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Dr. Demarte Diagnosed Jodi Arias With Borderline Personality Disorder

During the afternoon session. Dr. Janeen DeMarte returned to the stand to continue to discuss her findings relating to murder defendant Jodi Arias. She disagreed with Dr. Richard Samuels diagnosis of PTSD, stating that Arias  did not display the symptoms consistent with that diagnosis.  Instead, after reviewing the information she received on Arias, conducting numerous tests and interviewing Arias for nearly 12 hours, she diagnosed her with having Borderline Personality Disorder. Not surprised? Many people have suggested that as a textbook diagnosis for her behavior.

DeMarte explained her reasons for reaching the diagnosis by first reviewing the diagnostic criteria for borderline personality order and citing examples relating to Arias, and it was quite effective:

1) Efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment

  • She cited Arias moving to Mesa after the breakup with Travis Alexander
  • Intrusive behavior, spying to Travis - she discussed these points with Travis Alexander's brother Steven.
  • Crossing boundaries, fear of abandonment
2)  Unstable and intense personal relationships
  • Arias went from one boyfriend to the next, she idealized them in her journals. She was "devout" in her love for Travis even he was unfaithful to her. People with the disorder tend to idealize or devalue people. She displayed this behavior with Travis and other boyfriends.
  • Her journal entries were almost adolescent, immature and almost saccharin.
3)  Identity disturbance 
  • This involves our self identity and who we are. Arias joined the Mormon Church very quickly, she dyed/changed her hair when she was with Darryl Brewer to be more consistent with his ex-wife's look. She lived in a tent with Matt McCartney at one time yet tried to portray herself as more professional when she was with Travis . "Chameleon-like" quality due to lack of self identity.
4)   Impulsivity - DeMarte did not find this trait in Jodi Arias.

5)  Suicidal ideation 
  • DeMarte noted that Arias had consistently discussed her desire to "not be alive" in diaries and journals going back to 1995.
6)  Affective instability
  • This is described as a "roller coaster of emotions" and people sometimes mistakenly think a person is bipolar.
  • DeMarte found evidence in records from all Arias's ex boyfriends describing her as having quick shifting emotions.
  • DeMarte noted this behavior herself in reading Arias's journal entries, where emotions would go from angry to sad to happy in the same day.
7)  Feeling of emptiness
  • Jodi Arias told DeMarte she had felt this way since childhood (emptiness)
8)  Inappropriate and intense anger
  • DeMarte referred to a February 14, 2007 e-mail from Jodi to Travis. I'm paraphrasing, but Arias wrote " anger is very destructive. I've kicked down doors and it hurts people and it hurts me. Sometimes I forget who I am...." There was much more to that e-mail, it was long and I hope to find it online so I can post it. I'd never seen it before. Juan Martinez noted the e-mail was sent by Arias at 16:58 on 2/14/07 - Valentine's Day, the same day Travis supposedly sent Arias the "Travis Alexander's" tshirt, underwear and Spidey's. Doesn't sound like the words of someone who just got a Valentine's Day package to me.
9)  Transient stress related paranoid ideation - Not applicable to Jodi Arias.

So a person must have 5 of these to meet the criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder. Arias has 7 of 9. I liked the way DeMarte presented the information. She's only been on the stand a few hours, but we can already tell that she's talked to other people than Samuels and LaViolette. Instead of relying exclusively on Arias or information and journals provided by Arias, she talked to other people. The testing she did was scored scientifically.

She gave Arias an IQ test, another test was a 500 question test that was scored by a computer and then re scored for accuracy. She seems credible, and the only weakness I can see the defense pouncing on is her age and/or her being relatively new in her profession when compared side-by-side with the defense experts. But she seems quite knowledgeable and accomplished in her own. I like the tests she conducted and the manner in which they were scored. It seems like a much more scientific evaluation, mixed in with an appropriate amount of outside input from key people including Travis's brother and Arias's parents.

