Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Neo-Nazi trial witness walks in unrelated plea deal

NEW PORT RICHEY — Kraig Constantino, accused of beating and stabbing a man he suspected of trying to hit on his girlfriend, took a plea deal Thursday that let him walk away convicted but free.

He got time served.

Constantino is a felon with a long history of arrests. But he had this going for him: He testified in December in the retrial of neo-Nazi John Ditullio, who was accused of stabbing a woman and killing a teenager in a hate-fueled rampage in 2006.

Ditullio first went to trial in 2009, but the jury deadlocked and a mistrial was declared.

Constantino didn't testify then. In the second trial, he took the stand and told jurors that while he and Ditullio were housed together in the Pasco County Jail, Ditullio confessed to his crimes. Constantino said Ditullio bragged about the photographs from the crime scene and expressed amazement at how easily his knife penetrated a young boy's skull.

Ditullio, who maintained his innocence, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

His attorney, Bjorn Brunvand, said he wasn't surprised to learn of the plea deal Constantino got.

"Our belief is that was his reward for his testimony against Ditullio," Brunvand said.

He also thinks Constantino lied.

"Ditullio was there for almost five years and all of sudden this guy comes up with this?" Brunvand said. "No. He said what he had to say to get his deal with the state, and now he has his deal."

Constantino almost didn't take it.

After the prosecutor announced to the judge that there was an agreement in the case, Constantino, 41, broke in and said he wanted a trial date.

"I just can't take the conviction," he said.

Constantino was originally charged with attempted murder. The victim in the case, Richard Bernhardt, had several teeth knocked out and required stitches inside his mouth, according to court documents.

Circuit Judge Michael Andrews reminded Constantino that he was only out of jail because of his agreement with prosecutors. If he backed out, he could be locked up again until his trial.

"Well," Constantino said, "you drive a hard bargain. Let's go ahead."

He raised his right hand slowly, then pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of felony battery and was sentenced to the 1,002 days he previously spent in jail. That exceeded state sentencing guidelines, prosecutors said.

Andrews imposed $657 in court fees, which Constantino asked to be waived "so I can start my life over."

Andrews said he couldn't do it, and Constantino said he understood.

"Thank you, your honor," he said before getting fingerprinted. "It's been a pleasure."

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

Neo-Nazi trial witness walks in unrelated plea deal 01/27/11 [Last modified: Thursday, January 27, 2011 8:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa Bay Super Bowls: A brief history and some predictions for 2021

    Bucs

    At last, Tampa will host a Super Bowl again. It used to be that the Cigar City would host one a decade, but by the time February 2021 rolls around, it will have been 12 years since the epic showdown between the Steelers and Cardinals. Because it has been awhile, let's revisit those past Super Bowls while also peering …

    Santonio Holmes hauls in the game-winning touchdown in the Steelers' 27-23 Super Bowl XLIII victory over the Cardinals in 2009, the last time Tampa hosted a Super Bowl. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  2. Rays bats go silent in second straight loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Sure, Alex Cobb was to blame for the Rays' 4-0 loss on Tuesday.

    Derek Norris strikes out with the bases loaded as the Rays blow a golden opportunity in the seventh inning.
  3. Analysis: Manchester attack was exactly what many had long feared

    World

    LONDON — For Britain's security agencies, London always seemed like the likely target. For years, the capital of 8 million with hundreds of thousands of weekly tourists and dozens of transit hubs had prepared for and feared a major terror attack.

  4. Dade City man dies after crashing into county bus, troopers say

    Public Safety

    ZEPHYRHILLS — A 38-year-old man died Tuesday after colliding into the rear of a county bus on U.S. 301, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  5. Suspicious device at Pinellas Park home was a spent artillery round, police say

    Public Safety

    PINELLAS PARK — Bomb squad investigators determined that a "suspicious device" found at a Pinellas Park home Tuesday afternoon was a spent artillery round, police said.