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Brunvand Wins Motion to Have Murder Defendant's Tattoos Covered During Trial

A circuit judge in Pasco County granted defense attorney Bjorn Brunvand's motion to have his client's tattoos covered during a murder trial scheduled to begin Monday. A makeup artist will apply makeup to cover several potentially offensive tattoos on the face and neck of murder defendant John Allen Ditullio, Jr. before each day of the trial.

Ditullio is charged with first degree murder and attempted murder in the 2006 killing of Kristopher King and assault on Patricia Wells. Ditullio has been incarcerated since his 2006 arrest and is facing the death penalty if convicted.

At the time of his 2006 arrest, Ditullio had several tattoos including small crosses under both eyes. These pre-existing tattoos will not be covered up. During his incarceration pending trial, Ditullio acquired several additional tattoos. These include a long tattoo which resembles barbed wire down one side of his face, a swastika on his neck and the expletive "f- you" on the other side.

In his motion, Brunvand argued that these newest tattoos should be covered at trial due to their offensive nature. The average person on a jury might be "either offended or intimidated and maybe frightened by these tattoos," said Brunvand. He was concerned the tattoos - as opposed to the evidence - might lead jurors to believe Ditullio is guilty even though they have nothing to do with the facts of the case.

Ditullio was admittedly part of a neo-Nazi compound in Wells' neighborhood but denies killing King and assaulting Wells. In court last week, Brunvand likened the tattoos to uniforms worn by the neo-Nazi group, arguing that just because they wore uniforms didn't "mean you have to wear it in court."

The court agreed with Brunvand, granting the request without much comment. Jury selection is to begin Monday, December 7th.

The Fox 13 local news interviewed Brunvand about the motion and the decision:

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  • American inns of court
  • norml
  • National association of criminal defense lawyers
  • Clearwater bar association
  • Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

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