When she began to discuss borderline personality disorder, she mentioned that one of the first things that struck her about Jodi Arias was the immaturity. Specifically,she cited that Arias smiled in her mugshot - as if she were posing for a high school yearbook picture when she had been arrested for murder. She also said that Arias parents said Jodi was "happy as hell" that they were visiting her in jail. She found this behavior to be immature and odd.  Court is taking the afternoon break right now.  

DeMarte's diagnosis seems much more appropriate for Jodi Arias than anything else I've heard over the course of this trial. When Juan Martinez tried to get her to make a connection relating to something in one of Dr. Samuels test results, she told him she was unable to - she would need time to review more information before giving an answer to his question. I liked that she doesn't appear over eager to please either side, rather she seems to be objective. A breath of fresh air!

Dr. Janeen DeMartes Opens State's Rebuttal Case With A Bang

Jodi Arias's defense attorney Kirk Nurmi stood and rested the defense's case this morning as the four-month murder trial resumed. Prosecutor Juan Martinez called the State's first rebuttal witness, Dr. Janeen DeMarte to the stand. After being sworn in, DeMarte provided her educational background and experience and Martinez dove right in to the matter at hand. 

Juan Martinez wasted no time in turning to the defense experts, asking if spending 44 hours to conduct a clinical interview was a lot, or too little. DeMarte stated that 44 hours was very extreme - a clinical interview should typically take anywhere from 1-4 hours. A forensic interview can take longer but if you spend 44 hours with a person, it becomes problematic and therapeutic rather than clinical. 

 DeMarte explained that in a forensic evaluation, you typically receive and review records relating to an individual before conducting the clinical interview, which is what she did with Jodi Arias. She spent approximately 12 hours interviewing Arias, not including time she spent conducting the testing. Martinez asked her if she apologized to Jodi Arias when she met with her. "No, I didn't" De Marte answered. This obviously was comparing her evaluation of Arias with LaViolette's approach in which LaViolette apologized for having to read Arias's private journals. DeMarte called apologizing highly unusual. She said that a clinical interview is supposed to be objective, apologizing gives the impression that you feel sorry for the individual and could bias the results. 

Martinez asked DeMarte about the 1/24/08 entry from Arias's journal in which she wrote "I haven't written lately because nothing noteworthy to report", and asked her if there was any reason to interpret those words as anything other than what they say, and if a person did choose to change the meaning of the words, what does that say about the persons professional approach to assessing Jodi Arias? DeMarte said the journal entry are words, there would be no reason to interpret them any other way because when you start doing that, you are turning objective data into subjective data. Martinez cited the same problem with LaViolette's disbelief of Travis Alexander's fear of Jodi Arias's stalking behavior, via the communication he had with Regan Housley. DeMarte again said objective data should not be made into subjective data.

They then moved on to the PTSD testing done by Dr. Richard Samuels and another individual named Chery Carp? I don't recall hearing that name during the trial.  DeMarte noted both Carp and Samuels diagnosed Jodi Arias as having PTSD. However, the alleged abuse Arias reported to Carp was significantly more than reported to herself, Dr. Samuels and Alyce LaViolette. DeMarte cited Arias reported 4 specific incidents of physical abuse to her, Samuels and LaViolette but "many many more" to Cheryl Carp. She couldn't recall the exact number but said it was significantly more incidents. Martinez asked DeMarte if she knew that Arias lied about the "triggering event" when taking Dr. Samuels test, and how that may effect his results and diagnosis.

DeMarte said Arias's triggering event in Samuels PTSD test involved trauma with a stranger, and if she found out that was not true it would invalidate the results because the test questions are based on a specific trauma. "There is a direct link, and if the triggering event was falsely reported the test would absolutely be invalid", said DeMarte. In a dramatic moment, DeMarte said that Arias completing the PTSD test based on a trauma with a stranger was just "another piece of evidence that Ms. Arias chose to lie on a test". Jennifer Willmott jumped to her feet and objected, all attorneys went to sidebar and the Judge struck her comment from the record. The truth hurts.

