Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Jodi Arias Murder Trial Nearing A Conclusion

On Wednesday the Jodi Arias death penalty murder trial will resume in the same court room it began in on January 2, 2013. It's been nearly 5 years since 30 year old Travis Victor Alexander was savagely attacked in the master suite of his Mesa Arizona home. As the dramatic trial is entering into it's final day of testimony, closing arguments are slated to begin on Thursday, May 1st and conclude on Friday May 2nd. The jury is expected to begin deliberating as early as Friday.

It's been a long and difficult road for the loved ones of Travis Alexander and Jodi Arias as well. Family members have been seated in the first rows of each perspective side throughout the trial. They have been asked to not display emotion as graphic crime scene and autopsy photos revealed just how brutal this murder really was. What Travis must have endured during the last moments of his life is unthinkable. Most people cannot imagine inflicting so much pain to ANY person, repeatedly thrusting a knife into another persons flesh - let alone can we imagine doing this to somebody we know and love.

At the center of the storm is now 32-year old Jodi Arias, who took the stand in her own defense and testified for 18 days about her tumultuous relationship with ex boyfriend Travis Alexander. Having initially lied to detectives investigating the murder, giving two very different accounts of her whereabouts at the time of the killing Arias was decidedly behind the 8-ball when she took the stand. Her credibility was destroyed by her own lies and her defense team attempted to rehabilitate her as a witness and a human being. With family members and friends watching and listening, they never got the truth out of Jodi Arias, rather they heard a distorted portrayal of Travis Alexander as a controlling, self centered sexual deviant - somebody who preyed not only on Arias but on other "young and vulnerable" women.

Their case was largely built on the foundation of a few written exchanges between the pair that were written during times when the couple argued and one audio recording of Arias and Alexander that turned sexual - and began to build a battered woman's defense around their client. Those written exchanges offered the only evidence that the two had at least verbally fought with one another. There would be allegations of physical abuse against Travis Alexander, based solely on the words of Jodi Arias. Arias told the jury that during the alleged altercations, Alexander broke her finger, slapped her, body slammed her to the ground and the most serious of all allegations was that he choked her to the point of unconsciousness.  Arias told no one of the alleged abuse, she made no attempt to document the abuse via photographs or medical visits. In fact, her self-defense claims didn't come to light until she had spent nearly 2 years in jail. Did her attorneys succeed in building a case around self-defense? Will the jury believe Arias was physically abused, or will they find her testimony less than credible?

Number one - the whole notion of this murder being the result of self defense is ludicrous at face value. Based on the sheer number of wounds Travis Alexander suffered and the absolute brutality of stabbing a person so many times before slicing their throat and shooting them in the face, it seems crystal clear this was NOT self defense - this was absolute rage. To imply that the victim provoked and threatened to kill her after being shot in the head is outright unbelievable. The medical examiner has testified he would have been unable to attack or speak after being shot in the head. Arias claims the shot came first, she doesn't remember stabbing or slashing his throat. So much focus has been put on what came first, but does it really matter? If she did shoot him first, then stabbing him 29 times (including numerous stabs to his back) would seem even more heinous because he would have already been incapacitated. So if you believe Arias' account, she attacked a man who was already down and unable to attack her - that should have been the end of her efforts at self defense. Yet it wasn't. Conveniently, she claims to not remember the details beyond the gun "going off". 

The other scenario has Arias luring Alexander to the shower to pose for photos. Trapped in a confined space and unaware of what was about to happen, Arias takes several shower photos before plunging a knife deeply into his chest. The ME testified the deep stab wound wouldn't have been immediately fatal, but it was deep enough to cause major damage to a vital artery. He was likely confused and in shock, but blood evidence seems to point to him getting out of the shower, standing over the sink where he aspirated blood onto the mirror and sink below him. Did Arias continue her attack, stabbing him numerous times in the back while he stood bleeding over the sink? The defensive wounds to his hands and the blood trail leading to the bedroom and hallway show Arias likely followed him as he tried to get away from his attacker. At some point she cut his throat, causing him to lose massive amounts of blood - yet the attack continued. Prosecutor's believe Arias shot him in the head last. Does it matter? Arias seemed to have ample opportunities to escape any perceived danger during many points throughout the attack. Yet she continued to attack him. Is this self defense? Not by any stretch of the imagination.

Juries can be a crap shoot. You never know if one or more of these jurors has bought into some part of Arias' stories. Even if they do, if they follow the law they should find that this was not a case of self defense. Self defense does not allow for a person to slaughter another. Even if the defense is successful in getting manslaughter added as a lesser included charge, I don't see how a jury hearing this trial could come back with a guilty verdict on manslaughter. We have one more day of testimony to hear, as the defense has succeeded in getting Judge Stephens to allow in another expert witness for the defense. Dr. Robert Geffner is expected to take the stand tomorrow to testify on behalf of the defense. Geffner is known to be a colleague of Alyce LaViolette - the defense's "star witness" who many believe failed to convince the jury Jodi Arias was an abused woman. Geffner will be the third expert witness to testify in this case for the defense, but how much weight will jurors give to another expert? It seems to me that the jury is focused on the testimony of the defendant more than that of the experts. Has Jodi Arias managed to fool three experts and convince them she was a victim of domestic violence? Will it make any difference in the ultimate verdict?

Unfortunately there is much the jury will never know during the guilt or innocence phase of this trial. They haven't heard the interviews with Arias' mother or father. They haven't seen the 2/2/08 police report Travis Alexander filed after his tires were slashed. They are not aware that Jodi Arias bought a gun and was planning on hitting the road in the days leading up to her arrest. There is so much they don't know. Do they have enough facts and tangible evidence to convict her of murder in the first degree? I believe they do. I don't see any other possible verdict for this case. Travis Alexander was viciously murdered in his own home. He was left to decompose for 5 days before being found. It doesn't get any more heinous than that. Arias' life went on as if nothing happened, according to her parents who revealed she was just fine when she returned from Utah. Pray the jury remembers Travis was the victim and that his family receives the justice they all deserve.

The home where Travis Alexander was murdered was purchased in 2009 by a family who was unaware of the crime that took place there the year before. They reportedly believed the missing faucets, carpeting and other damage to the home was due to vandalism. The house is no longer the scene of a gruesome crime, it's now their home. Although they wished to remain anonymous during a recent media interview the home owner said "it's a very loving home" and "this home has a very sweet spirit in it". That sweet spirit must be the spirit of Travis Alexander. The new owners have long since replaced the carpeting, floorboards and repainted the rooms. They reported that people still come by the home and get out of their cars to take photos in front of the home. 

The trial resumes Wednesday, May 1 2013. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Jodi Arias Murder Trial - A Look At The Arizona Prison System

The Jodi Arias murder trial began on January 2, 2013 and has captured a national audience - many are struck by the daily trial headlines and shocking allegations made by the woman at the center of this trial, and others are watching and waiting for justice to be served on behalf of the 30 year old man who was viciously and savagely murdered in the bathroom of his own home. It has been nearly five years since concerned friends discovered Travis Alexander's lifeless body in the shower of his home, and the five month trial of the woman who claims she killed her ex boyfriend in self defense is coming to an end.

32 year old Jodi Arias was arrested in Yreka, California on July 15, 2008. She was extradited to Phoenix in September of 2008 and has been in custody at the Estrella jail complex, unable to raise the $1,000,000 bond that would have freed her pending trial. In the months that followed her arrest, Arias famously gave media interviews where she boldly stated that no jury would ever convict her, at trial Arias would attempt to defuse that statement by telling the jury she planned on killing herself and that was why she was so confident "no jury would ever convict". 

After those initial interviews, Arias remained relatively quiet as the State and her defense attorneys took years to prepare for her trial. I never forgot about this case after hearing about the sheer brutality of this murder back in 2008. With closing arguments around the corner, I thought it would be interesting to see what Arias' life might be like if she is found guilty of first degree murder. Of course there are many unknown variables at this time. If Arias were to be convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death or life ("natural" or 25 years to life) she would likely serve her time at the Arizona State Prison Complex in Perryville, near Goodyear Arizona.

