“MURDER” Tattoo Update: It’s to Be Turtlenecks in August

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Reuters reports today that Jeffrey Chapman, the gentleman who, in one of history's great ironies, unwisely had "MURDER" tattooed on his neck at some point only to later be charged with that very crime, will not be allowed to bring in a tattoo artist to obscure said tattoo before trial.

Instead, Reuters says, a deal of some sort was reached, and as a result Mr. Chapman will be wearing a turtleneck every day for the duration of his trial.

It's not clear from this report what the defense got out of this deal, if anything, other than the right to wear turtlenecks. The report says the trial has been postponed and will now begin on August 18 (instead of this Monday), and the defense attorney did ask for that change. But it's not clear if this was part of the "deal." The defense also asked for more time to "survey the pool of potential jurors," and is also seeking a change of venue, so those might have been grounds for the postponement.

I am wondering about the "deal" because the upshot is that, unless venue changes, the defendant will be wearing turtlenecks every day during a trial held in Kansas in the middle of August, when the average high temperature there is a balmy 92 degrees. (The record low is 45, so he could get lucky, but on the other hand it is 82 degrees there today, in April.) So while the jury will not see the tattoo, it will see a weirdo in a turtleneck in August and so the topic of conversation each day will be what's under the turtleneck. Or at least that's what I would be constantly wondering. Cf. "Defendant Claims His Underwear is 50 Years Old," Lowering the Bar (Aug. 13, 2013) (speculating as to why defendant might have been wearing long johns in court during a ferocious summer in Jinan, China).

I guess I can't really think of something that might be worse than "MURDER," though, so I suppose it's okay if they speculate. I still would have let him have the tattoo artist, I think. Especially because, as one reader pointed out (thanks, Andrea), he still needs to do something about the teardrop tattooed near to his left eye, which according to TV generally means someone is a murderer.

May we suggest an eyepatch?

I am also going to suggest a top hat, because that ensemble should do the trick of distracting the jury from the turtleneck itself. Of course, a Kansas jury would probably convict anyone they saw in a top hat for that reason alone, but hey—nobody made him get a tattoo.