Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Arias Defense Keeps Pushing The Envelope

The Jodi Arias murder trial will be remembered for many reasons, but I'm afraid the purpose of this trial has been lost, delayed and drawn out by a defense team determined to push this Judge into granting every unusual request they make.  I know, I know - it's a death penalty case. I know Ms. Arias has the right to put on her case, but at what point do we consider the rights of the (deceased) victim? With each new motion - for mistrial, a surrebuttal witness, jury instructions to include lesser included charges it seems this trial seems to have gone off the rails.

The defense has had more than three months to put their best case forward. Was Dr. DeMarte's diagnosis of borderline personality disorder really a big surprise to them? Don't they receive a copy of any report to be used at trial well beforehand? As if sensing the jury thought more favorably of the prosecution experts' diagnosis than their own, the defense now wishes to bring forth another expert, Dr. Robert Geffner PhD to dispute Dr. DeMarte's diagnosis and testimony. Like Alyce LaViolette, Geffner is from the Southern California area (San Diego).

I have no idea when, how or where this expert came into play, but like LaViolette and Samuels, Dr. Geffner has more than 30 years experience to his resume. He has co-authored several books and has too many affiliations to list in this forum but a sample of his book titles will give you an educated guess to what his testimony would be all about:  Ending Spouse/Partner Abuse Clinician's Manual, "Intimate Violence and Children Exposed To Marital Violence. Ringing a familiar bell?  To my knowledge, there has been no official ruling from Judge Stephens on the surrebuttal witness request. Attorney Kirk Nurmi told the judge "it was necessary and critical to Ms. Arias' defense after this court allowed the state to present new evidence during rebuttal via it's witness Dr. Janeen DeMarte". Does anybody out there know the rules around providing these types of reports including diagnosis to the other side? I find it difficult to believe the defense was shocked by the diagnosis or her testimony.

So I'd really love to know when Dr. Geffner interviewed or tested Jodi Arias. If this was done previously, why didn't they call him to the stand during their own case? DeMarte only finished her testimony a few days ago - how could the defense have found another expert who could have read through all the text messages, IM's, e-mails and journal entries in addition to listening to the police interrogation videos, the Inside Edition and 48 Hours interviews and all other "collateral materials"? Are you as confused as I am?

The second motion filed by the defense team on Monday involves a jury instruction to include "manslaughter by sudden quarrel or heat of passion". Wait a minute, isn't this a self defense case? OK. A look at the legal definition (legal-dictionary.com) of manslaughter tells us the following:

"Manslaughter is a distinct crime and it is not considered a lesser degree than murder. The essential distinction between the two offenses is that malice aforethought must be present for murder, whereas it must be absent for manslaughter. Manslaughter is not as serious a crime as murder. On the other hand, it is not a justifiable or excusable killing for which little or no punishment is imposed.

Under current statutes, the offense can be voluntary or involuntary manslaughter.  The main difference between the two is that voluntary requires the intent to kill or cause serious bodily harm while involuntary does not. Premeditation or deliberation, however, are elements of murder and not of manslaughter." 

The most common type of voluntary manslaughter is the "heat of passion" variety that the Arias defense would like to see offered to the jury. This is an intentional killing that has additional circumstances that may mitigate but do not excuse the killing. "In most cases, the provocation must induce rage or anger in the defendant, although some cases have held that fright, terror or desperation will suffice" (legal-dictionary.com)

If the jury believes Jodi Arias drove to Mesa with her grandfather's stolen gun, can you think of any other reason she would need to steal it if she wasn't planning something nefarious? If she was going to use it for protection, why not borrow it? For all of the expert witness testimony and the diagnostic testing involving Jodi Arias, it may boil down to that gun and where the jury believed it came from. Is it more likely that Travis Alexander owned a .25 caliber gun that nobody knew of, and kept it on an elevated shelf in his closet or is it more likely that Arias staged a robbery at her grandparents house and took their .25 caliber gun?

Let's keep the trial moving forward. I hope the Judge does not bow down to the constant threats of appellate issues, prosecutorial misconduct smokescreens and other blatant allegations meant to intimidate this Judge into going from cautious to frivilous. What will today's proceedings bring? Will we see the prosecution's case move forward with a new witness? Will Matt McCartney shock the court room and Jodi Arias by testifying for the prosecution? Will we ever get to closing arguments in this trial? 

