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Questions The Jury Should Ponder When Deciding Jodi Arias's Fate

As prosecutor Juan Martinez wraps up his cross examination of murder defendant Jodi Arias, defense attorneys Kirk Nurmi and Jennifer Willmott must be scrambling to try to clear some of the wreckage caused by their client's inconsistent answers and the lack of any real evidence that Jodi Arias was ever in any real danger on June 4, 2008 when she brutally stabbed, shot and slit the throat of Travis Alexander.  It will be no easy task.  It was obvious Arias was worn down by the end of yesterday's court session - in contrast to her confident and at times defiant answers at the beginning of the cross examination, she hung her head yesterday and was barely audible at times.

She sobbed and her hands shook when shown photos of the carnage she left behind in that Mesa, Arizona shower stall. She seemingly peeked out of the corner of her eye when Juan Martinez asked her to look at the photograph, but she couldn't look at it for long. Is it finally sinking in that she killed Travis?  Has she finally come to the realization that there was no need to kill him, there was no real danger that night, other than the danger that she was slowly losing him and the only thing that bound these two together was sex? She had to have known that while Travis Alexander obviously enjoyed their intense physical relationship, he was looking for more in the way of a lifetime companion.  I think she knew that while he may have liked the fact that Arias rarely, if ever turned him down for whatever type of sex he wanted - but in fact she knew he respected the women he dated that had the willpower or the faith in their religion to stop when things got too heated.

Jodi Arias was "all in" when it came to Travis Alexander. She wanted to be with him, and despite her telling the jury that she was OK with them both moving on in their lives and the discussion about her desire to have their children play together one day was simply not true. I don't believe for one minute that's what she wanted from him. She wanted it all, and if she couldn't have it, she made sure no other woman would have it either. One of the problems with Arias's testimony (and there are many)  is that her words do not match up with her actions and with what friends close to the couple witnessed during their relationship.  I heard one of the In Session contributors refer to it as the "because I said so" defense. That's about what we have here.  The experts will come in and testify that Jodi Arias perceived she was in danger because of the past traumatic events she experienced with Travis, her mom, her father and previous boyfriends who cheated or otherwise wronged her. Martinez will point out that if their expert opinion is based on lies, than it cannot be an accurate opinion of the defendant.

I was hoping Juan Martinez would demonstrate in court how high the shelf was where Arias claims to have gotten the gun from in that closet. I believe he said she was 5 foot 2 inches tall, and the top shelf of that closet is higher than the top of the door frame - I thought he said it was nearly 9 feet. In this chaotic and panicked moment, where she fears he is just steps behind her would she have the time and the ability to climb onto a shelf and reach back for the gun without disturbing a single article of clothing in the closet? I'd have liked to have seen a demonstration, but then again it could have backfired if it turned out to be less difficult than I think it was!  That would have been similar to the OJ Simpson blunder with the gloves.

The trial still has a ways to go - Nurmi and Willmott have their redirect of Jodi Arias, then they have to present the rest of their case and call the remaining witnesses, who will be cross examined by Martinez. I believe Martinez will have rebuttal after that, and then closing arguments will begin.  Could be another two weeks before the jury receives their instructions and can begin to deliberate.  I hope the jury understands the theory of "reasonable doubt". Some juries mistake reasonable doubt for all doubt - I've heard that Maricopa county has a very conservative jury pool, and we still don't know which jurors will deliberate and which will be alternates.  If I were on that jury, I'd want to discuss the following points:

  1. Which parts of Jodi Arias's testimony do I believe to be true, if any?
  2. What evidence do we have to consider that will either back up her version of each event, or is in conflict with her version of each event?
  3. Considering we know Arias has lied to family, friends and law enforcement, and has admitting doing so to escape punishment for killing Travis Alexander, how can we determine when she is telling the truth now?
  4. Do we agree that Jodi Arias was a willing and enthusiastic participant in the sexual part of their relationship, or do we believe she did it only to please Travis Alexander as she testified?
These are just a few areas I can think of to establish a baseline on how to decide what can be believed and what can be discarded as fabrication. Moving on to the evidence:

