Why Arizona + Jury might = InJury (Jan 8, 2015)

Why Arizona + Jury might = Injury

Why Arizona Death – Qualified Juries are inherently dangerous

Salem Witch Trials

The Jodi Arias Murder Trial, the OTHER side of the story

Fact-Based Video Reporting by Rob Roman

In this report, we will show exactly why the verdict of Arizona juries should be viewed with caution, especially Death verdicts. We will show more of why Arizona jury instructions can be completely unintelligible, especially the ones about voting Life or Death.

Please don’t get me wrong, jurors are amazing people who perform a near heroic civil duty in taking time out of their lives to fulfill our Constitution. They should be venerated, respected, and their decisions should generally be accepted without question. But in this case, I believe there is something wrong, and it may be a combination of Arizona jury instructions and Arizona juries.

Let me show you why I believe this, but first I want to explain our comedy article about the original Arias jurors.

A long while back, Amanda and I put together an article for fun and jokes called New Discarded Juror Questions.

https://spotlightonlaw.wordpress.com/new-discarded-juror-questions-for-jodi-arias-not-reported-by-the-media-october-31/

We put it out on Halloween so people would know we were just joking, but in a way, it wasn’t really joking. Here are some samples:

Discarded Juror Questions:

Juror question #111

schwartz

“The defense did not prove your case beyond a reasonable doubt. We have chosen on so many aggravators for you. I used to work Hospice, so trust me, honey, death ain’t no big deal. Would you like a strawberry Frappucino for your last meal, sweetie, or what?”

 

Juror #6, Diane Schwartz was not a nurse and was never a hospice worker. But I thought she did show a really hardened and cold side towards Jodi Arias, very similar to what a Hospice Nurse might be like. She said that she prayed to God before making her decision to sentence Arias to Death. Nice!

It seems she was confused by what the single aggravator was that the jury had just decided on. She made a staement that the defense failed to prove abuse, even though it was not up to the defense to “prove” anything.

 

Juror question #332

jury-foreman-bill zervakos

“I see England, I see France.

This morning, …. didn’t I see your oh so

tight, oh so pink, underpants?”

 

This was a parody of Arias juror William Zervakos. Many prosecution supporters didn’t respect Bill’s decision to vote for Life for Jodi Arias. They thought he and the other three who voted for Life must have been mesmerized, hypnotized, Psyched out, and anesthetized by the sexual talk and the sexy stories told by Arias.

 

Juror question #445

tara-kelley-21

“Why in the hell were you just staring at me with your dead shark eyes, you evil, lying psycho?”

 

This looks like a joke on alternate juror Tara Kelly, yet these are two things she actually said in interviews about Jodi Arias. She thought that Arias had tried to give her a “stare-down” during the trial. Tara also did say that she thought Jodi Arias was a “Psycho”. Really I thought that this nail tech must have inhaled a little too much acetone.

 

Juror question #299

juror mary lou sandy arias

“Jane Velez Mitchell said “One of THE JURORS LOOKS like ARIAS’ MOTHER!”

Do you think I look like your mother? Do you think that’s gonna help you now?

Well? Do You? ANSWER ME!!!”

 

This was a joke about reporters watching the trial who said that one of the jurors looked like Jodi Arias’mother, Sandy. This is the juror, Mary-Lou, they were talking about. This was really a ridiculous statement by Tweeters trying to be funny. And here she is yelling at Jodi Arias like her mother may have when JA was a teenager.

 

But let’s take a look at what the real jurors really said:

 

In a capital case, there are three major decisions for any jury to make. The first is whether the defendant is guilty or not and what is the degree of guilt. The second is establishing whether and which of the statutory aggravators presented is true or not true. The third is to decide if any of the alleged mitigating factors are true or not true, and then to weigh them against the decided upon aggravator(s). If , for you, the aggravator(s) outweigh the mitigator(s), you have a decision of Death. If the mitigator(s) outweigh the aggravators, you have a decision of Life.

