An "America's Got Talent" contestant under fire for lying about his military injuries apologized today, saying he didn't realize he was lying.
"It's the truth that I truly think is real, and that's a horrible thing because I don't know," Sgt. Timothy Poe told ABC affiliate WFAA-TV in Dallas before he broke down in tears.
Earlier this week, Poe won the audience's hearts when he told them a story about a brain injury he received in the line of duty in Afghanistan.
"My career was ended in 2009," he said. "I had got hit by a grenade in Afghanistan, and it broke my back and gave me a brain injury, and so that's why I stutter a little bit."
By the time he finished singing a stutter-free rendition of Garth Brooks's "If Tomorrow Never Comes," the audience was in tears.
"Everything about you is amazing," said Howie Mandel, one of the show's judges.
Poe received standing ovations, but in the days since he has come under increasing criticism, after the National Guard confirmed there was no record of Poe being injured by a grenade. He served only one month in Afghanistan.
"I was blown away that I was totally taken in," Mandel told TMZ on Friday. "I'm really angry with the guy."
Late Friday night, Defenders of Freedom, a charity for wounded veterans that claims to have helped Poe financially, released an audio of him speaking without a stutter.
"I believe he's a liar," Defenders of Freedom's founder Donna Cranston said.
Poe apologized to Cranston in his WFAA interview. He released a military document that shows he suffers from an injury or disease received in the line of duty, explaining that's what makes it difficult for him to keep his history straight.
"I don't feel like I've lied," Poe told WFAA. "That's what's driving me crazy ... because I truly thought things have happened to me."
It's unclear whether Poe will be edited out of the Las Vegas episode altogether, but TMZ reports that the producers will be editing his appearance somewhat.