Fla. neo-Nazi in murder trial gets tattoo makeover for trial _ at cost of up to $150 per day
NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. (AP) — John Allen Ditullio is a walking billboard for the neo-Nazi movement: a large 6-inch swastika tattooed under his right ear, barbed wire inked down the right side of his face, and an extreme and very personal vulgarity scrawled on one side of his neck.
Jurors will never see any of it. A judge has ruled that the state must pay a cosmetologist up to $150 a day during Ditullio's trial on murder and attempted murder charges and apply makeup to cover up the black ink.
Judge Michael Andrews, acting on a request by Ditullio's lawyer, ruled that the tattoos are potentially offensive and could influence a jury's opinion in the state's death penalty case against the 23-year-old accused of donning a gas mask, breaking into a neighbor's home and stabbing two people, killing one of them.
Since his arrest in the March 26, 2006, crime in this suburban county just north of Tampa, the self-described neo-Nazi has added tattoos to his body that are prominently displayed and not easily concealed. Ditullio doesn't have the money to pay to have the tattoos covered up, said his public defender, Bjorn Brunvand, who was worried that a jury might be biased against his client on the basis of the tattoos alone.
"Whenever someone is facing the death penalty, they should get a fair trial," Brunvand said. "The jury can judge this case on the facts and the law and not base their decision on being offended."
Any tattoos Ditullio had before his arrest won't be covered, such as a small cross under his right eye. Earlier this week, he wore a neatly pressed blue shirt and gray slacks yet several tattoos on his hands and wrists were still visible.