There were several important announcements made by Judge Sherry Stephens relating to the marathon murder trial of Jodi Arias. Yesterday the Judge announced out the trial's schedule for the next two weeks and told the jury closing arguments would begin next Thursday, May 1st and conclude on Friday May 2nd.
Today (Thursday) there will be a short court session, but Judge Stephens told the jury to expect a long day next Wednesday, telling them "we will begin at 9:00AM and stay until testimony has concluded - even if it goes beyond 5:00PM." The jury is expected to officially get the case by late Friday May 2, 2013.
This morning, abcnews.com reported Judge Sherry Stephens has ruled in favor of allowing testimony from a third defense expert witness, Dr. Robert Geffner from San Diego, California. With the tight time frame set forth by Judge Stephens I'd expect this expert's testimony to be very limited in scope. But this can be considered a small victory for the defense, as requests for surrebuttal witnesses are rarely granted - I don't have the details around the Judge's decision to allow in this testimony, nor do I know when, how or why Dr. Geffner became involved in this case. However, he is said to be an associate of Alyce LaViolette. Do I need to say any more? Will this expert's opinion ultimately make a difference at this point in the trial? Has Judge Stephens gone overboard in an effort to avoid appellate issues down the line?
Testimony started late yesterday, and after Judge Stephens explained the trial schedule the prosecution called two additional rebuttal witnesses to the stand. First up was Robert Brown, a computer forensics detective from the Mesa PD. He testified about photos he recovered from Jodi Arias' Helio cellphone that showed close-ups of Jodi Arias with brown hair. It appeared the photos were taken by Arias inside of the car she was driving. The photos were taken on June 3, 2008 between 2:12PM-2:21PM - was Arias taking photos of her newly colored hair? The time the photos were taken suggests it was after her alleged nail appointment, however there were no photos taken of her freshly polished nails. The jury will have to decide whether Arias' two hour trip to a salon was more likely to have her nails done or have her hair colored. Detective Brown explained how the photos were recovered from the cellphone and how the phone's technology allowed him to pinpoint when the photos were taken.
Detective Esteban Flores was called back to the stand as the next rebuttal witness. We've all come to know Flores as the person quietly seated next to Prosecutor Juan Martinez throughout the trial, and the detective who did a masterful job in interviewing Arias before and after her arrest. OK, I admit it - I DO like Detective Flores. I think the way he handled Arias was admirable. He was respectful yet stern, patient and even kind to her in trying to extract some truth from Jodi Arias. Flores testified that on March 5, 2013 he returned to Travis Alexander's Mesa home to take some measurements of the closet where Arias allegedly retrieved Travis' gun. He explained that three of the bottom shelves had been moved out of their original position as depicted in the crime scene photos - he moved them back to match the way they were on June 4, 2008.
The photos were eerie to me. The once tidy closet full of suits, jeans and shoes was nearly empty. It was sad. Juan Martinez showed photos of how these "floating" shelves are held into place by 4 small round metal pins. We all know how these types of shelving units work. It can be frustrating to use them because they aren't built to handle a lot of weight. Another photo showed the effect on the shelf when Flores rested his hand on the edge - surprise, surprise - the shelf tipped towards him. The next photos showed the measurement from the closet floor to the top shelf, which measured around 7 feet tall from top to bottom. It was 8 feet from the floor to the ceiling. Martinez asked if Detective Flores or any other member of the police department found any evidence during the original search of the home that would lead him to believe that Travis or any of his roommates owned or kept a gun at the house. He said they found no such evidence. No holster, no bullets of any caliber, no boxes, no gun cleaning kit - nothing to suggest a firearm was kept at the residence. Martinez asked Flores if the home's attic was searched after the murder. Flores said it had been searched and explained the locations they gained access to the attic. He further testified that the Mesa PD didn't find anything stored in the attic - no boxes, which contradicts another Arias story about helping Travis retrieve something from a box stored in his attic. Remember, it was the little porcelain angel that Travis allegedly gave her that was retrieved from a box from the attic that she "forgot" - which brought her back to Travis' home on January 21, 2008 where she allegedly caught him in the act of pleasuring himself to the photo of a young boy.
