EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — A court-martial proceeding for Pfc. Christian Alvarado paused after officials learned there was a problem recording the events of Wednesday’s hearing.
The court reporting program stopped about midway through Alvarado’s testimony on the third day of a general court-martial and the court reporter failed to notify the judge.
“How can we have a fair trial (with) half the testimony of the accused?” asked Col. Robert Shuck, the judge in the case. “If found guilty, the defense is going to want to appeal and will need those transcripts.”
An off-the-record meeting between the prosecution and defense attorneys was held immediately after a recess for the day. Ultimately, the program’s backup system was able to preserve Alvarado’s testimony.
During the hearing, Alvarado testified that Pfc. Asia Graham twice pressured him to sell “vape juice” cartridges for synthetic cannabis pens.
“She wanted me to help her sell drugs, sir,” Alvarado said.
Graham, who military officials say died of an accidental mixed-drug intoxication on New Year’s Eve 2020, accused Alvarado of sexually assaulting her when she had just arrived at Fort Bliss in December 2019. Graham filed a report against Alvarado in May 2020.
He said he told Graham to “cut the [expletive] or I’m going to tell someone” in May 2020, after the alleged assault, which made her angry. Alvarado reported a “negative incident” with Graham on May 26, 2020.
“I left because I became uncomfortable,” said Alvarado. “She said, ‘I’m going to [expletive] Alvarado’s life up.”
Alvarado testified that Graham was reportedly continuing to talk about him and he was called in a few days later by investigators with the Criminal Investigation Division (CID).
“Is that when she called you a rapist?” the prosecutor asked.
“Yes, ma’am,” he responded.
When he was told by CID Special Agent James Diamond that he was investigating allegations of sexual assault, Alvarado replied with “It happened about seven months ago.” At that point, Alvarado was unaware he was facing two sexual assault allegations: one from Graham and the other from a woman who he allegedly sexually assaulted at a hotel.
Alvarado was told investigators were interested in whether Graham had consented to sex, not whether she lost consciousness during sex, he claimed. Recordings of the interview indicate that Alvarado was the first to mention Graham losing consciousness. However, on Thursday, Alvarado’s testimony was different.
“I thought it was about the drugs,” he testified.
The defense claimed that Alvarado was coerced into giving a false confession by investigators during two interviews with Diamond and a subsequent interview with another CID agent during polygraph sessions.
“I felt like if I took a polygraph, it would clear it up,” Alvarado testified.
Later, the hearing focused on an alleged annotated log that detailed Alvarado’s sexual partners that listed that partner’s sexual pros and cons. Investigators issued a search warrant for Alvarado’s home to retrieve the log, but Alvarado claims his wife destroyed it.
During his testimony, Alvarado claimed that in one instance, he knew that the woman he had sex with was drunk. When asked if it was wrong to have sex with someone who was inebriated, he said yes. He said one accuser, though, felt scorned by him. Alvarado testified that one accuser threatened him and he thought she was going to travel from Mesa, Ariz., to allege sexual assault in El Paso.