  1. Reviewing all crime scene photos, is it possible that this killing occurred the way she says it did?
  2. I believe regardless of what came first - the gunshot or the stabbing, this was an especially cruel and heinous murder. But since it is a factor in this case, do we believe the shell casing could have come to rest in a pool of blood that she testified wasn't there at the time the gun went off? Is this scientifically possible, for the blood to pool itself under a shell casing in this manner?
  3. How believable is it that there was a .25 caliber gun reported stolen from Arias's grandparents house a week before a .25 caliber gun was used to shoot Travis, and what are the odds it wasn't the same gun, when nobody who knew him said he owned or kept a firearm in his home?
  4. When you travel using a rented car, do you fill up gas cans to carry in the trunk, so you won't run out of gas or to save money on gas?
  5. Assuming you have several physical altercations with a person you are in a relationship with, would you tell anybody? Would you write about it in a personal journal or a diary?
  6. Would you keep returning to the abusive person if you feared them so much?
  7. Have you ever taped a phone conversation with somebody else, with or without their knowledge? Did Arias direct that conversation in the direction of dirty talk, knowing she was taping it?
  8. Why did Jodi Arias take a photo of the "Travis Alexander's" t-shirt and underwear a week before being arrested? Where were the "Spideys" she talked at length about?
  9. Do we believe Jodi walked in on Travis and saw what she claims she saw on January 21, 2008? Is it possible for someone to exhibit this type of behavior and have nothing on their personal computer or in their home such as photos? 
  10. Why didn't Jodi Arias have more or greater injuries herself following this "life and death struggle" she had with Travis Alexander? Compare his injuries to hers. She only required band aids, he went to the morgue.
  11. Do we believe Travis Alexander broke Jodi Arias's left ring finger? Or did she break it while killing him?
These are just a few questions I hope the jury asks themselves when they finally get to deliberate this case. If they use common sense and review the real evidence in this case, I feel justice will prevail.  What are your thoughts? Were Jodi Arias's tears for real yesterday, or were they for herself when she realized her defense was not going to fly?

I think she may be coming to the realization of what she did, and the potential consequences. Does she really believe in her heart that this murder was justified? I don't see how she could.

Martinez Closes In On Jodi Arias

Yesterday was one of Juan Martinez's best days in court, in my opinion. He started strong and made several great points and never let up on Jodi Arias - but not to the extent he went to on previous days where the two challenged each other, Arias corrected his grammar and he allowed her to pull him off course.

He was focused and walked Arias through the events on June 4, 2008 and we finally heard Jodi Arias's account of what happened that day. She claims to have "huge gaps" in her memory around the actual stabbing and told the jury she doesn't remember stabbing Travis, nor does she remember cutting his throat from ear to ear - but oddly enough, she does remember the gun going off but claims she didn't realize the shot had hit Alexander for some time.

Here's how she said it happened, in a nutshell:  Arias was taking photos of Travis in the shower, she mentioned aiming for a "Calvin Klein look" for the photo shoot. Martinez argued the point that the shower photo shoot had in fact been Arias's idea, not Alexander's as she previously testified under direct. She was taking photos, directing the poses and at some point she dropped the camera. She recalls it bounced twice on the tile before coming to rest on the bath mat. She claims Travis became "enraged", and began shouting profanities at her, calling her a "fuc*ing idiot".  She first said he stepped out of the shower, grabbed and "body slammed" her into the tile floor. He was standing above her, she rolled away from him and got up and ran down the hall.

Although she never looked back to see if he was following her, she believed he was just a few feet behind her. Instead of exiting the master suite, which would have been closer she decided to run into his large walk-in closet where she shut the door behind her. She ran to the opposite end of the closet and was able to reach the top shelf where she claims Travis had a .25 caliber gun hidden. She testified earlier to finding that gun while cleaning his house.  Juan Martinez showed the jury a photo of the closet - it was one of the neatest closets I've ever seen, especially for a single male. It was one of the neatest closets I've seen period. Everything hung neatly, shoes lined up on shelves. 

