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Military judge asks if Iraq trip feasible
Sergeant accused of shooting 2 in Iraq
Sgt Jospeh Bozicevich
Sgt. Joseph Bozicevich - photo by File photo
In a death penalty case hearing Tuesday, military Judge Col. Tara Osborn ordered the prosecution to ask the commander of U.S. Forces-Iraq if it is feasible for defense attorneys to travel to Iraq to interview witnesses and walk through the crime scene. Osborn told government attorneys she expects a response by Dec. 12.
“You (government) have said it’s hard to do, not that it’s impossible,” Osborn said.
Last month, Sgt. Joseph Bozicevich‘s defense attorneys requested their expert investigator and one defense counsel be allowed to travel to Iraq to reinvestigate the crime scene and interview both named and unnamed Iraqi witnesses.
Government attorneys argued the defense did not need to travel to Iraq, saying witnesses could be interviewed by phone or through video conferencing. Prosecutors also stated the base where the shooting occurred has been dismantled and handed over to the Iraqis in the two years since the shooting.
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.
Osborn said she would allow the defense, pending USIF’s response, to interview the three Iraqi soldiers who testified at the Article 32 hearing. However, the judge ruled the defense did not prove it was “relevant or necessary” to interview 14 named Iraqi witnesses and 16-20 unnamed Iraqi soldiers who were physically assigned to the forward operating base when the shooting occurred.
The judge reminded the court the trial start date, currently set to begin on Feb. 7, 2011, is just three and a half months away. It is her duty to keep the judicial process on track, she said.
The next hearing in the Bozicevich case is scheduled for 9 a.m. Nov. 19.
In a separate and more recent incident involving a Fort Stewart soldier, Spc. Neftaly Platero is still being held in pre-trial confinement in Iraq in connection to the shooting deaths of Spc. John Carrillo Jr., 20, of Stockton, Calif., and Pfc. Gebrah P. Noonan, 26, of Watertown, Conn., on Sept. 23 in Fallujah, Iraq.
The Army has not released the name of a third soldier who was wounded in the incident. Fort Stewart spokesperson Kevin Larson explained the defense department typically does not release the names of wounded soldiers.
Carillo and Noonan were assigned to 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. The 4th brigade deployed to Iraq in July.
Maj. Rob Phillips, a USFI spokesperson, said in an e-mail Tuesday further information about the shooting has not yet been released.
“The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command Special Agents are conducting a very thorough and extensive investigation into the shootings,” Phillips said. “To protect the integrity of the investigation and any possible future legal proceedings, we are not releasing case specific information at this time."
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