Defendant Puts Best Face Forward, After Extreme Makeover, in Capital Murder Case

Murder defendant John Ditullio is a scary sight in his natural state, even his own defense lawyer admits.

But as a Florida retrial begins this week in a 2006 capital murder case, Ditullio will be putting his best face forward in the Clearwater proceeding, reports the New York Times.

At a cost of $125 per day, a state-funded cosmetologist will cover up the swastika tattoo and Frankenstein-like line of seeming stitches on one side of his face, as well as what the newspaper refers to as a “crude insult” tattooed on his neck on the other side.

“It’s easier to give someone who looks like you a fair shake,” says attorney Bjorn Brunvand, who is defending the case.

A private investigator who works with Brunvand had to call 10 cosmetologists before she found one willing to do the job, the Times reports. She asked that her name not be disclosed, for fear of reprisals: She mostly does wedding-day makeup jobs.

However, an appearance that could strike a negative chord with a jury is a problem that goes beyond mere cosmetics, the article notes. Trial consultant Douglas Keene of Austin, Texas, says he told corporate defendants in the Enron case to be sure they didn’t wear their $10,000 watches to trial.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “State Must Pay $150 a Day to Cover Up Murder Defendant’s Tattoos, Judge Rules”

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy and the ABA Code of Conduct.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.