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"It Was A Domestically Abusive Relationship", Says Alyce LaViolette

Defense expert witness Alyce LaViolette is back on the stand today to continue her direct examination in the Jodi Arias murder trial.  It's hard to listen to. LaViolette has bought Jodi Arias's schpeel, hook line and sinker. She has now gone on the record as calling the relationship between murder victim Travis Alexander and Jodi Arias "domestically abusive".  Following the recent dismissal of "Juror #5", who was thought to be a pro-prosecution juror, how powerful will LaViolette's opinions be to the remaining jurors?

Defense attorney Jennifer Willmott continues to walk LaViolette through Jodi Arias's journal entries and they are picking Travis Alexander apart.  LaViolette described some of the interactions between Arias and Alexander as "mild acts of aggression" that escalated over a period of time.  She talked about the alleged incident in which Arias claims Alexander kicked her, and calls it an escalation from mild aggression to more severe acts of aggression.  LaViolette testified that "fear makes people dangerous", and "fear of loss makes people especially dangerous". Willmott seems to be trying to elicit some specific testimony from LaViolette and I'm not sure why Juan Martinez isn't objecting more because she is totally leading this witness.  LaViolette also testified that based on some of the e-mail and text messages she reviewed, a pattern emerged in regards to Travis Alexander's behavior.  She didn't come out and call him controlling, but clearly she believes he was.

LaViolette also seems to believe that Jodi Arias was trying to pull away from Travis Alexander (and not vice versa, like many of us believe) and that he may have been fearful of her leaving him ("fear makes people dangerous")!  She also testified that Jodi Arias was beginning to "have a backbone" with Travis Alexander.  LaViolette discussed Arias's journal entries relating to Marie "Mimi" Hall - she testified that she did not see any signs of jealousy in her journal entries, her IM's or text messages relating to Travis Alexander's interest in having a relationship with Mimi Hall. They are trying hard to shoot down the prosecution's theory that Arias was jealous and this was part of the motive for murder. LaViolette believes Arias wanted Travis Alexander to be happy, even if it was another woman.  

They then went on to discuss what they are referring to as "the third violent incident" that allegedly occurred in Travis Alexander's car following an argument about Arias moving back to Yreka.  This is the incident where Arias says Travis slapped her in the face and she called her mother to ask for help moving home. Wow, LaViolette has really bought into every single thing Jodi Arias has told her and she is no longer speaking in general terms, this is specific to Arias and Alexander.  It will be very interesting to see how Juan Martinez handles the cross examination of this witness.  Has this witness given Arias stories more credibility? Will her status in the field of domestic violence sway this jury? It certainly hasn't hurt. 

But what has it changed? Will the jury believe that Travis Alexander owned a gun? Because if he didn't, that means Arias brought it. Regardless of where the gun came from - will the jury believe Arias HAD TO use it?  Regardless of which injury Travis received first, regardless of which weapon Arias used first - was it necessary for her to stab him 29 times, slit his throat from ear to ear and shoot him in the face for her own personal safety? Urrgh!!!!!  Well, the defense can try to keep this witness on the stand to reiterate Jodi Arias as the "victim", but sooner or later it will be the State's turn and I expect Juan Martinez to be ready.  I'm literally feeling sick after hearing this testimony.  Court is in a 5 minute recess now......

Arias Judge Needs To Gain Control Of Trial

I went out of town for a few days and had no computer access, but have been watching the news about "Juror #5" and the Arias defense team's motion for a mistrial.  Wisely, Judge Stephens chose only to excuse Juror #5 and deny the defense's motion for a mistrial - but it's becoming clear what can happen when a trial lasts for an extended period of time with an unsequestered jury and a ton of media coverage!

This is one of the reasons they have alternate jurors.  The Jodi Arias murder trial will more than likely exceed the million dollar mark by the time the defense rests its case.  The state's case is strong, but the defense has managed to shift the focus away from the violent overkill that Travis Alexander suffered at the hands of Arias and put Alexander's character on trial. Alyce LaViolette has been a strong witness for the defense. She is knowledgeable, friendly and unlike Dr. Richard Samuels she was prepared.  However, LaViolette's opinions about whether or not Arias was in fact abused by Travis Alexander will ultimately end up being a mitigating factor rather than a get-out-of-jail-free card.  I don't believe anything she says will speak to "self defense" and whether or not this jury believes Arias honestly feared for her life on June 4, 2008.

The jury will have to follow the law, regardless of whether they feel Travis Alexander treated Arias poorly or not. And IF the jury believes Jodi Arias drove to Mesa Arizona with that gun and possibly a knife - they should throw out the entire notion of self defense. Jodi Arias's own father told Detective Flores of his daughter's "rage" issues, even going as far as describing her as "strange" and confirming that Arias treated her own mother very poorly. Unfortunately, there is so much the jury will never hear or find out about Arias before they are finally instructed to deliberate.

 I watched a little of yesterday's trial footage and prosecutor Juan Martinez looks very frustrated, and for good reason. The defense has had witnesses on the stand for more than two months now - and Juan Martinez has got to be eager to get back to the facts of this crime.  Judge Stephens needs to rein in the attorneys on both sides and keep the testimony moving along.  There is a great risk that comes with these heavily covered trials, and the defense is just looking for a reason - ANY reason for a mistrial. It's in everybody's best interest to stop the delays, have full trial days and maybe even think about having 5-day trial weeks! The longer you have a jury that's not sequestered and out there mingling with the public, the greater chance that something may happen to derail the trial.  LaViolette is talking today about journal entries from mid-2007, so she could be on the stand for another few weeks by the time the defense finishes questioning her, the state completes their cross examination and then we have jury questions, followed by another redirect. It's becoming very clear that Alyce LaViolette has completely bought in what Arias has told her. Does she really believe that the alleged abuse Jodi Arias describes justifies a brutal and vicious homicide? Did LaViolette take the time to speak with the Alexander family or any of Travis's friends?  Would she recommend that other potential victims of abuse deal with their problems in this manner? 

Will this ever end?  Should Judge Stephens be limiting these witnesses testimony a little more than she has? She seems to be extending a great deal of latitude towards the defense, a little too much in my opinion. The prosecution has had their hands tied with what they can present, but with the defense it seems to be a free for all. This is literally painful to watch - and I didn't even know Travis Alexander. I can only imagine how painful it is for Travis's family and friends, day after day hearing their brother and friend being put down, portrayed as a womanizing sexual deviant.  He never had his day in court, and we will never hear Travis's side of any of these stories that the public has become so familiar with.  

All of this discussion about emotional and physical abuse is little more than white noise.  If the jury believes Jodi Arias stole her grandfather's gun and brought it to Mesa with her, it's over. The prosecution needs to focus on that, and bring home to this jury just how brutal this murder really was. They need to enlarge those autopsy and crime scene photos and display them on the big screen. Perhaps the jury is curious to know if Jodi Arias's version of events is even possible given the time frame those photos leave us with.  This was a messy relationship, but was it abusive?


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