Although the top shelf was several feet taller than Arias, she claims she easily reached it by standing on the edge of one of the shelves. Martinez pointed out the items in his closet were completely undisturbed - and asked her how, in this frenzy with Alexander literally just feet behind her, she was able to get to this high shelf and grab the gun without disturbing any of the clothing or shoes with Travis Alexander just steps behind her? She insisted she was able to. There was a long wooden sitting bench in the middle of that closet, which was undisturbed. She exited the opposite closet door, and again - instead of running down the hall and out the door of the master suite, she ended up back in the bathroom where she claims this confrontation began.

She said she stood in the middle of the bathroom, holding the gun out with both arms extended. Travis entered, she claims he took a "linebacker stance" and came towards her when the gun went off. This contradicts her earlier testimony that he had grabbed her by the waist during the confrontation before the gun went off.  Martinez asked Arias to demonstrate for the jury the "linebacker stance" she says he took. The judge cleared the courtroom, as they had to remove Arias's shackles so the jury wouldn't see her in them. When the jury returned, Arias stood and crouched down with her arms out and says he lunged at her in this manner.  She said he was in the process of coming towards her when the gun went off and he fell on top of her. They both fell to the bathroom floor. He became even more enraged and said "I'm going to kill you bitch".

She again described rolling away from him, fearing he would get on top of her and she would be trapped. She claims he was pulling at her clothes and grabbing at her during the struggle on the floor. She still didn't know he had been hit in the forehead with the .25 caliber gunshot?  At this point, her memory fades. She provided no details about stabbing Travis. Martinez displayed several crime scene photos, at which time Arias began sobbing uncontrollably. He asked her "were you crying when you shot Mr. Alexander"? Arias answered "I don't know". "Were you crying when you stabbed Mr. Alexander?" "I don't remember" Arias answered. "Were you crying when you slit his throat from ear to ear?". Arias, still sobbing answered "I don't know".

Martinez then questioned her about the "fog" she describes herself as being in, and points out that through this fog, she knew well enough to:

  • Delete the incriminating photos from his camera
  • Remove her bloody socks before walking out of the master suite
  • Put the camera in the washing machine and turn the washer on
  • Put the knife in the dishwasher - or take it with her
  • Some attempts were made to clean parts of the crime scene
  • Remove the gun, rope and dispose of them
  • She pulled over before a security check near Niagara Falls and cleaned the blood off her hands, changed her clothes and got rid of bloody clothing
  • She called Ryan Burns and made up a lie as to why she was so late
  • She disposed of the gun in the middle of the desert where it wouldn't be found
  • She left a voice mail for Travis Alexander just hours after killing him
I may have missed some points, but clearly she was able to think these things through, after killing someone - was she really in this "fog" she describes?  Martinez continued on to all of the deceptive things she did involving the police, Travis's friends and family to point suspicion away from herself. She admitted to doing these deceptive things.  What struck me during yesterday's testimony is this:  nothing she described that Travis did that night would be considered threatening enough to take it to the level she took things to.  She said that after she shot him and they were on the bathroom floor, she "closed her eyes real tight", she wasn't even looking at him - yet she perceived he was about to kill her?

Even if you believe every single thing Arias said yesterday about 6/4/08, the worst thing he did was yell at her and come towards her with outstretched arms. Would she be justified in killing him simply for Travis tackling her? That's about the extent of the danger she described. I know they will bring in their "experts" to discuss her "perception of danger", and how it may have been distorted by their previous episodes of violence. But if they based their opinion on their interviews with Jodi Arias and what she told them about Travis - and IF she was lying to them, their opinion would not really be relevant because it would be based on false information.

There's a lot more to come - this trial is far from over. By the end of yesterday, Arias looked mentally exhausted and just tired. It must be very difficult mentally to have to think about every single answer - when you fabricate, you have to remember what you previously said where as when you tell the truth, your memory is available. Some of what she said is probably true - most liars weave in a little bit of truth into their lies, and then even they start believing their own stories to be true.  That's it for the week - trial resumes on Monday. Will Martinez wrap up his cross examination on Monday? How long will Nurmi & Willmott need for redirect? They have an outright train wreck on their hands, and Nurmi has a painfully slow way of questioning Jodi Arias.

Have a great weekend!

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