Many legal experts are predicting Arias will be convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life.  I don't like predictions, I'm superstitious about these things! If Arias were to end up on Death Row, she would serve her time at the Lumley Unit of the Arizona State Prison Complex - this is where all female death row prisoners are housed. Death row prisoners are housed in single cells with a sink, toilet, bed and mattress. The cells are 86.4 square feet. All meals are delivered to the inmates on Death Row and they have no contact with other inmates. They are allowed outdoor exercise for 2 hours per day, 3 times a week in a secured area, and they get 3 showers per week. Personal property for death row inmates is limited to hygiene items, two appliances (not sure what this includes?), two books and writing materials which can be purchased through commissary. Visitation for female death row inmates is limited to non-contact visits on Mondays from 7AM-3PM, by appointment only.  They are allowed to make two 10 minute phone calls per week.

If Arias were to receive a life sentence, she would most likely end up at the same prison complex. Her accommodations would depend on her classification. When new inmates are brought to prison, they are classified in order to ensure they are housed in the most appropriate area. The classifications are:


  • Maximum custody
  • Close custody
  • Medium custody
  • Minimum custody
Visitation for (non-death row) prisoners can vary widely, anywhere from 4-four hour blocks on Saturday or Sunday to one four hour block on Saturday or Sunday. During a new inmate's initial classification, some of the things they take into consideration are:

  • Most serious current offense
  • Most serious prior or other offenses
  • Escape history
  • History of institutional violence
  • Gang affiliation
  • Current age
All inmates who have been sentenced to death are considered maximum custody. Inmates who are serving a life sentence ("natural" or 25 years to life) are classified:

  • Life sentence with 0-2 years served     Maximum custody
  • Life sentence with 2-5 years served     No less than Close custody
  • Life sentence with 5+ years served      No less than Medium custody
I think it's safe to say that Jodi Arias' life is going to change after her trial has concluded. You never know what's in the mind of the jury, but I don't think Arias will go unpunished for this crime. The severity of punishment is the big question. If the defense is successful in getting manslaughter as an option for the jury, she could receive a sentence of as little as 7 years - and she's already served close to 5 years.  I don't want to go out on the ledge and make any type of prediction. I know what I believe to be a just verdict and sentence, but I'm not sitting on the Arias jury.

Will this jury spare the life of Jodi Arias, finding it too difficult to sentence her to death after seeing her in the court room for more than 4 months? I certainly hope that IF they believe Arias lied about what happened and they believe it was premeditated, they will remember Travis Alexander - he didn't get a trial, he didn't get a jury, he was shown no mercy by this defendant. I realize that nothing will bring Travis Alexander back, but I do believe he deserves justice for having his life taken from him in such a horrific way. I'm neither for or against the death penalty. But I do believe there are some cases where nothing less than death seems suitable for the crime. Is this one of those crimes?


What will happen on Wednesday with the surrebuttal witness? Is he taking the stand to try to help buddy Alyce LaViolette, who's reputation took a header after her testimony in this case? Will LaViolette and Geffner co-author a book on this case? And I'm still wondering if Judge Stephens hair will ever move.  Have a great weekend!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Jodi Arias Raking In The Cash While Taxpayers Foot The Trial Bill?

My apologies in advance, this blog entry is very light on trial news and heavy on outrage!  It's no secret that Jodi Arias has practically incorporated during her incarceration and trial. It appears to me that at times she is actually drawing during the proceedings! If this bothers you as much as it bothers me, I urge you to sign this petition at Change.org to urge Wordpress to stop these sales:
https://www.change.org/petitions/http-ma-tt-and-http-wordpress-org-stop-the-sale-of-art-by-jodi-arias#share

I'm certain the Alexander family is aware of Arias' jailhouse business and they have got to be fuming. Although I have a difficult time understanding how this type of activity can be conducted from behind bars, apparently all it takes is a friend on the outside to run her website and peddle her wares. She is making a mockery of our entire criminal justice system, almost a "catch me if you can" type of taunting via Twitter and the thousands of dollars she's raking in from murderabilia sales.

First things first - the criminal trial is more important than anything else here but again, I seriously hope she gets slapped with a wrongful death suit to ensure ANY money she makes off this tragedy goes to the victims family. I'll get off my soap box now but this really gets to me! There are enough stories on the Internet about Arias selling her artwork now that I'm hoping some of the stats will be brought to the court and jury's attention during the penalty phase of this trial. So this is what she was doing during her own trial?

It's a good thing this trial is coming to an end, because the jurors are starting to drop like flies. Juror #8 is the latest, and he was reportedly nicknamed "the CEO" and a likely candidate for jury foreman. There are still 15 jurors left, and with closing arguments less than a week away I think the jury will make it. The big question is, what will we hear in the form of this surrebuttal witness on Wednesday? Judge Stephens made it very clear that all testimony will be completed on Wednesday, regardless of how late they need to stay. I can't say I'd be surprised if the defense takes 90% of the allotted time and leaves Juan Martinez with 15 minutes for cross examination. What can this THIRD expert tell us we haven't already heard? Does the defense think this is going to make that big of an impact on the jurors?

This is no longer a battle of the experts. This trial will boil down to the defendant's credibility. Will 18 days of testifying in her own words be her undoing? Arias has looked the jurors in the eyes and lied to them, under oath. It may have ONLY been a gas can return, but it calls everything else into question. Why did she have to lie about returning a 5 gallon gas can? Under oath means under oath, regardless of how small the detail is that you are testifying about is. There are no "little white lies" in court (oh I can hear Alyce LaViolette's voice in my head....).

With a 5 day break in the court proceedings and a potential verdict on the horizon, my thoughts and prayers are with Travis Alexander's family and friends. They have been living this nightmare for almost 5 years now, patiently waiting for the wheels of justice to turn. They have shown up every day in that court room, they've been asked to shut down their reactions and emotions and they have had to endure hearing horrible stories told about the brother they knew and loved. They deserved the truth, but that's not what they got. At least there is still the hope that they will receive justice.

I hope you have a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

*UPDATED* Another Arias Juror Dismissed

*Updated to include information on the mysterious dismissal of Juror #8. Radaronline.com is reporting that 52 year old Daniel Gibbs was arrested for "an extreme DUI" on April 20. Gibbs apparently told the arresting officer that he was a member of the Arias jury panel. The arresting officer met with Judge Stephens on Tuesday in a closed-door meeting and Juror #8 was dismissed on Friday.


In an abbreviated court session today, medical examiner Kevin Horn returned to the witness stand in the Jodi Arias murder trial. Prosecutor Juan Martinez guided the jury through Travis Alexander's wounds, with Horn describing the effect each of the major injuries would have likely had on him. The defense has insisted that Arias shot Alexander as he was preparing to attack her. She testified that the gunshot came as somewhat of a surprise as she believed the gun, which she claims was Travis' to be unloaded. Does it make a whole lot of sense to point a person's unloaded gun at them? Hmmm. (blunder #1 of many).

Martinez and Horn discussed the effect a .25 caliber gunshot would have to a person's head at great lengths. Horn said the gunshot, while not fatal would have incapacitated him "within seconds", rendering him unable to perform "purposeful actions". Arias testified that after she shot Travis, he became more angry and aggressive towards her - (blunder #2). Then the fog rolled in and Arias doesn't have any memory of slashing him 29 times and cutting his throat from ear to ear. Mr. Martinez asked Dr. Horn if it would be possible for a person who had been shot in the head to continue to advance towards a person, and Horn said "no". If the person were walking forward, their momentum may take them another few steps before falling.

They showed the graphic crime scene and autopsy photos, it never gets easier for the family to see. It's heart wrenching to see their agony as these photos are displayed. Arias appeared to be crying, or dabbing her eyes and nose with a tissue while keeping her head down - but again the camera caught her staring at one of those graphic photos. Off the charts on the creepy scale. The photos of deep slash wounds to his hands were shown. Horn testified they were consistent with a person raising their hands in a defensive posture. "Would he have been able to raise his hands to protect himself if the gunshot came first?," Martinez asked. "No", Horn answered. They went through the major injuries including what the state believes was the first injury, the deep stab wound to his chest. Martinez went through any possible scenario in which the defensive wounds could have occurred if he had been shot first as Arias claims. Jennifer Willmott handled the cross examination, and quickly pounced on that inconsistency early on in the investigation where Detective Flores stated that Dr. Horn believed the gunshot had been the first wound. 

