Arizona v. Arias: mistrial, misstatements, and misgivings   23 comments

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:

  1. Jodi was taking pictures of Travis in the shower (evidence: time-stamped picture).
  2. Jodi dropped the camera (evidence: time-stamped picture of ceiling).
  3. 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).
  4. 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).
  5. 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.

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23 responses to “Arizona v. Arias: mistrial, misstatements, and misgivings

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  1. Well done Warren. As a fellow New Yorker I must also say that not only does our native dwelling not allow us to tell a story in less than 25 words but our being Jewish assures it!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, thanks for your comment. (LMAO while sitting here watching nonstop bullshit on HLN.) Even our fellow New Yorkers on HLN (who have no discernible accent whatsoever) are succumbing to Joe Uneducated Voter’s opinion. I remember the good old days when HLN carried short legitimate news stories, gave the weather, the scores, the stuff that mattered. They were mainstream media served in small portions. /smh

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      • So in other words, anyone that does not agree with you becomes a “Joe Uneducated Voter”? There are many who disagree with you who are extremely well educated. There was no evidence given by anyone that Travis ever physically abused Jodi, other than by Jodi herself. There was no evidence given by anyone that he ever hurt anyone physically. There is a great deal of evidence that Jodi lied and continue to lie. She even tried to smuggle messages out of the jail to someone asking, (demanding), that they change their testimony in regard to a prior hearing. You are certainly entitled to your own opinion. However, so am I and just because my opinion is different than yours does not indicate that I am uneducated.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi, Joyce. Thanks for your comment. I certainly didn’t mean everyone who supports a conviction for M1 is Joe the Plumber (or Sarah Palin, whomever). And I respect your well-reasoned opinion. I can tell you’re not a member of the rabble to whom I was alluding.

        The people I was referring to are saying, “She’s evil, hang her up, send her straight to hell, I’d love to give her the injection myself,” things like that. They’re people who don’t regard evidence or jury instructions or the law and just blindly agree with Vinnie Politan, or the HLN host I like to call, “T-tMom,” since her DWTS slip. You may pick a vowel.

        I was talking specifically about people who don’t read ballot issues or candidate platforms before voting. As Gene Wilder said in Blazing Saddles, “…The common clay of the New West. You know… morons. =)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Was surprised DrDrew showed this video of Travis doing a bodyslam on a sitted person & other martial arts tactics.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmDr16i1adk Jurors never saw this. So they have no idea of what Travis was capable of, but Jodi did know.

    What the “lynch ’em” crowd, the Uneducated Joe Voters as you put it, fail to realize is that justice is a process, not an outcome. The HLN/InSession folks who are mostly attorneys & should know better perpetuate this incorrect notion. When an appellaate court looks at the record of a trial they first look to see if the correct procedure was followed according to that states Rules of Criminal Procedure & Rules of Evidence. If followed correctly it is presumed the outcome is a correct one & justice was done. However if finding the correct procedures were done & the outcome is one the justices believe was a miscarriage of justice, then they will look to see how to correct the process that lead to a unconscionable outcome and then issue in their written opinion of the case a holding/ruling which will correct the process which allowed/lead to the unconsciounable outcome. Again, as I see it, it is the process itself that is “justice”, not the outcome as all the Justice4whoever folks think.

    I don’t like Jodi Arias & I don’t like Travis Alexander & I don’t like the “lynch ’em” crowd. That don’t leave much, eh? LOL

    Haven’t been able to post this to twitter, tweets won’t show up for some reason. Even tried putting it into an html page with a frame to draw it in. Still wouldn’t post. 25 judges speak about abuse issues: http://www.chgala.com/temp/judges-tell-what-i-wish-i.pdf

    Liked by 1 person

    • btw, in my view, he raped her twice. 1) anally after the baptism and 2) vaginally while she was asleep and woke up during the act. Also there was another instance of non-consensual sex when she awoke to find him performing oral sex on her.

      During her testimony she kept saying she gave Travis sex because then he would be “nice” to her. Leads to the question then what was “not nice”? Neither attorney ever inquired into this.

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      • Thanks for your comments. I totally agree with you about the rapes and the other unlawful sexual act. The most heinous was probably the anal rape after the baptism; that was completely sick, had nothing to do with love, and was a manifestation of Travis’ celebrating that he hooked a keeper.

