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Soldier guilty of premeditated murder

Jury moves into sentencing phase, no timeline set

POSTED: May 27, 2011 9:19 a.m.
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Sgt. Joseph Bozicevich

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Fort Stewart soldier Sgt. Joseph Bozicevich was found guilty of two specifications of premeditated murder at 12:45 p.m. Wednesday after a military jury deliberated for about eight hours, according to Fort Stewart spokesman Kevin Larson.

Bozicevich, 41, was tried for murder in the deaths of Staff Sgt. Darris Dawson and Sgt. Wesley Durbin. He is accused of shooting and killing the two men Sept. 14, 2008, while deployed to Patrol Base Jurf at Sahkr, Iraq. All three men were assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.

“The vote to convict him of premeditated murder was not unanimous, thus leaving only life without parole and life with parole as the two available punishments,” Larson said.

He said the jury planned to convene Thursday morning to begin the sentencing phase of the court martial. Larson said there’s no set timeline for the jury to determine a sentence.

“The panel will deliberate as long as it needs to, to determine the appropriate sentence,” he said.

The actual trial began in early May after nearly two years of pretrial hearings. Bozicevich pleaded not guilty in late March.

Bozicevich’s civilian attorney, Charles Gittins, told the jury during closing arguments Tuesday that his client had feared for his life and had acted in self-defense.

Gittins also claimed a psychiatrist diagnosed the accused with a delusional disorder. This mental-health diagnosis meant Bozicevich was paranoid and “believed people were out to get him,” according to Gittins.

The defense attorney also told the jury that investigators had conducted a shoddy crime-scene investigation in Iraq, and therefore physical evidence in the case had been cross-contaminated and was not properly analyzed. 

Government attorneys argued that Bozicevich clearly understood right from wrong and had intended to kill his squad and team leaders after they counseled him on poor performance in the field.

Prosecuting attorney Maj. Scott Ford described the murders as “a workplace shooting” and said Bozicevich was angry, not delusional.

“He’s a man unable to accept responsibility for his actions,” Ford said during closing arguments Tuesday.

 

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