Each of these 3 decisions seem to be on an increasing level of difficulty. Needless to say, if there is no 1st degree conviction, the remaining two decisions are not necessary.

In the original Arias trial, the decision of whether or not Arias committed the killing was never a factor in the trial. The first words out of the defense were that Jodi Arias did this, this was not a “whodunit”, and that the real question was “why?”

THE_SALEM_WITCH_TRIALS__30394

The meaning of this is that the jurors, for the first major question, have the job of deciding the degree of guilt, rather than, did she do it? This is why it is so surprising when Diane Schwartz, juror #6, in the original trial, talks about her reasons for finding Arias guilty of 1st degree premeditated murder.

There were 15 hours of deliberations, and everyone on the jury supposedly knew that the question was whether or not it was pre-meditated. So, one would expect that a juror who was asked why they found Arias guilty of 1st degree premeditated murder, would immediately start talking about why they felt the crime was premeditated.

Alarmingly, this is not what juror #6, Diane Schwartz talked about. What she talked about was whether or not Arias committed the crime.

“There was so much evidence, the hair the palm-print, the pictures”.

What??

The defense stipulated to all that. They never denied the hair in blood, the bloody palm-print, or the photos. What on earth was she talking about?

We have already reported how the 7 jurors who voted Arias guilty of 1st degree felony murder were mistaken, but it is complicated and it’s easy to see their confusion about that.

Once deciding on 1st degree murder, deciding on the aggravator of cruelty was a fait accompli the way Arizona words the statute and the jury instructions for the “cruelty aggravator”, the single one out of fourteen aggravators which is far and away the very most popular aggravator applied to a murder.

Juror #6 really presented as a leader. She is a retired 911 call-center boss, a person who would be really friendly with police and very sympathetic to crime victims. Nothing wrong with that, but what kind of reasoning was she using? Juror #6 really did make the rounds, appearing on HLN five times, and breakfasting with the Friends and family of the victim. She also appeared in interviews on NBC’s 12 News, ABC’s 10 News, FOX News 10 Phoenix, and at the Arizona Republican.

Diane Schwartz was famous for being the juror who “mouthed I’m sorry” from the jury box, in a seeming continuation of the non-verbal communication that was observed to be going back and forth between the jurors and the Alexander family and friends. She also apologized to the prosecutor’s table, where she said that Prosecutor Juan Martinez and Detective Esteban Flores refused to look at them. She went on to apologize to the Alexander family verbally.

Schwatz spent a lot of time talking about the victim impact statements and how important they were in her decision.

Schwartz and company, for she appeared to have quite a few followers in the jury, surely fulfilled her obligation to not make a decision based on sympathy for the defendant. But, it seems she may have forgotten that this no sympathy rule also applies to the victim and the victim’s family. She seemed to have plenty of sympathy for them and it seemed to play into her decision for Death.

Keep in mind that every murder is cruel and horrible, and almost every  homicide victim has a family that has been severely impacted by their loss.

But here’s the kicker and the reason why Arizona juries are so scary: The way a death sentence is supposed to be decided is for the jury to decide what the aggravating and mitigating circumstances are, and to weigh them against each other to decide which side outweighs the other.

The Arizona jury instructions for this don’t really say this explicitly, however, and are quite confusing. In the Arias first penalty phase (and the second, if they ever get to deliberations), there was a single aggravator of cruelty. There were eight mitigating factors given, including that Jodi was of a young age, had no prior record, and was abused.

The idea is for each juror to decided which, of any of the mitigating factors are more true than not true, and then to weigh them against the one single aggravating factor of cruelty.

Listen to the Judge’s Instructions:

 

Here again, according to statements by juror #6, the leader, she seems to not understand this at all.

 

What??

ALL THE AGGRAVATING FACTORS??

What is she even talking about? Did she pass on this faulty decision making to her fellow jurors?

The main thing you hear from these jurors also is that they didn’t believe Arias, couldn’t trust her testimony, thought she was playing them.  This was the theme drilled into their heads by Prosecutor Juan Martinez, who spent much, much more time and energy on discrediting witnesses and the defendant than he devoted to actual evidence.

