DuPage judge: No street clothes in court for murder suspect
A DuPage County judge has declined to make exceptions for a murder suspect who doesn't want to be photographed at his arraignment.
Attorneys for Joseph Spitalli had asked Judge Daniel Guerin to let their client waive the appearance next week after the news media was granted extended courtroom access.
Guerin denied that motion Friday, and also denied another defense request that Spitalli be uncuffed and dressed in civilian clothes. The judge said Spitalli is required to be arraigned at the bench, and that altering other factors of the routine proceeding would be inconvenient and go against public transparency.
"The point of the media coverage, as I understand it, is transparency in the court system so the public can see how things work," Guerin said. "If we start changing everything all of a sudden ... it's not transparent because it's not what we normally do."
Spitalli, 34, of Darien, is being held without bail in the November throat-slashing murder of his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend. Prosecutors said Teymur Huseynli, 31, was "nearly decapitated" with a kitchen knife before Spitalli abducted and threatened to kill his former girlfriend.
In petitioning the judge, Assistant Public Defender George Ford argued "the ultimate snapshot" of his client — cuffed and standing at the bench in jail garb — splashed across TV screens and newspapers could deny his right to an impartial jury.
"Perception is what we're talking about," he said.
Prosecutors took no position on Spitalli's attire but argued he should be required to appear, and that his hands should be restrained.
"Because of the allegations, I think security concerns outweigh the defendant's desire not to be handcuffed," Assistant State's Attorney Cathy DeLaMar said.
The arraignment, set for Monday, marks the second time the news media will be allowed to photograph DuPage court proceedings under an Illinois Supreme Court pilot program launched last year. Double-murder suspect Elzbieta Plackowska of Naperville faced courtroom cameras for the first time locally in November.
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