NEW PORT RICHEY — Prosecutors in the death penalty murder case against John Ditullio plan to call a new witness who claims Ditullio made admissions to him in jail about stabbing two people in a hate-fueled rampage.
Kraig Constantino is representing himself on charges of aggravated battery. He was in jail until last week, when he agreed to testify against Ditullio and prosecutors agreed to let him out on his own recognizance.
While in jail, he filed numerous handwritten motions and made hundreds of phone calls, all of which Ditullio's attorney plans to use to question Constantino's credibility.
The 11th-hour notice of the new witness prompted Circuit Judge Michael Andrews to delay Ditullio's retrial, which had been set for next week. A new date has not been set. Ditullio was first tried in December, but the trial ended with a deadlocked jury.
In 2006, Ditullio, then 19, was a recruit in a small neo-Nazi clan living in a mobile home on Teak Street in Griffin Park. One night that spring, prosecutors say, he donned a gas mask and broke into the home next door where a woman lived with her son. They say the neo-Nazis hated Patricia Wells because she had black friends and her son is gay. Authorities say Ditullio charged at her with a knife, stabbing her in the face and hands, then went after Kristofer King, a friend of Wells' son. King, 17, died a day after the attack.
According to defense attorney Bjorn Brunvand and Assistant State Attorney Mike Halkitis, Constantino will testify that:
• Ditullio had three or four conversations with him before last year's trial and one afterward in which he admitted to the stabbings.
• Ditullio said he stabbed Wells because she was dating an African-American man, and they sold crack cocaine.
• Ditullio said he turned the knife on King when he came to Wells' aid.
• Ditullio said Shawn Plott, another neo-Nazi whom Brunvand has painted as the real killer and who is currently on the run, won't be found because he "had friends who did him in."
When Halkitis repeated that in court Wednesday morning, Ditullio tipped his head back, crinkled his face and shook his head.
Constantino, 40, has been involved in the court system for more than 20 years. He often chooses to represent himself, filling volumes of files with handwritten motions accusing judges, court reporters and attorneys of committing fraud and falsifying records.
In Constantino's current case, he is accused of beating and stabbing a man he suspected of trying to hit on his girlfriend. The man was beaten with a wooden board and stabbed with a pocket knife.
In the case file, Constantino wrote a brief titled "Anatomy of a Crime" in which he discussed the origins of the Moon Lake neighborhood.
"Early on, the peace and public interest were preserved by members of the Ku Klux Klan," he wrote. "A gradual mingling of Klansmen and outlaw bikers policed the area into the late 1980s."
Halkitis said Constantino wanted to be released from jail in exchange for providing testimony against Ditullio because he feared for his safety. He has no other deal with prosecutors in his own case.
Constantino claims that Ditullio wields "tremendous influence" over other inmates at the Pasco County jail. Ditullio, a white supremacist, controls black and Asian gangs there, Constantino says.
He also says there are jail guards who support Ditullio and might harm Constantino if he was in lockup.
Brunvand called the assertions "ludicrous."
"Over the past 20 years, this particular witness has manipulated the court system, and he will say whatever he has to say to get what he wants, and I think that's what he's doing here," Brunvand said.
He maintains that his client is innocent of the crime and Plott is more likely the killer.
Molly Moorhead can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6245.