An Open letter to Wendy Murphy
Yes, you guessed it. I’m a wee bit disappointed with her.
On May 28, 2013, an attorney named Wendy Murphy, who was appearing on CNN’s notorius HeadLine News Network HLN, Wrote an article called:
“PORN DEFENSE AND SEXIST MANIPULATION STRATEGY
WORKED FOR NOW, BUT JODI “HANNIBAL LECTER” ARIAS MIGHT NOT GET A SIMILARLY NAÏVE JURY THE NEXT TIME.”
This article kind of jumped out at me, and I just had to read and analyze it. Obviously, Wendy Murphy was just another in a long line of useless idiots riding the wave of the Jodi Arias trial. She is always trying to sell one book or another, like most people who came on HLN and walked all over Jodi Arias and the facts to hawk their latest book. She is some kind of a law professor at some or another college somewhere.
Wendy Murphy is supposed to be a Victim’s Rights Advocate. She is supposed to be a Civil Trial lawyer. You know, the ones who go after the deep pockets money and have a much lower burden of proof than in a criminal trial. According to her Website, she has recommendations from such celebrities as Geraldo Rivera (Who was the only one I know of to publicly condemn Nancy Grace for her twisted reporting on Arias and the trial), Judge Andrew Napolitano, the jovial bloviator with the hair that seemingly grows out of his forehead, also put in a word for Wendy Murphy.
These two people just happen to both appear on FOX News Network, where Wendy also appears from time to time. The next recommendation comes from Dominick Dunne, who congratulates her for her work on the 1996 Jon Benet Ramsey case. Wendy! You must be older than I thought! A fourth “celebrity” who recommends Wendy Murphy is Rita Cosby, yet another FOX Friend, and possibly a drinking buddy of Ms. Murphy when she’s in town.
Wendy Murphy is looking for Victims to represent in civil court. Apparently this line of work is not enough to sustain her, so she writes books and appears on FOX NEWS or she tries to con her way onto CNN or MSNBC as they all do.
Apparently, she was too busy to reply to my letter which I E-mailed to her in early June. When I took exception to her “Porn Defense” article. I saw this as just a blatant attempt to garner Civil Trial clients and book deals by being the next opportunist to throw rocks at Jodi Arias. Rita Cosby probably told her to never respond unless it’s a business opportunity.
Now, rape on Ivy League campuses is her next big thing. Maybe Wendy discovered where the real lucrative civil suits can be found. Wendy Murphy is happy to share her new-found expertise on campus rape, if you buy her new E-Book for $8.00. Of course, she’s plugging another in a long, long line of books entitled “……. the book they don’t want you to read” or “things……they don’t want you to know”. Oh, it’s the old reverse psychology, forbidden information, ploy.
Wendy is another in a long line of middle aged “personality wannabees”. She got herself a facelift, wrote a couple of books, and speaks out on a couple of different news outlets. Her latest article is “An Open Letter to Juan Martinez, where she decides she must warn Juan of Jodi’s dirty tricks and give advice to Juan Martinez about the finer points of law.
I believe what she did to Jodi Arias is reprehensible, and no different than what Geraldo condemned Nancy Grace for doing.
The following is my updated response to her article:
Dear Ms. Murphy,
In reference to the State of Arizona vs. Jodi Ann Arias, I understand your sentiments. I watched you on CNN’s HeadLine News (HLN) and I respect your position and your ideas. I read your article entitled “PORN DEFENSE AND SEXIST MANIPULATION STRATEGY…”
I really have to tell you that I respectfully disagree with much of what you opined.
I believe that it more likely than not that Jodi Arias doesn’t remember the stabbings and that she was under extreme duress. I believe there is a real question as to the order of injuries, and that makes a huge difference in this case. It is abundantly clear to me that the gunshot was first, and that changes the death penalty calculus dramatically.
