An Army sergeant charged with killing a superior officer and a fellow U.S. soldier in Iraq after he had been counseled for poor performance is set to detail his defense strategy today during the opening statements of his court-martial.
Sgt. Joseph Bozicevich could face the death penalty if he’s convicted of the September 2008 slayings of his squad leader, Staff Sgt. Darris Dawson, and a fellow soldier, Sgt. Wesley Durbin, at a patrol base in Iraq.
Details of the shootings remain murky, but some tidbits emerged in hearings and witnesses have testified that the two slain soldiers had been critiquing Bozicevich about performance problems before he shot them.
Bozicevich’s defense team has declined to discuss defense strategy or comment on the case. But at a 2009 hearing, defense attorney Charles Gittins said Bozicevich opened fire to protect himself. Gittins didn’t say what happened to make Bozicevich feel threatened enough to reach for his rifle.
The opening statements are set to begin after prosecutors and defense attorneys finished selecting a jury this week. The military requires the accused to be tried by a jury of at least 12 soldiers in death penalty court-martials. The trial is expected to last several months.