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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Darryl Littlejohn - St. Guillen Murder Case - Fallout

updated: 4:00 p.m.

Imette St. Guillen - Darryl LittlejohnReports are that witness testimony, evidence and DNA test results in the Imette St. Guillen murder investigation are being presented today to a grand jury in Brooklyn, New York. Prosecutors will be seeking a first-degree murder indictment against Darryl Littlejohn.

But the aftermath of the Imette St. Guillen murder will reverberate through New York and the criminal justice system for a long time.

Will the St. Guillen case have a lasting influence on how police conduct a murder or violent crime investigation? Prior to this case it doesn't seem like there was a hard and fast rule regarding when police investigators should label an individual a "prime" or lead suspect.

The St. Guillen case sets the precedent that a "person of interest" does not become a suspect until they are linked to the crime by forensic or DNA evidence.

This is a safe, conservative and straightforward rule from the view point of police and prosecutors. It's a rule that allows the police to deflect a great deal of media and public questioning regarding a high profile case or any case for that matter. When asked about "suspects" -- Police departments can now always say: "we have no formal suspects until we have a confirmed forensic (DNA) link."

How can a reporter or concerned citizen get around this statement and get the police to formally call anyone a suspect if they don't have the DNA? Unless of course the perpetrator is caught red handed.

Prior to Sunday's announcement by NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly that Littlejohn was linked to the St. Guillen murder by blood there was a very large body of circumstantial evidence against Littlejohn. Based on this mounting list of circumstantial evidence many mainstream media outlets like the NY Post and blogs (including this one) were calling Darryl Littlejohn the "prime suspect."

But NYPD held fast and did not call Littlejohn a suspect. Informally, yes, New York detectives were making "off the record" comments to reporters that Littlejohn "is a suspect, our only one" or "he looks good to us," etc. But, there was no formal department statement the Littlejohn was a suspect. Perhaps the fact that Littlejohn was in lockdown for 90 days on a parole violation helped take some pressure off them. But, even if a "person of interest" is walking around police certainly can keep an eye on them.

This simply policy would seem easy enough for all police departments to quickly adopt. Let's see what happens.

The discussion of what qualifies an individual to be a "person of interest" will have to be researched and saved for another day.

Three failures led to Imette St. Guillen's murder

Imette St. Guillen was delivered into the arms of her suspected murderer, Darryl Littlejohn, because of three failures:

  • The Falls bar did not perform a mandatory background check on Darryl Littlejohn. They did not even verify his resume and his bona fides. He claimed to be a former federal marshall. New York State law requires anyone functioning a security guard (bouncer) to be registered, to take a three-day security course and be fingerprinted and checked out by the police and through FBI fingerprint records. The New York Times - Buttoned-Up Bouncers on Defensive:
    Since the mid-90's all security personnel working in the state are required to carry a state registration card demonstrating that they have completed at least 24 hours of training. This includes ethics, self-defense, crowd control and evacuation procedures, several security guards said. Licensed guards undergo a background check intended to screen out felons, and each must submit fingerprints, which the state keeps on file.

  • The New York State Parole system did not closely supervise Littlejohn and monitor his required (9 p.m.-7 a.m.) curfew. The New York Times - Bouncer Is Held on a Parole Violation:
    Mr. Littlejohn's parole officer did not know he was working at the bar and believed he was working at a mortgage lending company, according to a spokeswoman for the State Division of Parole.

  • The Federal parole system lost track of Littlejohn. The Boston Herald - Feds flubbed in tracking felon:
    Federal probation officials admitted yesterday they failed to monitor even a single day of the post-prison wanderings of a career felon suspected in a Boston woman’s sex murder and a string of sadistic rapes in New York...

    The stunning lapse in federal supervision occurred despite explicit sentencing instructions that Littlejohn was to be watched by federal officers until at least 2007.

Weaselly Excuses

Each one of these organizations has quickly scurried to make excuses:

  • The Falls bar is trying to spin the lapse in Littlejohn's security check by simply saying that he had nothing to do with security. He did not work security "in the bar" but was merely a "doorman" who stood at the door and checked ID cards.