Your idea that she “shot him in the face for fun” is just not believable given all the facts of the case. For instance, the trajectory of the gunshot wound is nearly impossible to achieve if Travis was lying on the floor of the bathroom. Why would Travis Alexander, being under attack from Arias with a knife, be able to go to the bathroom mirror and turn his back on his attacker? It’s much more likely that Travis Alexander went to the mirror unchallenged because he was shot in the face and he needed to find out what had happened to him.
That there seems to be some malfeasance in the Medical Examiner’s report is a devious and real possibility which creates a genuine issue for appeal.
You expressed your shock and distress that Jodi Arias could go on the stand and “lie with a straight face about whether and why she stabbed a man 29 times, tried to slice off his head, and then shot him in the face for fun.”
There’s no legal basis for any of these claims. Alexander was stabbed 16 times according to the official autopsy report. He had 13 incised wounds for a total of 29 knife wounds which includes the throat wound. There is a scientific basis to claim that the “cluster of 9 stab wounds” to Alexander’s back are actually “chopping wounds” which are often defensive blows on the part of the assailant. “Chopping wounds” are defined as having the characteristics of both sharp force trauma and blunt force trauma. The official autopsy report states that among the “cluster of 9 wounds” only, “all wounds display “blunt and sharply incised ends”. These wounds could have been made by the assailant from beneath the victim defensively or face to face with the victim, defensively*. This means it is reasonable to infer that Alexander was stabbed 7 times.
None other than prosecutor Juan Martinez, using court reporter Mike Babicky as “the victim”, demonstrated at trial that the knife blows could have been delivered from a variety of positions. There is no basis for your claim that Jodi “tried to slice off his head”. Alexander’s throat was slit and the process of decomposition served to expand the size and depth of the wounds. In the famously shocking autopsy photo, Alexander’s head is tilted far backwards to fully expose and open the wound.
Travis was not stabbed 29 times. This is the media running wild with speculation as do you. This assumes facts not in evidence, Ms. Murphy. I believe that there are real questions about what happened that day and that the defense team demonstrated that there are multiple avenues for reasonable doubt.
I believe they showed that there are legitimate questions regarding the prosecution’s and the media’s narrative about what actually happened.
The prosecution’s case which forms the entire basis of the case for first degree premeditated murder AND the reason why the death penalty is warranted amounts to this mathematical formula:
Circumstantial Evidence + Lies + Speculation + Autopsy Photos + Seasoned Manipulative Persuasion = Guilt.
In fact, there is proof of and justification for neither a first degree murder charge nor the death penalty in this case.
You wrote that “This case was always ONLY about the death penalty, as evidenced by the fact that Arias’ lawyers played their hand during trial as if the only thing they cared about was persuading a single male juror to resist voting for death.” Although the defense strategy always had the aim of avoiding the death penalty, the main thrust of the case was to present facts and evidence which all point towards reasonable doubt.
The defense team was not experienced with crime scene evidence, blood spatter, and forensic analysis. The prosecution offered little crime scene forensic evidence of its own. These factors, when analyzed, tell a much different tale than what was presented at trial.
According to you, Wendy Murphy, the Arias defense attorneys were not interested in preventing a 1st degree murder conviction or the finding of the single prong of the “Especially Heinous, Cruel, or Depraved” aggravator which opens the door to the death penalty in Arizona. Instead, you opine that Arias’ defense attorneys maintained a laser focus solely on the task of preventing a death sentence.
Their “Porn Defense”, in your words, targeted a few male jurors or even a single male juror by attempting to get a male so hot and bothered by a frank discussion of sex, that they could never put Jodi to death. I have no idea if all the 4 “life jurors” were male or were vulnerable to such a “Porn Defense”, and, frankly, neither do you.
Here’s an interesting death penalty case from Arizona:
“A Maricopa County Superior Court jury on Monday brought back a death sentence verdict against Stephen Reeves, who murdered a young woman working in a west Phoenix insurance office in 2007.
