Military Judge Col. Tara Osborn announced Friday the long-awaited start of Sgt. Joseph Bozicevich’s court martial as well as a firm schedule of motion due dates and final hearings in the death penalty case.
Court martial proceedings will officially begin Feb. 7, 2011. A panel (jury) will be called Feb. 8, 2011 and opening statements in the trial will begin Feb. 28, 2011.
Boz-icevich is charged with two counts of premeditated murder in the deaths of Staff Sgt. Darris Dawson, 24, of Pensacola, Fla., and Sgt. Wesley Durbin, 26, of Hurst, 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.
Prior to setting a trial schedule, Osborn informed the court Bozicevich’s military defense attorney, Capt. Nick Moutos, and government attorney Maj. Scott Ford were in Iraq or en route to Iraq to interview three Iraqi soldiers who testified at the Article 32 hearing and 14 Iraqis who were present at the forwarding operating base when the shooting occurred. Bozicevich’s attorneys had argued in previous hearings they should be allowed travel to Iraq to verify evidence and testimony gathered by the government (Criminal Investigation Division).
“The Iraqi army coordinated access to the crime scene and the three Iraqi Army soldiers who testified at the Article 32 hearing,” confirmed Fort Stewart spokesperson Kevin Larson. “Several of the 14 additional Iraqi soldiers who were interviewed by CID will also be made available to the defense.”
Defense counsel was given the green light by U.S. Forces-Iraq who in turn received permission from Iraqi Security Forces to grant the attorneys’ interview request. The defense and government attorneys are expected to return to the U.S. around Dec. 2.
The judge directed defense and government attorneys to submit cross-serve witness lists on Dec. 9. All motions, except for motions to compel witnesses, are due for review on Dec. 16, she said.
Also, Osborn instructed attorneys to submit to her a joint questionnaire for the panel (jury) on Dec. 16. Motions to compel witnesses will be due on Dec. 23, and response to all motions will be due on Dec. 30, she said.
A final signed order for the court martial convening authority, which now refers to 3rd ID commander Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo since his redeployment, will be due on Jan. 5, 2011, the judge said.
Osborn set aside the week of Jan. 10, 2011, for final hearings. The next motion hearing will be held at 1 p.m. Monday, Jan. 10, 2011.