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Neo-Nazi: 'I'm not the person that stabbed those people'

Suncoast News
Published:   |   Updated: May 15, 2013 at 09:16 PM

John Ditullio Jr. painted a rough picture of life as a prospective member of the American Nazis.

Ditullio said he became a recruit in March 2006 after spending about two weeks hanging around the swastika-adorned compound on Teak Street. As a prospect, he was forced to spend hours guarding the front gate, monitoring surveillance cameras and doing yard work.

The goal was admission to the white supremacist group - only attainable with the OK of its membership. Despite the brutal 60-day indoctrination, Ditullio was hell-bent on joining.

"When I first met them, I was entranced by the glamour and theatrics of the brotherhood," he said.

Ditullio spent more than three hours on the witness stand Thursday, the fourth day of his trial on first-degree murder and attempted murder charges. He recounted his brief stay with the American Nazis and denied that he stabbed Patricia Wells and Kristofer King on March 23, 2006.

"I'm not the person that stabbed those people," he said.

King, 17, died of stab wounds to his head. Wells, now 48, escaped her attacker and ran for help. Ditullio, 23, faces a possible death sentence if found guilty of the murder. The defense is expected to rest its case this morning; closing statements and jury deliberations will follow.

Prosecutors contend Ditullio attacked Wells and King in an attempt to impress members of the American Nazis. Ditullio admitted that he and other members often hurled racial insults at Wells because she was seen associating with a black man. They also harassed Wells' son, Brandon Wininger, because he was a homosexual.

The desire for membership coupled with hatred pushed Ditullio to don a gas mask, climb a fence and enter Wells' mobile home, authorities said. Wininger wasn't home but his friend King was there using a computer.

The attacker first slashed Wells in the face. He then turned the knife on King as the teen tried to run out a bedroom door.

Ditullio testified that neo-Nazi Shawn Plott was the attacker.

He said he saw Plott late on the night of the attacks and that he looked "like he had seen a ghost." Shortly after seeing Plott, the other members left him alone in their mobile home with three loaded guns, Ditullio said.

He said the members had spiked his whiskey with Xanax and that he fell asleep. When he awoke and looked at the compound's surveillance monitors, he saw deputies with weapons surrounding the compound.

He responded by taking more Xanax and smoking pot before going back to sleep. The next thing he remembered was deputies bursting into the mobile home and taking him into custody.

"I had no idea what was going on," Ditullio said.

Assistant State Attorney Mike Halkitis grilled Ditullio in a lengthy cross-examination that focused on three damning letters Ditullio purportedly wrote.

Deputies found the first letter when they entered the mobile home. The writer talked about shooting the police and "dying for his race," among other things.

A second letter was intercepted by jail staff while Ditullio was in custody. In the letter to his father, Ditullio wrote that it was "high time I stand up and face the music."

Ditullio testified that the statements weren't an admission. He said it was a "deeply personal" letter that referenced incidents from his childhood, not the stabbings.

Ditullio admitted sending the third letter, a Christmas card King's father received in December. It contained a poem that insulted King and indicated he was killed because he was gay.

Ditullio testified that he sent the card because he was angry about a statement a member of King's family had made to a newspaper.

"I was just trying to strike back, man," he said. "I just couldn't believe they thought I did this."

Reporter Todd Leskanic can be reached at (813) 731-8098.