Murder suspect asks to skip hearing after judge OKs cameras in court
BY DAN ROZEK Staff Reporter January 9, 2013 12:20PM
Updated: January 9, 2013 5:56PM
Murder suspect Joseph Spitalli is camera-shy.
He wants to skip his scheduled arraignment if media cameras are rolling in the DuPage County courtroom.
And if the Darien man has to be there, he wants to be dressed for the occasion in street clothes, not the usual jail-issue orange fatigues and handcuffs.
The unusual requests surfaced Wednesday after a judge agreed to allow media cameras in court to record Spitalli’s upcoming arraignment.
Defense attorneys had objected to the cameras, saying the coverage would make it harder for Spitalli to defend himself against charges he slashed the throat of a man who was dating his former girlfriend.
“His rights to due process, to a fair trial, would be tainted by the media cameras coming in,” Assistant Public Defender George Ford contended.
Judge Daniel Guerin rejected that argument, agreeing to allow a TV camera and a photographer to record Spitalli’s Monday arraignment.
DuPage County last year became the first in the Chicago area to allow courtroom cameras under a pilot program approved by the Illinois Supreme Court to make court proceedings more transparent.
After Guerin agreed to admit the cameras, Ford and co-counsel Mark Lyon quickly asked the judge to excuse the 34-year-old Spitalli from the hearing.
That request is uncommon: defendants typically are present in court at arraignments because they formally enter pleas to the charges they face.
If he has to be in court, his attorneys asked that the 6-foot, 4-inch, 300-pound Spitalli be allowed to wear street clothes — instead of jail fatigues and handcuffs — while the cameras roll.
Guerin scheduled a Friday hearing to consider both requests.
Spitalli is charged with fatally stabbing 31-year-old Teymur Huseynli last November after confronting him while he was walking with Spitalli’s former girlfriend.
His attorneys declined to comment on the case.