It's been the battle of the experts in the Phoenix courtroom where the Jodi Arias murder trial has been ongoing since January 2, 2013. The defense put on 38 days of testimony, much of from the 32 year old woman who stands accused of the first degree murder of her ex boyfriend, 30 year old Travis Alexander.
The case is not a "whodunit", as it originally was. After being confronted with a mountain of physical evidence against her, Jodi Arias eventually conceded her involvement, although she gave three distinctively different versions of events since the June 4, 2008 killing occurred. She took the stand and testified for nearly four weeks. She is alleging that she killed Travis Alexander in self defense after being battered and abused by him during their brief yet stormy relationship.
The trial has been sensational in that Arias has made some stunning allegations against the man that most friends and family knew as a funny and charismatic man with deep religious beliefs. He was known as a motivation speaker, through his work at Pre Paid Legal but he was more than that. He motivated friends and complete strangers to live the best life they could. He came from a humble background, raised by his grandparents and was a self-made success story. He genuinely seemed to be loved and admired by many who knew and miss him.
During the four month trial, the packed court room has heard a shocking phone sex call, recorded by Arias. They've seen graphic crime scene photos and autopsy report. The jury has seen photos taken in the minutes before Travis Alexander was killed. They have read countless e-mails, text messages, IM's, journal entries and other materials entered into evidence. There have been tears, sadness and frustration shown on the faces of Travis Alexander's family and friends sitting in the gallery. Jodi Arias's mother Sandy and her twin sister have been a constant presence in the court room, supporting a daughter who has testified that she beat her with a wooden spoon. I've seen sadness on the face of her father, who can't attend court often due to his health. It's been a long and exhausting trial for the jury and everyone involved in the daily minutia.
The "battle of the expert witnesses" has been ongoing since the first defense expert, Dr. Richard Samuels took the stand and discussed his PTSD diagnosis of Arias. Alyce LaViolette followed, and gave the court room and trial watchers her version of "Domestic Abuse 101", talking at great length about what a battered woman goes through, why they remain in abusive relationships and why they often don't report their abusers. There have been hundreds of jury questions for witnesses to answer. Each and every point is dissected in non-stop trial coverage and debated on social media. Here we are, four and a half months later and the State is now in their rebuttal case. Another expert witness is on the stand, this time for the prosecution and she has a much different diagnosis of the defendant than the defense's experts.
The jury will be in information-overload when it's time to deliberate. What will ultimately be the deciding factors in coming to a verdict? After everything is said and done, I still believe it will come down to whether or not they believed Jodi Arias's testimony. The way she has presented her allegations against the man she murdered, they may take an all or nothing approach. If she lied about the abuse, she likely lied about everything. Or there may be a few key pieces of the evidence that are so strong, the experts testimony would be rendered a wash. Who knows what will ultimately be the key that locks or unlocks the door. It's not often that a jury gets to hear from a murder defendant, in their own words - from the stand. This defendant not only took the stand, she stayed there a very long time.
Was the lengthy testimony of Jodi Arias part of the defense plan to make it more difficult to put her to death? Did they hope she would make some kind of connection with just one juror? I don't know. It's difficult to know when we can't see the reactions on the faces of the jury, but we have been able to tell some things via the jury questions. The jury's questions of Jodi Arias, Dr. Richard Samuels and of Alyce LaViolette seemed highly skeptical in nature. We will see how the jury viewed Dr. DeMarte's diagnosis and testimony when it comes time for her to answer the jury questions. But at this point the defense has got to be nervous. They didn't quite go out with the bang they were hoping to get from Alyce LaViolette. She was THE witness they were relying heavily on to sell the abuse story to this jury.
Just because the jury questions seemed skeptical, that doesn't necessarily believe everybody on the jury is skeptical. It simply means that at least one juror is. We don't know how many jurors are submitting the questions, although we have some information that Juror #5 was a big note taker and likely one of the jurors who regularly submitted questions. It would be dangerous to assume all of the jurors feel the same way, so I hope that Juan Martinez takes the time that he needs to put on an effective rebuttal case. There may be some time pressure, since the jury was not anticipating the trial to last this long - the defense took their time, as they should. But the State should have the same opportunity to present the rebuttal evidence in kind. They owe it to Travis Alexander and to his family.
We keep hearing about Jodi Arias's right to a fair trial, regardless of how much time it takes and that's true. But conversely, Travis Alexander is also entitled to justice and a fair trial, and the person who took his life needs to be held accountable. I feel like Juan Martinez may be rushing to the finish line, and I'd like him to slow down and really focus on the rebuttal case. Well, another shortened day in court. After the afternoon break, the Judge announced that something had come up and she excused the jury for the day. What now? Let me guess, another motion for a mistrial? Jennifer Willmott was accusing Dr. DeMarte of practicing without a license earlier today! Who knows why testimony was cut short.
What will tomorrow bring? Will Juan Martinez get his own likeness in Madame Tussauds Wax Museum? Will Jodi Arias become her own court room sketch artist? Will the state of Arizona need to raise their state tax to pay for this trial ($1.4MM and growing)? Will Jodi, Jennifer and Janeen quit their day jobs and form a girl band with bangs? Anything is possible!
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