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.”
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.