        The point about her giving him sex to appease him was brought up a couple of times during her lengthy time on the witness stand. I just don’t think the general public is open-minded enough to come up with a reasonable verdict. Their opinions are uneducated. Listen to them on HLN, just begging for attention and adulation from Jane Velez-Mitchell and the other paid tabloid media vultures.

        Otherwise, I don’t like either Travis or Jodi, but I don’t think she’s the monster the rabble is making her out to be.

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  3. I firmly believe that Jodi Arias made up a story that fit the forensic evidence as best she could. Some of her claims are probably based on some truths, but most seem to be an over-the-top defense concocted to trash the person she killed and take the focus off of her heinous crime. One example: she was adamant that the gun “went off” (passive voice used whenever active voice would make her look worse than she already does) which seems to be based on her initial belief that the Medical Examiner’s report reflected gunshot first, multiple stabbings second, third, fourth, etc. When the ME testified, Nurmi went for a mistrial because the testimony contradicted what Flores had testified to previously.

    Also, there is no evidence whatsoever that he raped her ever…the sex tape that she recorded, probably without Travis’ knowledge, and the text messages both illustrated that they were engaged in a consensual, sexual relationship. Jodi stating something does not make it fact, especially when there is no evidence to support her claims. The pedophilia claim might just be the most ridiculous claim yet. There is evidence to support that she manufactured (forged) letters to try and make this claim stick. It simply doesn’t make sense. The fact that she engaged in sexual intercourse with him (according to her testimony and, I believe, diary entries) right after she supposedly walked in on him with a picture of a young boy is completely insane. I don’t know any woman who would do that…ever. Especially someone who is not “officially” dating, living with, or married to the other party. There is no reason to stay in such a relationship because there are no ties that would typically keep someone from leaving such a nightmare.

    I don’t subscribe to an overzealous mob mentality of rushing to judgement or wanting to participate in executing someone, that’s just strange. However, after following the trial, I do believe that there should be justice for someone who was stabbed 29 times, shot in the head, and had their throat slit from ear to ear. If he had raped her (she never testified that he did, by the way), then that is a crime she could have reported to the police…same for her allegations of pedophilia. If he was guilty of anything at all, I would say that he was guilty of maybe playing her a bit. However, she played him, too. For example, the “accidental” texts and emails meant for other men just to get a rise out of him. Being a player is not a crime. I really hate the “snapped”/heat of passion option for any crime. Being abused, if this were the case, is not a license to enact justice on another person. Even if Travis pushed/shoved/slammed her down, she supposedly had other abusive encounters with him (being choked unconscious) so why not leave when you get up. Why go to the closet to get a gun you don’t believe is loaded. How would you even remember the imaginary gun since she testified that she had seen it once when cleaning his house. If you’re truly in fight or flight, you defer to flee. Only a disturbed individual would choose to “de-escalate” a violent situation by going to grab a gun when you have an option of actually leaving. The same disturbed individual who goes and purchases a gun later because she was going on camping trip with all guys and wanted protection in case someone got out of hand. I don’t know about you, but I typically avoid camping trips with people I think might require me to fire a gun. Yikes!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Betty, and thank you for your comment. You bring up valid points, and I love your observation about passive vs. active tense. 🙂 But the fact (according to the photo evidence that was undeleted from the camera card) is that the whole bloodbath took 62 seconds. I couldn’t even re-create that, especially considering the 7-9 concentric shallow knife wounds to his back, which all had to be in quick succession. She had to be in an uncontrollable rage to pull that off, and to be in an uncontrollable rage, she would have to have snapped.

      While she clearly had a little more than half a thought about killing him in advance of arriving there, the crime that was ultimately committed shows evidence of a rage killing. Jodi snapped. I believe she went to Mesa with that half a thought still in mind. But once she got there and they awoke that morning/afternoon, they had a marathon sex-fest, so whatever Travis had said to Jodi in that May 26th text message was already in the past. So by the time the day wound down, that thought had flown out the window (evidence the photographs and the sex video, the latter supposedly on Jodi’s camera).

