Domestic abuse expert and defense witness Alyce LaViolette returned to the stand this morning to continue answering jury questions in the Jodi Arias murder trial. Yesterday, LaViolette was asked numerous juror questions in her ninth day of testimony. In general, the jury questions had a tone of skepticism over LaViolette's absolute belief in everything Jodi Arias told her, her lack of communication with Travis Alexander's family and friends and her methods in general for coming to the conclusion that Travis Alexander and Jodi Arias were in a domestically abusive relationship.
LaViolette's testimony has been heavily tilted in Arias's favor and the jury seems to have picked up on what could be viewed as an unfair and unbalanced report. LaViolette seems to have done very little face to face research with people who knew Travis and those who had relationships with him in the past. She relied heavily on the 44 hours of interview time she had with the defendant in jail, text messages, IM's, e-mails and journals. Using her "Continuum Of Aggression and Abuse" as a guideline, LaViolette described Travis Alexander's behavior as controlling and abusive - and she believes that Travis held power over Jodi as her "spiritual advisor" and he used that power to have his way sexually with Arias.
LaViolette's absolute belief in what Jodi Arias told her has remained unshaken, even when confronted with facts that LaViolette was previously unaware of. For example, Jodi Arias told Alyce LaViolette that she shot Travis Alexander in the closet. When Arias finally admitted to police that she killed Travis, she said the gun "went off" during a struggle in the bathroom. There's quite a difference in the two scenarios. The jury wants to know if LaViolette may have reached another conclusion if she knew Arias was lying about the physical abuse and the January 21, 2008 allegation about Travis being caught in a compromising position with a photo of a young boy. LaViolette said that based on the journals, text messages and other collateral data her opinion that abuse occurred would likely not have changed.
This is the problem with Alyce LaViolette's testimony. She's been told about Arias's lies, but discounts them. The jury said "you have said that Jodi didn't lie before the murder of Travis Alexander. How could you possible know this?" It's a really simple question. Her answer was that she would have no way of knowing. Instead, she relied on what information was provided to her and history told her that Arias wasn't necessarily a liar. The jury seemed unsatisfied with Alyce's response to a jury question yesterday about Arias being manipulative and hitting her mother as a teenager. They asked her again if this type of behavior from a teenager could potentially carry over into adulthood. Another excellent question. LaViolette seemed to back petal, saying that she didn't condone that type of behavior but she didn't see a pattern of violence from Jodi Arias.
She cited her "collateral sources" as Matt McCartney and Darryl Brewer in deciding that Arias had no history of manipulating, abusing or stalking men in previous relationships. Does Alyce know that Jodi allegedly tried to have Matt alter his testimony to include knowledge of the January 21, 2008 "masturbation incident"? Isn't that the definition of manipulation? In an awkward moment, the jury questioned whether Alyce LaViolette had ever had any physical contact with the defendant, citing "hugging" or anything of that nature. LaViolette paused and said "I don't think so, I may have touched her arm at one point". She said the plexiglass barriers at the jail complex prevent people from much physical contact. But the question was telling. Does somebody on that jury believe Alyce has fallen under the spell of Jodi Arias?
The jury compared Travis Alexander's alleged abuse (choking, slapping and mean text messages) to stabbing, shooting and slicing a persons throat and asked "isn't the perpetrator of the greatest amount of domestic violence Jodi Arias"? LaViolette began to answer, calling his death horrific before Juan Martinez objected. The jury asked if LaViolette's definition of domestic violence could be wrong, she said "sure". LaViolette is sticking to her story, her assessment seems to be written in stone and regardless of how many inconsistencies are brought forward she insists she sees abuse in the relationship. I think her unwillingness to bend, or to admit she could be wrong is hurting her credibility to the point where the jury may disregard her testimony entirely. It's possible to make mistakes in assessments of people, people can be fooled regardless of how many years of experience LaViolette has. But she is SO SURE Jodi is being truthful that she seems to be willing to bet her career on it.
The jury also questioned LaViolette's overall views on men, asking how many men she has testified FOR in criminal trials. LaViolette admitted having limited criminal court experience involving men, citing one or two cases.