Under cross examination by Kirk Nurmi, Detective Flores was asked if he measured any of the other parts of the shelving units, aside from the ones near where Arias claims she retrieved the gun. Flores said he hadn't. Nurmi to Flores: "you had the ability to take the measurements?". "Yes", said Flores. Nurmi's line of questioning moved from irrelevance to idiocy from there. "You heard Dr. DeMarte say Jodi Arias has a high IQ, right?" "Yes", Flores replied. Nurmi insinuated that since Arias was shown to have a fairly high IQ, she would have chosen a better location in the closet had she been lying about the gun and it's location. Again, they seem to take the problematic parts of Arias' stories and try to use them as evidence that she's telling the truth. This is what can happen when you put a client with a history of lying on the stand and let her talk for 18 days. This is what can happen when defense attorneys fail to question or test their client's stories. They had to have known those shelving units could not support her weight and given her height, is it even possible for her to reach the space where she said the gun was kept? Didn't they check this for themselves?
Kirk Nurmi tried to pull a fast one, asking Detective Flores about his interview with 48 Hours - didn't you say "something pushed or provoked her at the end"? Juan Martinez objected, all attorneys went to sidebar and that question was sustained. Then it was on to the jury questions for Detective Flores, I'm paraphrasing:
Were there any guns registered in Travis Alexander's name?
Did any of Travis' roommates own a gun?
What was the width and depth of the shelf where Arias retrieved the gun?
Was there anything stored in the attic when the house was searched?
Did it appear anything was ever stored in the attic?
Do you know what Jodi Arias' height, weight and shoe size was at the time of her booking?
Did you find any evidence of Travis ever owning a gun?
Did you find any empty boxes or containers that could have held a gun?
If Jodi raised her arm straight up in the air, do you know the measurement from her foot to fingertip?
As I mentioned on yesterday's post, Jodi Arias' grandmother was seated in the court room for the first time yesterday. She sat quietly next to Sandy Arias and appeared to be sad. Can you imagine, having your own grand daughter standing trial for first degree murder and facing a possible death sentence? Also knowing the gun used in the crime may have come from your own home must be unnerving to this elderly woman who took Arias in and allowed her to live with them in Yreka. The families on both sides of the court room are forever changed by the actions of this young woman. The Alexander family will never see Travis again. They will never attend his wedding, they will never have nieces, nephews or great grandchildren from Travis. They have been robbed of their future with him. Why do people take such severe and permanent action for temporary problems? How is a person driven to such extremes? I'm afraid that age-old line is true, there's a thin line between love and hate. Simplistic, yet true. Arias seemed to have crossed that line and there's no turning back.
Any sympathy I may have had for her has long since diminished, as I've listened to her testimony and watched her in court. I'm not sure she is even sorry that she killed him, but I'm certain she's sorry she got caught. The fact that she is now hawking her doodles and sketches to her followers and taking in an undetermined amount of money via donations shows me the kind of person we are dealing with. She is an opportunist. Her greed has gone well beyond wanting to help her family with travel-related expenses during the trial. She is taking full advantage of her notoriety and even the ban by eBay on sales of her artwork, telling her followers "it's raised the value of my art". Greed, pure and simple. That Arias is continuing to cash in on these things while on trial for her LIFE speaks volumes to her personality disorders! It's all about Jodi right now. And she's doing it under the watchful eye of the Maricopa County Sheriffs Department. It's that in-your-face attitude that tells me she has no remorse. Judgement day is coming for Ms. Arias. I hear that she is "confident" she will be acquitted and is making plans for her future? This was reported by the editor of the National Enquirer on Nancy Grace's show last night. I usually take these stories with a grain of salt!
What are your thoughts on the Judge's decision to allow this surrebuttal witness? Do you think she will set strict limits around the scope of his testimony? Which side do you think is ahead going in to closing arguments? Please share your thoughts as the trial winds down!