      So I believe they were continuing their sex-play into the shower, Jodi dropped Travis’ brand-new camera, he let loose with some verbal abuse which culminated in a very real death threat, and she snapped; she had catastrophic engine failure.

      Therefore I believe manslaughter is the charge of which she should be found guilty.

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    • I’ve got to add something too i agree whole heartedly with everything you said Betty. Also warren you think its bad for people wanting someone to pay for there actions.Such as in overkilling spmeone, is mob mentality. Well sign me up for the mob. Just as i can say your stating all the bs lies and the circumstantial evidence. In wich you believe what jodi tells you. Is a bunch of creepy old men who have hard ons for innocent looking attractive girls. You point your finger at people and judge them on there opposite opinions. Taking your cheap shots not only at them but also Travis. You,like Jodi keep bashing this poor dead guy. All evidence points to premeditation. Like a female Scott peterson. Changed hair color. Got rid of weapons. Tried to clean up scene as best she could. Moved his body,whiped it down. Washed camera, deleted pics. All while in this “magical fog”. Like i told you im just a corrections officer.Not a journalist like you,but i believe in yrue justice. Not spoiled,crazy ,pathologgical liars getting off on confusing jurors. Another thing you believe the phsycobabble,of samuels. Explain to me,if she doesnt remember sh$&? Until she was stopped at a border stop. Covered in blood. If she was covered in blood,how didnt the border patrol not see this? Would she not have been arrested there? If i was border patrol officer and saw someone covered in blood. Um…. I would have reason to talk to them.

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      • Just two minor items, because I’m not going to argue with you:

        What does “Is a bunch of creepy old men who have hard ons for innocent looking attractive girls” mean? Jodi Arias objectified herself with her words, thoughts, and actions. At the same time, she clearly had no shame and no pride. And she was far from innocent. She was willing to make “legitimate porn” at Travis’ behest.

        Jodi was never stopped by a border patrol officer OR the Bureau of Reclamation Police, (more familiarly known as the Hoover Dam Police), who are the authority over the Hoover Dam crossing. She also admitted to ditching her stuff somewhere before approaching the Dam crossing. Either way, don’t point fingers at either the HDPD or Customs & Border Patrol

        Thanks again for your comment.

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      • I said you and your friends,have hard ons for this girl. Took my jab at you,seeing you concider everyone else a bunch of “uneducated lynch mobbers.” I never heard anyone say she ditched her clothing. I heard she came to, at the hooverdam border, covered in blood. I understand in her fog, she admitted ditching the gun and knife. Never heard ditching of bloody clothes. She woke up from her zombie state, “covered in blood” at hoover dam border. I didnt point my finger at my fellow officers. Just pointed out another of her lies. That makes no sense. Meening she changed or washed her clothes before she left. Also on my first comment,i say that only based on your comments on deceased travis. You batter this guy after his brutal killing. Like many things have already been, take your head out of her ass. Maybe you can breathe now. Lol , JUSTICE PREVAILS!!!!!!

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    • Reading your take on the situation, It makes sense to me. There was plenty of evidence of her aberrant behaviour, She changed her story multiple times, She lied when renting the car etc, There was no actual evidence of him doing any of the things she said he did, so why would anyone believe a word she said? Why didn’t she leave him, Report abuse/rape etc to the police? Why didn’t she call the police after she killed him? How many gunshots and stabs does it take to kill someone in self defence? I know there is no set number but,.. come on, This looks like sheer hatred and overkill. What about the gun and the red stains in the car that was supposed to be driven locally? What happened to the floor mats? I think that premeditation is a given. The only actual evidence points to pre meditation, The rest is all hearsay by her. Is she crazy? Probably, It takes a crazy person to kill that way. Should she get a lesser sentence because she is?… If that were the case, then everyone who commits premeditated murder would qualify for less time because there is something wrong with them. I have a crooked finger too, I could blame that on anything I want to. Doesn’t make it true…. If it is crooked, it must have been broken. Is there a medical record with her account of how it broke? Did she not get medical help, if not, why not? Did she have any photos of bruising? Any doctor’s record of abuse? Any witnesses? He at least had told his friends that he was being stalked, his tires were slashed, and that she was accessing his Facebook page. That speaks to the fact that she was harassing him, not the other way around. Why would you stalk your abuser? I have not spent a lot of time reading about this case so will not claim to know everything but, What I have read and heard so far would lead me to convict her of premeditated murder.