Martinez went on to review Dr. Samuels testing methods and results relating to Jodi Arias. He asked if there would be any reason for Dr. Samuels to re-score a PTSD test. DeMarte said the only reasons she could think of would be if there was an error scoring it the first time or if a person was trying to manipulate the data. Dr. Samuels scored it three times! The PTSD test is a "bubble test", we've all taken these type of tests in school. Jodi Arias should have been given the test and a bubble answer sheet to fill in her answers. Instead, Dr. Samuels appears to have filled out the bubble sheet for her, using notes he wrote on a yellow legal pad about Arias's answers. DeMarte says this is not protocol and there would be no reason for the test subject to not be reading the questions and completing the answer sheet on their own. 

They moved on to Alyce LaViolette's approach to assessing Jodi Arias, using the 1/24/08 journal entry and Travis's text or IM to Regan Housely as examples and DeMarte reinforced that the approach she seemed to be using was inappropriate and unreliable based on her subjective view of these statements. DeMarte explained other testing she did on Jodi Arias, including what's basically an IQ test. Arias scored relatively high. It was just getting interesting before lunch break when DeMarte was getting into the personality type testing she did on Arias (MMPI test?). She explained these general personality inventory tests she conducted on Jodi Arias. Arias scored above the threshold in 7 out of 10 scales (not sure what scales are), so DeMarte was just starting to talk about the top 3 scales she studied. 

The first personality issue:  People with this profile exhibit hostility, aggressiveness but do a good job of not displaying it to people. If they believe they have been wronged or hurt, they are subject to having violent seething outbursts. These type of people externalize blame. 

Just when it was getting interesting, the Judge broke for lunch! Now we are starting to hear about some of Arias's personality traits - much different from anything we heard on the defense side! DeMarte looks young, and she is far less tenured than the defense experts but she seems very intelligent and knowledgeable in her field. She talks fast, so does Juan Martinez - this makes note-taking challenging! DeMarte appears to have piercing blue or green eyes, not relevant to anything but something I noticed nonetheless.

So far she has effectively challenged the validity of the testing done by both defense experts. Especially telling, the amount of time LaViolette spent face to face with Jodi Arias. Apparently this was quite excessive, and I can see where this may lead to a biased opinion being formed. Looking forward to the afternoon session.

Arias Defense Fails To Clear Important Hurdles

UPDATE:  Dr. Janeen DeMarte is on the stand for the prosecution. Updates to follow.

Testimony in the Jodi Arias murder trial began on January 2, 2013, but it seems like a lifetime ago. The defense took center stage after the State of Arizona presented their case in chief and rested on January 17th. The prosecution's witnesses consisted of lead detective Esteban Flores, various forensic personnel, latent fingerprint experts, the medical examiner, representatives of cellphone providers, a rental car representative, as well as the friends who discovered Travis Alexander's lifeless body in the shower stall of his Mesa home on June 9, 2008. Prosecutor Juan Martinez's case was straight forward and consisted of testimony about the evidence collected at the crime scene, crime scene photos and arguably one of the most compelling pieces of evidence collected were the recovered photos showing Jodi Arias was in fact in Mesa with Travis on June 4, 2008.

Juan Martinez methodically took us through the key pieces of evidence that ties Arias to the murder, including Arias's bloody palm print and hair recovered in the home. He took the jurors through Jodi Arias's fatal road trip that began on June 2, 2008 with Arias renting a car in Redding, CA and proceeding through Northern and Southern California before detouring to Mesa Arizona. This appears to have been a carefully planned trip, and Arias went to great lengths to avoid being detected in Mesa. She told no one she was in Arizona, rather her trip centered around a visit with new love interest Ryan Burns in Utah. The state's case was swift and no-nonsense. The timing seems to make sense to me now. Juan Martinez would let the defendant help him to convict her through her own testimony. The state will have the last word via their rebuttal case, and after Arias spent weeks on the stand Martinez effectively cross examined her and pointed out many inconsistencies in her testimony and her version of the events leading up to the murder.

