Littlejohn guilty of first-degree murder

June 3, 2009 8:26:45 PM PDT
A New York City nightclub bouncer was convicted Wednesday of murdering a graduate student whose naked body was found bound and gagged and wrapped in a quilt on a desolate roadside. Wearing dark glasses, Darryl Littlejohn stared straight ahead as the first-degree murder verdict was read. A jury had deliberated for less than a day in the case, which stirred memories of New York's notorious "preppie killer" slaying and spurred a city crackdown on nightlife security.

The 44-year-old parolee faces up to life in prison without parole in the 2006 death of criminal justice student Imette St.

Guillen of Boston. His sentencing is set for July 8; Littlejohn is already serving 25 years to life for kidnapping another woman.

St. Guillen's family and friends wept quietly in the courtroom as the verdict was read.

After a night out, St. Guillen quarreled with a friend outside a Manhattan bar early on Feb. 24, 2006. St. Guillen wanted to continue drinking, but her friend called it a night.

St. Guillen then walked to The Falls, a bar owned by the same family who ran the tavern where "preppie killer" Robert Chambers met Jennifer Levin before strangling her during rough sex in the 1980s - a fact Littlejohn's lawyers emphasized in his trial.

St. Guillen stayed at The Falls past closing. Witnesses said she was asked to leave, and Littlejohn escorted her out.

Her body was found later that day along a road in Brooklyn. She had been beaten and sexually assaulted before being asphyxiated.

The nature of her abuse was eerily similar to attacks on two other women who say Littlejohn attacked them, but they lived through it, prosecutor Kenneth Taub said. Littlejohn was charged - and convicted - in only one of those attacks, but both women testified during his trial in St. Guillen's death.

Both said a stocky man in fatigues stopped them on New York City streets in 2005, demanded their IDs, handcuffed them and abducted them. One woman escaped; the other was blindfolded, sexually assaulted and eventually released.

In his closing statement, Taub said Littlejohn killed St. Guillen because she could implicate him.

"If he let her live, she would wake up sober the next morning and say, 'The guy that raped me is the guy who threw me out of the bar,"' Taub said.

At the time of her death, St. Guillen was studying criminal justice at John Jay College in Manhattan.

Prosecutors portrayed Littlejohn as a sexual predator with a propensity for pretending he was a law enforcement officer. But in her closing arguments Tuesday, defense attorney Joyce David pinned the slaying on the bar's manager and argued Littlejohn was framed in a cover-up designed to shield the manager's powerful family and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani from scandal.

The manager, Danny Dorrian, comes from a wealthy and well-connected family with a long history in New York nightlife.

The family owns several bars in New York, including Dorrian's Red Hand, the Upper East Side bar that gained notoriety in the "preppie killer" case.

David suggested Dorrian accidentally killed St. Guillen after a night of sexual domination play and then asked his family for help dealing with the case.

Taub called David's accusation "the rankest kind of speculation," and Dorrian denied in testimony having anything to do with St. Guillen's killing or concealing anything criminal.

But he acknowledged that because of his family's history with the Chambers case, he initially wasn't forthcoming with investigators about kicking out St. Guillen.

David said investigators zeroed in on Littlejohn because he had a lengthy criminal record, and police failed to investigate Dorrian to protect his family and avoid potentially dragging Giuliani's name into publicity surrounding the case. Giuliani adviser Anthony Carbonetti has ties to the Dorrian family.

St. Guillen's death was part of a string of incidents - including the July 2006 killing of another clubgoer, 18-year-old Jennifer Moore - that prompted scrutiny of nightlife safety.

In response, the city took steps to require security cameras at nightclub doors and make it easier to shut down businesses that sell fake identification. The city also boosted authorities' ability to make clubs prove their security staffers are licensed.

Club owners also agreed to back voluntary guidelines for improving security, including using scanning machines to record IDs and screening patrons for weapons.


NEW YORK AND TRI-STATE AREA NEWS

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