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.
"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.
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.
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.