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Mistrial motion denied in murder case
web 0722 Bozicevich
Sgt. Joseph Bozicevich

A sixth motion for mistrial was denied Tuesday in the capital case of Fort Stewart soldier Sgt. Joseph Bozicevich.

Bozicevich, 41, of Minneapolis, Minn., is charged with two counts of pre-meditated 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 all three were deployed to Patrol Base Jurf at Sahkr, Iraq.

Bozicevich could face the death penalty if a jury of 12 commissioned and non-commissioned officers hands down a unanimous guilty verdict. He entered a not-guilty plea in March. 

Military Judge Col. Tara Osborn denied the motion but will allow the defense to have its court psychiatrist testify on witness interview reports, according to Fort Stewart spokesman Kevin Larson. However, Osborn will not allow prosecutors to cross-examine or rebut expert testimony, Larson told the Courier in an email.

Bozicevich’s defense argued during a motion hearing on Monday that the government should have turned over interview reports and other material concerning “new information” on their client’s past paranoid behavior. Prosecutors said the defense could have gathered this information on their own because the witness lists were made available to them.

The defense’s court psychiatrist was called to testify on Bozicevich’s delusional disorder diagnosis and whether or not having an opportunity to interview more of the accused’s friends and co-workers would have impacted the diagnosis and thus the defense’s case. Bozicevich’s civilian defense attorney, Charles Gittens, argued that the government’s interview reports should have been disclosed because the information they contained significantly would have substantiated his client’s mental-health diagnosis.

Government attorney Jacqueline Grieser responded that information contained in the interviews simply would serve as “character evidence.”

“The tenor of these interviews is that the accused is violent and angry,” Grieser said. She added the prosecution had not suppressed or failed to disclose any information requested by the defense.

Gittins quoted from pages of the interviews to demonstrate his client had exhibited paranoid behavior years before the shooting. Bozicevich was described in the reports as “a very strange guy,” having “odd thoughts” and exhibiting bizarre behavior such as punching trees. He allegedly told fellow soldiers prior to the shootings that he was afraid of being booted out of the Army, according to the defense.

Osborn also issued a written ruling this week denying a previous motion for mistrial. The defense had requested a mistrial last week, claiming the prosecution had failed to share information about a 2004 altercation involving Dawson — one of the victims — and a gun. The judge ruled the information was inadmissible because Bozicevich had no knowledge of the event and it only would serve to confuse the jury.

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