Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Dr. Janeen DeMartes Opens State's Rebuttal Case With A Bang

Jodi Arias's defense attorney Kirk Nurmi stood and rested the defense's case this morning as the four-month murder trial resumed. Prosecutor Juan Martinez called the State's first rebuttal witness, Dr. Janeen DeMarte to the stand. After being sworn in, DeMarte provided her educational background and experience and Martinez dove right in to the matter at hand. 

Juan Martinez wasted no time in turning to the defense experts, asking if spending 44 hours to conduct a clinical interview was a lot, or too little. DeMarte stated that 44 hours was very extreme - a clinical interview should typically take anywhere from 1-4 hours. A forensic interview can take longer but if you spend 44 hours with a person, it becomes problematic and therapeutic rather than clinical. 

 DeMarte explained that in a forensic evaluation, you typically receive and review records relating to an individual before conducting the clinical interview, which is what she did with Jodi Arias. She spent approximately 12 hours interviewing Arias, not including time she spent conducting the testing. Martinez asked her if she apologized to Jodi Arias when she met with her. "No, I didn't" De Marte answered. This obviously was comparing her evaluation of Arias with LaViolette's approach in which LaViolette apologized for having to read Arias's private journals. DeMarte called apologizing highly unusual. She said that a clinical interview is supposed to be objective, apologizing gives the impression that you feel sorry for the individual and could bias the results. 

Martinez asked DeMarte about the 1/24/08 entry from Arias's journal in which she wrote "I haven't written lately because nothing noteworthy to report", and asked her if there was any reason to interpret those words as anything other than what they say, and if a person did choose to change the meaning of the words, what does that say about the persons professional approach to assessing Jodi Arias? DeMarte said the journal entry are words, there would be no reason to interpret them any other way because when you start doing that, you are turning objective data into subjective data. Martinez cited the same problem with LaViolette's disbelief of Travis Alexander's fear of Jodi Arias's stalking behavior, via the communication he had with Regan Housley. DeMarte again said objective data should not be made into subjective data.

They then moved on to the PTSD testing done by Dr. Richard Samuels and another individual named Chery Carp? I don't recall hearing that name during the trial.  DeMarte noted both Carp and Samuels diagnosed Jodi Arias as having PTSD. However, the alleged abuse Arias reported to Carp was significantly more than reported to herself, Dr. Samuels and Alyce LaViolette. DeMarte cited Arias reported 4 specific incidents of physical abuse to her, Samuels and LaViolette but "many many more" to Cheryl Carp. She couldn't recall the exact number but said it was significantly more incidents. Martinez asked DeMarte if she knew that Arias lied about the "triggering event" when taking Dr. Samuels test, and how that may effect his results and diagnosis.

DeMarte said Arias's triggering event in Samuels PTSD test involved trauma with a stranger, and if she found out that was not true it would invalidate the results because the test questions are based on a specific trauma. "There is a direct link, and if the triggering event was falsely reported the test would absolutely be invalid", said DeMarte. In a dramatic moment, DeMarte said that Arias completing the PTSD test based on a trauma with a stranger was just "another piece of evidence that Ms. Arias chose to lie on a test". Jennifer Willmott jumped to her feet and objected, all attorneys went to sidebar and the Judge struck her comment from the record. The truth hurts.

Martinez went on to review Dr. Samuels testing methods and results relating to Jodi Arias. He asked if there would be any reason for Dr. Samuels to re-score a PTSD test. DeMarte said the only reasons she could think of would be if there was an error scoring it the first time or if a person was trying to manipulate the data. Dr. Samuels scored it three times! The PTSD test is a "bubble test", we've all taken these type of tests in school. Jodi Arias should have been given the test and a bubble answer sheet to fill in her answers. Instead, Dr. Samuels appears to have filled out the bubble sheet for her, using notes he wrote on a yellow legal pad about Arias's answers. DeMarte says this is not protocol and there would be no reason for the test subject to not be reading the questions and completing the answer sheet on their own. 

They moved on to Alyce LaViolette's approach to assessing Jodi Arias, using the 1/24/08 journal entry and Travis's text or IM to Regan Housely as examples and DeMarte reinforced that the approach she seemed to be using was inappropriate and unreliable based on her subjective view of these statements. DeMarte explained other testing she did on Jodi Arias, including what's basically an IQ test. Arias scored relatively high. It was just getting interesting before lunch break when DeMarte was getting into the personality type testing she did on Arias (MMPI test?). She explained these general personality inventory tests she conducted on Jodi Arias. Arias scored above the threshold in 7 out of 10 scales (not sure what scales are), so DeMarte was just starting to talk about the top 3 scales she studied. 

