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Controversial tattoos are on the tongues of many Florida residents who are helping to pay for the cosmetic work of an accused murderer. “Jurors will not see this large swastika on John Ditullio’s neck or any of the other tattoos he’s acquired since being in jail in 2006. The judge ruled those tattoos could sway a jury’s opinion. So, the state is paying a cosmetologist $125 a day to cover them up.” (MSNBC) Ditullio is on trial for stabbing his neighbor Patricia Wells because he thought she was dating an African American man and for killing Wells’ friend Kristopher King because he was gay in 2006. The Daily Mail reports King’s mother is outraged. “‘The judge is bending over backwards for the criminal... Did somebody tie him down while he was in jail and put these tattoos on him?’” The New York Times talked to Ditullio’s lawyer Bjorn Brunvand who believes covering the tattoos is the only way Ditullio will get a fair trial. “‘There’s no doubt in my mind — without the makeup being used, there’s no way a jury could look at John and judge him fairly... It’s too frightening when you see him with the tattoos. It’s a scary picture.’” To some, it’s a question of whether the tattoos are relevant to the case and if the relevance outweighs the prejudice. “I would say that if he was charged with a hate crime--if the affiliation with Nazism is part of what he’s charged with then the jury ought to see the swastika. If he’s charged with an ordinary crime, the probably the prejudice outweighs the relevance.” The St. Petersburg Times reports some aren’t happy that it’s taxpayers’ money paying for the cosmetic work. “‘I didn't think it was right that the taxpayers should have to foot the bill for that.’” In 2006 when the crime happened, Ditullio was living with an American Nazi group. Last year, the first trial ended with a hung jury. He faces the death penalty if convicted.
9 Dec 2010
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