She poured it on thick, challenging Dr. Horn's memory of his testimony given in court in early January. He didn't recall his exact testimony and she was quick to point out each and every inconsistency or misstatement. "Didn't you testify originally that the gunshot wouldn't have immediately incapacitated Travis?", Horn clarified that the gunshot wouldn't have been immediately fatal, but it would incapacitate him within seconds. Willmott did her job in pointing these issues out, but it doesn't change the facts. She questioned if the bullet's entry into his head could have caused him to bleed into his nasal cavity, which would then cause the blood to aspirate out as seen on the bathroom mirrors and sink? Horn didn't believe he would have been able to stand at the sink!

It was like a tennis match, back and forth. They discussed the decomposition of the brain at autopsy and how that may have effected his findings about exactly how much damage that gunshot did to his brain. I took the following away from this testimony: it seems highly improbable that Travis was shot first, although to me it doesn't make much difference because it was so violent and horrendous that "overkill" seems to be an understatement. Travis would not have had the capacity or ability to raise his hands to try to thwart the knife attack he was under if he had been shot in the head first. That really is the crux of the issue. Which makes Arias' story all the more ludicrous, that the gunshot only made Travis more angry and he actually was able to speak in her scenario, allegedly threatening to kill her. 


It's just been reported that another juror has been dismissed for unknown reasons. Juror #8 is said to be the latest of the three jurors to be dismissed from the 4 1/2 month long trial. That's actually not bad, considering the length of this trial. Thankfully with only a week until closing arguments, it seems likely they will still have jurors plus a few alternates. The woman Travis Alexander reportedly bought that engagement ring for has broken her silence, appearing on Nancy Grace this evening to talk about Travis. I missed a good portion of this as I was not aware she was a guest. Her name is Linda Ballard Boss and she is somebody that Travis planned on proposing to at one point.  He even purchased that ring, and held on to it for years after the two had parted ways. She told Nancy Grace that Travis is not at all what the defense is making him out to be. "He was funny, he never showed anger with me" and she called him a happy-go-lucky guy who loved to make people laugh. She was in love with Travis and vice versa. She reportedly saw Travis for the last time in October of 2006 when the two went to the Arizona State Fair together. "Travis loved roller coasters", Ballard Boss said. During that outing, Travis told her about a woman he had began to date - Jodi Arias. He told her that Arias was a pathological liar, and that he had caught her in several lies relating to stories she told him of her ex-boyfriends. Hmmm...anybody seeing a pattern here?

So that's it folks. Jury, you are being asked to take the word of a pathological liar. She's lied to you, under oath. At the very least, please scrutinize every story she's told. Look at the evidence. What makes sense and what does not make sense? How many coincidences do you believe there could be over such a brief period of time?  If she lied about taking a gas can back to WalMart, what else is she lying about? Do you believe that gun was not her grandfather's stolen gun? Is it likely that Travis Alexander kept a gun in his house that nobody knew about, with no ammo, no holster or gun cleaning kit? And why would he keep it loose up on the top shelf of his closet instead of somewhere more logical? Why did Arias try so hard to fly under the radar on her "detour" to Mesa? Do you really think a dropped camera could provoke such an angry response from a man who took somebody trashing his BMW in stride? Is their a history of these types of allegations from the other women in Travis' life? What about his friends and room mates? There is so much for them to consider.

The surrebuttal case begins on Wednesday, expected to be a mini-marathon court session that will last "until we are finished" according to Judge Stephens. Enjoy your weekends everybody! Justice is around the corner. Can you see it?

Arias Judge Rules In Favor Of Defense - Dr. Robert Geffner Will Testify

There were several important announcements made by Judge Sherry Stephens relating to the marathon murder trial of Jodi Arias.  Yesterday the Judge announced out the trial's schedule for the next two weeks and told the jury closing arguments would begin next Thursday, May 1st and conclude on Friday May 2nd.

Today (Thursday) there will be a short court session, but Judge Stephens told the jury to expect a long day next Wednesday, telling them "we will begin at 9:00AM and stay until testimony has concluded - even if it goes beyond 5:00PM." The jury is expected to officially get the case by late Friday May 2, 2013.  

This morning, abcnews.com reported Judge Sherry Stephens has ruled in favor of allowing testimony from a third defense expert witness, Dr. Robert Geffner from San Diego, California.  With the tight time frame set forth by Judge Stephens I'd expect this expert's testimony to be very limited in scope. But this can be considered a small victory for the defense, as requests for surrebuttal witnesses are rarely granted - I don't have the details around the Judge's decision to allow in this testimony, nor do I know when, how or why Dr. Geffner became involved in this case. However, he is said to be an associate of Alyce LaViolette. Do I need to say any more?  Will this expert's opinion ultimately make a difference at this point in the trial? Has Judge Stephens gone overboard in an effort to avoid appellate issues down the line?


Testimony started late yesterday, and after Judge Stephens explained the trial schedule the prosecution called two additional rebuttal witnesses to the stand. First up was Robert Brown, a computer forensics detective from the Mesa PD. He testified about photos he recovered from Jodi Arias' Helio cellphone that showed close-ups of Jodi Arias with brown hair. It appeared the photos were taken by Arias inside of the car she was driving. The photos were taken on June 3, 2008 between 2:12PM-2:21PM - was Arias taking photos of her newly colored hair? The time the photos were taken suggests it was after her alleged nail appointment, however there were no photos taken of her freshly polished nails. The jury will have to decide whether Arias' two hour trip to a salon was more likely to have her nails done or have her hair colored. Detective Brown explained how the photos were recovered from the cellphone and how the phone's technology allowed him to pinpoint when the photos were taken.

Detective Esteban Flores was called back to the stand as the next rebuttal witness. We've all come to know Flores as the person quietly seated next to Prosecutor Juan Martinez throughout the trial, and the detective who did a masterful job in interviewing Arias before and after her arrest. OK, I admit it - I DO like Detective Flores. I think the way he handled Arias was admirable. He was respectful yet stern, patient and even kind to her in trying to extract some truth from Jodi Arias. Flores testified that on March 5, 2013 he returned to Travis Alexander's Mesa home to take some measurements of the closet where Arias allegedly retrieved Travis' gun. He explained that three of the bottom shelves had been moved out of their original position as depicted in the crime scene photos - he moved them back to match the way they were on June 4, 2008.

The photos were eerie to me. The once tidy closet full of suits, jeans and shoes was nearly empty. It was sad. Juan Martinez showed photos of how these "floating" shelves are held into place by 4 small round metal pins. We all know how these types of shelving units work. It can be frustrating to use them because they aren't built to handle a lot of weight. Another photo showed the effect on the shelf when Flores rested his hand on the edge - surprise, surprise - the shelf tipped towards him.  The next photos showed the measurement from the closet floor to the top shelf, which measured around 7 feet tall from top to bottom. It was 8 feet from the floor to the ceiling.  Martinez asked if Detective Flores or any other member of the police department found any evidence during the original search of the home that would lead him to believe that Travis or any of his roommates owned or kept a gun at the house. He said they found no such evidence.  No holster, no bullets of any caliber, no boxes, no gun cleaning kit - nothing to suggest a firearm was kept at the residence. Martinez asked Flores if the home's attic was searched after the murder. Flores said it had been searched and explained the locations they gained access to the attic. He further testified that the Mesa PD didn't find anything stored in the attic - no boxes, which contradicts another Arias story about helping Travis retrieve something from a box stored in his attic. Remember, it was the little porcelain angel that Travis allegedly gave her that was retrieved from a box from the attic that she "forgot" - which brought her back to Travis' home on January 21, 2008 where she allegedly caught him in the act of pleasuring himself to the photo of a young boy. 

Under cross examination by Kirk Nurmi, Detective Flores was asked if he measured any of the other parts of the shelving units, aside from the ones near where Arias claims she retrieved the gun. Flores said he hadn't. Nurmi to Flores: "you had the ability to take the measurements?". "Yes", said Flores. Nurmi's line of questioning moved from irrelevance to idiocy from there. "You heard Dr. DeMarte say Jodi Arias has a high IQ, right?" "Yes", Flores replied. Nurmi insinuated that since Arias was shown to have a fairly high IQ, she would have chosen a better location in the closet had she been lying about the gun and it's location. Again, they seem to take the problematic parts of Arias' stories and try to use them as evidence that she's telling the truth. This is what can happen when you put a client with a history of lying on the stand and let her talk for 18 days. This is what can happen when defense attorneys fail to question or test their client's stories. They had to have known those shelving units could not support her weight and given her height, is it even possible for her to reach the space where she said the gun was kept? Didn't they check this for themselves?

