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Ruling awaited in soldiers' slayings

April 15, 2009 at 9:18 PM   |   Comments

FORT STEWART, Ga., April 15 (UPI) -- Whether an Army sergeant will face a court-martial for the shooting deaths of two comrades in Iraq is now in the hands of a military judge in Georgia.

Col. Michael J. Hargis wrapped up the Section 32 hearing for Sgt. Joseph C. Bozicevich of Minneapolis Wednesday at Fort Stewart, Army Times reported. Hargis heard testimony from 37 witnesses during 2 1/2 days of testimony.

Bozicevich, 39, of Minneapolis, is accused in the September shooting deaths of Sgt. Wesley R. Durbin, 26, of Dallas and Staff Sgt. Darris J. Dawson, 24, of Pensacola, Fla.

Hargis could take weeks before making his recommendations on the case to Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, who will then decide if Bozicevich will face a court-martial.

Durbin and Dawson allegedly were shot while counseling Bozicevich for what the squad leaders considered was his poor performance, the newspaper said.

"There is ample evidence that Sergeant Bozicevich was standing over Sergeant Dawson either holding or pointing a weapon at him," Maj. Charles Kuhfahl, one of the two prosecutors, said in court.

Kuhfahl also said the evidence showed that three fired bullets that could be identified came from the weapon assigned to Bozicevich.

Bozicevich took notes throughout the hearing but declined to make a statement in court.

Defense attorney Charles Gittins offered that Bozicevich "may not be the greatest soldier in the world, but he was a good soldier and he always tried."

"Something happened in that room that led Sergeant Bozicevich to believe he had to use his weapon," Gittins said.

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