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Kyler Ehm

An Air Force Academy football player accused of cocaine use will face court-martial Tuesday, the school said in a news release.

Cadet Kyler Ehm is charged with four counts of cocaine use, a charge his lawyers denied in a preliminary hearing on the case last fall. A Kansas native, Ehm played in 10 games as a defensive lineman for the Falcons, recording a single tackle.

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"It must be emphasized that charges are merely accusations, and the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty," the academy said in a statement.

Ehm was the third Falcons football player to face cocaine charges after a 2019 investigation. He was charged after other cadets accused the defensive lineman of using cocaine and at least one witness got a reduced sentence on their own drug charges.

The government’s star witness is former Falcons fullback Cole Fagan, who in September pleaded guilty to cocaine use and got a 15-day sentence at a court-martial where he faced a maximum prison term of five years.

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Civilian defense attorney Ernesto Gapasin last fall argued that Ehm was a victim of testimony offered by witnesses desperate to give prosecutors damning information on others in exchange for plea deals.

“You wouldn’t find a single witness out there who would say Kyler Ehm is anything but a good-natured young man,” Gapasin said.

The argument didn't sway authorities, who determined there was ample evidence for Ehm to head to trial.

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The football player will see a smaller crowd in the courtroom on Tuesday. The academy has limited seating and made other social-distancing arrangements designed to slow the spread of coronavirus.

During the trial, a panel of officers will hear evidence against Ehm and is empowered to convict on a two-thirds vote. Court-martial panels also have wide discretion if they convict a defendant.

In Ehm's case, a conviction brings a maximum penalty of five years in prison, but the military jury can pick any sentence from the maximum down to a letter of reprimand and no time behind bars.

Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240

Twitter: @xroederx

Senior Military Editor

Tom Roeder is the Gazette's senior military editor. In Colorado Springs since 2003, Tom covers seven military installations in Colorado, including five in the Pikes Peak region. His main job, though, is being dad to two great kids.

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