In an earlier interview, Diane Schwartz said that there was”absolutely nothing” on the mitigation side, in her view. So then why did she say it was such a tough decision for her?? Why did she soften her approach more with each consecutive interview?

One more time, you just NEED to see this:

 

The other leader, jury foreman Bill Zevakos, had different things to say:

– “We couldn’t allow ourselves to get emotional”.

– “I had to”stop being ‘Bill’ and start being juror 18”.

– “We needed to divest ourselves of the personal”.

– (Paraphrase) ‘From the evidence that we saw, the e-mails, the text messages, the conversations they had, it was evident that she was verbally and mentally abused’.

– (Paraphrase) ‘Until you are face to face with people who have gone through a horrendous loss, you cannot imagine what it’s like.’

– “She was crucified in the media.”

Bill Zervakos speaks:

Zervakos also said he thought the jury instructions were ambiguous, a big understatement.  Interestingly, he thought that the jury was forced to interpret the law, which is exactly what Nurmi put in his motion stating that the Arizona F(6) cruelty aggravator is unconstitutionally vague.

So, maybe Diane Schwartz didn’t say what she meant, or was unable to give a complete answer? Well, maybe not, because look at what Juror #16, Mary-Lou Allen Coogan gave as the reason she voted for Death:

 

“Because it was premeditated”.

WHAT??

Premeditation doesn’t qualify the case for a Death sentence, that cannot be a reason to vote for Death. She went on to say that the prosecution proved their case, they proved she did it and that there were extenuating circumstances. That is not a proper criteria for delivering a vote for death.

The elements of the crime are supposed to be independent of whether a juror finds any mitigators to be more true than not true.

Here’s the judge explaining exactly that:

 

The juror must decide what mitigators, the eight given or any others they can gather from the entire trial, decide which, if any are true, and then weigh them against the single aggravator of cruelty.

And here we have this juror talking about premeditation and proof that Arias did it. It’s really beyond belief. No way could these jurors have understood the instructions, that is unless the instructions just mean you can make any decision you want for any reasons you want. Basically that’s exactly what they say.

Juror #13 Kevin Spellman made more sense than either of these women. He said that the wounds themselves mean for him that not only was it not self-defense, but it had to be pre-meditated. That is that you cannot have that crime scene and those wounds using two weapons, without having a moment of reflection on the intent to kill. About the death penalty, he referenced the brutality and the cruelty of the killing, which shows an understanding of how he was supposed to make his decision, which you do not see in Diane or Mary-Lou’s answers.

So what does this mean for the new penalty “mini trial” – The Sequel? With those instructions, who knows what to expect or how the jurors will arrive at their momentous Life or Death decision.

crucible

Pizza Party directly after the verdict!!

 

Since when do we execute mentally ill first time offenders?  The response we usually get is that mental illness doesn’t matter unless Arias was insane at the time of the crime. Others deny there is any mental illness and say that a Pesonality Disorder is not a mental illness. Let’s take a look at that:

 

BPD, or Borderline Personality Disorder, is a condition many people have of varying degrees. Many of these people are very creative and very successful people.

 

“Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Introduction

Borderline Personality Disorder is a serious condition which is believed to affect between 1-3% of the general population. Yet, despite being so prevalent, BPD is not commonly understood.

People who live in a relationship with a person who suffers from borderline personality disorder often know that something is terribly wrong with the behavior of their family member or loved-one but often do not know what to do about it or that there is even a name for it.


Alternate Names

There are a number of different names used around the world for the same disorder:

  • Emotional Regulation Disorder (ERD)
  • Emotional Intensity Disorder (EID)
  • Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD)
  • Emotion-Impulse Regulation Disorder (EIRD)
  • Impulsive Personality Disorder (IPD)”

wicked-witch-of-the-west

Borderline Personality Disorder (Radical changes in DSM V)

“The essential features of a personality disorder are impairments in personality (self and interpersonal) functioning and the presence of pathological personality traits. To diagnose borderline personality disorder, the following criteria must be met:

A. Significant impairments in personality functioning manifest by:

1. Impairments in self functioning (a or b):

a. Identity: Markedly impoverished, poorly developed, or unstable self-image, often associated with excessive self-criticism; chronic feelings of emptiness; dissociative states under stress.

b. Self-direction: Instability in goals, aspirations, values, or career plans.