Kirk Nurmi tried to pull a fast one, asking Detective Flores about his interview with 48 Hours - didn't you say "something pushed or provoked her at the end"? Juan Martinez objected, all attorneys went to sidebar and that question was sustained. Then it was on to the jury questions for Detective Flores, I'm paraphrasing:

Were there any guns registered in Travis Alexander's name?
Did any of Travis' roommates own a gun?
What was the width and depth of the shelf where Arias retrieved the gun?
Was there anything stored in the attic when the house was searched?
Did it appear anything was ever stored in the attic?
Do you know what Jodi Arias' height, weight and shoe size was at the time of her booking?
Did you find any evidence of Travis ever owning a gun?
Did you find any empty boxes or containers that could have held a gun?
If Jodi raised her arm straight up in the air, do you know the measurement from her foot to fingertip?

As I mentioned on yesterday's post, Jodi Arias' grandmother was seated in the court room for the first time yesterday. She sat quietly next to Sandy Arias and appeared to be sad. Can you imagine, having your own grand daughter standing trial for first degree murder and facing a possible death sentence? Also knowing the gun used in the crime may have come from your own home must be unnerving to this elderly woman who took Arias in and allowed her to live with them in Yreka. The families on both sides of the court room are forever changed by the actions of this young woman. The Alexander family will never see Travis again. They will never attend his wedding, they will never have nieces, nephews or great grandchildren from Travis. They have been robbed of their future with him. Why do people take such severe and permanent action for temporary problems? How is a person driven to such extremes? I'm afraid that age-old line is true, there's a thin line between love and hate. Simplistic, yet true. Arias seemed to have crossed that line and there's no turning back.

Any sympathy I may have had for her has long since diminished, as I've listened to her testimony and watched her in court. I'm not sure she is even sorry that she killed him, but I'm certain she's sorry she got caught. The fact that she is now hawking her doodles and sketches to her followers and taking in an undetermined amount of money via donations shows me the kind of person we are dealing with. She is an opportunist. Her greed has gone well beyond wanting to help her family with travel-related expenses during the trial. She is taking full advantage of her notoriety and even the ban by eBay on sales of her artwork, telling her followers "it's raised the value of my art". Greed, pure and simple. That Arias is continuing to cash in on these things while on trial for her LIFE speaks volumes to her personality disorders! It's all about Jodi right now. And she's doing it under the watchful eye of the Maricopa County Sheriffs Department. It's that in-your-face attitude that tells me she has no remorse. Judgement day is coming for Ms. Arias. I hear that she is "confident" she will be acquitted and is making plans for her future? This was reported by the editor of the National Enquirer on Nancy Grace's show last night. I usually take these stories with a grain of salt!

What are your thoughts on the Judge's decision to allow this surrebuttal witness? Do you think she will set strict limits around the scope of his testimony? Which side do you think is ahead going in to closing arguments? Please share your thoughts as the trial winds down!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Closing Arguments Set For 5/2 - 5/3 in Jodi Arias Murder Trial

(Judge Sherry Stephens just announced the trial schedule for this week and next week, closing arguments are now set for next Thursday and Friday - that's May 2nd and 3rd) Trial is beginning now, but there's a new face in the gallery on the Arias side - Jodi's grandmother is there today.)

It's day 53 of the Jodi Arias murder trial, for anybody out there who is keeping count - week #17. Should it come as a surprise to anyone that it's now 11:38AM PST and we are still seeing the Great Seal of The State of Arizona on the screen? Unfortunately we have almost come to expect this from the Jodi Arias trial.


The defense's request to allow the testimony of a surrebuttal witness has been bothering me. I'm not an attorney, nor do I have a legal background but it would seem to even a layperson that the basic rules of discovery around expert witness testimony would dictate that Arias' attorneys should not have been surprised by the borderline personality disorder diagnosis of the prosecution's expert witness, Dr. Janeen DeMarte. If this is the case, why is Judge Stephens even entertaining the thought of allowing in a third expert for the defense?

The development of Dr. Robert Geffner as a potential third expert witness seems like sour grapes on the surface. Could the defense team have a bad case of buyer's remorse with Dr. Richard Samuels and Alyce LaViolette's testimony and opinions - perhaps they didn't get the bang for the buck they believed they would?  I can't help but feel that if this trial were being conducted in a state where jury questions were not part of the process, we wouldn't be talking about Dr. Geffner or surrebuttal witnesses at all. Didn't the defense depose Dr. DeMarte before this trial even began? I did a little digging on the topic of written discovery of expert witness opinions and found the following:

Rule 26(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that the opposing party must disclose the identity of any expert witness. The mandatory disclosure must include the following, among other things:

  • A complete statement of all opinions and conclusions to be expressed by the expert witness
  • The basis and reason for each opinion
  • The data or other information used by the expert in formulating the opinions
  • The exhibits to be used as a summary in support of the opinions
  • The qualifications of the witness
  • A list of any cases over the last four years in which the expert has testified or been deposed
  • A list of any publications authored by the expert over the last 10 years
What am I missing? Where is the new evidence Dr. DeMarte brought in? If you happen to know more about why they have filed this motion, please fill us all in. Again, I'd love to know when how and why Dr. Geffner became involved to begin with - given DeMarte just left the stand a few days ago.  Who will we see taking the witness stand today when court finally resumes?  There has been some discussion around Arias' bank account activity around the time of her road trip to Mesa/Utah. Did she have more cash on hand than she claims she did?

I've always wondered why Arias inquired about the check she sent to Travis shortly before his murder - early on in the investigation, she asked Detective Flores if he knew when (or if) that check would be deposited. Could it be that she never expected it to be cashed or deposited? Another tidbit to think about. I know if somebody I loved had been killed, or even died of natural causes, the last thing on my mind would be an outstanding check! There has also been talk about Arias stopping for an impromptu nail appointment, and why the appointment reportedly took more than 2 hours. I'm not sure who they will call to testify today, but it seems that Juan Martinez never calls an unnecessary witness. He always keeps the bigger picture in mind so I have to believe there's a good reason for whoever he calls in.

Will Judge Stephens allow the defense to call in another witness? If the state offered up brand new evidence via Dr. DeMarte that's one thing, but anything short of that would be unfair to the prosecution who has played by the rules and presented a fairly straightforward case.  You don't get a "do-over" just because you feel you've failed to convince the jurors - even in a death penalty case!  What will happen today? I noticed that for the most part during yesterday's testimony, Arias appeared unaware or uninterested in the proceedings until the questions to Travis Alexander's ex girlfriend Deanna Reid turned to marriage and sex. At one point she looked up and her eyes got wide, I thought I caught her smiling when Reid testified that she broke off her relationship with Travis because he wasn't ready for marriage and she was.

I believe court resumes today at 1:30PM (PST).  Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Did Kirk Nurmi Cross The Line In Questions To Travis Alexander's Ex?

We are another day closer to closing arguments in the Jodi Arias murder trial as the state continued their rebuttal case with some powerful testimony from one of Travis' close friends, an ex girlfriend, a representative from WalMart and a member of the Mesa police departments forensics unit.

Jacob Mefford was a close friend of Travis Alexander who recounted on the witness stand that Travis was affectionate with Jodi on many occasions. He is the owner of the clip that has been televised where Travis is sitting on his couch with Arias' curled up with her head on his lap. Friends are there and he recounts a traumatic near death experience where a gun was held to his head. The jury saw that clip today, although they were not allowed to hear the audio. What Juan Martinez got out of Meddford's testimony is that contrary to how the defense has portrayed Travis and Jodi's in-pubic relationship, his friends did in fact see them being affectionate towards each other.

A representative from WalMart took the stand and testified that the store had no record of any returns for the 5 gallon gas can Arias insists she took back on June 3, 2008. The representative further stated that she searched the register records for more than a week and the record of the return does not exist. Could WalMart be wrong, or did Jodi Arias lie to the jury under oath? This was crucial for the potential lying under oath. She looked the jury in the eyes and lied. I suppose she could have been mistaken about which WalMart she returned it to or when, but she was fairly certain as to the particulars when she testified and answered those jury questions. 

There was also testimony from a representative from the gasoline company regarding Arias' gas purchases, but I missed that witness and her testimony.

