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Soldier charged with desertion has first hearing
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A Fort Stewart soldier, accused of desertion for abandoning his duties more than four years ago, could possibly be facing several years in prison.
Yesterday Cliff Cornell, 28, and his lawyer, James Branum, attended an Article 32 hearing on the post. The hearing was to determine whether Cornell will face a general court marshal and or penalties for deserting his unit and fleeing to Canada after he received orders to deploy to Iraq in 2005.
Cornell has said he was afraid for his life and did not want to kill innocent civilians as, he said, he was ordered to do by his chain of command.
“That is not what I signed up to do,” Cornell told the Courier on Feb. 17, the day he turned himself in to military police.
Fort Stewart officials refute Cornell’s claims, calling them inconsistent with Army values and how the Army trains soldiers.
In response to the hearing date being set, Branum said “the Army is engaging in overkill in order to make an example of my client.”
Cornell was charged with desertion on Feb. 23. No further information was available at press time.
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