FORT STEWART, Ga. – An Army sergeant charged with murder shouted "My career's over, just kill me," as soldiers pinned him to the ground after he shot and killed two fellow U.S. soldiers in Iraq, members of their unit told a military judge Monday.
The two slain soldiers had been giving Sgt. Joseph Bozicevich of Minneapolis a critique for poor performance before he shot them Sept. 14 at a small patrol base south of Baghdad, witnesses said in a Fort Stewart courtroom.
Their platoon leader, 1st Lt. Ryan Daly, said Bozicevich's squad leader — one of the men slain — was pulling him off patrol duty after he left a soldier behind during a foot patrol the night before. Bozicevich had another problem a few hours earlier, when he lost one of his grenades and couldn't find it.
"He was having a bad day and making some mistakes," Daly testified. "Leaving a soldier behind, that was kind of it."
Bozicevich is charged with murdering his squad leader, Staff Sgt. Darris Dawson of Pensacola, Fla., and a fellow four-man team leader, Sgt. Wesley Durbin of Dallas. His Article 32 hearing, similar to a civilian grand jury, began Monday to determine whether Army prosecutors have enough evidence to try him in a court-martial.
The testimony Monday provided the first glimpse into the circumstances surrounding the slayings. The Army had previously released few details.
None of the 3rd Infantry Division soldiers testifying before lunch Monday saw the shootings. Several said they were awakened by several rapid gunshots at about 2 a.m. and rushed from their bunks thinking the base was under attack.
Sgt. Darren Brown, who helped another soldier restrain Bozicevich, said the accused sergeant said "just kill me" as they held him face-down in the dirt.
Brown said another soldier standing nearby asked, "Why'd you do it, Boz?"
"The accused just smiled and said, `You know why,'" Brown told the judge, Col. Michael J. Hargis of Fort Hood, Texas.
Daly said Durbin was found shot inside a security station where Bozicevich was supposed to be on duty that night. He said medics worked furiously to save Dawson and Durbin, but hazardous weather prevented a helicopter from taking them to the nearest medical station. Instead, they had to be driven to a base about 30 minutes away.