Travis' ex girlfriend Deanna Reid was a big witness for the prosecution. She had a fairly long term and serious relationship with Travis and she testified that he was never violent or abusive with her nor did he call her names or raise his voice to her. They had fights, just like most couples do but they were civil. They met in 1998 when Reid was 20 years old and Travis was 21 and they attended the same singles ward and church. Reid was brought up in the church, in contrast to Arias who joined after meeting Travis Alexander. The two were friends for two years before their relationship turned romantic. It was difficult for her to testify that she did in fact have a sexual relationship with Travis, but explained that "we are all human and we make mistakes, but they were in love".  The pair disclosed all to their respective bishops and dealt with the consequences of going against the "laws of chastity" as Reid referred to it (vs. "vows of chastity" we've heard as well).

Reid went on a 1 1/2 year mission to Costa Rica and during that time away she and Travis corresponded via letters. Shortly before she was due to return home, he expressed a desire to date other people. Kirk Nurmi was particularly sensitive in his cross examination of Reid, even apologizing for asking about their sexual relationship and allowing her time to fill her water glass. But before long, he was pointing out stark differences in the relationship she had with Travis and the relationship Jodi had with him. He referred to some of the nastier sexual comments Travis made to Jodi, asking Reid if Travis ever made similar comments to her. I don't want to repeat the statements here, but he clearly made her uncomfortable and it seemed he really didn't need to point out the xxx-rated comments yet again to this witness.

During Reid's testimony we learned that the laws of chastity is discussed at church and through teachings and sermons. What I got out of that is Jodi Arias clearly should have known that all forms of sexual contact was prohibited - yet, she would have the jury believe she relied on Travis as her spiritual advisor, the implication being that he misled her into thinking certain acts weren't as bad as others. Big win all the way around for the prosecution. I felt a little bad for Reid, from what I've read she really loved Travis Alexander and was even caring for his beloved dog Napoleon after his death. Nurmi didn't have to make those references to make his points, and the jury frankly has probably had enough of the sex talk.

Last up, Michael Valendez of the Mesa police department. He's the man who testified during the state's case about the recovered photos from the digital camera. Today he talked about what he looked for when he analyzed the laptop computer he seized from Alexander's home. He testified there were no photos of women's breasts, or "photos of women from the waist up" - no peer to peer software that would allow photo or file sharing capabilities, no adult content websites or photos or documents containing photos of children.  On the digital camera, the jury asked a question about the photos that were not deleted from that camera. He said he believed there were approximately 90 photos that had not been deleted on June 4, 2008.

Overall it seemed like a banner day for the prosecution. Still waiting to see if the Judge is going to allow the surrebuttal expert witness. I noticed Arias actually looked up from whatever she is sketching or writing during key parts of Deanna Reid's testimony. She seemed to be interested in their intimate details and the discussion about marriage. Hmmm...go figure!  Have an excellent evening!

Arias Defense Keeps Pushing The Envelope

The Jodi Arias murder trial will be remembered for many reasons, but I'm afraid the purpose of this trial has been lost, delayed and drawn out by a defense team determined to push this Judge into granting every unusual request they make.  I know, I know - it's a death penalty case. I know Ms. Arias has the right to put on her case, but at what point do we consider the rights of the (deceased) victim? With each new motion - for mistrial, a surrebuttal witness, jury instructions to include lesser included charges it seems this trial seems to have gone off the rails.

The defense has had more than three months to put their best case forward. Was Dr. DeMarte's diagnosis of borderline personality disorder really a big surprise to them? Don't they receive a copy of any report to be used at trial well beforehand? As if sensing the jury thought more favorably of the prosecution experts' diagnosis than their own, the defense now wishes to bring forth another expert, Dr. Robert Geffner PhD to dispute Dr. DeMarte's diagnosis and testimony. Like Alyce LaViolette, Geffner is from the Southern California area (San Diego).

I have no idea when, how or where this expert came into play, but like LaViolette and Samuels, Dr. Geffner has more than 30 years experience to his resume. He has co-authored several books and has too many affiliations to list in this forum but a sample of his book titles will give you an educated guess to what his testimony would be all about:  Ending Spouse/Partner Abuse Clinician's Manual, "Intimate Violence and Children Exposed To Marital Violence. Ringing a familiar bell?  To my knowledge, there has been no official ruling from Judge Stephens on the surrebuttal witness request. Attorney Kirk Nurmi told the judge "it was necessary and critical to Ms. Arias' defense after this court allowed the state to present new evidence during rebuttal via it's witness Dr. Janeen DeMarte". Does anybody out there know the rules around providing these types of reports including diagnosis to the other side? I find it difficult to believe the defense was shocked by the diagnosis or her testimony.

So I'd really love to know when Dr. Geffner interviewed or tested Jodi Arias. If this was done previously, why didn't they call him to the stand during their own case? DeMarte only finished her testimony a few days ago - how could the defense have found another expert who could have read through all the text messages, IM's, e-mails and journal entries in addition to listening to the police interrogation videos, the Inside Edition and 48 Hours interviews and all other "collateral materials"? Are you as confused as I am?

The second motion filed by the defense team on Monday involves a jury instruction to include "manslaughter by sudden quarrel or heat of passion". Wait a minute, isn't this a self defense case? OK. A look at the legal definition (legal-dictionary.com) of manslaughter tells us the following:

"Manslaughter is a distinct crime and it is not considered a lesser degree than murder. The essential distinction between the two offenses is that malice aforethought must be present for murder, whereas it must be absent for manslaughter. Manslaughter is not as serious a crime as murder. On the other hand, it is not a justifiable or excusable killing for which little or no punishment is imposed.

Under current statutes, the offense can be voluntary or involuntary manslaughter.  The main difference between the two is that voluntary requires the intent to kill or cause serious bodily harm while involuntary does not. Premeditation or deliberation, however, are elements of murder and not of manslaughter." 

The most common type of voluntary manslaughter is the "heat of passion" variety that the Arias defense would like to see offered to the jury. This is an intentional killing that has additional circumstances that may mitigate but do not excuse the killing. "In most cases, the provocation must induce rage or anger in the defendant, although some cases have held that fright, terror or desperation will suffice" (legal-dictionary.com)

If the jury believes Jodi Arias drove to Mesa with her grandfather's stolen gun, can you think of any other reason she would need to steal it if she wasn't planning something nefarious? If she was going to use it for protection, why not borrow it? For all of the expert witness testimony and the diagnostic testing involving Jodi Arias, it may boil down to that gun and where the jury believed it came from. Is it more likely that Travis Alexander owned a .25 caliber gun that nobody knew of, and kept it on an elevated shelf in his closet or is it more likely that Arias staged a robbery at her grandparents house and took their .25 caliber gun?

Let's keep the trial moving forward. I hope the Judge does not bow down to the constant threats of appellate issues, prosecutorial misconduct smokescreens and other blatant allegations meant to intimidate this Judge into going from cautious to frivilous. What will today's proceedings bring? Will we see the prosecution's case move forward with a new witness? Will Matt McCartney shock the court room and Jodi Arias by testifying for the prosecution? Will we ever get to closing arguments in this trial? 

Stay tuned, updates to follow.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Is Jodi Arias Making More Behind Bars Than She Did On The Outside?

In another sickening revelation, it appears accused murderer Jodi Arias' art work is selling so well that she has announced on her website that "100 Limited Edition Reprints" a sketch called "Hourless" is coming soon. Is this a disgusting display of pure greed, or has Jodi Arias finally found the success from behind bars that alluded her as a free woman?  It has been reported that eBay banned the sales of Arias artwork after several pieces sold caused public outrage, but Arias who has taken to Twitter said that the eBay ban has only increased the value of her art! According to her website, authenticity of true Arias artwork comes via her right thumbprint. Seems her left palmprint is what started this whole thing Ms. Arias.

I'm sure the Alexander family is more concerned with getting through the criminal murder trial before pursing a potential wrongful death case against Jodi Arias, but I hope they eventually do. Arias has shown she does have some artistic talents - however, we all know she would not be fetching a reported $2,000 - $3,000 per piece if NOT for the notoriety of her savage crime. Arias has been able to effectly get around her lack of computer access by having a friend or supporter run her website, which I refuse to name in this post. It's not hard to find, but I wouldn't honor it with another page views. The site links to the other Arias supporter website but both accept donations!

