Jury selection has been under way for more than a week in the court-martial of Sgt. Joseph Bozicevich and his trial is scheduled to start later this month. The accused infantryman asked the Army Court of Criminal Appeals last month to halt the trial proceedings and order the trial judge to appoint him a new lawyer.
The court denied Bozicevich's request Tuesday without elaboration. It typically doesn't get involved in cases before they go to trial.
Charles Gittins, Bozicevich's civilian defense attorney, argued the appeals court should make an exception in this case. Bozicevich, 41, of Minneapolis faces the death penalty if a military jury convicts him of murder in the September 2008 slayings of his squad leader, Staff Sgt. Darris Dawson, and Sgt. Wesley Durbin. Witnesses say the victims were shot at their infantry unit's patrol base after they counseled Bozicevich for poor performance. Dawson was from Pensacola, Fla., and Durbin from Dallas.
While Bozicevich has three lawyers on his defense team, none of them has ever handled a death penalty case. Gittins has argued for the past year that the Army should appoint and a pay for another lawyer with capital experience, saying Bozicevich won't get a fair trial otherwise.
The trial judge, Col. Tara Osborn, has twice denied the defense request. She's ruled that Bozicevich's lawyers have enough trial experience and help from government-funded experts to provide an effective defense.
Gittins did not immediately return a message seeking comment Wednesday.
Six military jurors have been seated to hear the case since jury selection started March 29. At least 12 jurors of rank equal to or higher than Bozicevich's are required to hear the case.
The trial is scheduled to begin April 18, or later if necessary.