Thursday, May 9, 2013

Who Is Maria De La Rosa - Mitigation Specialist For Jodi Arias?

Now that Jodi Arias has been found guilty of first degree murder for the June 4, 2008 killing of 30 year old Travis Alexander, we should be seeing and hearing more from the woman who has been seated directly behind Jodi Arias and the defense team throughout the 5 month long trial.  Maria De La Rosa is Arias' mitigation specialist, and I wanted to take a look at her profile explore her experience and how she hopes to help Jodi Arias avoid Arizona's Death Row.

According to information obtained from LinkedIn, De La Rosa has been a "Capital Mitigation Specialist" for seven years, beginning in May of 2006. From June of 1999 to May of 2006, De La Rosa worked as a probation officer with the Maricopa County Adult Probation Office.  From November of 2004 through May of 2005, she worked as a "Victim's Advocate" for the Maricopa Office of the Prosecutor's office.

Her educational background on LinkedIn indicates that she attended Northern Arizona University from 2004-2006 and holds a "Master of Education" (M.Ed).

Jodi Arias & Maria DeLaRosa (Knoxnews.com)

In an ironic twist, the website I got this photo from, knoxnews.com posted a "Dense Fog Advisory" almost directly above this photo. I had to chuckle! I've spent several hours pouring over the "minute entries" for the Jodi Arias trial on the Maricopa Superior Court's website. There is a 4/30/13 court document that discusses how many hours Mitigation Specialist Maria De La Rosa has billed the county for - in case you are curious, the court has ordered De La Rosa to be paid for 100 hours for work done during the guilt phase of the trial alone. Some of the minute entries are mundane, but some of these minute entries are very interesting. If you would like to check out the numerous viewable court minute entry documents, just go to the Maricopa County Superior Court website, type in Jodi Ann Arias' name and there will be pages of dated court minute entries that you can view, download or just read.

I'll post the link at the end of this blog entry. The 4/30/13 entry states:

"IT IS ORDERED the Office of Public Defense shall pay the mitigation specialist, Maria De La Rosa, compensation for 100 hours of services rendered during the guilt phase of the trial".
http://www.courtminutes.maricopa.gov/docs/Criminal/052013/m5750389.pdf

We now know that Kirk Nurmi's pay rate more than doubled when he went into private practice but was ordered to remain on the Arias case. I believe Nurmi is making more than twice the hourly rate of counterpart Jennifer Willmott. Is it any wonder the defense team insisted on keeping the specifics of the trial costs under lock and key? Scott Peterson's high profile death penalty murder trial was conservatively estimated to cost more than $3,200,000. The trial of Richard Allen Davis was estimated to be $2,300,000, and the trial of serial killer Charles Ng cost a minimum of $10,900,000, of which more than $6,000,000 was paid to his defense team. This information was obtained from another interesting document I stumbled across this morning. If you have an interest in seeing the detailed accounting of these high profile trials, here's the link to the document:
https://www.aclunc.org/docs/criminal_justice/death_penalty/costs/trial_cost_case_studies.pdf

What exactly is a Capital Mitigation Specialist's job? 

According to the American Bar Association guidelines for the appointment and performance of defense council in a Death Penalty Cases, a Mitigation Specialist is a mandatory part of the defense in any capital case, per ABA Guideline 10.4(C)(2)(a). ABA Guidelines require that any criminal defense team facing a capital punishment sentence have at minimum 2 defense attorneys , a private investigator and a mitigation specialist. 

A mitigation specialist's role in a death penalty case is vital and they are considered an indispensable member of the defense team, although it is important to remember they are not a defense attorney. Mitigation specialists possess clinical and information gathering skills and training that most lawyers do not have.  They have the time and ability to elicit information the defendant may have never disclosed.  They are supposed to have the clinical skills to recognize congenital, mental, or neurological conditions and to understand how these conditions may have effected the defendant's development and behavior. 

Most importantly, having a qualified capital mitigation specialist assigned to every death penalty case insures that the presentation to be made at the penalty phase is is integral to the overall preparation of the case.  The mitigation specialist should prepare a well documented and comprehensive psycho-social history of the defendant. The results of which are analyzed, including what impact the findings have on personality and behavior. The mitigation specialist looks for mitigating themes in the defendant's life history, identifies the need for expert assistance and in locating appropriate experts, provides social history to experts to assist them in conducting competent and reliable evaluations, and works with the defense team and experts to develop a comprehensive and cohesive case in mitigation.

