Sgt. Joseph Bozicevich’s murder trial picked up again Tuesday morning with government attorneys’ presentation of gritty crime-scene photographs and diagrams. The mothers of Staff Sgt. Darris Dawson and Sgt. Wesley Durbin, the men Bozicevich is accused of shooting and killing Sept. 14, 2008, greeted each other warmly before the capital court martial of their sons’ accused killer got under way. The deceased soldiers’ parents placed tissue boxes by their seats to prepare for reliving the worst day of their lives.
Bozicevich, 41, of Minneapolis, Minn., faces two counts of pre-meditated murder in the deaths of Dawson and Durbin, his former squad leader and fellow team leader, respectively.
All three soldiers were assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd ID and were deployed to Patrol Base Jurf at Sahkr, Iraq.
Bozicevich could face the death penalty if all 12 jurors find him guilty and are unanimous in sentencing, Fort Stewart spokesman Kevin Larson previously said. Bozicevich entered a non-guilty plea in March.
The panel, or jury, consists of one colonel, one lieutenant colonel, one major, two captains, a warrant officer, three command sergeants major, one sergeant major and two first sergeants, according to Larson. There are nine men and three women on the jury, he confirmed.
Government attorney Maj. Scott Ford questioned Special Agent Michael Herod, a CID agent and Army warrant officer who was one of three primary investigators to arrive at the crime scene April 14, 2008, just hours after the shootings. Herod testified that he helped process the crime scene for four consecutive days at Patrol Base Jurf.
Herod said he and his fellow investigators along with a paralegal first went to a temporary detention facility where Bozicevich was being held. They tested the accused for gunshot residue and took blood and urine samples, he told the court. Then the CID agents journeyed on to the forward operating base, he said.
Herod said when they arrived at Patrol Base Jurf, they began to process the crime scene. The CID agent testified that he and his team took 950 crime-scene photographs, interviewed 85 witnesses and took 28 written witness statements.
Ford proceeded to walk Herod through a series of crime-scene photos that showed the base from various perspectives and depicted gunshot holes in the joint security station building’s walls and door, and blood stains on the building floor and wall. Bozicevich allegedly shot 27 bullets at Dawson and Durbin, reportedly fatally wounding Durbin inside the joint security station and allegedly chasing Dawson, who ran from the station building. Herod testified that he and the other investigators recovered spent rounds inside and outside the joint security station.
Bozicevich’s civilian defense attorney, Charles Gittins of Middletown, Va., objected to a number of photographs shown, protesting that the prosecution should not ask Herod to describe the photos in detail before they were marked as evidence. Gittins also said exhibiting multiple photos of the same piece of evidence would be “cumulative” and were not relevant to the case. Larson explained the defense was concerned that exhibiting graphic images like close-ups of blood stains and spatter could create bias toward Bozicevich, thereby compromising his right to a fair trial.
The trial is expected to continue for several months.