Tattoo Cover-Ups for Criminals
02:37 PM
Almost a year ago, I wrote about using tattoos as evidence in criminal trials, citing the case of Neo-Nazi John Ditullio who is accused of stabbing a teenager to death and wounding another. While in jail awaiting trial, Ditullio acquired a Nazi swastika among other hateful tattoos but then asked the court in his first trial for permission to cover them up so he won't be prejudiced before the jury. Even more controversial, he asked the court to pay for it because he couldn't.

The judge granted that request, and the media went crazy over tax payers footing the $125/day bill for a cosmetologist to clean-up the accused murderer. Read more in that post for the law surrounding indigent defendants and what is considered a "fair trial" under US law.

Now Ditullio faces his second trial for murder, and again, a cosmetologist is being brought in to cover up the tattoos. Cue more media frenzy. Out of the many articles, I found yesterday's NY Times coverage of the trial most interesting because they don't just discuss the law but look at the extensive process of concealing prominent facial and neck tattoos. Here's some of that discussion:

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.

Indeed, many cosmetologists contacted to do the work refused. But Chele later adds that she viewed this work as a matter of justice. That's really a main issue: Can this defendant get a fair trial without the cover-up?

[Thanks to Vince Hemingson for the link.]

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