I noticed this post on http://www.jodiariasisinnocent.com and inasmuch as they do not allow “contrasting” views, I have decided to respond to this post in my blog. My response is below each “question.” I do not “sanitize” comments and welcome free debate.
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TEN KINDS OF UNFAIRNESS IN THE JODI ARIAS TRIAL
1 Intimidation of defense. Defense counsel, expert witnesses, and prospective character witnesses all received death threats, other threats, or actual injuries which affected their behavior. For example, domestic-violence expert Alyce LaViolette, during her testimony, was treated in hospital for anxiety. At the same time, there was a national campaign to ruin her reputation by posting bad reviews of her books and by pressing organizations to cancel speaking engagements. The judge took no effective action to protect the defense from any of these acts, which are state, and arguably federal, crimes.
The court has no jurisdiction over the internet or persons who use it and cannot control their behavior through judicial orders. In fact, the anonymous nature of the internet makes if very difficult, if not impossible, for law enforcement to prosecute anyone using the internet to commit crimes. For example, 419 scammers have been committing the crime of fraud on the internet, with impunity, for years, and no court or law enforcement agency has been able to stop them.
2 Due process I: essential elements. Arias was charged with first-degree murder on two alternate theories: premeditation and felony murder. Yet the felony in question was never definitely specified, even in the state’s closing argument. At midtrial, and briefly in closing, the state said it was second-degree burglary with intent to assault. More often in closing, the state said it was second-degree burglary with intent to steal a gun. It should be viewed as a Sixth-Amendment violation for a defendant not to know the details of the charges against her – the essential elements of the crime — until rebuttal by evidence is no longer possible.
Jodi Arias committed several potential crimes in addition to the murder of Travis Alexander. Those crimes included assault with a deadly weapon and burglary, i.e. stealing TA’s gun and rope (though I do not believe either existed). The fact that the defendant faced multiple charges under different theories does not mean she did not know the essential elements of each crime. The prosecution alleged felony murder and the defense knew that any potential crime Jodi Arias committed in addition to killing Travis Alexander would be grounds for a felony murder charge. It was the defense’s position that TS had a gun and JA’s self-defense claim was predicated on him having one! How could they have rebutted the prosecution’s allegation that she stole his gun without envicerating their case! The point is mute since, though some members of the jury did vote for felony murder, the jury unanimously found premeditation.
3 Due process II: guilt via state falsehood. In closing, the state invited the jury to convict Arias of felony murder based on this second-degree burglary of unlawfully remaining in Travis Alexander’s house with the intent to steal his gun. Yet the state, in attacking Arias’ self-defense story, had argued vigorously that Alexander owned no gun. Rather, a mainstay of its case for premeditation was to accuse Arias of stealing her grandfather’s gun a week before. Thus, the jury was invited to convict her of a crime by finding that one of the state’s own main assertions was false beyond reasonable doubt. That is likewise inconsistent with due process.
This allegation is specifically specious. Attorneys, for defense and prosecution argue multiple, different and even contradictory theories all the time. It is the nature of the legal process, is not remarkable and is not a violation of due process. For example, the defense argued throughout the trial that Jodi Arias should be acquitted based on self defense. However, in their closing argument, they suddenly argued that she may have killed Travis Alexander, in the “heat of passion” and thus, if anything, was only guilty of manslaughter. Of course, they put on no evidence of this theory of the case during the trial. They also, in a press release, embraced the defense expert diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder in order to argue that JA was mentally ill and thus should not be executed! This was after they ridiculed that expert and her diagnois at trial.
4 Irrational verdict I: felony murder. In the end, seven jurors voted for both premeditation and felony murder, though in the state’s case they were alternatives. Apart from that, there are two reasons why these votes should have been voided.
First, the state provided exactly zero evidence for felony murder beyond the killing itself and the gun theft, which were undisputed. In closing, the prosecutor falsely claimed that these two elements suffice for felony murder. Rather, what is also required, on the gun-theft theory, is that Arias, in remaining, had the “objective” (the jury instructions’ gloss on ‘intent’) of stealing Alexander’s gun, and killed him in furtherance of that goal. But there was no evidence for this, and no reasonable juror could believe it. Obviously, Arias took away the gun to hide her role in his death; she did not kill him to get a cheap gun, for which, defense and prosecution agreed, she had sources near home, not a thousand miles away. The judge should have simply dismissed the felony-murder charge, as the defense had asked before.