It was the second trial for Reeves, 56, who was caught on surveillance video on June 2, 2007, as he beat 18-year-old Norma Gabriella Contreras with a brick, then choked her with a stick and finally slit her throat with a box cutter. Reeves was later found covered in blood in Contreras’ car.
On Dec. 10, the first jury pronounced Reeves guilty of first-degree murder, armed robbery, kidnapping, burglary, and auto theft. A week later, the jury found aggravating factors that would qualify Reeves for the death penalty.
But despite the surveillance video, the jury could not reach agreement on life or death, forcing a retrial.”
This jury actually saw the crime on video. The video was so horrific that jurors were given trauma counseling referrals prior to viewing the video. There were 3 Aggravating Circumstances found to be proven true beyond a reasonable doubt.
Yet, these jurors were unable to present a unanimous verdict for a death sentence. Did these jurors have a “porn defense” to make them “forget” all about the brutal killing?
In furtherance of your theory, you state that the “phone sex tape” was the centerpiece of the “porn defense”. I would say that I am at least your age and probably older. What you call “porn”, I call rather pedestrian and basically common and normal behavior between consenting adults
That is except for the things that are not common and normal about their sex life or the sex tape:
- Evidence that Travis Alexander preferred anal sex almost exclusively and used religious doctrine to justify this to Jodi Arias.
- The dismissive and callous way Travis treated Jodi in that tape and the things he didn’t say on the tape that are normally said by a person who cares about his sex partner. It reveals something more like a John being serviced by a prostitute than a girl and a guy engaging in some playful sex talk.
- The sex evidence is absolutely necessary to explain why this is a dominant / submissive relationship and why it was abusive to Arias. It gives us an insight into what this relationship and the victim were really all about.
- Travis got what he wanted without having to give anything. Jodi wanted love. The incredible extremes people will endure simply to be loved know no bounds.
You stated that “guys like to protect girls in danger, especially when they dress up like 12 year-old librarians, even if that danger is an appropriate legal judgment of death by lethal injection”.
I don’t remember any “12 year-old librarian” at the Jodi Arias trial. If they were really going for sex appeal, why didn’t the defense dress Jodi up like a model for the trial? They could have made her up like a young Hannah Montana or an older Miley Cyrus. I never felt sexually attracted to Jodi Arias. I was more impressed by the sexual exploitation and the psychological and emotional abuse by Travis Alexander towards Jodi Arias which is objectively evident in all aspects of their relationship:
Photos of Travis’ genitals he sent to Jodi Arias
This is the photo Travis Alexander took of Jodi
This is the photo Jodi Arias took of Travis
A cunning narcissist who demands compliments and needs to quell his anger with sex. A religious hypocrite who uses a passive and vulnerable woman for his wish-list of fantastical sex acts while simultaneously despising her, ridiculing her to his friends, blaming her for his own behaviors and withholding even a hint of love.
You wrote about all the supposed “red herrings” in the defense case. Yet I saw more red herrings on the prosecution side. No real blood spatter evidence or other crime scene evidence was introduced to buttress the prosecution’s theory of events. It was only proved that a killing had occurred and that Jodi Arias committed it. It was merely proven that Jodi Arias premeditated a road trip. We knew all this at the very start of the trial.
The ample evidence of abuse on the part of Alexander was glossed over by attacking the defense witnesses. Do you honestly believe that there is no room for reasonable doubt in all of Kurt Nurmi’s final argument? There is plenty of room beginning with the ridiculous motive proffered by the prosecution (murdered over a trip to Cancun!), to all sorts of questions about absence of blood evidence, crime scene evidence, medical and ballistic evidence that should reinforce the prosecution narrative of events, but in reality contradicts it.
It is just as likely an explanation that Arias did in fact want the death penalty and did try to sabotage her mitigation case after the guilty verdict. Faced with a choice of life in an Arizona prison or death, who among us could say for certain that we would choose life?