AND

2. Impairments in interpersonal functioning (a or b):

a. Empathy: Compromised ability to recognize the feelings and needs of others associated with interpersonal hypersensitivity (i.e., prone to feel slighted or insulted); perceptions of others selectively biased toward negative attributes or vulnerabilities.

b. Intimacy: Intense, unstable, and conflicted close relationships, marked by mistrust, neediness, and anxious preoccupation with real or imagined abandonment; close relationships often viewed in extremes of idealization and devaluation and alternating between over involvement and withdrawal.”

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/here-there-and-everywhere/201112/borderline-personality-disorder-big-changes-in-the-dsm-5

Here are some elements that may exist in persons with BPD:

Catastrophizing – The habit of automatically assuming a “worst case scenario” and inappropriately characterizing minor or moderate problems or issues as catastrophic events.

Chaos Manufacture Unnecessarily creating or maintaining an environment of risk, destruction, confusion or mess.

Cognitive Dissonance – A psychological term for the discomfort that most people feel when they encounter information which contradicts their existing set of beliefs or values. People who suffer from personality disorders often experience cognitive dissonance when they are confronted with evidence that their actions have hurt others or have contradicted their stated morals.

“Control-Me” Syndrome This describes a tendency which some people have to foster relationships with people who have a controlling narcissistic, antisocial or “acting-out” nature.

 

DenialBelieving or imagining that some painful or traumatic circumstance, event or memory does not exist or did not happen.

DependencyAn inappropriate and chronic reliance by an adult individual on another individual for their health, subsistence, decision making or personal and emotional well-being.

Depression – People who suffer from personality disorders are often also diagnosed with symptoms of depression.

DissociationA psychological term used to describe a mental departure from reality.

Domestic Theft Consuming or taking control of a resource or asset belonging to (or shared with) a family member, partner or spouse without first obtaining their approval.

Fear of AbandonmentAn irrational belief that one is in imminent danger of being personally rejected, discarded or replaced.

Hoovers & Hoovering A Hoover is a metaphor taken from the popular brand of vacuum cleaners, to describe how an abuse victim trying to assert their own rights by leaving or limiting contact in a dysfunctional relationship, gets “sucked back in” when the perpetrator temporarily exhibits improved or desirable behavior.”

http://outofthefog.net/Disorders/BPD.html

 

Famous People with Borderline Personality Disorder:

 

doug ferrariComedian Doug Ferrari,

angelina jolieActress Angelina Jolie,

lindsay lohanActress Lindsay Lohan,

amywinehouse300Singer Amy Winehouse,

britney-spears-1-600x450Singer Britney Spears,

courtney loveMusician Artist and Author Courtney Love,

princess dianaPrincess Diana

Marilyn-Monroe-marilyn-monroe-35821551-1000-645and Actress Marilyn Monroe.

http://www.newhealthguide.org/Famous-People-With-Borderline-Personality-Disorder.html

 

Many people out in social media–world and video-land say that Jodi Arias does not suffer from a lifelong mental illness, including Jodi Arias herself. Let’s see what a reporter who was up close and personal with Arias had to say:

 

Jodi Arias has a very severe form of this mental illness. Will we go back to the days of the Salem Witch Trials, and kill people with physical and mental disabilities because we ignorantly believe they are Evil?

Even if we do decide to put a mentally ill, first time offender to death, can we follow Arizona’s jury instructions, or are they actually indecipherable and unfollowable??

What is YOUR opinion? We really want to know.

You can also comment on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Spotlight-On-Law/189870931203328

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10 thoughts on “Why Arizona + Jury might = InJury (Jan 8, 2015)”

  1. Rob, once again, your research is impeccable! Those jurors are a scary lot, in my view. The more they talked the more it was obvious they misunderstood so much. I would really like to hear from the jurors who voted for life. But it’s likely they are in hiding from the lynch mob, too.