This allegation is yet another variation of allegations 2 and 3. The most important thing to realize is that inasmuch as the jury unanimously found the element of premeditation the issue of whether or not some additionally found felony murder is mute.
5 Irrational verdict II: premeditation. These seven jurors, at any rate, could not have rested their premeditation vote on a belief that Arias stole her grandfather’s gun. But the remaining evidence of premeditation is very weak. It consists of aspects of a trip that any traveler might do or suffer, amid multiple facts negating concealment. To dye your hair, to rent a car in a different town, to ask not to have a red one, to take gas cans into the desert, to turn off (or lose power to) your cellphone there, to find your license plate upside down – all these have obvious innocent explanations. On the other hand, as the defense noted, no one seeking to conceal her trip would borrow gas cans from a friend, visit other friends along the way, make multiple bank transactions, stop at a beauty salon, buy gas with a debit card when ample cash was at hand, or save her receipts.
On such facts, a competent, unbiased judge would void these seven jurors’ premeditation votes as unreasonable. With both votes of the seven nullified, the verdict falls.
There is more than enough evidence to support the jury’s finding of premeditation! The poster confuses doubt with reasonable doubt. The nature of circumstantial evidence always allows for an “alternative” and “innocent” explantation. It is up to the jury, the trier of fact, to decide whether to believe the “innocent” or “guilty” explanation based on, in part, the credibility of the defendant or witness and the totality of the evidence.
Considering all the circumstantial evidence as a whole easily supports the jury’s finding of premeditation.
a. The theft of the same caliber gun that was used to kill TA within a week of his murder and under circumstances that detectives found strange, i.e. the “thief” left much more valuable items behind.
b. Renting a car 60 miles from where she lived.
c. Not wanting a “noticeable” car that might risk her being pulled over.
d. Despite the fact that she claimed it was a last minute decision to visit TA, she brought the CDs of photos of their collective trips from her house and transferred them to the rental car.
e. Telling the rental car company she intended to drive the car around town when she intended to drive it through three states.
f. Dying her hair, in mid trip, in order to be less recognizable to any persons who saw her arriving or leaving TA’s house.
g. Bringing gas cans (so that she did not have to stop in AZ for gas and risk being seen on a video camera)
h. Shutting off her cell phone so that it could not ping on any tower and there would be no record of her being in AZ and “finding” the charger just as she left AZ.
i. Waiting until the roommates left before killing AZ
j. Taking the front license plate off the car and then removing the rear license plate after she arrived at TA’s. The State’s allegation was that she inadvertently put it on upside down in haste after she had killed TA.
She was not seeking to conceal her trip, she was seeking to conceal the fact that she had visited TA. She had every reason to create a record of her travels – outside of AZ, as this was essential to her alibi. One of the reasons she vehemently claimed not to have been in AZ to Flores was she was confident she had not left any trace there!
6 State perjury. Taken together, medical examiner Kevin Horn’s autopsy report and his testimony assert an anatomical impossibility: that the bullet passed through Alexander’s right frontal lobe, yet his dura mater (the outermost membrane covering the brain) was intact. This is as impossible as a bullet’s piercing the heart without breaking the skin. At trial, Horn said his dura-mater statement was a “typo.” But he did not say what it could be a typo for. The error could not be just a missing ‘not’: autopsy reports describe injuries; they do not merely say organs are “not intact.” Moreover, the actual statement (p. 7) is: “The dura mater and falx cerebri are intact.” The falx cerebri is nowhere near the alleged bullet track.
Also, at a pretrial hearing and in depositions, Detective Esteban Flores testified that, based on what Horn had told him the day before the hearing, the gunshot came first, and it did not incapacitate Alexander or did so only briefly. This agrees with Arias’ self-defense story. At trial, however, Horn claimed that the gunshot wound came last and had to be incapacitating. He also claimed that he could not recall ever speaking to Flores about the case. So, before or during trial, the state switched not just the details of its charges, but even its key facts.
It is probable that one or both of these state witnesses committed perjury.