Mitigation specialists usually have advanced educational degrees in a form of social work or psychology as well as a background in criminal justice , particularly capital defense matters. The mitigation specialist must identify, locate and retrieve all records ever generated relating to the defendant, including records of their immediate family members. The following are examples of required records they must retrieve:  birth certificates, hospital birth records, all medical records, school records, social services records, records from agencies and foster homes, juvenile records, adult criminal records, probation and parole records, employment records, psychological and psychiatric records and military records.

The mitigation specialist conducts interviews with family members, friends, neighbors, teachers, counselors, church members, co-workers, employers, spouses or ex's, boyfriends/girlfriends or ex-boyfriends/ex girlfriends, physicians, nurses, mental health providers, social services personnel, military peers, probation officers, parole officers, attorneys, guards and police officers. The mitigation specialist compiles this enormous amount of information and reports back to the defense attorneys and discuss areas that may need additional exploration by outside experts. 

The mitigation specialist on the Arias case must have her hands full. Her job is one of monumental importance. We have seen her sitting quietly behind the defense table throughout the trial, often taking a seat next to Arias when one of her attorneys was questioning or cross examining a witness. She is there to support Jodi Arias and by the general job description of a Capital Mitigation Specialist, we know she has not been simply observing the trial - she has been very involved throughout. It will be interesting to see how the defense will take on the challenge of arguing Travis Alexander's death was not especially cruel and/or depraved. It's the equivalent to saying the sun doesn't always rise. They would be wise to back off of the theory that Travis somehow provoked Jodi Arias - or that she had to kill him or be killed. Clearly the jury does not believe that theory.

Jodi Arias will need to be humble, honest and sincere in the phases of this trial that follow. If she appears to be defiant, self righteous or wrongfully convicted, the jury may be so inflamed over the distasteful accusations she has made against Travis Alexander - and insulted that she lied to them under oath, they may find her to have no redeeming qualities. Those jurors have spoken. They did not believe her, plain and simple. To continue to argue that she was abused or attacked would be detrimental to her cause, if she wants to live. She told the press that she would rather die than spend her life in prison - I'm not sure if she really means that, or if it was just another ploy to garner sympathy from the public following her guilty verdict. 

She's had a day to reflect on the outcome of her trial. She's likely an emotional wreck. The finality and reality is beginning to set in, and it may have never crossed her mind that she could actually be put to death for her crime. Having had five years to get past the immediate shock and trauma of killing another human being, she now is facing the fact that she will likely never walk out of prison a free woman in this lifetime. That has to be a sobering thought, I truly believe that Arias did not think she would be found guilty of first degree murder. She may have believed she would receive a compromise verdict of second degree murder. 

I'd expect to be seeing and hearing more from Maria De La Rosa in the days and weeks to come. I've never heard her speak, and have only seen her whispering to Arias and trying to comfort her during emotional portions of the testimony during her trial. Is there anything she or anybody else can do to save Jodi Arias from the death penalty? Does Jodi Arias want to live, or would she really rather die than spend her life in prison? She should carefully choose her words from here on out. As well all know, she boldly predicted that no jury would ever convict her, because she was innocent - not because she planned on committing suicide as she told the jury. She also told Detective Flores that if she had hurt Travis, "she would BEG for the death penalty". Be careful what you wish for.

What will happen when court resumes at 1:00PM today? Will the courtroom be standing room only as it was yesterday for the reading of the verdict? I think it will be. Seeing Travis' siblings crying and hugging one another yesterday brought tears to my eyes as well. It's difficult to explain those tears, because you know that even with the guilty verdict, they are not happy. Their beloved brother is gone. Nothing will bring him back. The tears were probably of relief, raw emotion that they have had to keep inside during the duration of the trial - finally they were able to let it out. I wouldn't call them tears of joy. There is nothing remotely joyous about this case. At least Travis' killer received a just verdict of guilty of first degree murder and nothing less. It is a just verdict. 