If there is nothing that legally prevent Arias from profiting from her crime while behind bars, what can we as a society do to thwart the shameless greed? All we can do is boycott anything Arias related and limit the buyers to those who collect "murderabilia" and the like. While the Alexander siblings suffer, Arias who claimed to be selling her sketches to help pay her family's travel expenses during the trial - has just become outright greedy. While the taxpayers are footing the bill for a $1.4 million dollar trial for Arias, she is making thousands of (unreported) dollars through art sales and other online donations?  I.R.S., are you hearing this? Unreported income.

I don't know what else to say. I'm sickened, I'm saddened and I wish the jury were privy to the shameless profiteering of this murder defendant. They will likely never know, unless it's brought forth in the mitigation or sentencing phase. It looks like Jodi Arias got a little taste of "fame" or rather "infamy" and she now seemingly can't get enough of it. Tweets and a website, all from behind bars. Looks like Arias has found the success that she's always dreamed of. I wouldn't be surprised to find copies of her journals up for sale next. All I can say is "Wrongful Death Suit". Please.

12 Jurors Will Randomly Be Selected To Deliberate Arias' Fate

Closing arguments in the Jodi Arias murder trial are finally in sight after a lengthy trial that began on January 2, 2013. A pool of 18 jurors was chosen for this trial - but only 12 will ultimately participate in deliberations and decide the fate of 32 year old Jodi Arias. The trial has lost two of the 18 jurors, one for health reasons and the other for undetermined reasons. 16 jurors remain on the panel as of this post.

As in all high profile criminal trials not much is known about the identity of the jurors. Here is a look at the remaining jurors and observations noted by people seated in the gallery and according to HLN (the corresponding juror numbers may or may not be accurate, HLN's website appears to have incorrectly listed Juror #11 as a married white female in her 30's, but it's been widely reported  that Juror #11 was a young Hispanic male - for that reason, I swapped their descriptions of Juror #11 and Juror #17):

Juror #1:  a white female believed to be in her 60's. She was reportedly observed yawning during an emotional part of Jodi Arias' testimony. It's also been noted that she doesn't look at Arias often.

Juror #2:  a white male believed to be in his 50's, he doesn't take many notes and sits with his head cupped in his hands while listening to the testimony.

Juror #3:  a while female believed to be in her 40's, said to be a big note taker who watches Juan Martinez very closely and has been observed putting questions in the basket.

Juror #4:  a white male believed to be in his 60's who isn't a big note taker.

(Juror #5 - dismissed for unknown reason):  a white female believed to be in her 30's and married, she is known for her unique hairstyle and is said to be observed sitting on the edge of her seat.

Juror #6:  a white female believed to be in her 60's, observed taking notes frequently.

Juror #7:  a white male believed to be in his 30's, he is married and is seen taking notes and has been observed frequently biting his nails!

Juror #8:  a white male believed to be in his 50's, he is married, takes notes and has been observed submitting questions to the jury basket.

Juror #9:  a white male believed to be in his 60's. He is known for wearing denim on most days, and sits near the end of the jury box nearest to the row where the Alexander family sits.

Juror #10:  a white male believed to be in his 60's. He is rarely seen taking notes but it has been observed that he has a tattoo on his right arm. He sits furthest away from the witness box.

(Juror #11 was dismissed for health reasons):  a Hispanic male believed to be in his late 20's or early 30's, he is rarely observed taking notes but has been known to slouch down so far in his chair that he's barely visible to the gallery. He is said to be a casual dresser, and is not seen taking many notes.


Juror #12:  a white female believed to be in her 40's, she is a note taker who has been known to swivel her chair towards Arias during testimony.

Juror #13:  a white male believed to be in his late 60's or early 70's, he is the juror who wears an audio enhancing headset, he is not known to be a note taker.

Juror #14:  a white male believed to be in his 60's, also known to swivel his chair and is not often seen taking notes.

Juror #15:  a white male believed to be in his late 20's or early 30's, he appears to be the youngest juror and was observed smiling when Juan Martinez asked Jodi Arias if she could predict the future. He is not often seen taking notes.

Juror #16:  a white male believed to be in his 40's. Nothing else was said or observed about this juror.

Juror #17:  a white female believed to be in her 30's she is married and is known to take a lot of notes. She reportedly does not look at Arias during testimony, rather she looks straight ahead or down at her notes. 

Juror #18:  a white female believed to be in her 40's. She is known to scan the gallery during sidebars and occasionally is seen taking notes.

The 12 jurors who will ultimately deliberate and (hopefully) reach a verdict to decide the fate of Jodi Arias will be chosen at random. Can you imagine going through this whole process and not be one of the final 12? That would be tough for me. I'd be so invested at that point and to not be part of the decision making process would be disappointing.

With judgement day looming, it has to be gut-wrenching for the Alexander family and Arias family as well. Has the defense offered a believable theory of what happened that tragic evening of June 4, 2008? Have they succeeded in garnering some type of relationship between the defendant and the jurors? Are there pieces of Arias' stories that may have rang true with at least one of the jurors? Those are all questions we cannot possibly answer. The jury questions were telling, but without knowing how many jurors were asking those questions and who will ultimately be seated for deliberations it's anyones guess.

If the jury decides the preponderance of evidence points to premeditation and they find Arias guilty of first degree murder, will they be able to hand down the ultimate punishment of death? Or will they show mercy and let her live, albeit in prison? I don't know what choices the jury will have to consider aside from first degree murder, but I don't believe it's an all-or-nothing verdict consideration. Judge Stephens will instruct the final jurors on what charges they may consider and the applicable laws they must follow in rendering a verdict.  In Arizona, if second degree murder is an option for the Arias jury, I believe the sentencing guidelines call for anywhere from 7 years to a maximum of 22 years.


I don't know if manslaughter is going to be a choice the jury has, but sentencing varies widely on manslaughter. With the sheer number of injuries to Travis Alexander and the lack of injuries to Arias, it seems this would not be a case of voluntary or involuntary manslaughter - seems to me that first or second degree murder are more appropriate for a killing of this magnitude and brutality. The jury instructions will be interesting, but the closing arguments are what I've been anticipating. I believe that opposing attorneys are allowed to object during closing arguments but its not something that is done to the extent that we have seen throughout this trial. I would hope we won't see the frequent sidebars and each side allows the other to deliver their closing arguments without interrupting the flow.

It's been a long and bumpy road in getting to this point of the trial. It's been a fight to the finish, complete with motions by the defense for mistrials, two excused jurors, media commentators called to the witness stand, vomiting inside the public gallery, delay-causing headaches and so much more. We heard a murder defendant testify for 18 days in her own defense, a rare occurance in murder trials. We know family members on both sides by face and name by now, we know "cane-lady" and Arias supporters who are daily props in the court room gallery. We know the story inside and out, and each of us have our own theories and thoughts about what we feel the appropriate verdict and punishment should be for Jodi Arias.

Did the jury believe Travis Alexander physically abused Jodi Arias? And if they did believe part of all of her testimony, will they believe that killing Travis was in any way justified by the alleged abuse? In my opinion only (since some comments have suggested my summaries are biased), the only thing the defense has proven is that Jodi really was Travis' "dirty little secret", and that he seemed to be engaged in a consensual intimate relationship with Jodi long after telling friends things were over between the two. Beyond that, I believe the allegations of physical abuse were simply fictional. I believe Arias' story about the January 21, 2008 incident of catching Travis with the photo was fictional, and if the January 21 incident never occurred, it's likely the January 22 physical confrontation that ended with Jodi breaking her finger never happened either. 

I do believe there are coincidences that occur in our lives. They happen to all of us, however I feel there are too many coincidences in this case relating to key evidence for them to truly be a coincidence. What are the statistical chances of somebody breaking/entering an elderly couple's modest home and stealing a .25 caliber handgun in small-town Yreka ONE WEEK prior to a .25 caliber handgun being used to shoot Travis Alexander in another state? What are the odds that WalMart's records on the returned gas cans was wrong? If the cashier is giving a customer back cash in particular - receipts are essential in balancing their register at the end of their shift. Sure, it's not impossible but is it probable?

