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Court martial date set
Sergeant accused of killing two others
0722 Bozicevich
Sgt. Joseph Bozicevich - photo by Courier file photo
During an arraignment on Fort Stewart on Tuesday morning, Judge Col. Tara Osborn announced the March 29, 2010, tentative trial date for Sgt. Joseph Bozicevich, the 3rd ID soldier accused of fatally shooting two fellow soldiers while deployed to Iraq last September.
“It’s not set in stone but it may very well happen on that date,” Lt. Col. John Frost said. “The Army has been known to move at a predictable pace.”
Army prosecutors are pushing for the death penalty. Bozicevich faces one charge of premeditated murder with two specifications, one for the murder of Staff Sgt. Darris Dawson, and one for Sgt. Wesley Durbin, both 3rd ID soldiers as well.
Bozicevich did not enter a plea during the hearing, a strategy his attorney, Charles Gittins, said he encouraged until the investigation period is over.
“We don’t know enough to have a plea. There’s still much to discover,” Gittins said. “Things come up during the discovery practice that could change the plea.”
Frost said deferring a plea is a common practice for trials like this and he rarely, if ever, sees a plea during an arraignment. He added that there are no requirements on when Bozicevich has to enter a plea as long as it’s before the trial starts.
“There’s no telling when he’ll make a plea,” Frost said.
Frost said, as with all death penalty cases, military protocol dictates that Bozicevich will face at least a 12-person jury, which will be made up of Army officers, unless the accused invokes his right to ask for one-third of the jury to be comprised of enlisted soldiers.
The arraignment took place after Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo ordered a court martial two weeks ago, after he reviewed Judge Col. Michael Hargis’ pretrial investigation report. Hargis produced the report after a three-day Article 32 hearing, during which 37 witnesses testified, including both Iraqi support personnel and U.S. soldiers.
Frost said Bozicevich will likely next appear in court Oct. 6 for other pretrial procedures and that he is being held in the Liberty County jail until his trial.
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