Friday, March 15, 2013

Defense Expert Witness ($$$) - Arias Has PTSD

Testimony in the Jodi Arias murder trial will continue on Monday, but attorneys on both sides will be in court today for an evidenciary hearing.  Prosecutor Juan Martinez is objecting to a Power Point presentation that was prepared by an expert witness for the defense, Dr. Richard Samuels out of Scottsdale AZ.  Martinez objected yesterday on the grounds that he was only given a copy of the presentation yesterday before court began, he added that there appeared to be new information not included in previous reports - and he believes that receiving the presentation at the last minute was no accident.

The hearing today will determine whether Dr. Samuels will be able to testify on his opinion of whether the murder of Travis Alexander appeared to be pre meditated or not - based on his review of crime scene photos and his 12 interviews with Jodi Arias. I can see why Juan Martinez is fighting to keep this testimony out. Dr. Samuels could have no way of knowing whether Arias planned to kill Alexander. I did hear him state that unplanned homicides tend to be "disorganized" and "chaotic" - aren't most homicides chaotic?  I hope Judge Stephens does not allow this testimony to come in, even if she gives special jury instructions attached to the testimony it should not be allowed. This guy is not qualified to make a presumption of premeditation based on 12 meetings with a lying defendant and viewing some crime scene photos!

I always have a problem with these types of witnesses, because frequently they are writing their reports based on what the client/defendant has told them - and they are assuming they are being told the truth.  Arias would have no motivation to tell the truth to this man or anybody else for that matter. They can throw five experts up there to testify that Arias has PTSD, Acute Stress Disorder, Detachment and Amnesia Disorders but those things only seek to explain her post murderous behavior, not her motive or the reason she killed him or if and how she planned it.

Dr. Samuels testified yesterday that he met with Jodi Arias 12 times over a period of 3 years while she was being held in the Estrella jail complex she has called home since her arrest back in July of 2008. Samuels attempted to explain how our brains function, and he explained what Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is, how it can be brought on and he cited situations where he has assisted police officers who suffer from PTSD after shooting a suspect or witnessing a traumatic event, he also explained PTSD is a fairly common condition for members of our armed forces when they return from war. He also explained the brains "fight or flight" responses and what part of the brain produces these reactions and stated that they are involuntary in nature. He said that during times of stress, our brains go "off line" - sound familiar? Didn't Arias & Nurmi compare her brain to a computer, she referred to it as "freezing up" like a computer does?  Really? 

What really caught my attention however, is when Dr. Samuels started using the terminology we've heard Jodi Arias & Co. using over her 18 days on the witness stand. He actually used the words "fog" and "foggy" to describe people who suffer from PTSD - could Arias be parroting what she read in Samuels assessment or report on her? It's the chicken and egg thing. More often people refer to having "blackouts" when they can't remember certain events, but this is the first time I've personally heard it referred to as a "fog" - is this just another coincidence?

I've noticed throughout the trial that Arias has certain themes and phrases she uses over and over again. For example, "linebacker pose", "body slammed" - who body slams another person? Only the TV wrestlers or the ultimate fighting competitors!  I simply cannot imagine Travis getting out of the shower naked and wet, and putting his arm through Jodi's legs and picking her up and slamming her to the tile. This is just ludicrous. But she's had more than 4 years to come up with these tall tales, refine them and commit them to memory.  She's rehearsed, she's done her best to memorize dates and events that she hopes will help her.

Acute Stress Disorder

The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced in at least one of the following ways: recurrent images, thoughts, dreams, illusions, flashback episodes, or a sense of reliving the experience; or distress on exposure to reminders of the traumatic event.
Acute stress disorder is also characterized by significant avoidance of stimuli that arouse recollections of the trauma (e.g., avoiding thoughts, feelings, conversations, activities, places, people). The person experiencing acute stress disorder also has significant symptoms of anxiety or increased arousal (e.g., difficulty sleeping, irritability, poor concentration, hypervigilance, exaggerated startle response, motor restlessness).

Above is a partial description of Acute Stress Disorder, also mentioned by Dr. Samuels. How can this apply to Arias? With this disorder, she would be experiencing recurrent images, thoughts, dreams, illusions, flashbacks or a sense of reliving the experience. She doesn't remember anything! It also says that a person with the disorder would avoid thoughts, feelings, conversations, activities, places & people. Arias got in her car and made a bee-line for Ryan Burn's place after she killed Travis Alexander. She wasn't avoiding people or places. She even talked about Travis with Leslie Udy, telling her that she hoped one day her children and Travis's children would play together! It doesn't fit, does it?

I do believe that Jodi Arias has some type of personality disorder, maybe even a few of them. But not the type of disorders that would dismiss murdering somebody. She knew exactly what she was doing, and I truly believe she remembers every single thing she did to him on June 4, 2008. When they were showing the crime scene photos and Arias had her hand over her face, if you look closely, you can see her looking at the small screen in front of her and looking at those awful photos of Travis. She wanted to see them, she even asked Detective Flores if she could see them. She know what she did and how she did it. The physical evidence tells the story of what happened in that bedroom and bathroom. Arias has no injuries except for cuts most likely inflicted when she cut herself when the knife she was killing Travis with became too slippery for her to handle. To quote the jury, she walked away "fairly unscathed". I'm not sure if the evidenciary hearing will be televised today. If it is, I'll update this page later. Have a great day!

Did you know: (**UPDATE**)


*Under Arizona law,if Arias is convicted of 1st degree murder but all 12 jurors are unable to agree on the death penalty, prosecutors have the option of enpaneling a second or third jury to repeat the penalty phase of the trial? The judge would become involved in deciding the penalty if three jury panels were unable to come to an unanimous decision - if Arias's life is spared by the jury, she could receive 25 years to life, or life without the possibility of parole. 

*This information can be found in this US News article:

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/03/14/17313818-jodi-arias-18-days-on-witness-stand-could-save-her-life-experts?lite



3 comments:

  1. Wow! I had NO idea that Arizona law allowed 2 more jury panels to be sworn in for the penalty phase. How do they do that when other jury panels have not listened to all of the testimony?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. NancyB,
      I'm going back in my browsing history to see where I found that info on sentencing in AZ. It's very unusual, isn't it?

      Delete
    2. Hi NancyB,
      I wanted to get back to you about the AZ law I referenced in this post, regarding empaneling a second or even a third jury for the sentencing phase of a trial in cases where the original jury decided guilt, but could not unanimously vote for the death penalty. This information was in a USNews article, the link is provided below: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/03/14/17313818-jodi-arias-18-days-on-witness-stand-could-save-her-life-experts?lite

      There have been many arguments that this amounts to double jeopardy, but it would not because the defendant wouldn't be retried, they would have already have been found guilty. It probably doesn't happen very often, but the same jury that decides guilt doesn't have to decide sentencing in regards to the death penalty. I'm still unsure how it would work or how the facts/evidence would be presented to a new jury, but under AZ law this is allowed. Thanks!

      Delete

Thank you for commenting!