As expected Darryl Littlejohn has been indicted for first-degree murder in the killing of Imette St. Guillen.
On a CBS interview last night Littlejohn emphasized his innocence, saying that he had escorted St. Guillen from the Falls because it was closing time. He did not say what happened after that, but said that the police had focused on him because of his past. "I'm a likely suspect because I have a criminal background and I wasn't supposed to be there working." His lawyer has said that at today's afternoon arraignment, he'll plead not-guilty.
So far the strength of the case tying Littlejohn to St. Guillen's gruesome final moments, at least as it has been revealed to the public, is sketchy. Though the press online and off, ourselves included, have been more than happy to fill in the details all that the police have actually said publicly is that Mr. LIttlejohn "is the last person known to have seen Ms. St. Guillen alive, and that his DNA matches DNA found on plastic ties used to bind her." Besides being charged with first-degree murder Littlejohn has also been charged with second-degree murder, "to allow the jury that eventually hears his case to convict him of killing the John Jay College honors student even if it finds the murder was not premeditated." He is not being charged with rape as the City's forensic evidence couldn't pin any of it to him.
Meanwhile, in a sad counterpoint to the St. Guillen case, the Gray Lady points out the story of 21-year-old Guyanese immigrant Romona Moore who disappeared three years ago from the East Flatbush, Brooklyn. The Police initially wouldn't open a case for her, and when her body was found they misspelled her name in a notice to the Police. The case has largely gone without comment in the local tabloids. There have been some shocking developments that might have merited front-page coverage, but each time the story was overshadowed by an even grislier one. No surprise then that yesterday's announcement that a verdict had been reached in one of the trials of the two men accused of Moore's murder was completely drowned out in the news by the Littlejohn indictment.
Screengrab from WCBS interview with Darryl Littljohn by Triborough.
UPDATE: press conference was held at 11:10am. The Brooklyn DA and Police Commissioner both spoke. Kelly gave an overview of the case-- where the body was discovered, the forensic evidence, and the witnesses that saw them leaving together. Another mention of his blood on the ties, and the fiber evidence found on the tape that wrapped her head, and on the blanket that wrapped the body. Cellphone evidence, showing it was used at 7:31pm, an hour before the body was found in the same area. Witness saw a van leaving the scene at around the same time-- detectives matched the van to Littlejohn. No alibi witnesses have been found to support his claim that he was visiting his mother in a nursing home that Saturday. Commissioner Kelly thanked the detectives and DAs.
Charles Hynes, the DA, talked about how the DAs presented evidence to the Grand Jury, and mapped out the timeline of the crime. He also complimented the DAs and cops (the 75th Precinct detectives, Brooklyn North Homicide, and Major Case Squad, and the Crime Scene Unit and Police Laboratory team, and the Medical Examiners office.) Indictment is 3 counts, two counts of murder in the 2nd degree, and one count of murder in the first degree (murder committed during a felony sex crime.) Arraignment is in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn. Kenneth Taub, chief of the homicide bureau at the Brooklyn DA will personally try the case later in the year.