Much has been said about Sandy Arias, and how she appears to be assisting her daughter in trying to sell the forged letters from Travis to the National Enquirer - and there is speculation that she has been writing a book. While I find assisting Arias in selling those forged documents, she is still a mother. Regardless of how bad your child may turn out, a mother's love is like no other love and she has to be hurting. Her grandmother has to be hurting and wondering how things got to this point. This is a situation nobody would like to be in. I think of the position Cindy Anthony was placed in during daughter Casey's trial. She was caught between her absolute love and adoration of her grand daughter Caylee, and the love she still had for Casey, despite her suspicions about her involvement in the disappearance and subsequent death of Caylee. Cindy Anthony fell on the sword for Casey on that witness stand, perjuring herself by saying she was the one who did the Internet searches for Chloroform, despite her employment records showing she was at work during the time of those searches. There is nothing that equals a mother's love.

While it's not the time to celebrate for either family because of the enormity of their losses, at least Travis' loved ones can rest assured that his killer was brought to justice and Travis may finally rest in peace. He will not be remembered for the nasty allegations made against him during this trial, rather he will be remembered for the funny, kind-hearted and generous human being that friends described him as. He continues to motivate and inspire people, in death - as he did in life. His legacy will live on long after Jodi Arias is forgotten.

RIP Travis Victor Alexander.


16 comments:

  1. I have 3 sons and I can't even imagine what it would be like, having your child commit such a heinous crime. I wonder what her mom really, truly believes, deep down inside.

    Thank you for all the info. on Maria. I did notice she laughed out loud when Alyce LV asked Juan Martinez if he was angry with her...quite unprofessional of her IMO. She was also very touchy feely with Jodi.

    I won't be around for the penalty phase proceedings today so thank you so much for your posts My Forte! I'll be checking your blog for updates:)

    Oh, one more thing, do you think Jodi is hoping for the death penalty so she can be granted all the appeals? If she TRULY wanted the death penalty, as she's saying, then she would give up her appeals. I just don't see her doing that.

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    1. Hi Victoria,
      I honestly don't believe that Jodi Arias wants to get the death penalty! Despite her countless claims that she wanted to kill herself, she's had the time and opportunities after she killed Travis. She even had purchased a gun! I feel her suicide claims are yet another ploy for sympathy. Statistics say that suicide threats should always be taken seriously, it's usually indicitive of some type of underlying problem. How do you know how serious a person is who has repeatedly made this threat but has never taken action? Although I find Arias' lies and actions absolutely horrific and inhumane, I don't wish death upon any other human being. Maybe she feels that death is the only way she can now escape living with her mortal sins? Who knows what lies beneath the surface! Yes, please feel free to check back for updates throughout the rest of the trial. You can bet that I'll have updates posted, along with the folks who regularly post info and insight here and add a great deal to our forum! Have a fabulous day.

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    2. Your posts are awesome and you write so well, I'm totally addicted to your posts now! You should write a true crime book.

      I suppose it boils down to the fact that it's impossible to really know what Jodi's up to when she speaks. Is she using reverse psychology? Does she really want the DP? Even poor Dr. Drew's head is spinning over this woman!

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  2. If you pay attention when she started to talk about getting death, she started to smirk and smile, she is trying to use reverse physcology

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  3. This sleazy defense team disgusts me.

    The defense filed a motion on 5/3 for DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR DISCOVERY OF VICTIM IMPACT EVIDENCE. I have never heard of that ever being agreed to. It just seems so wrong and I hope the judge does NOT grant this. Have any of you ever heard of this being allowed???

    Then today they filed another motion – DEFENDANT’S REQUEST THAT VICTIM IMPACT EVIDENCE BE PRESENTED VIA VIDEOTAPE

    Seriously?!

    http://www.superiorcourt.maricopa.gov/docket/CriminalCourtCases/caseInfo.asp?caseNumber=CR2008-031021

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  4. Andre, I agree with you. Also, if she had wanted to die she had plenty of opportunities to have made that happen. She has a history since teenage years of threatening suicide. She told Juan during cross that the small nick with the razor hurt so she stopped!

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  5. I have no respect for this Mitigation Specialist. She along with Donavon & her sidekick were the only 3 people who loudly burst out laughing in open court when ALV had the colossal nerve to tell Juan that if he were in one of her classes that she would put him in a time out. She is an officer of the court! I expect such crass behavior from ex-felon Donavon who set a building on fire with PEOPLE inside but never from someone at De LaRosa's level.