    1. I would like to hear from them too, Sandra. I think it was Diane as the leader of those who voted for death and Bill as the leader of those voting for life. Kevin, the guy with the beard, said he changed his mind from life to death the day of the decision. I knew Diane said two very questionable things in her interview, but Mary-Lou was a surprise. Her answer why she voted for death makes no sense.

    1. Thank-You for commenting, Justice for Travis, and yes, you are correct about the photo which is Sandy Arias’ twin sister, Sue Allan Halterman. You have a good eye for detail, so I’m surprised you didn’t say something more substantial.

      I’m not sure if you read the article, or just looked at the pictures, but I showed how Kevin Spellman’s answer was an excellent answer and he voted the same as Diane Schwartz and Marylou Allen-Coogan. If I were a juror who just found a defendant guilty of first degree murder, I would talk about why I found the killing was a 1st degree felony murder or why I found it was premeditated.

      I certainly wouldn’t talk about the evidence showing Arias was present at the scene and committed the killing. That had already been agreed to at the start of the trial, and Arias claimed self-defense. She could have talked about why she thought it was not self-defense. I don’t think that’s picking on the juror. As a juror, I would not go out socially with the family of either side or sit with them in the gallery, at least not until the case was completed.

      Diane Schwartz said in an earlier interview that Arias had “absolutely no” mitigating factors. So, according to the jury rules, that’s a very easy decision to make, yet she said it was very difficult. The mitigating factors are to be weighed against the single aggravator of cruelty, which is what makes the crime eligible for the death penalty in the first place. There should be no reason to mention that she looked at “all the aggravating factors that went into the crime”.

      Marylou said she voted for death because “The state proved their case, it was premeditated.” That’s not a reason to vote for death, that’s a reason to find Arias guilty of 1st degree murder.

      I do not feel I’m picking on the jurors. The videos show what they said. Diane Schwartz did appear on HLN multiple times, on NBC’s 12 News, ABC’s 10 News, FOX News 10 Phoenix, and at the Arizona Republican. So I feel I have every right to look at what she said.

      1. You’re pointing out that Diane did non-verbals to the family and prosecutor table. She admitted it, but AFTER they finished deliberating, and were not unanimous. At least it was over! How about Miss LaViolette getting queues and head shakes from Jodi herself and Willmott? It’s so frustrating to watch you call out all these bad acts, yet if anyone did something that was egregious it was the defense! Giving the answers to their witness on cross, crosses the line!!!!!!!!!

      2. I heard about people who said that Alyce was getting cues from the defense, but I never saw proof. I don’t really believe that. Do you have a video from the trial or any other citing to show what you are saying is more than just a rumor?

  2. Quite honestly there is nothing unusual or ambiguous about the jury instructions for the special questions for capital cases. Most states with the ultimate punishment have similar special jury instruction and in some states even a psychiatrist with a crystal ball to testify to the future danger of the defendant, to pretty much seal the date.

    Judge Sherry Stephens in your own video post makes it clear the jury is to consider evidence from the “entire trial”, not just the penalty phase. This would explain why the stakes are so high in this the second penalty phase. This is a jury that does not have the benefit of ALL the evidence presented to the original jury.

    Finally your analysis simplifies the process, first the jury had to find her guilty of premeditated murder, if so the next phase to make her eligible for the death penalty was answering the question was the murder “cruel and or depraved” for which the jury answered yes.

    Only after those two requirements are met can the case proceed to a penalty phase that includes the death sentence.

    In most states the aggravating and mitigating factors are presented in a “one bite at the apple”, in those states I could see some confusion. The was the state of Arizona does it actually makes more sense.

    1. Thank-You, Regina Carr, for your comments.

      You state that the penalty phase re-trial jury does not have available all the evidence from the original trial to use in making the Life or Death decision. This is true, and it could work to the disadvantage of either side. The second jury does not have as much opportunity to bond with the defendant, or to become overexposed to her, as the case may be. They did a pretty good job at reviewing most of the important evidence on both sides that was presented at the original trial, imo.

