Charged with first-degree murder, a Kansas man decided that something about his appearance might not bode well for him in trial—the word “murder” tattooed across his neck.
Defendant Jeffrey Chapman is asking for a professional tattoo artist to remove or cover up the word, which is tattooed in large, mirror-image letters. Chapman’s defense attorney, Kurt Kerns, says the tattoo is too big to be covered by clothing.
“Mr. Chapman has secured a licensed tattoo artist from Hays who is willing to go to the jail,” the motion states. “Mr. Chapman’s tattoos are not relevant to any material facts and Mr. Chapman asks for the court to exclude any mention of his tattoos at trial and further to be allowed to cover them up in an appropriate manner. The fact that he has ‘Murder’ tattooed across his neck is irrelevant to the State’s case and extremely prejudicial to Mr. Chapman if introduced at trial or observed by the jury.”
Prosecutors say they aren’t against it, responding to the motion that the State “does not oppose the defendant from covering his tattoo using clothing, bandage or other means compliant with jail policy."
However, the Barton County sheriff opposes allowing having Chapman get the tattoo removed. According to Kansas law, he says, Chapman would have to be taken to a licensed tattoo facility.
Chapman’s fears that the tat will prejudice a jury are probably justified. His trial for the killing of Damon Galliart is scheduled to begin Monday. Gailliart’s body was found by hunters in a ditch by the side of the road in November 2011.