Jennifer Willmott is up now, attempting to rehabilitate the testimony of LaViolette and she seems very fired up today. More so than I've seen her over the course of the trial.
She just brought up the fact that the alleged choking, slapping and kicking Jodi Arias experienced at the hands of Travis Alexander would be "something memorable", and just because she didn't write it down doesn't mean it didn't happen. LaViolette said "absolutely, those things would be memorable". Does she even understand the implication of what she just said? She just pointed out that this type of violence would be very memorable to Jodi Arias, yet Jodi Arias doesn't remember putting a knife into the body of another person 29 times and cutting his throat? It's another example of the double standards that have plagued this defense throughout this trial. Arias would absolutely remember the violence AGAINST her but not the violence PERPETRATED by her? They can't have it both ways, not a brilliant point by Willmott - that observation did more harm to their case than good.
LaViolette and Willmott discussed the violence that occurred on June 4, 2008 and LaViolette said "when somebody is defending their life, I think sometimes people do more than they need to do". Does LaViolette know the law around self defense? Can she really sit up there and tell this jury that Arias's actions were that of a reasonable person in response to a lunge that may or may not have happened? The law does not allow a person to use the amount of force that Jodi Arias used against Travis Alexander. This was a consensual intimate relationship between two people, they had verbal fights and they made up. They broke up but continued to see one another. Travis Alexander may have introduced Jodi Arias to the Mormon faith, but she should take responsibility for her own sexual behavior instead of blaming Travis as her spiritual advisor. She knew what the laws of chastity were about, she is just as culpable as he was in ignoring them. And given the fact that there is absolutely no evidence of any physical abuse, I just don't see how LaViolette came to her conclusions.
She has made so many assumptions, ignored too many facts and interpreted things the way she wanted to. That is the problem with Alyce LaViolette's testimony. How could she NOT talk to Travis's family and call this a complete assessment? There was nothing stopping her from contacting them. She certainly would have been paid for her time as "research", so why didn't she seek the people out who knew Travis and get their input? At least then we would be left with the feeling that she tried to get accurate information independent of Arias who has so much to lose in this case. Willmott & LaViolette have both talked about how much Travis Alexander had to lose if details of his private life were exposed by Jodi Arias, yet doesn't Jodi Arias have her life to lose? Doesn't that give her motive to lie? It's something she should have considered. The fact that it appears that she didn't is very concerning.
Do you think the jury believes what Alyce LaViolette has told them about this being a domestically abusive relationship? Will the jury believe that Travis was physically abusive based on what you have heard? Will LaViolette's testimony effect the outcome of this trial, and how will she feel if she finds out she has been lied to and duped by Ms. Arias? Juan Martinez is doing his follow up now with LaViolette, and he started out bringing out an inconsistency in one of LaViolette's answers to a jury question in which the jury asked how many times LaViolette testified in criminal court on behalf of a man. LaViolette answered "once or twice". Martinez asked her to name those criminal cases where she testified on behalf of a man. LaViolette said she didn't recall the case names, but she wrote a report on behalf of a police officer who was a male - Martinez said "the question was how many times did you testify, not write a report", he pointed out that she didn't give the jury an accurate answer. He asked her to name the second case, she could not and said "I said one or two Mr. Martinez".
Juan Martinez went on to discuss lies, and how she seems to have discounted Jodi Arias's lies in this case. He asked her to show the court, if she was able to, where the evidence was of physical abuse that she is so sure occurred in this case. "Show me the journal entry that refers to abuse", he asked. As we all well know, there are no journal entries or any written references to physical violence anywhere in this case. There is a lot of back and forth between LaViolette and Martinez today and Jennifer Willmott is objecting to just about every question. They are exhausting to watch! Court is in recess. Will Alyce LaViolette finally be excused from the stand, so we can move on to the next phase of this trial? The jurors should have a good feel for Alyce's assessment, her methods, the things she considered and the things she didn't consider. I don't think further questioning of this witness is going to make much difference at this point in the trial. What do you think?
I for one am so looking forward to the State's rebuttal case. I hope Juan Martinez takes as much time as he needs to hammer home the facts about this murder. Travis Alexander IS the victim in this trial, although after hearing three months of testimony about the phantom abuse, you'd never know Arias was the one on trial.