Judge: Tattoo can be entered as evidence in murder trial

Abdul T. White

DOVER — A Philadelphia man’s tattoo can be introduced as evidence in a murder trial involving an alleged Milford home invasion and robbery two years ago, a judge determined last week.

The “Duct Tape Bandit” tattoo on Abdul T. White’s stomach is relevant to the nature of the shooting death of John G. Harmon on Aug. 8, 2015, the state successfully argued, since the victim was duct taped to his wheelchair beforehand.

While the defendant maintained the tattoo could be highly prejudicial to a jury, Judge Jeffrey Clark found it was a written statement that he made and thus admissible.

“That Mr. White aquired this tattoo and has not tried to cover it with a different tattoo or remove it completely is evidence that he has manifested his adoption or belief in the statement …” Judge Clark wrote in a 12-page order decided Friday.

Judge Clark said he will, if asked, instruct the jury on the limited value of the tattoo and ordered the state to redact Mr. White’s other tattoos when introduced through a photograph.

Police claimed that Mr. White was one of three suspects who entered a home and ordered nine people to lay down in the living room at gunpoint before Mr. Harmon was shot in the head. The intruders were described as wearing dark clothes and dirt bike style masks, authorities said.

A 10th person in the living room was also duct taped, police investigation alleged.

“ … identity is particularly at issue here because of the manner in which the perpetrators carried out the crime,” according to Judge Clark.

“All three participants entered the house wearing disguises. Under such circumstances, the state should be permitted to establish identity with other admissible evidence.

“Here, the tattoo is circumstantial evidence of the identity of one of the perpetrators.”

In one sentence, Mr. White also argued “in a conclusory manner” that using the tattoo at trial violated his Sixth Amendment rights. The assertion fell short in Court, however.

“ … Mr. White does not provide any factual or legal analysis in support of this argument,” Judge Clark wrote. “Nor does he cite any relevant case law to support his argument.

“Mr. White did not expand on this proposition at the oral argument either.”

Deputy Attorneys General Jason Cohee and Lindsay Taylor are prosecuting the case, with attorneys Edward Gill and Alex Funk defending Mr. White.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.