After serving 1,061 days in pretrial confinement, former Fort Stewart soldier Joseph Bozicevich now will spend the rest of his days in prison.
Bozicevich was sentenced Wednesday morning to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The jury deliberated for about eight hours, beginning their deliberations Tuesday evening, according to Fort Stewart spokesman Kevin Larson.
Bozicevich also was officially reprimanded, reduced in rank from sergeant to private, lost military pay and benefits and will be dishonorably discharged. He was taken to the Liberty County jail after the trial and will serve his life sentence at the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., according to lead prosecutor Maj. Andy McKee.
Bozicevich was found guilty on May 25 of two charges of premeditated murder in the deaths of Staff Sgt. Darris Dawson and Sgt. Wesley Durbin. Bozicevich’s conviction was for shooting and killing the men on Sept. 14, 2008, while deployed to a forward patrol base near Baghdad, Iraq. All three soldiers were assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.
After the sentence was read and the trial ended, emotions that relatives and friends had kept in check visibly flowed.
Durbin’s parents, Carole and Randy Durbin, embraced after the courtroom began to empty. A relative of Dawson’s, who did not give her name but described herself as “a mother,” thanked members of the prosecution and quietly stepped outside the courtroom to weep.
Bozicevich’s family members gathered in a tight huddle outside the courtroom, crying and comforting one another. One relative asked the Courier to respect the Bozicevich family’s privacy and not approach them for comment.
Bozicevich’s father — also named Joseph — humbly requested permission to briefly see his son before the convicted man was taken to jail. Government attorneys granted his request.
The Durbins told the Courier they were pleased with the sentencing, saying their son and Dawson received justice.
“Even with all the shenanigans that went on by the defense and the rulings on the prosecution, the jury was able to see through that and give this man the harshest punishment possible,” Carole Durbin said, adding, “What he took from us can never, ever be replaced.”
The Durbins said they were grateful to the government attorneys who prosecuted the case.
“It took a lot of dedication,” Randy Durbin said.
The couple said their son’s comrades-in-arms were their heroes, commending them for being supportive and attending the trial when possible.
“Wesley had nothing but good to say about his fellow soldiers,” Carole Durbin said. “He just loved the military.”
She said the murders were committed by one person and the blame should not be laid on the Army as a whole.
When asked what comes next, the bereaved father responded, “We’re turning a page over. We’ll celebrate (Wesley’s) life.”
“We’ve not been able to process our grief, having had to go through the trial,” Carole Durbin said. “It was like a wound that was open that we couldn’t even put a bandage on. Now we can start healing that wound.”
The Durbins said that although they are looking forward to their younger son’s wedding in January, their older son’s absence will be observed when the groom lights a candle in his brother’s memory.
“Kenny won’t have a best man,” Carole Durbin said. “It will be bittersweet.”