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Death penalty still on table in court martial
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In a hearing Friday that lasted no more than 15 minutes, military court Judge Col. Tara Osborn denied the defense’s request to drop the death penalty in the murder case against Sgt. Joseph Bozicevich.
Bozicevich is charged with two counts of pre-meditated murder in the deaths of Staff Sgt. Darris Dawson, 24, of Pensacola, Fla., and Sgt. Wesley Durbin, 26, of Dallas, Texas. Bozicevich is accused of shooting and killing the two men on Sept. 14, 2008, while deployed to a base south of Baghdad, Iraq. All three soldiers were assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd ID.
Bozicevich’s civilian defense attorney Charles Gittins previously argued his client was denied equal protection under the law and therefore the case should not be tried as a capital case. The judge disagreed and said the Fifth Amendment ensures equal protection for the accused.
“The rulings weren’t unexpected,” Gittins said. “That’s the law now and it won’t change until the Supreme Court changes it.”
Osborn also denied a defense motion for the case to be heard by a judge alone. Federal law requires a panel (jury) hear a death penalty case, confirmed Fort Stewart spokesperson Kevin Larson.
Osborn took under advisement a motion by the defense to allow their investigator to travel to Iraq to interview witnesses. Prosecuting attorneys told the judge they oppose the travel request saying the defense can interview witnesses without having to fly to Iraq. Government attorney Maj. Andrew McKee said
prosecutors needed more time to gather information on the defense’s travel request. The judge instructed government attorneys to respond to her by Aug. 31.
“What’s left of the crime scene is in Iraq, the witnesses are in Iraq,” Gittins said following the hearing. “We’re doing our due diligence in the case.”
Gittins said investigating the scene of a crime is just “Defense 101.”
He admitted there are security issues with sending the defense investigator to Iraq as the military would have to provide security.
“Funding is not an issue,” Gittins said. “I wouldn’t be going. My client has two military attorneys the Army could pay to send.”
The next hearing in the case will be held Sept. 14. The court martial is set to begin on Feb. 7, 2011.

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