conviction of Edwin) Skovranko to commit these acts, and you, yourself are in violation of (named the Secretary of the Navy Instructions) and the UCMJ (named the articles).”
I told her that she had 14 days to forward this to NCIS for a review. I even threatened her and said that I would have no problem reporting her and her SJA for non-compliance. And yes, there was probably a little PMS going on during that time (that’s when I write the best letters according to my sister-in-law) but at that point I was so SICK AND TIRED of getting the run-around from these people, I had finally snapped.
Yes it was bitchy and yes it was to-the-point, but hey, could you blame me? Many others would have given up a long time ago and cut their losses. I chose to go the other route, which is why I anticipated that NCIS would decline to investigate the allegations at all.
On May 24, 2010 Commander Kerrigan wrote back to me and said that Special Agent Sam Slyen refused to conduct the investigation about Paul Skovranko's misconduct and false reporting. I figured that NCIS declined to investigate because by opening up this can of worms, many people’s careers would have been ruined.
January 2012, I wrote to the Judge Advocate General's office and requested someone to go on film to defend their stance about Edwin's wrongful conviction.
The response I got listed all the submissions to the appeals courts and the denials.
The Appeals Process in the Military Courts
As far as appeals go, Edwin’s first appeal at the Navy-Marine Court of Criminal Appeals (NMCCA) was decided in June 2009; after having sat idle for almost a year and along with the Article 73 petition for a new trial, both were denied. 2 of the 3 NMCCA judges believed the testimony (even when it was brought to their attention that it was not only inconsistent and a majority of it was perjured); they still did not grant relief.
One of the judges, Judge J.A. Maksym, dissented from the majorities opinion and stated in his dissention of the case that the Government violated Edwin’s speedy trial rights because the first report and preferral of charges happened in June 2004 and the trial on the merits (meaning NO EVIDENCE) took place in August 2007, 3 years after the first report. He said that this “shrouds the entire proceedings with a specter of reasonable doubt” which has no explanation from the Government as to why it occurred.
Judge Maksym also stated that he noticed that the child’s testimony was inconsistent compared to previous statements. The drastic changes were significant enough that he directly quoted numerous times when H.S. alleged abuse, then recanted. Judge Maksym also made note of the fact that the child’s recollection of who was present during this alleged sexual assault changed as often at the wind does. At one time, H.S. stated that Gloria and a boy named James were there. Her mother Stacey Skovranko stated that Donna Kerr (Gloria’s mother), was present, and then all of them changed their story. Because of these recantations, he believed she had been coached by her parents in her statements.
To quote Sir Walter Scott, “Oh! What a tangled web we weavewhen first we practice to deceive.”
Now, because the Courts go by the majority, Edwin was not granted relief. Possibly unbeknownst to them, the Supreme Court has held in numerous cases that if the Court finds that someone’s Speedy trial rights were violated, the Court must then overturn the conviction (exact quote is in the NMCCA and CAAF habeas writ found here) regardless of majority rule or not.
The next appeal was the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF). In April 2010 they dismissed the appeal without even looking at it. With all the arguments and evidence included, they took the “hands off” approach so common in the military justice system.
Mike and I then decided to try for the Supreme Court. It was a long shot since the Supreme Court does not look at military cases unless they have been reviewed through CAAF or is a habeas writ (which is rare also). The Writ of Certiorari was denied on September 21, 2010 by the Supreme Court because CAAF had not acted on the appeal.
I took a little break after the Supreme Court denial to get some things done at home. My life was in an upheaval at that time. I was working 10 and sometimes even 12 hours day, raising our two children, going to school and working on things for Edwin’s case.
I came back in 2011 with a fresh outlook on everything. I was still finding more things that Government violated daily so I decided it was time to try a lawsuit.
January 2011 I wrote up a lawsuit to the Federal Courts suing the military for their violations. Yes, it was dismissed but not on the grounds that it was a “frivolous” lawsuit, but rather premature because under an FTCA claim you can only sue when the person is out of incarceration.
In the lawsuit I named the individuals involved, their misconduct, violations of the UCMJ and U.S. Codes, etc. I also let the Court know that the record of trial was NOT a verbatim record (which is required for a general court-martial) since some of Special Agent Muelenberg’s testimony was removed before it was given to the Defense. I also added in there that the military judge authenticated the record of trial, which he is not allowed to do since it was a judge-alone (I know BIG mistake to go with a judge alone) trial.
March 16, 2011, Edwin got a letter from the military stating that the tapes from the trial were being erased. What prompted this, when the records are supposed to be on file for years? A cover up perhaps?
November 2011, I filed a habeas writ on Edwin’s behalf at the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals. It was denied in December 2011, which I expected too. But the Court never even acknowledged receiving it, which I didn’t expect. On December 27, 2011 they just published the denial. Some of the information supplied to them in the writ, was not even in their published opinion.
I have discovered that the Courts like to "skim" over certain things when making their decisions or they just simply omit the details so as to uphold the public's confidence in them.
January 2012 I wrote and filed the habeas writ at the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) to see if they would act on it. CAAF will not look at any habeas writ that has not been submitted to the lower courts for review. Being that I already got the denial from the NMCCA, and only have a few weeks to submit matters to CAAF, I did it ASAP.
CAAF declined to look at the writ at the end of February 2012. Again, most of the information supplied in the writ was not included in their published opinion. So, in the beginning of March 2012, I wrote and filed a motion for reconsideration at CAAF asking them to look at this case because of Supreme Court mandates required them to do so.
I just got a letter from the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) the other day. They denied the motion for reconsideration but failed (again) to provide the reason why.
So, if after reading this and seeing for yourself what has been done to Edwin and our family, you have to believe that the old adage to “sacrifice one for the good of all” applies to Edwin and his case. Edwin’s life and freedom were sacrificed by the United States Marine Corps so that others could continue to live their lives and advance their careers unhindered by the lies they created.
I have worked tirelessly since August 21, 2007, when I was suddenly thrust into single motherhood with 2 small children and no job, to gain Edwin’s freedom. I have done the many things, as documented here, in the pursuit to set to rights what has happened by writing to the very people who are able to correct their own mistakes and to that of others. These people, who have the power and ability to release Edwin, refuse to even acknowledge they have done anything wrong.
These are the same people who run our Government offices and take our tax-payer dollars for funding. They have sworn an oath to uphold the laws which ensure our freedom, but they have done nothing but show their incompetence and disregard for the “rules” and laws which govern all of us. Most, if not all, lack the backbone to stand up for what is right by correcting this injustice.
No one can ever give Edwin and our children back what has been taken from them because when he comes home, I can’t make our children go back to being the 19 month and 7 month old babies they were when he was wrongfully convicted.
But I can do everything in my power to give them all one thing, his freedom.
Written on March 30, 2012