Volume 80, Number 25 | November 18 - 24, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Photo by Lincoln Anderson

Slain graffiti artist Christopher Jusko, whose tag was “Upski,” “bombed” the F train stop at 14th St. and Sixth Ave., blanketing the fluorescent light fixtures by the platform’s edge with his “Upski” stickers.

Graffiti artist found mentally unfit to stand trial

By Lincoln Anderson

East Village graffiti artist Jairo Pastoressa was deemed unfit to stand trial last Wednesday on a charge of second-degree murder in the death of a fellow graffiti tagger after they argued over a woman last month.

DNAinfo first reported that Pastoressa had been found mentally unfit for trial.

Pastoressa, 25, is accused of fatally stabbing Christopher Jusko, 21, on Oct. 25 on the second-floor landing outside Pastoressa’s apartment at 272 E. Seventh St., the East Village’s last remaining bona fide squatter building.

Pastoressa is being held and treated at Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center on Wards Island — the same facility where Daniel Rakowitz, a.k.a. “The Butcher of Tompkins Square,” is still being held after killing his roommate Monika Beerle in 1989 and feeding her remains as soup to the Tompkins Square homeless.

A spokesperson for the Manhattan district attorney said Pastoressa had flunked the standard psychiatric exams — known as “730” exams — given to defendants.

“The judge recommended he be sent to a mental-hygiene facility, Kirby,” she said. “He’ll undergo more psychiatric tests there. He’ll be brought back to court when and if he’s deemed fit to stand trial.”

Meanwhile, Antonio Garcia, a.k.a. “Chico,” said he never thought his protégé was mentally unbalanced. Pastoressa assisted Chico with his famous East Village graffiti murals and also worked with him for three months at the New York City Housing Authority as a “consultant” when Chico had a job there. Chico has since relocated to Tampa.

“He’s perfectly normal to me,” Chico said on Tuesday. “I think he was perfectly all right. It was just that he’s a lazy kid. He reacted well and talked well.”

Chico said Pastoressa always had a lot of friends over in his apartment. The only thing that really bothered him, he said, was if people made a mess in his home.

In an ironic coincidence, two weeks ago, a mural that Pastoressa helped Chico work on — the Obama mural on a former supermarket wall at Sixth St. and Avenue C — was covered over with blue paint by the building’s landlord or managing agent.

Chico had a running battle over the years with the landlord or agent, whose name is Tony, over use of the wall. At one point, Tony put up billboards, covering Chico’s iconic “Loisaida” mural. Then, in Oct. 2008, Chico and Pastoressa used long crowbars to pry off the billboards so that they could paint the Obama mural on the eve of the election. It was a backbreaking, one-day job, Chico said. Tony tried to have the graffiti legend arrested, but local police wouldn’t do it, having known Chico for years.

Chico said the building itself is the “mother of RCN,” and has “600 computers” for RCN inside. The wall, however, he said, belongs to the community. And he’s encouraging fellow graffiti taggers to “bomb” it.

“What the neighborhood is coming to?” he asked. “It doesn’t make sense. I was born and raised here. It’s all about the money now. It’s just a plain wall — why not give it to the community? If you wanted to erase it, you call me. Now it’s blue. So I hope people write all over that crap.”

 

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