    As an aside, now that the state has paid her for 100 hours as of April, wonder why JA didn't send her packing long ago, since she wants the DP! Too bad the interviewer did not ask her that question yesterday.

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    1. I totally agree with Nancy, I could not believe as a professional that she would laugh out loud, this could not be her first experience in a court. Does she not work for the state? Unbelievable she should be reprimanded.

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  6. I have watched the entire interview she did with Fox news and showed no remorse for Travis or his family but cried for putting her mother through this situations.

    She said the prosecutor is the most hypocrite and a liar but she is the one the most hypocrite and a liar who still trash the man she killed. Martinez is right when he said she won’t let him rest in peace at all.

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  7. I think we all agree My Forte that you have given us all a thoughtful outlet and reliable information through your blog and we are all grateful.

    One thing I would like to say as this, we will never have the satisfaction of JA's repentance or admission or empathy for TA or his family so we must not seek it. The only sembelence of justice we can hope for is the DP. Despite her manipulative words to the contrary she does not want it. She believes she'll get an appeal and ultimately create some lie and manipulate her way out of it. I think JA truly believes that she can manipulate EVERYONE. Her shock at the verdict makes that clear. Her testimony on the stand makes that clear. Do we forget how she would not even admit "the sky was blue"? No matter what JM asked, no matter how clear it was, she would just deny it if it conflicted with the image she wanted to present. JA's shock and I believe greatest fear is that we know her for what she is. Well Jodi, we ALL KNOW WHAT YOU ARE! Even the jury! Did you see her scanning their faces trying to make sense of how they didn't buy her facade? This is why the Death Penalty is what she deserves. While she says in her interview that she knows some support her and very vaguely goes into she hears things and finally admits the majority don't like her, she still says facts have been withheld, blah, blah, blah... So for the next 12 years or so she is going to try to manipulate different attorney's, judges, civilians, inmates on and on and on in her exhausting manner. Time after time she will realize and be faced with the fact that no one is buying it and that they ALL know what she really is, just like TA, and after years and years of this fear and frustration, she will get death as she deserves. That is the closest to justice we can hope for.

    Having been the victim of serious dom violence in my past, I can say pretty confidently that abusers escalate when the smaller controls don't work anymore. Add to that her personality type and the fact TA was going to expose her for something horrible she had done and there was her trigger. Having been in the situation where you are dealing with someone violent you have to handle that person carefully. Yes you should be able to safely express yourself to anyone at anytime but poor Travis just didn't know who/what he was dealing with...

    One commentor I read said that we should all go visit her in jail and eat Cinnabon in front of her. I would like to add that before we leave we look her straight in the eye and say, "You don't fool me and I know who you really are."

    Sonja

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  8. 1 arrested after Tweet of courthouse bomb threat
    PHOENIX (CBS5) -
    Maricopa County sheriff's deputies arrested one person and had another in custody after a sweep at a Phoenix hotel Thursday morning in connection with a courthouse bomb threat tweeted after the Jodi Arias verdict was announced.

    http://www.kpho.com/story/22208622/2-in-custody-after-tweet-of-courthouse-bomb-threat

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  9. How TV station Fox 10 got the exclusive interview with Jodi Arias minutes after verdict:

    http://www.myfoxphoenix.com/video?clipId=8859192&autoStart=true

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  10. Just heard that if she choose the death penalty and wave all the appeals, she might be put to death as quickly as possible. Is that right? Well, what I want for her is to sit there in that cell by herself and reflect, if she has the ability to reflect, before she dies.

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  11. @My Forty, I am very curious about the forged letter you talked about. Can you please explain what is that letter from Travis? I missed the story about it. Thanks.

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    1. JA forged and submitted letters that were supposedly written by Travis supposedly showing him to be a pedophile. The documents were proven to be fakes and not admitted as evidence. They could not stop JA from trying to lie about it but there was no other evidence other than her statement. No photos, no witnesses, no computer searches, nothing to corraborate her story of Travis being a pedophile.

      I think it's very telling about her that she chose that subject as an accusation.

      Sonja

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  12. can anyone tell me why there was not a psychiatrist to testify. I know psychologists gave their opinion, but wouldn't a psychiatrist be more of an expert . Thanks.

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