Arias's defense team has had an uphill battle from the start. What do you do with a client who has lied so frequently and publicly by giving media interviews and telling very different versions of this murder? How would they get over the obvious credibility problems Arias would have when she took the stand to explain her self-defense claim?  They kept her on the stand for as long as they could and began with a 6 or 7 year old Jodi Arias suffering from abusive parents and described her being hit with a wooden spoon her mother carried in her purse. Her father was described as an imposing man who disciplined Jodi often and at times violently.  They took the jury though every relationship Arias had with another man, and tried to show a pattern of Arias being cheated on and lied to by the men in her life. They took a long time to get to her relationship with Travis Alexander, but when they finally did - they didn't waste time attacking Travis's character and his treatment of Jodi.

The centerpiece of the defense case was to portray Jodi Arias as a victim of emotional, psychological and physical abuse at the hands of Travis Alexander. There were a mountain of text messages, IMs, e-mails and journal entries submitted into evidence but not one of them backed up any of Arias's allegations of physical violence. With the lack of corroboration of her abuse claims and her credibility issues being confirmed by the questions posed to Arias from the jury, the defense relied heavily on two expert witnesses testimony to convince the jury that Arias was an abused woman. The first expert, Dr. Richard Samuels testified that Arias's memory loss during key points during and after the murder were attributed to PTSD. In addition he claimed Arias suffered from dissociative amnesia. The defense team hoped Samuel's experience in his field would bolster their client's stories of abuse and memory loss (aka "the fog"). Samuels testimony and his diagnosis of PTSD was called into question after the jury discovered that at the time the Samuels gave Arias the PTSD test, she was still claiming Travis Alexander was killed by two armed intruders. When he was informed of the lie by Arias's defense attorney, instead of re-testing Arias he decided not to. His reason for that critical error was that "trauma is trauma", meaning it didn't matter to him that Arias lied to him because he didn't believe the test results were effected as a result. The jury questions to Samuels were highly skeptical in nature and in the end, it was probably his simple failure to re-test Arias that outweighed his credentials.

The next expert witness for the defense was Alyce LaViolette from Long Beach California. The defense reportedly sought out local domestic violence experts, but when they were unable to retain one locally they presented the case to LaViolette who agreed the case merited her consideration. Alyce LaViolette potentially could have been a very effective witness for the defense. She has the experience in the field of domestic abuse and had been working in that field since the 70's-80's before the battered women's syndrome was accepted in courtrooms for self-defense claims. She was friendly when questioned by defense attorney Jennifer Willmott and gave the entire courtroom a lesson on domestic abuse via her "Continuum of Aggression and Abuse" piece. She told the jury that she spent a total of 44 hours interviewing Jodi Arias and read thousands of "collateral pieces" of evidence in the form of Arias's journals, text message between Arias and Alexander, e-mails and IM's. She ultimately told the jury that she believed Jodi Arias and Travis Alexander were in a domestically abusive relationship. But when Juan Martinez began to cross examine LaViolette, her tone changed and she became combative in answering nearly every question posed to her.

Her refusal to answer in a yes or no format, her sarcasm towards the prosecutor, her frequent glances to the defense table and her unwavering belief that Jodi Arias had no pattern of lying before murdering Travis Alexander may have lost the jury support that she had. Even when faced with specific instances where Arias lied before the killing, LaViolette's refusal to even entertain the idea that she could have been duped by this defendant seems to have struck a nerve with jurors and trial watchers. Another thing that worked against LaViolette was her very negative portrayal of Travis Alexander. Martinez was effective in pointing out the double standards LaViolette seemingly applied by showing her a text message in which Travis wrote of his fear of Jodi Arias due to her stalking behavior.