I also believe Arias downplayed her reaction to finding out Travis intended to take Mimi Hall to Cancun on June 10, 2008, just 6 days before he's leaving he is killed? Another coincidence? Had Jodi simply been more honest about her feelings about Mimi going on that trip with Travis perhaps she would have came across as a little more sincere? Who among us hasn't been jealous at some point in our lives? Going to such great lengths to deny being at all jealous was another issue I have a hard time getting past. Jodi Arias likely knew a lot of people who were going on that Pre Paid Legal sponsored trip. It was a big deal, and it would be understandable to be disappointed she wasn't going.

There are so many points the jury will have to consider, along with a virtual mountain of evidence. How long will the jury deliberate? It's hard to say, but everything that's been reported about this jury is that they are engaged, paying attention and they haven't seemed to lose interest despite the length of the trial. Most of the time, the jury seems to get it right. Let's hope this is one of those times. I don't dare to predict the outcome of this trial, I'm superstitious in that way. Legal pundits are already predicting their verdicts - that's a dangerous thing to do. Did anybody watching the Casey Anthony trial believe she would actually walk on all of the serious charges against her? I don't think many people predicted that outcome.


As we inch closer to the conclusion of this trial, I wanted to thank everyone who has read and contributed to this blog with insightful and thoughtful comments. I started this blog back in November or December of 2012 prior to jury selection, and I'm consistently surprised that other people have found it and have returned to read it throughout the trial. I just wanted to thank you! 

What will happen next week as the state's rebuttal case continues? Does the state have any surprise rebuttal witnesses, such as Matt McCartney?  Jodi Arias has seemed strangely detached during DeMarte's testimony in particular. Could it be that "the fog" has returned as judgement day looms? If there was ever a time where a migraine would be understandable, it's now. Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Prosecution Expert Dr. Janeen DeMarte Holds Up Under Intense Cross Exam

The Jodi Arias murder trial continued yesterday with the State's expert witness Dr. Janeen DeMarte taking the stand for her second day of testimony. DeMarte spent 12 hours interviewing Jodi Arias and in addition to the clinical interview, she gave Arias several psychological tests and ultimately diagnosed her with borderline personality disorder. DeMarte outright disagreed with defense experts diagnosis of PTSD.

Arias attorney Jennifer Willmott gave DeMarte a fierce and fiery cross examination, calling into question DeMarte's years of experience as a licensed psychologist, the rate she charges her patients versus the rate she is being paid for her participation in this case, her level of expertise in the areas of domestic violence/battered women's syndrome and PTSD. Willmott was abrupt and bordered on rude in not allowing DeMarte to elaborate on her answers, at one point saying "no, I'm moving on" when DeMarte asked if she could reference materials she brought before answering a question posed to her. There's aggressive - and then there's rude. Willmott managed to be both.

DeMarte had no interest in portraying Jodi Arias as bad and Travis Alexander as good, rather her concern seemed to honestly be providing accurate test results and what information she used to draw upon the conclusions she ultimately came to in Arias's diagnosis. Her testimony was easy to follow, and it was relatively clear how she came to each "data point" and test conclusion. In contrast, the defense experts disregarded Travis Alexander's own written words, believed every word out of Jodi Arias's mouth and gave her the benefit of doubt at every single turn. They were not concerned by her lies and refused to even entertain it may be a pattern of behavior. Is it any wonder the jury had hundreds of questions for Alyce LaViolette?

Some new information came out about Jodi Arias's odd behavior during Juan Martinez's redirect of Dr. DeMarte. In an example of another "data point" DeMarte used, she testified that Jodi snuck into Travis's house and hid behind his Christmas tree! She also testified about Arias allegedly stealing a ring from Travis. The defense objected and all attorneys went to a sidebar with Judge Stephens. DeMarte was allowed to only testify that a ring of Travis's was believed to be taken by Jodi. The jury will be left to draw their own conclusions about that ring, but that ring is believed to be an engagement ring that Travis had purchased for another woman! No other details were disclosed and the jury was left with the perception that this was Travis's ring, not a woman's ring purchased by Travis. It's too bad the jury is left with this half-truth and not the whole truth. I know, I know, it would be unfairly prejudicial. Whatever!

DeMarte provided testimony that Jodi Arias's breakup with Matt McCartney wasn't as easy as Arias testified it was. DeMarte stated that McCartney had a difficult time getting Arias to come to terms with their breakup, despite the fact that he had already moved on and was seeing another woman. DeMarte also testified about Arias's behavior following Travis Alexander's memorial service. On the plane ride back after his memorial service, DeMarte testified that Arias met another man and exchanged phone numbers with him, and she actually called plane-man at some point after returning to Yreka! I keep hearing that everybody grieves in their own way, but this doesn't make Arias look remorseful or upset about the man she claimed to care so deeply about that she put his feelings and needs before her own.

There were far fewer jury questions for Dr. DeMarte than for Dr. Samuels or Alyce LaViolette. They asked her how many times she had testified in court, how many of those times were related to abuse, what type of people are at risk for borderline personality disorder, is it normal for someone who is incarcerated to feel depressed? An interesting question relating to the camera - they asked "do you believe that deleting pictures and attempting to wash the camera destroying evidence?" During her cross examination, Willmott argued that if Arias was having organized thoughts, she would have taken the camera with her instead of leaving it behind. Many people believe Arias more than likely thought deleting the photos took care of the problem, and running it through the washing machine would more than likely destroy any remaining evidence. The point is she took the time to delete the specific photos, not all of the photos! The jury knows this.

The jury asked DeMarte "would it concern you if a person answering questions on a test used psychological terms instead of laymen terms? and "do you see any issues with Dr. Samuels completing the answer sheet for Arias based on his summary of notes?" They asked "if stabbing, shooting and slicing a person's throat would be a traumatic event" and they asked another question regarding the PTSD issue - something to the effect of "if a person is attacked by a lion, but on a psychological test they say it was a bear would their test be invalid?". But perhaps the most telling of all juror questions was this: would saying "mark my words, no jury will ever convict me be part of your borderline personality disorder diagnosis, especially since she was smiling when she said it?" Wow. What a telling question. Seems the jury has not forgotten Arias's ill-stated quote. Right about now, she's probably wishing she never made such a public prediction of her fate. But she did utter those words and can never take it back. It's out there. She claims she intended to kill herself before her case ever went to trial - but it that believable to you?

Juan Martinez seemed to be satisfied with the jury questions. He had no further redirect of DeMarte, but you know Jennifer Willmott is not through! This is it for the defense. After having twice as many days on the stand as the prosecution, they are still seeming to scramble to convince jurors Jodi had to kill Travis. How effective have they been? Only time will tell, and the clock is ticking.....

Have a fabulous weekend!





Thursday, April 18, 2013

Willmott Continues To Snipe At DeMarte's Diagnosis Of Arias

The Jodi Arias murder trial is under way, as Jennifer Willmott continues her cross examination of prosecution expert witness Dr. Janeen DeMarte. The questions this morning began with discussion about short and long term memories and how they are effected during "fight or flight".  This has been discussed in relation to Jodi Arias's alleged memory issues during the murder of Travis Alexander. The defense experts argued that Arias doesn't remember because memories were never formed. DeMarte examination of Jodi Arias found Arias didn't have "continued memory loss". They talked about what happens to the brain during fight or flight, what chemicals are released into brain etc.

The questioning became more aggressive when Willmott began asking DeMarte about the photos that were deleted from Travis Alexander's camera. DeMarte testified that Arias had continued "executive function" immediately after the killing, citing the deleting of photos and attempted clean up of the crime scene. Willmott questioned WHY DeMarte believed Jodi Arias was the person who deleted the photos on the camera. She continued to badger DeMarte about the deleted photos, and why she believed they were deleted after the murder and not before. Hmmm, let's think about this. I supposed it's possible that Travis Alexander deleted the nude photos before he was killed. But I'm absolutely certain he did not have the ability to delete the photo of himself bleeding on the floor of his bathroom. If we know Arias deleted the last few photos, it's logical to think she deleted them all knowing that she didn't want anybody to know she was ever there.

Willmott went on to discuss the fact that Jodi Arias left evidence behind at the scene of the crime, asking if this showed someone having organized thoughts. DeMarte disagreed with Willmott on the entire camera issue. Willmott asked "so leaving evidence behind at a crime scene is organized to you?" DeMarte answered "yes, because of the way in which it was done" (deleting photos and putting camera in washing machine). 