      You stated that in other daeth penalty states, aggravation and mitigation are weighed in one step. I agree with you that it may be better the way Arizona divides it and addresses the aggravating circumstances first. If the jury does not agree on the aggravating circumstance(s), the trial ends right there with a life sentence.

      You’re right, in Arizona, there is the guilt phase, where it is determined whether the defendant is guilty or innocent as well as the degree of guilt. In this case, the defendant was found unanimously to be guilty of 1st degree premeditated murder.

      Seven of the twelve jurors, who I stongly suspect are also the “death jurors”, also found her guilty of 1st degree felony murder. We have shown that there was a lack of evidence for this charge and it should have been dropped after the prosecution rested its case. We are far from alone in that analysis. The failure to drop the felony murder charge was prejudicial to Ms. Arias, imo.

      The second phase is the aggravation phase, where the single aggravator of cruelty was found to be true by a unanaimous decision of the jury. This makes Ms. Arias eligible for the death penalty. We have also shown in previous articles that Arizona’s F(6) aggravator prong of “especially cruel” is so broad in its definition plus jury instructions, that this aggravator prong can be applied to almost any murder and certainly to almost any stabbing homicide. Arizona’s definition of “especially cruel” can even be applied successfully to lethal injection as well as most natural deaths.

      The prongs of heinous and depraved were not accepted by the court.

      We have also reported that the prosecution demonstrated that the gunshot was last and post-mortem. If so, by Arizona law this is injuring a victim post-mortem which automatically qualifies this crime for the heinous and/or depraved prongs. Since heinous and/or depraved were rejected and not pursued pre-trial, this indicates the prosecution did not in fact believe the gunshot was last until it became desirable to do so in order to cast extra doubt on Arias’ claims.

      At the start of the guilt phase of the trial, the defense told the jury “this was not a whodunnit”, that “Jodi Arias killed Travis Alexander, there is no question about it”.The object of the guilt phase was to find why Arias killed Alexander, and assign a degree of guilt to the killing. It was never to find whether Arias committed the crime, this was stipulated to by both parties pre-trial. The prosecution still needs to present the physical evidence and otherwise prove their case.

      Juror interview videos show one juror stating that she found Arias guilty because of the physical evience at the crime scene: The handprint in blood, the hair in blood, and the photos. This says nothing about either 1st degree premeditated or felony murder. The juror is stating she found her guilty because she committed the crime. This is a frightening answer.

      The same juror on video, when asked about why she voted for death, explained that she “went home and thought about all the aggravating factors that went into the crime”. The jury had shortly before founda a single aggravating factor of cruelty. It’s true that the jurors were told they could go back to anywhere in the trial to find any mitigators, even ones not presented by the defense.

      The jurors could also look at any part of the trial to find reasons not to vote for leniency. But the main thing that qualifies this 1st degree murder for the death penalty is the “especially cruel” aggravating factor.

      This makes her answer frightening, to me anyways. Her answers make sense in that sense of explaining reasons not to find for leniency, but being that involved in a case that went on for 5 months, she should know what an aggravator is and that there was one single aggravator.

      If there isn’t some kind of formula, such as weighing the mitigators against the aggravator, then the jury instructions really amount to ‘just choose whatever you want for whatever reasons you want’, don’t they?

      The other juror said on video that she voted for death because “The prosecution proved their case, it was premeditated, and there were extenuating circumstances”.This explains the guilt phase and the aggravation phase, but leaves the penalty phase completely untouched. It’s a frightening answer.

      These answers raise serious questions in my mind about how the jury decided on the issue of Life or Death.

  3. Excellent dissection of the problem. Good article.
    I don’t suppose disregarding jury instructions is an appeal issue is it?

    1. Thanks, MN
      It just seems incredible to me what they said. I would really like to see all 12 interviewed. I think Arizona really confuses people about what it is they are deciding and how to decide it.

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