NEW PORT RICHEY — Neo-Nazi John Ditullio's retrial will begin on March 22, a judge decided Monday.
Circuit Judge Michael Andrews' decision came after Ditullio arrived in court shackled and wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, his much-publicized facial tattoos visible again.
The 23-year-old is accused of stabbing two people in 2006, killing one. He was a member of the American Nazis then, living in a compound on Teak Street surrounded by guarded fences and adorned with swastikas and rebel flags. The neighbor next door, Patricia Wells, had a black friend who sometimes visited and an openly gay son, which sparked the ire of the white supremacists.
Early on March 23, 2006, authorities allege, Ditullio broke into Wells' home wearing a gas mask and attacked her with a knife. When she ran into a back bedroom, he slashed her in the face and hands, then went after 17-year-old Kristofer King, a friend of Wells' son, who was using a computer. King, who was also gay, died of multiple stab wounds to his head.
During Ditullio's trial last week, Wells, 48, testified that her attacker wore a white T-shirt and khaki pants. Several witnesses said Ditullio had been wearing a red T-shirt and black pants that night, and he was pictured in those clothes the next day when authorities took him into custody.
Ditullio took the stand, calmly maintaining his innocence. He has a swastika and the words "f--- you" tattooed on his neck, and a barbed wire tattoo along his face. But Andrews allowed a makeup artist to come in each morning and cover them up, so the jury wouldn't be offended by Ditullio's appearance and let that overshadow the evidence.
The issue created a minor frenzy because public funds were used to pay the makeup artist. Ditullio is indigent.
"The sooner we try this case, the better," Andrews said.
Molly Moorhead can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6245.