Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Like They've Got Good Sense...
Neo-Nazi's aren't generally known for their smarts. I mean, how intelligent can anyone who defaces their body with swastika's and salutes Hitler be, right? But, when a convicted murderer and his defense counsel calls one as a character witness, like they have good sense, you have to wonder about the IQ of more than just the bonehead.
John Ditullio, a swastika-wearing, tattooed, and goateed mental case Nazi with 28 write-ups and three new charges while in custody for the last 2 years, pending trial for the New Port Richey, Fl attack and murder a couple of years back, was actually called to vouch for one of his fellow inmates. What the hell were they thinking?
TO THE ORIGINAL SOURCE
DADE CITY -- If you judge a man by the company he keeps, well then, what if he's in jail?
Lawrence Joey Smith has been incarcerated for nine years now, since his 1999 arrest and subsequent conviction for first-degree murder and attempted murder.
Now facing the death penalty for the execution-style shootings of two teens that left one dead in 1999, he is acting as his own lawyer, using what he learned reading law books behind bars.
He found a character witness there, too.
Which explains the appearance of the tattooed young man with the pointed beard, red jail coveralls and handcuffs who appeared on the courtroom video screen today.
His name is John Allen Ditullio Jr., the neo-Nazi charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder in the infamous 2006 Teak Street stabbing attack in New Port Richey.
"Mr. Ditullio," Circuit Judge Lynn Tepper said, "would you raise your right hand to receive the oath?"
The defense called Ditullio to testify that Smith has been a positive influence on him during his two years in jail. The two were once "neighbors" in confinement cells in the Land O'Lakes Detention Center, where the jail's most dangerous inmates are held.
Ditullio called Smith a "friend" and a "mentor."
"What kind of effect has he had on your life?" asked Keith Hammond, Smith's standby counsel.
"Mr. Smith has made me re-evaluate my life and reconstruct my life in a positive way," Ditullio said. "I've made some mistakes, but I'm definitely not the same person I once was."
Ditullio said that Smith is a model prisoner who counsels him on his "disciplinary problems" inside the jail. If Smith were to be sentenced to life in prison, Ditullio said, Smith could continue to be a positive influence on his life.
Then it was the state's turn.
Ditullio, it turns out, has not been a model prisoner.
"In fact you've been written up several times for disciplinary reports?" asked Assistant State Attorney Manny Garcia. "In actuality you've been written up 28 times."
"I've also been here two years," Ditullio said.
Then Garcia asked Ditullio why he was wearing a red jumpsuit. In Pasco County, most prisoners wear orange and white striped jumpsuits.
"That's because I'm a red-dot," Ditullio said. Before he could explain, Hammond objected. The judge allowed him to explain what "red-dot" means in the jail.
"The significance is that you're a high-risk inmate," Garcia asked, "is that correct?"
"Yes," Ditullio said.
"You indicated that Mr. Smith is a positive influence in your life?" Garcia asked.
Ditullio said yes. But then Garcia asked him about his three arrests inside the jail since he was indicted for the 2006 stabbings.
Ditullio has also been accused of an elaborate escape attempt, of keeping contraband in his cell, and most recently this month of breaking the sprinkler head in his cell, flooding his cell.
"Did Mr. Smith ... try to counsel you about these things?" Garcia asked.
"Mr. Smith wasn't in the pod with me, but I received a letter from him," Ditullio said. "He counseled me. He was upset that I would do something so foolish like that."
And that was it.
The jurors never heard about Ditullio's murder charges. Nor did they heard about the charges of aggravated assault, domestic battery and tampering with a witness filed against him in the brutal beating of his ex-girlfriend before the 2006 stabbings.
Nor did they learn why he wasn't brought to court: he was considered a security risk.
"Mr. Ditullio I'm not going to tell you what I tell the other witnesses," the judge said, "that you're free to go."
"Thank you," he said.
- Jamal Thalji, Times staff writer
Posted by Nikki at 3/25/2008 09:29:00 PM