It is up to the trier of fact, i.e., the jury to weigh the credibility of each witness and to choose which ones to believe or disbelieve. They obviously choose to believe Dr. Horn and/or Det. Flores. There is no evidence that either committed perjury. Any contradictory statements could have been a result of genuine errors or miscommunication. A contradictory statement, in and of itself, is not perjury without evidence that the person making the statement purposely made a misrepresentation. Jodi Arias made many contradictory statements yet no one accused her of perjury.
Additionally, the testimony was not instrumental to the jury’s finding of M1 w/premeditation or even cruelty as there was enough evidence to support the jury’s finding without either witnesses testimony concerning whether the shot came first or not or even whether it pierced the brain. Even if the shot was first and did not incapacitate Travis Alexander, stabbing him 27 times, many in the back, and slitting his throat could be construed to constitute cruelty.
7 Other prosecution misconduct. Prosecutor Juan Martinez denied the existence of evidence, then introduced it against the defendant at trial. He also withheld other key evidence, like the camera, from the defense. At trial, he threw objects around the courtroom, including an exhibit (the camera). He continually bullied defense witnesses, including experts, argued with them, cut off their answers, and distorted their testimony. He even misdescribed his own witness’s testimony (the “bloody” handprint, which a state witness had said tested negative for blood). Defense objections to his outrageous courtroom conduct were consistently but wrongly overruled. In closing, he flagrantly misstated the law of felony murder (§4).
The judge ruled properly that Juan Martinez’s actions were zealous advocacy and not misconduct. This ruling was in the court’s discretion. The appellate court would be hard pressed to find that the trial court abused its discretion and this is unlikely.
8 Nonsequestration of jury. An unprecedented media campaign of hatred against Arias preceded and accompanied the trial. One channel, HLN, devoted eight or more hours a day to mocking, vilifying, dehumanizing, and demonizing her. HLN’s torrent of abuse and prejudice has no counterpart but Oceania’s campaign against Emmanuel Goldstein, in 1984. Numerous hate sites also sprang up in social media.
Jurors had free access via internet to all of this prejudicial material – not just at home, but even in the courthouse itself. The judge’s actions to avoid jury taint were clearly ineffective, since a dismissed juror admitted talking with other people about the case, though he had never said so when questioned by the judge. A juror question also showed access to news coverage. Even County Attorney Bill Montgomery had warned against not sequestering the jury in a case of such national prominence.
The decision to sequester a jury is in the trial court’s discretion and no jury has been sequestered in Arizona since 1930. There is no evidence that any sitting member of the jury violated the jury’s admonition regarding viewing coverage of the trial and crime. Without such evidence it’s hard to image the appellate court ruling that the court abused it discretion not to sequester the jury.
9 Reasonable doubt on self-defense. LaViolette explained how the Alexander-Arias relationship resembled the abusive ones on which she is an expert, and she found Arias’ story entirely credible. The prosecution bore the burden (in Arizona) of disproving self-defense beyond reasonable doubt. On what basis can a juror conclude that an expert opinion is false beyond reasonable doubt? True, the jury had other evidence besides. But the state had earlier denied its own gunshot claims (§6), incapacitation was further rebutted by a defense brain expert, and the premeditation evidence was very weak (§5). None of this extra evidence shows that no reasonable person could hold LaViolette’s view of Arias’ mental state, as is required to vote for conviction.
Again, the poster confuses doubt with beyond a reasonable doubt. There is more than enough evidence to support the jury’s rejection of JA’s self-defense claim. This point is more rehashing of many of the other points. JA, admitted to numerous pre-trial lies and refused many “invitations” to assert self-defense. She did not do so for 2 years. The notion that a naked, wet man would jump out of the shower and attack her for dropping a camera which still worked was ludicrous. Then one would have to believe that she was able to escape the man, climb up
some resting shelves, seize a secret gun that was loaded and had the safety off, shoot him, stab him 27 times, and slit his throat, all in 62 seconds. The jury has the right to reject expert witness testimony and in this case, they did.
10 Governor’s statement of guilt. To complete a perfect storm of injustice, Arizona governor Jan Brewer stated on television that Arias was guilty – during jury deliberations.
There is no evidence that any member of the jury was aware of Governor Brewer’s statement just as there is no evidence that any member of jury did not abide by the judge’s admonition to the jury regarding not viewing or listening to coverage of the trial.
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