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      • Similarly, his friends who said Travis told them (fill in the blank) is hearsay and therefore neither evidence nor admissible. There were grains of truth in her testimony the size of clumps in a litter box. One of them, which no one even touched was Bishop Travis’ closet addiction to Internet pornography. He also had zero respect for women whatsoever, something that was almost bred into him. Thank for your comment, Diana!

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  4. You also bring up some valid points, and I appreciate an intelligent “discussion” with someone who has a differing point of view. While you have pointed out that there are people who just want to hang Jodi, there are also people who are bent on vilifying the victim of her crime (premeditated or rage, it makes no difference as he is still the victim). I’m shocked when individuals flat out call someone they never knew a pedophile, rapist, and abuser based simply on the words from someone who stands to gain if people believe her allegations. Although, again, I’d like to point out that any one of those accusations still do not give someone license to slaughter another individual.

    One more thing I’d like to point out…the picture from the shower to the body being dragged down the hall doesn’t necessarily mean that all stabbings took place in that time period of 62 seconds. Someone who would even do what she did might not stop when the person is clearly dead…she could very well have continued stabbing him after the last picture was taken. I’m guessing the throat slicing was to hasten his death since that is a very controlled movement, not random stabbings. The sequence of events, according to Jodi, happened in 62 second. We go from a post-sex romp to the shower, but we’re to believe that he lost his mind over a camera and threw her down on the ground, but she was able to get past him and run to the closet to get a non-existent, unloaded gun without disturbing anything on the shelves — the very same shelves that would have flipped up and disheveled the contents.

    Sorry for the wordiness. It’s not necessarily the people involved that get me worked up, it’s the ever-increasing propensity in our “justice” system and the court of public opinion to trash victims who may or may not be able to speak for themselves. I’m really curious how anyone who thinks she should be charged with anything less than first-degree would feel if their loved one was victim to exactly what she did to Travis, both in his home and in the courtroom.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking discussion. 🙂

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    • One more thing. If Travis attacked her? Explain to me so many stab wounds to his back? Just curiouse?

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      • Heat of the moment. She stabbed him in the heart AFTER he got out of the shower (my take), and at the point where he went down, she landed on top of him, tried to pierce his spinal column, failed when she couldn’t get the knife deep enough (she’d snapped, remember?); he kept trying to get up, and that’s when she slashed his throat. As for her mistakes, that’s like trying to analyze why the Vancouver Canucks keep sucking ass. They’ve got the players. They just suck. No forensics are going to change that. /just sayin’ =)

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    • Betty, I appreciate your comments. No problem with the length. =) I’m not sure if my theory is in concert with case law. (I’m working on that.) If I were a juror, I’d have questions. I was actually thrown off a jury once for asking a question — one question! Apparently I’m a better amateur New York psychologist than I am an amateur Philadelphia lawyer. Thanks again for the engaging conversation.

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  5. LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL!!!!!!!!! GUILTY!!!!!

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    • With all due respect, WTF about this trial has anything remotely to do with liberty???

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      • Plenty, Noun
        The state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life.
        An instance of this; a right or privilege, esp. a statutory one.
        Jodi had these rights like we all do. Im saying thank god i live in America where i can enjoy liberty. Well justice was served. Sorry your upset. You grasped at every straw you could. Too bad they were based on “Jodi Fact” wich like her fog doesnt exist. No longer will she enjoy her freedom. Lol in her interview at the end, she went blank. Fog haha

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  6. Regardless of what happened, one thing is for sure. She’s not guilty of First Degree Murder, as felony murder and premeditated murder cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

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    • That’s exactly how I feel, Pasquale, but apparently we’re in the great minority, and the media hypnotized almost everyone who paid attention to this classic trial. Many of the women I know are bi-polar to one degree or another, but after spending 18 days on the stand, I don’t think Jodi Arias is included in that group. She just had an incredibly strange need to be boinked in the backside, which I think is pretty disgusting. I’ve always thought of that as an Exit Only portal. Thanks for reading, and thanks for your comment.

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