Stay tuned, updates to follow.

13 comments:

  1. What I want to know is: Is there ANY PROOF JA and Travis really had sex? In the recording he says "I never masturbated before.". Though he mentioned dirty sexual things, I wonder if that was just "dirty talk" that he learned from JA. I believe also that JA convinced Travis any where other than the vagina was not actually having intercourse.

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  2. My Forte: As for the defense's claim of "new evidence" regarding Dr. DeMarte's Borderline PD diagnosis, I don't believe it is new evidence, at all. Please refer to my comment (Anon @ 10:34am) on your Sunday April 21 "12 Jurors..." blog. Dr. Samuels clearly put PD-NOS as a diagnosis for Arias, which could include Borderline, on one of his forms. I explain it in more detail in that comment, but the long & short is that the DSM-IV & DSM-IV TR used it as a diagnosis when someone had a Personality Disorder that did not fit neatly in any specific Cluster category. The DSM-V now lists it as its own Cluster category (other than A, B or C) because many patients have a co-morbidity (overlapping or multiple) subcategory criteria. Please refer to that earlier comment, as this is the abridged version. Thanks again for your terrific, thought-provoking blogs. I'm the Anon that had 2 family members & a friend brutally murdered, so I appreciate your search for justice.

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    1. Thanks for the info, Anon. The NOS. diagnosis sounds right. It looks like she has a combination of PD's, including antisocial. Just my opinion.

      Sue

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    2. Sue: you're welcome. I don't think I can take another defense expert trashing Travis, hurting his family & making excuses for this murderer.

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    3. Anonymous (4/23 at 1:34PM),
      Thanks for the informative post. Sorry I'm a bit behind on reading comments, I was away from the computer Sunday and a good part of yesterday! Glad you reiterated DeMarte's diagnosis information. Sounds like the defense didn't do THEIR homework. Great explanation, thank you!

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    4. You're very welcome. As always, keep up the great true crime/trial analysis.

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  3. I first discovered this blog while vacationing in Mexico. Very insightful and thought provoking commentary on the Jodi arias trial. I look forward to reading your blog from now on.
    Kevin

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    1. Kevin,
      Ahh Mexico! I've been to PV a few times and both were great vacations. Glad you found our forum and hope to see you back again!

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  4. After watching the ex girlfriend on HLN today I guess we now know he had real sex prior to Jody so that answers my earlier question.

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  5. I was going to say what the first anon said, Dr. Samuels had already DX'd Jodi with PD. If I recall correctly, Wilmott even brought it up when she was questioning DeMarte. She said "You realize Dr. Samuels DX'd Jodi with a personality disorder right?" and DeMarte said yes, she did.

    I've heard, although I don't know how true it is, that Dr. Gefner is or was a colleague of Dr. LV's. That may or may not be true. I really wish the judge would deny the request because, even if he did take the time to interview Jodi, it's now 5 years after the fact.

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  6. I think the gun issue can be boiled down to the bullets so to speak. Travis had none and the grandparents did and they were a match!

    Dr. DeMarte is definitely not new information to the defense as I am sure that her findings were disclosed in discovery. I mean they knew she was being tested, right? I'm as smart as Einstein comment. If the tests weren't disclosed then Judge Stephens will have to allow the Dr. G but I don't think that's the case.

    I don't know how the defense could even ask the Judge for manslaughter as it's completely contradictory to a self-defense argument. I think JS has done a fantastic job holding it all together and I hope she is able to do it a little while longer!

    Sonja

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    1. Sonja,
      I agree about the contradictions between self-defense and manslaughter! Hoping Juan Martinez will wrap this up so tightly that the jury will come to the most logical conclusion regardless of any lesser included charges they may have. She seems to be ruling correctly on the big issues, thankfully. At some point the trial must go to closing arguments, I feel the defense is stalling.

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    2. I agree! The defense is stalling. So many repeated questions and points. Or just questions with no point! Ack.

      Sue

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Thank you for commenting!