Another day, another battle in the Phoenix courtroom where the Jodi Arias murder trial continues. Prosecutor Juan Martinez is questioning the defense's domestic violence expert, Alyce LaViolette - but he continues to have problems getting her to answer his questions directly. When asked "yes or no" questions, LaViolette continues with her "Mr. Martinez, this is not a yes or no answer". Judge Sherry Stephens repeatedly instructed LaViolette to answer ONLY the question she is being asked, reminding her that she will have the opportunity to clear things up under redirect.
Much has been made about prosecutor Juan Martinez's aggressive "pit bull" style, yet LaViolette has been a very combative witness on the stand. There are so many sharp and observant people who read this blog who have pointed out the looks between Alyce LaViolette and Jennifer Willmott. They seem to be communicating to each other during her testimony. Juan Martinez must have noticed this as well, because this morning after asking LaViolette a question, she paused and glanced at the defense table and Martinez said "I'm over here Ms. LaViolette, you keep looking to your left"! It was quite a moment.
Juan Martinez picked up where he left off yesterday in discussing the text message or IM between Travis Alexander and Regan Housley (spelling?) in which Travis Alexander indicates he was fearful of Jodi Arias and her stalking behavior. In court yesterday, she testified that she didn't believe Travis Alexander was fearful of Jodi Arias despite the fact that he said he was and discussed some of the reasons why during that communication. Martinez is trying to highlight how Alyce LaViolette chose to disbelieve a direct statement from Travis Alexander and ignore it completely in her assessment of Arias. Juan Martinez has continued to point these issues out and LaViolette has been fairly combative, beginning most answers with Mr. Martinez....." She cannot answer a simple question.
Boy, I've been waiting for this moment and it finally happened - Juan Martinez displayed LaViolette's "Continuum Of Aggression And Abuse" and began to point to Jodi Arias's behavior and her "family of origin" issues. Jennifer Willmott immediately objected when Martinez brought up this topic. Why isn't Arias's family of origin issues just as important to look at and analyze as Travis Alexander's were? Juan Martinez pointed out that if Jodi Arias's mother indeed did hit her with a wooden spoon, and her father was controlling, angry and imposing - would it be fair to say that Jodi Arias has her own family of origin issues?
Juan Martinez drilled down on an interview that he had with Alyce LaViolette in November of 2012, in which she told Mr. Martinez that Jodi Arias told her that she walked in on Travis Alexander viewing child pornography in that January 21, 2008 incident - contrary to Arias's testimony that it was a photograph and not on his computer. LaViolette insisted she misspoke, she assumed she was referring to viewing the photo on his computer. Martinez pointed out that LaViolette stated this three times during that interview that he was viewing the photo online, not just once. He then went on to refer back to Arias's January 24, 2008 journal entry in which she writes "I haven't written because nothing noteworthy to report...." "You really don't have anything to corroborate Jodi Arias's claim about the January 21, 2008 incident, do you"? LaViolette answered "I am not an expert on child pornography or sex addiction, when I saw Jodi Arias she had a broken finger". What?
LaViolette firmly stated that she believes Jodi Arias, and she believes there was domestic violence in the relationship. She further rants on about the fact that she was retained to testify about domestic abuse, not child pornography. Juan Martinez asked her if there was anything at all to substantiate Arias's claim about the January 21, 2008 incident. LaViolette brought up the phone sex call and the Spiderman underwear as having significance in her opinion and belief in Arias's claim. Juan Martinez asked her if she was familiar with the movie "Charlie's Angels", and the fact that Cameron Diaz wore Spiderman underwear in that movie and Alexander was fond of her. LaViolette admitted she wasn't aware of the movie.
