The charming face above belongs to Caius Veiovis, 33, an artist, one might say, who uses his face as his canvas, but who also is charged in Massachusetts with kidnapping, torturing and murdering three men. Now, we are told, his defense attorney is arguing that someone who not only looks like demon from hell but clearly wanted to represent himself to the world this way cannot get a fair trial because, biased fools that jurors are, they might hold Veiovis’s looks against him.
I think it’s fair to say that mad wag Caius finally provides the reductio ad absurdum of the issue I raised here in April, as Kansas murder defendant Jeffrey Chapman petitioned to have the court allow him to remove the giant tattoo that spells out the word MURDER he intentionally had inked around his neck, also to avoid prejudice by the jury. He was allowed to do so, citing as precedent the case of this guy,
…who made the state pay to have a Hollywood make-up artist cover up his tattoos even though the idiot had them put on him while he was awaiting trial.
Much as I am tempted to say that it is not unreasonable, unfair or unjust to allow people to stand trial with the messages they intended to send to the world about their beliefs and character echoing unmuffled through the courtroom—and I bet you are tempted too—it is easy to see why judges usually can’t allow this. No matter what someone tattoos on his face, the message still isn’t proof that he committed the crime he was charged with. Imagine a facial tattoo that says “I did it!” or “Guilty as charged!” Still, the last of my musings about Chapman was this:
“What other self-destructive conduct is like tattooing MURDER on one’s neck? Or is the official verdict of American society that there should be no personal responsibility for self-destructive conduct?”
I appears that Caius Veiovis provides some answers to these questions, because there is no reasonable way his self-mutilations can be covered up. A defendant can’t stand trial with a bag over his head, for observing the demeanor of the accused during trial is part of the jury’s job. In addition, altering an extreme appearance that may be part of the prosecution’s case ( Q: “Sir, do you see the individual you described who committed the crime anywhere in this courtroom?” A: “Are you kidding???“) is not in the interest of justice. I would also think a defense attorney should be able to get some mileage out of the argument that police were biased by the defendant’s appearance, and just lazily concluded that the horrific crimes must have been committed by the individual near the scene who chooses to look like Satan.
As an aside, it could be worse. For example, Caius might have made himself look like Maria Josè Cisterna, who has managed to stay out of trouble, which, I think, is wise…
So it seems that poor Caius is going to be stuck standing trial for murder looking like evil incarnate, or, perhaps, stupid incarnate.
Somehow, I just can’t work up much sympathy for him.
Note: You can read about what people with his strange obsession have to go through here.
Facts: Res Ipsa Loquitur