They went on to discuss Dr. DeMarte's diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. As hard as Willmott tried to pick the diagnosis apart piece by piece, DeMarte held her own. They covered a lot of ground, including Jodi moving to Mesa after the pair had broken up, Jodi overstepping boundaries by reading Travis's text messages and accessing his Facebook page several times - to which Willmott asked if she was aware they had exchanged passwords. DeMarte testified that she was aware of that but the unwanted behavior continued. On Jodi joining the Mormon church, Willmott asked DeMarte if she was aware that Travis sent missionaries to Jodi's house once a week until she converted. DeMarte said she was not aware of the missionaries. Willmott quipped "so you didn't get that in your 12 hours," an obvious swipe at the amount of time DeMarte spent with Arias.

On the subject of frantic efforts to avoid abandonment, Willmott asked if DeMarte was aware that Jodi left her parents home at 17 years old, stayed with a boyfriend and always worked? DeMarte said she was aware, and further Arias told her she had a minimum of 10 different restaurant jobs. Jennifer Willmott didn't seem to believe DeMarte was correct about the number of jobs. DeMarte asked if she wanted her to reference her notes, then she pulled out a nicely tabbed and organized notebook and confirmed her statement about Jodi having so many different jobs. In addition to having a minimum of 10 restaurant jobs, Arias told DeMarte she was a receptionist at a spa and caretaker of a young boy for a few months. Willmott didn't quite know how to respond to the well-prepared DeMarte, so she moved on to suicidal ideation.

Willmott asked DeMarte to cite when Jodi threatened to kill herself before June 4, 2008 ("the traumatic event"). DeMarte said that she noted suicidal references throughout Arias's diaries and journals as early as 1995. Willmott asked "but there was no specific plan", DeMarte said that writing about it was ideation which is what this characteristic is all about. Willmott asked her if she considered a teenager's depressed writing an actual threat. They went back and forth on the issue, DeMarte stating that suicide and depression often go hand and hand but were in fact different things. She further stated that one of Jodi's childhood friends (Dana or Zana?)  said Jodi talked about suicide. Willmott asked DeMarte if she interviewed Jodi's friend, she said she hadn't. Willmott to DeMarte "that didn't stop you from using that point". DeMarte answered "I was looking for a pattern". In addition Arias's parents said Arias had thoughts of suicide. 

Wow, I'm exhausted from listening to today's testimony. Jennifer Willmott began this morning using a more friendly tone and I thought perhaps she was rethinking yesterday's aggressive approach but within ten minutes her tone went back to sarcastic and accusatory. Not a pretty look, Ms. Willmott. Jodi Arias has a blank stare half the time, the other half of the time she writes or draw on the pad of paper she has in front of her. You'd never know by looking at her these days that her life is on the line, she seems strangely disconnected. Could it be that she is sensing the end of the trial is nearing and she can't face the potential consequences?

They are now discussing abuse. Jennifer Willmott is asking if she looks for patterns when looking at abuse issues. Willmott would not let DeMarte answer the question if she wasn't going to say yes or no. DeMarte wanted to explain before responding, Willmott said "I'm moving on". It was a very rude statement from Willmott, very unprofessional. By now you probably know what my sentiments are on this case. If I were a completely uninterested third party, I would find Jennifer Willmott to be very rude and bordering on badgering this witness. Just outright rude. DeMarte hasn't been sniping back thus far but everyone has their limits! Willmott keeps trying to twist her words, she just now said "you wouldn't want to mislead anybody would you"? I can barely stand to listen to this, I'm not sure why Juan Martinez isn't objecting and helping DeMarte out. 

Another defense ploy today has been to bring up a text message or e-mail, and if DeMarte doesn't know which one Willmott is referring to, she asks for clarification - Willmott then asks "you don't remember"? or "you DID read the text messages didn't you". When the defense experts were on the stand, they were provided with copies of whatever was being discussed so they didn't have to guess which one of the hundreds, if not thousands of text messages was being referred to. Willmott wants to make it look like DeMarte's review was somehow incomplete because she wants to be sure what they are talking about before she answers the question. It's making Willmott look petty at best. This has been the overall tone today, but DeMarte is being polite and actually thanked Willmott for allowing her to explain one of her responses after much resistance. Willmott sarcastically said "are you finished"? DeMarte said" yes, thank you for letting me explain". Kudos to DeMarte for not allowing herself to get sucked in to Willmott's constant challenges and bickering!

That's all I have time for today. What will tomorrow bring? Will Nurmi & Willmott file a motion for mistrial based on their own ineffective counsel? Will the defense demand a refund from LaViolette and Samuels and try to get DeMarte as THEIR witness? Anything is possible! Enjoy your evening.






Casting Revealed For Lifetime's "Dirty Little Secret - The Jodi Arias Story"

The Jodi Arias murder trial was cut short on Wednesday, speculation is that Ms. Arias was suffering from another migraine headache. Arias has reportedly been suffering from these headaches which have caused at least three abbreviated court sessions. The trial began on January 2, yet yesterday marked only the 49th day of testimony! The defense held center stage for 38 of those days, and as I mentioned yesterday I hope the prosecution takes enough time to show to full force of their rebuttal case. Defense attorney Jennifer Willmott continued to press prosecution expert Dr. Janeen DeMarte yesterday about her credentials, her hourly rate and her expertise in PTSD and battered women's syndrome. The questions regarding her rates were not effective, as DeMarte's rates mirror those of defense expert Alyce LaViolette who spent significantly more hours interviewing the defendant. Many people were critical of LaViolette who seemed to form a relationship with Arias.

Willmott's tone was markedly different with DeMarte as she aggressively argued that DeMarte did not have many years under her belt since receiving her license in 2010. DeMarte held her own for the most part, and I think as long as she doesn't let Willmott rattle her, her testimony will stand up to scrutiny. A witness can lose a lot if they become overly defensive or combative under cross examination. This hasn't happened thus far.


Jesse Lee Soffer

In other Arias-related news, Lifetime has announced their casting choices for their upcoming docudrama called "Picture Perfect - The Jodi Arias Story". Although the movie is still being written, sources report the roles of Jodi Arias and Travis Alexander have been cast. The opening scene will reportedly be the jury reading the trial verdict. The casting call notes included "Jodi is a single-minded, head strong, quick tempered young woman hell bent on emotionally suffocating and controlling Travis Alexander, a handsome young Mormon and motivational speaker who soon falls prey". Another casting note "Jodi is jealous in the extreme and driven to violence upon realizing Travis will never fully commit to her".

According to Yahoo TV.com, the role of Jodi Arias will be played by Tania Raymonde and the role of Travis Alexander will be played by Jesse Lee Soffer:
Tania Raymonde















Jesse Lee Sofer played the role of Bobby Brady in The Brady Bunch Movie and A Very Brady Sequel in the mid 1990's. His first movie role was in 1993 in a movie titled Matinee. He has had roles in two daytime soap operas, in 2004 he took on the role of Will Munson in As the World Turns, and he had a recurring role on Guiding Light.

Tania Raymonde's most recent movie credits include Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013), Blue Like Jazz, Trophy Kids, Crazy Eyes (2011) and Still Waiting, Wild Cherry (2009). She has a role in a movie called Manson Girls which is filming in 2013. She has many television credits including appearances on Hawaii Five-O, Law & Order Criminal Intent, Bones, CSI NY & Medium. Her recurring roles include 17 episodes on Lost where she played the role of Alex Rosseau (2006-2010), 8 episodes on Cold Case (2008-2010), 3 episodes of 90210 (2012) and 4 episodes of Malcolm in the Middle back in 2000. 

What do you think of the casting choices? I'm not sure how old these photos are, but I tried to choose appropriate poses for each of these actors for the roles they are going to be playing. I've got to wonder what Jodi Arias thinks about all of this attention. Even though it's not necessarily positive attention, do you think she's enjoying it? If she is, that's just another sign that we aren't dealing with a person with remorse. Perhaps she should enjoy whatever she can while she can? With closing arguments around the corner, you could almost see her face turning white yesterday just before they called it a day in the court room. I'd be nervous if I were her. Her defense team is running out of time to convince the jury that she was justified in repeatedly stabbing and shooting Travis Alexander.

The clock is ticking. What will happen in court today? Will Arias insist they cast a Kardashian to play her in Picture Perfect? Will Arias's singing skills spawn a new show "American Idol - Inmate Edition"? Will the court reporter be able to keep up with fast-talkers Jennifer Willmott and Dr. DeMarte? Anything is possible.