Extreme Makeover: Criminal Court Edition
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|Tue, 12-07-2010 - 10:05am|
Maybe we should try all defendants hidden from the jury's view.
I bet his mother's 'proud' of him.
CLEARWATER, Fla. — When John Ditullio goes on trial on Monday, jurors will not see the large swastika tattooed on his neck. Or the crude insult tattooed on the other side of his neck. Or any of the other markings he has acquired since being jailed on charges related to a double stabbing that wounded a woman and killed a teenager in 2006.
Mr. Ditullio’s lawyer successfully argued that the tattoos could be distracting or prejudicial to the jurors, who under the law are supposed to consider only the facts presented to them. The case shows some of the challenges lawyers face when trying to get clients ready for trial — whether that means hitting the consignment shop for decent clothes for an impoverished client or telling wealthy clients to leave the bling at home.
“It’s easier to give someone who looks like you a fair shake,” said Bjorn E. Brunvand, Mr. Ditullio’s lawyer.
The court approved the judicial equivalent of an extreme makeover, paying $125 a day for the services of a cosmetologist to cover up the tattoos that Mr. Ditullio has gotten since his arrest. This is Mr. Ditullio’s second trial for the murder; the first, which also involved the services of a cosmetologist, ended last year in a mistrial. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
“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,” Mr. Brunvand said in an interview in his office here. “It’s too frightening when you see him with the tattoos. It’s a scary picture.”
Hence the cosmetologist. Chele, the owner of the company performing the work, said the process takes about 45 minutes
The first stage is a reddish layer to obscure the greenish tinge of the ink — “You cover a color with a color,” she explained. Then comes Dermablend, a cosmetic aid that smoothes and obscures and is used to cover scars and pigmentation disorders like vitiligo. A flesh-toned layer is then sprayed on with an air gun, and finally, to avoid the porcelain-doll look that comes from an even-hued coat, a final color touchup intended to, as theatrical makeup artists say, “put blood back in.”
The cosmetologist asked that she not be identified by her full name out of fear of reprisal and lost business. “We mostly do weddings,” she said.
Colleen Quinn-Adams, a private investigator working on the case with Mr. Brunvand, said she had had to call 10 cosmetologists before finding one willing to take on this particular client. “I would either get a long pause, and have to say, ‘Are you still there?’ or, ‘I don’t think we could handle that job.’