Finally it’s in the jury’s hands. My first reaction to that, and probably a lot of people’s, was a long, slow exhale of a very deep breath.
But it was followed immediately by the thought that Judge Sherry Stephens’ failure to sequester the jury, at the very least for deliberations, might arguably be grounds for a mistrial.
Hopefully the jurors haven’t been burned by the out-of-control media maelstrom in and around the Maricopa County courthouse, fueled and fanned by HLN; but I cannot imagine having the self-control to sequester myself in my own home with all the computers, smartphones, televisions, and radios turned off, and wearing a pair of blinders and shootin’ earplugs for the entire length of this trial.
Hearing or seeing evidence of other people’s opinions on a case as big as this in a city that small, is literally impossible in 2013. And it’s not like you can walk around your local grocery store wearing a sign that says: “Arias juror. Do not attempt to communicate with me under penalty of law.” Nor is it likely that you could ignore all the bullshit rags on display while you wait for a cashier trainee to explain food stamps to new immigrants, while her manager unlocks the register.
So there’s the mistrial part.
Ms. Arias’ expert witnesses, to be brutally honest, did as much harm as good. As to the psychopathology of Jodi Arias, Dr. Richard Samuels did commendably well. (It also didn’t hurt his case with me when he came to virtually the same conclusions I had, and I only ever minored in Psych.)
But neither he nor Alice LaViolette knew when to stop talking, almost to the point of making themselves and their expert opinions take back seat to whatever they said beyond having made their points.
Samuels, however, a highly-regarded expert in his field, did snap back at Prosecutor Juan Martinez on a couple of occasions during cross. In defending his reputation, he verbally struck out at Martinez, so he may have redeemed himself. LaViolette, on the other hand, had no right to scold Martinez or threaten to put him into a time-out.
But it was rare that Dr. Samuels stopped talking, even after Martinez seemed ready to move on. I am a native New Yorker, and I know there ain’t one of us who can tell a story in 25 words or less. It also explains why the buildings in Manhattan are so tall — elevator speeches take a minimum of 50 floors to complete. If there are enough stops.
And then there’s the matter of misgivings. Reasonable doubt, according to dictionary.law.com means: “not being sure of a criminal defendant’s guilt to a moral certainty. Thus, a juror…must be convinced of guilt of a crime (or the degree of crime, as murder instead of manslaughter) “beyond a reasonable doubt,” and the jury will be told so by the judge in the jury instructions. However, it is a subjective test since each juror will have to decide if his/her doubt is reasonable….”
From the jury instructions (as read by Judge Stephens): “An act is not done with premeditation if it is the instant effect of a sudden quarrel or heat of passion.”
I believe the following evidence is true, along with my reasons:
- Jodi was taking pictures of Travis in the shower (evidence: time-stamped picture).
- Jodi dropped the camera (evidence: time-stamped picture of ceiling).
- Travis went ballistic, yelling and cursing, and in his anger lunged at Jodi, throwing her to the bathroom floor, although not with a body slam. More likely he took her by the shoulders or upper arms and threw her down, or shoved her, as her father had done when she was a teenager (evidence: circumstantial, but take into account the next item).
- Reliving that moment — when her father threw her against a piece of furniture and knocked her out — that was the instant at which Jodi Ann Arias snapped (deduction from photo evidence of chaotic scene, and from the 62-second time span of the entire fight).
- Furthermore, she was adequately provoked at that instant (evidence: circumstantial).
So therefore I have what I think is enough of a reasonable doubt that this killing was first degree premeditated murder, according to the law. This is a binary decision. Yes/No, Black/White, On/Off. Premeditated or instant effect of a sudden quarrel or heat of passion? I don’t know, but I have doubt, and there’s my reasoning. That remains a zero, because of our Constitutional presumption of innocence beyond a reasonable doubt.
In a civil suit for unlawful death, she would be found guilty by the preponderance of evidence, because Jodi’s causing Travis Alexander’s wrongful death is more true than not, in addition to which she admitted it on the stand. But reasonable doubt does not exist in civil court. On the other hand, in a case such as we’re all watching, it is certainly reasonable to believe that Travis and/or Jodi snapped in an instant.
As to second degree murder, the requirement that “The risk (of taking action that would have endangered Travis Alexander’s life) must be such that disregarding it was a gross deviation from what a reasonable person in the defendant’s situation would have done,” is not apparent beyond a reasonable doubt, that doubt being that Jodi Arias was “a reasonable person” at the time she was in that situation. Same reasoning that I gave in my illustration as to why first degree premeditated murder was not applicable.
After seeing and hearing all the evidence in this case, the ball keeps falling into the manslaughter slot. As much as the evidence is preponderantly against Jodi Ann Arias that she did cause the wrongful death of Travis Alexander, including her admitting as much when she took the stand, according to my application of the law in this case, Jodi Arias is not guilty of murder, but of manslaughter.
Your civilly worded comments and opinions, and a LOT of you have them, please leave them here, and keep it clean.
Comment-spammers will be summarily executed.