    Steve Dunleavy of the New York Post talked to the chief weasel, Jack Dorrian:
    "First of all, that little girl wasn't drunk - and all that does is hurt her family.

    "Second, she wasn't thrown out of the bar. It was closing time and everyone was asked to leave.

    "Third, my son Danny was not bartending and he didn't ask anyone to escort her out.

    "Fourth, this guy Littlejohn, he was not a bouncer. He was one of two doormen working outside the bar to check ages and IDs of drinkers. Bouncers work inside a bar in case of trouble. My son Danny couldn't even see this guy Littlejohn. Danny was inside, Littlejohn was outside.

    "Fifth, Littlejohn was hired on a part-time basis. He passed himself off as a former U.S. marshal complete with his U.S. marshal's cap and identification hanging from his neck.

    "Forged? Looks like it might have been."

    Nice try you co-conspirator weasels - most concerned citizens are looking forward to your day in court. Dorrian, hopefully the family of "that little girl" takes you for every penny you're worth.

  • The New York Parole system is claiming their officers are overworked (average 100 cases) and that they were checking Littlejohn as closely as possible given their situation.

  • The Feds are claiming a clerical error another report said it was a fired file clerk, who lost paperwork. cbs4Boston.com:
    Federal probation officials in New York tell CBS4 they did not even know Darryl Littlejohn was out of prison.

    The chief probation officer tells CBS4, "We have 3,800 offenders in the federal probation system, we can't follow them all."

    The Boston Hereald:
    "This has never happened before in a case like this," said Tony Garoppolo, federal chief of probation for the Eastern District of New York. "We didn’t know we had supervison because of a (clerical) error in the system."

More details about the case:

CBS4Boston.com - St. Guillen Investigation Put Before Grand Jury:
Witness testimony, evidence and DNA test results in the Imette St. Guillen murder investigation will be presented to a Grand Jury in Brooklyn, New York Tuesday. Police hope it leads to an indictment of their prime suspect Darryl Littlejohn.

MSNBC analyst & former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt does a complete summary of the overwhelming circumstantial and DNA evidence against Littlejohn:

"Real" CSI may have solved Imette's murder [MSNBC, Mar. 14, 2006]

Dan DorrianThe Falls bar and Dan Dorrian played the major role in delivering Imette St. Guillen into the arms of her suspected killer. Van Zandt also zeros in on the coverup by the The Falls bar management and owners. Specifically, Dan Dorrian:
This investigation was challenged from the start by the alleged misstatements of the manager of The Falls. This manager apparently waited five long, critical days before finally "fessing up" to the truth that he had asked Littlejohn to remove St. Guillen from the bar at closing time.

Everyone including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is upset with The Falls bar owners and management. The mayor said:

"If the bar managers did something wrong, they'll be prosecuted"

The Boston Globe - Bar still central to NYC slaying probe:

A high-ranking police official said police are investigating The Falls as they continue to build their case against Darryl Littlejohn...

Police have asked officials at the State Liquor Authority to temporarily suspend their investigation of The Falls until the St. Guillen case has been closed, said William Crowley, a spokesman for the authority.

The Falls faces potential revocation of its liquor license for hiring Littlejohn, who violated his parole-imposed curfew of 9 p.m. to 7 a.m by working there as a bouncer, Crowley said.

The NY Daily News - Going for first degree:
Prosecutors are gearing up to seek a first-degree murder indictment against the ex-con bouncer whose DNA has been tied to the brutal rape and slaying of a graduate student, sources said yesterday.

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes is expected to ask a grand jury to indict Darryl Littlejohn in the murder of Imette St. Guillen, 24. Hynes has assigned his homicide bureau chief, Kenneth Taub, to the case.

NY1.com - Grad Student Slaying Inspires New Bill:
The bill called "Imette's Law" calls for every business with a state liquor license to install security cameras at all entrances and exits of their buildings. St. Guillen's former boyfriend, also a student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, proposed the idea to Assemblyman Felix Ortiz who sponsored the legislation.

Prosecutors Expect Indictment Soon In Coed Murder [TV-10, Mar. 14, 2006]

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