LaViolette made a conscious choice to disregard the comment, implying that Travis Alexander was lying to the woman he was texting. Martinez was effective in bringing many such instances to the surface, pointing to Jodi Arias as the person who moved to Mesa after she and Travis had broken up. Arias's stalking behavior included peeping into Travis's window while he was involved in an intimate moment with another woman and reading his social media pages and e-mail without his permission. In the end, LaViolette was highly criticized for not doing more to gain perspective on Travis Alexander's side of the relationship. LaViolette did not seek out Travis's friends or family members for interviews, instead she seems to have keyed in on a single negative e-mail sent to Travis by Chris and Sky Hughes where they told Travis he was mistreating Jodi Arias. That seems to be all the verification LaViolette needed to come to the conclusion that Travis Alexander was not a very good boyfriend to Arias. Jury questions to LaViolette had the same tone of skepticism as the questions to Samuels.  

Was the defense effective in giving Arias any credibility at all? I think the only thing they really showed was that Travis Alexander and Jodi Arias had a highly charged back and forth relationship. Travis sent Jodi some scathing text messages or e-mails, but the defense failed to prove to me that Travis abused Jodi physically - and any emotional or verbal abuse didn't rise to the point to where a reasonable person would fear for their life. There are just a few hurdles I can't get over in this case:

The alleged choking incident - if you were choked to the point of being unconscious, I believe you would tell somebody - anybody. Arias didn't hesitate to talk to her father when she was upset about seeing Travis making out with another woman on his couch. She called her mother to ask for financial help moving back to Yreka. She did reach out for family support.

The second thing about the alleged choking incident - she clearly remembers the event. When confronted with the lack of evidence/documentation about the event, the defense pounded that point home saying that it was a traumatic event that she would have remembered. So, she remembers that, because it was traumatic. Yet she doesn't remember sticking a knife into Travis's body 29 times? She doesn't remember slitting his throat? Wouldn't the defense call those traumatic events? Why does Arias have selective memory when it comes to the traumatic events in her life?

The stolen gun - The defense has done little to convince me that the gun used to shoot Travis Alexander was owned by him and kept in a closet. The fact that a .25 caliber gun was reported as stolen from the place Arias lived a week before Travis was killed is just too much of coincidence to swallow. Further, nobody has come into the court room to testify that Travis owned a .25 caliber gun, or any gun for that matter. Nobody has seen a gun in his home with the exception of Arias. The defense wants the jury to take Jodi Arias's word that the gun used was not her grandfather's. 

The camera & linebacker lunge - The defense has not convinced me that Travis Alexander would have gotten so angry because his camera was dropped that he would threaten Arias's life. She ruined his BMW, and that seemingly was taken in stride. I also don't see how it's physically possible to have all of the events Arias described as happening to have happened in 62 seconds. It's not something a reasonable person would believe. The closet photos are key, nothing was disturbed.

The child pornography - I think the defense made a critical miscalculation in presenting this piece of testimony. I don't believe any part of Arias's story about walking in on Travis on January 21, 2008. It's not believable that he would like little boys, young "pigtail" aged girls and have such a huge appetite for age-appropriate women at the same time. If the jury doesn't believe Arias on this one, they may find it so offensive that she pays dearly for making it.

The coded magazines - I don't even remember the defense addressing this issue during the trial. An innocent person has no need to ask another person to alter or change their testimony. This wasn't given much time during the trial, but to me it's a huge red flag against Arias.

The memory loss - aka "the fog"  Arias has testified that due to the gravity of the events, she has no memory of stabbing Travis or slicing his throat. Arias has not regained any memory of the events, even in the form of "flashbacks". Yet there is much she does remember, immediately before the murder and she had enough brain function to know to delete those incriminating photos and clean up the murder scene, leave phone messages for Travis and complete other tasks one could not complete if in some kind of altered state of mind. She seems to not remember the very things that could convict her. That's troublesome to me.

These are just a few of the hurdles I feel the defense failed to clear in presenting their case. They are the simple things, yet they are important. They spent so much time dragging Travis Alexander through the mud and failed to produce any real viable evidence of Arias's credibility. They obviously haven't convinced me that she killed him in self defense. What do you think of the defense's overall case?

What will happen in the court room today? Will the State finally get to present their rebuttal case? Will Alyce LaViolette return to the stand with PTSD? Will the IRS audit Arias for the unreported income from her online art auctions? Will Judge Stephens hair ever move? Anything is possible!

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