NEW YORK – The case of the brutal rape and slaying of a graduate student from Boston took a twist on Thursday when authorities got a court order to put their prime suspect in a lineup in a different sex assault. The victim, however, didn't pick anyone out.
Darryl Littlejohn, 41, remained in custody on a parole violation despite claims by his lawyer that police were targeting the wrong man.
Littlejohn "absolutely maintains his innocence," said the attorney, Kevin O'Donnell.
The parolee "feels like a scapegoat," O'Donnell said. "He's upset. He knows his face has been published everywhere across the country" — a reference to a mug shot released earlier this week by authorities.
Police officials refused to discuss the case, which has drawn national attention.
Littlejohn is not charged in the killing of Imette St. Guillen, whose naked and bound body was discovered on Feb. 25. But investigators have increasingly focused on him in recent days, checking for evidence at the Manhattan bar where he worked, along with his Queens home and his blue van.
The suspect was a bouncer at The Falls bar, where St. Guillen, 24, was last seen alive. A manager at the bar has told police he ordered him to escort her out of the bar when she stayed sipping a drink past the 4 a.m. closing time; he recalled hearing the pair arguing before they disappeared through a side door.
Sometime during the next 17 hours, the student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan was raped, strangled and suffocated. Her body was found in a remote section of Brooklyn with a white sock stuffed in her mouth and her head wrapped with packaging tape.
On Thursday, Littlejohn was removed from a Rikers Island jail and taken to a Queens courthouse, where a judge gave investigators permission to place him in a lineup for a sex attack on Oct. 16, 2005, in the Forest Hills neighborhood.
A law enforcement official told The Associated Press that the Queens case was one of three unsolved sex attacks — including one more in Queens and one on Long Island — that may be linked to Littlejohn. All of them involved a man who abducted his victims late last year using a van, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation had not been completed.
During the lineup at the 112th Precinct stationhouse, the victim asked detectives to order each man in the lineup — including the 5-foot-7 Littlejohn — to shout "Shut up!" before concluding that her attacker was taller than any of them, O'Donnell said.
Prosecutors later confirmed the victim had not made an identification and Littlejohn had not been charged.