Veteran's Attorneys Claim Proof of Purple Heart

6:37 PM, Jun 19, 2013   |    comments
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Shane Ladner (Cherokee Co. Sheriff's Office)

ATLANTA, Ga. -- "I will tell you Shane has been wounded in combat twice. He's only received one purple heart."

That's a different story than what Shane Lader told 11 Alive reporter Duffie Dixon in an exclusive interview back in January, when our investigation began. 

MORE | Shane Ladner charged with lying about his purple heart

In that interview, Meg Ladner is on camera and Duffie asks if Shane has won two or three Purple Hearts, and off camera, Dixon says Ladner held up two fingers.

In a follow up text with Shane Ladner, Duffie asks about his purple hearts and he tells where he was wounded and gives two dates, appearing to be dates for two purple hearts.

Ladner's attorney John Cook says, "The man has been through something that he is still coping and dealing with and it has affected him. Now is that saying why he may have shown duffie two fingers? I don't know. I did ask after I saw that I asked shane 'How many purple hearts have you won?' He said 'One.' I said 'What were you thinking?' And he said 'Well I've been wounded twice in combat. I don't know what I was thinking.'"

But Cook says there is no doubt his client does have one purple heart.

From the beginning of 11 Alive's investigation, it has always come down to one form, the DD214, given to Ladner when he left the service.

The copy Ladner provided 11 Alive says he has a purple heart. But 11 Alive reached out to the National Archives, Army Records , and The National Guard. None of the agencies have a record of this document.

Cook says, "There's a record keeping problem."

Cook says they hired a former GBI forensics expert to examine the document. "His conclusions are it's an authentic original document with no alterations, no deletions, no erasures and that both signatures are what he calls a wet ink signature."

Cook says other documents they received just last week also document Ladner's purple heart.

It is a lot to take in -- to know that Ladner lied about how many purple hearts he had, but that he and his attorneys also insist they have definitive proof of his one purple heart.

Getting lost in the legal mess is a wife who lost her leg -- who needs round the clock care -- from a husband who could wind up in jail.

Cook says, "All of this is a distraction because he knows what the truth is in his heart."

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