LaViolette argued that she didn't believe there was any stalking behavior on Arias's part, largely because Travis Alexander continued to have contact with her. Juan Martinez put up Alyce's "Continuum" on the courtroom projector. He cited the incident when Jodi Arias went to Travis Alexander's home unannounced and uninvited and peered through his window and watched him in an intimate moment with another woman. "Wouldn't you call that stalking behavior?" Martinez asked. "No, Jodi tried to first go through the garage because she had the code, she had his e-mail password..." and she continued to cite things unrelated to his direct question, which has been frustrating beyond words. Even the Judge seems to be getting a little tired of LaViolette's refusal to stay on point. What does having his garage code or e-mail password have to do with peering through his window and watching him make out with another woman? If she were a man, I'm sure she would be called a "peeping Tom".
Juan Martinez read the text message or e-mail from Travis to Jodi in which Travis says "I am nothing more than a dildo with a heartbeat to you" - and Martinez pointed out the statement fit into the "sexual humiliation and degradation" on her Continuum. He flipped that Continuum and reflected it back at Jodi Arias, pointing out that she has more of the traits (terrorism, the highest) on this scale than Travis Alexander did. LaViolette strongly disagreed, and she actually testified that she feels that ALL OF THE MEN she works with in group therapy would agree that Travis Alexander was verbally and emotionally abusive to Jodi Arias! Yes, she said that. Martinez challenged her, asking her how she could possibly know the thoughts of every man in her group. This was one of the more ridiculous statements LaViolette has made during her 7 days on the stand.
If you summarize what Juan Martinez pointed out today, it does indeed appear that Jodi Arias was pursuing Travis Alexander despite LaViolette's assessment that Arias moving back to Yreka was proof that she was moving on, Arias moved to Mesa AFTER she and Travis had broken up - and to a nearby neighborhood, Arias went to Travis's home and watched him with another woman by peering through a window - and Travis Alexander told at least one person that was interviewed (Dan Freeman) that he wanted Jodi to move away. In addition, Martinez reminded LaViolette that Travis Alexander may have been communicating with numerous women during the same period of time, but she has no evidence that any of those relationships were sexual in nature - "is he a bad guy because he was flirtatious"? Martinez asked?
The testimony was peppered with objections from Jennifer Willmott, who at times looked like smoke was coming out of her ears she was so flustered. Judge Stephens tried to keep LaViolette in line, firmly telling her to answer yes or no, and to not answer questions she hasn't been asked. Alyce doesn't seem to enjoy not being in control and allowed to give lengthy answers, as she was able to do under questioning from Willmott. Say what you will about Juan Martinez's style, but can you imagine anybody who was less aggressive than Juan Martinez trying to get a straight answer out of this witness? LaViolette is beginning to sound like a broken record, "I was retained to assess for abuse, domestic violence", and "Mr. Martinez, I read through thousands of documents and if you'd like to show me what you are talking about...", and of course my personal favorite, "I'm not a history major". Eesh!
Court is taking their lunch break. Does anybody else find it exhausting trying to get LaViolette to answer a yes or no question?
It's the afternoon session and Jennifer Willmott is redirecting Ms. LaViolette. How long will this tit-for-tat continue? The jury must be getting so tired of hearing the same thing over and over and over. Willmott asked LaViolette to describe the women Travis Alexander was in contact with in the last few months of his life - she characterized them as either married, single parents, Mormon and vulnerable. She got all of that from reading a few text messages? That's quite a leap, in my opinion. Here's where Alyce lost credibility, she had the ability to seek out "Travis's women", she had the opportunity to interview them if she truly wished to get the most accurate viewpoint of what their relationship with Travis Alexander was like. She chose not to, rather she chose to make assumptions about each and every one of them.
Again, LaViolette has demonstrated that she completed this assessment largely by picking and choosing which statements she believes. It angers me beyond words that she insists that Travis Alexander was not in fear of Jodi Arias in 2008. How can she simply disregard a statement made by Travis? Alyce LaViolette has done a disservice to all of the battered women she has spent so many decades of her life helping. Her assessment goes off the rails when it became clear that she is basing everything on the words and viewpoints of the defendant in this case. She couldn't even try to hide her bias! Bye bye Alyce.