The first personality issue:  People with this profile exhibit hostility, aggressiveness but do a good job of not displaying it to people. If they believe they have been wronged or hurt, they are subject to having violent seething outbursts. These type of people externalize blame. 

Just when it was getting interesting, the Judge broke for lunch! Now we are starting to hear about some of Arias's personality traits - much different from anything we heard on the defense side! DeMarte looks young, and she is far less tenured than the defense experts but she seems very intelligent and knowledgeable in her field. She talks fast, so does Juan Martinez - this makes note-taking challenging! DeMarte appears to have piercing blue or green eyes, not relevant to anything but something I noticed nonetheless.

So far she has effectively challenged the validity of the testing done by both defense experts. Especially telling, the amount of time LaViolette spent face to face with Jodi Arias. Apparently this was quite excessive, and I can see where this may lead to a biased opinion being formed. Looking forward to the afternoon session.










12 comments:

  1. What is the news with ALV? Wasn't she supposed to be there today? Does anyone know?

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    1. Anonymous (4/16/13 at 1:25PM),
      I'm not sure where ALV was on Tuesday, but it may be possible the issue they had to discuss was done in the Judge's chambers and not in open court. I think that may have been the issue but I could be wrong!

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  2. I noticed today that Arias did not have any eye
    contact with DeMarte as she was on the witness
    stand. Forte, Cheryl Karp was the first Psychologist, to be on board but was asked to be
    removed do to health issues.

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous (4/16 at 1:45PM),
      Thanks for the info on Karp. That's the first time I've heard that name mentioned. So I guess she was replaced by Samuels. Probably a good call on Karp's part to bow out of this case.

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  3. Dr, I'm just wondering if you think some of this experts testimony could come back to bite the prosecution? I know with ALV, there were a lot of questions about her DX being founded on lies but couldn't the same be said about this witness? I'm watching on HLN so it's a bit behind (pause button!) but the expert just brought up reading Jodi's diaries but again, isn't she too basing DX on lies? I do think she's wonderful, I just wish we could get past all this "analyzing" Jodi stuff and get to the basics of what she did...I'm sure there's a reason for it and I'm just missing it!

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    Replies
    1. Victoria,
      I'm not a Dr., are you asking your question to me or another on the forum? I think the main difference about the State's expert is that she did more clinical testing and she took Arias's pattern of lying and inconsistent statements into consideration in her evaluation and LaViolette & Samuels didn't appear to. They both believed everything JA said, even when confronted with lies she told them! That is where the credibility went out the door. This witness seems like she went in subjective, no apologies, gifts or excessive amount of time spent with Arias. She seems to see it was a job wherein the other two came across as personally invested. Just my opinion! Thanks

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  4. Ooops, I wasn't being a smarty pants when I said Dr.! That's another crime blog I follow written by a PHD...sorry!

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    1. Victoria,
      No worries! Some Drs. have posted here before, so I thought you may have been replying to one of their posted comments.

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  5. Pretty sure DeMarte is basing her Dx (Borderline Personality Disorder) on a battery of tests she administered, not just Jodi's diaries. This diagnosis has symptoms that can be tied to the violence of the crime and the motivations behind it (fear of abandonment, for example). PTSD paints the person as much more of a victim whose symptoms are (typically) less aggressive and outward-directed. So the diagnosis is extremely important, I think. In other words, PTSD supports self-defense whereas Borderline supports murder.

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous (4/16 at 7:09PM),
      Exactly! I agree with your assessment completely.

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  6. I think the difference, as far as Jodi's diary, is ALV partially diagnosed Jodi based on what she didn't write in her journal due to law of attraction, whereas Demarte diagnosed her journals literally. This witness is very easy to follow, articulate.

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  7. I agree, she based her DX on various things, including speaking with someone other than Jodi. One thing I didn't like is that she didn't mention much about the abuse that JA is claiming happened. Yes she stated that JA was not suffering from BWS but that doesn't mean she didn't suffer some abuse on the day of. We all know she didn't but.

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Thank you for commenting!