This is, in fact, further proof of Jodi’s veracity. So you are saying that the whole case was about avoiding the death penalty, and yet the defense at the last minute took away the mitigation witnesses which were clearly her best shot at avoiding a death sentence? That is absurd on its face.
You stated that Arias’ allocution was “full of hokey acts of benevolence”. You wrote that Jodi had never engaged in benevolent acts before she was in jail. How would you know this? She was only 27 at the time. You are not as able to perform acts of benevolence when you are struggling economically, although you may always have planned on giving to others, and hoped to do it someday.
You stated that “Arias admitted in subsequent interviews that she intentionally came up with project ideas in order to manipulate jurors by appealing to their specific interests.”
That a man is hard of hearing in no way supposes that he knows or appreciates sign language. How could you name a list of planned benevolence without stating a common interest of any 12 people? Some people would say that Arias’ boldness in asserting that she was a “survivor” of domestic abuse was proof that her story is true. Who would dare do this in the face of death, when the cost of making that claim may well be death? This is the act of someone who is either psychotic OR someone who is telling the truth.
You stated “she blamed the prosecutor’s refusal to give her a sentence she did not deserve for why she smeared Travis Alexander’s reputation during trial”.
Did you know that in Arizona, a man went to a 4th of July event where he spied the younger sister of a girl he knew camping overnight at the event. He lured this 13 year-old girl and her 13 year-old companion out into the desert with his accomplice. He savagely beat, choked and raped the girl on the hood of his car. He then strangled her to death and stomped on her body with all his weight. Then he threw her naked and lifeless body down a mine shaft and burned her clothes.
This man was charged with 2nd degree murder in Arizona and is free today. He made a deal with the prosecutor. Is this the sentence that he “deserved”?
Jodi was willing to plead guilty to 2nd degree murder but was refused. It couldn’t be because Jodi lied, because both these defendants lied about what happened when they were caught.
Let’s look at what you had to say, Wendy Murphy:
“Arias doesn’t deserve a deal because a deal would only reward her bad behavior and manipulation strategies, and indulge all the shady antics of her lawyers who shamelessly hustled the male jurors by exploiting sex and other gender-biased irrelevancies for tactical gain.
Indeed, allowing Arias to testify falsely under oath for eighteen days may have amounted to legal malpractice otherwise. But they knew that having a cute female defendant talk about oral and anal sex for weeks, and describe how she “bent over” for Travis Alexander, followed by the playing of a recording of Arias engaging in phone sex with the guy until orgasm, would surely, um, stimulate the male jurors to think about all sorts of things OTHER than the near decapitation of an innocent murder victim.”
That’s quite a barrage of unsubstantiated allegations for an attorney such as you, Ms. Murphy. What makes you think anyone, under any circumstances, could possibly forget those horrible crime scene photos and shocking autopsy photos?
How do you suppose that a self-defense homicide case can go forward without bringing up negative evidence against the victim? It seems to me that this was an abusive and volatile relationship. Travis Alexander was more than happy to use the LDS Church for business contacts, for customers, for social contacts, and for a bevy of young women who would not tell about their sins.
Yet, though he was an ordained Church Elder who taught bible study and baptized children into the LDSChurch, he did not feel he needed to follow the sacred tenets of a very serious and strict, family oriented religion. In light of his religious upbringing, the way Alexander treated Jodi Arias is particularly sickening. To goad a woman into anal sex on the day of her baptism into the faith on the pretext that vaginal sex was a violation of their chastity vows?
It is obvious to me that Travis Alexander’s preference for anal sex had nothing to do with vows and plenty to do with his freely stated excitement about little girls and sex. It is also clear that his abusive childhood and absentee parents could easily have become a catalyst for abuse, both sexual and physical. This is no fault of the victim’s.
Did you see the disgustingly crude picture he took of her anus on June 4th? How can you honestly say that Travis was the innocent victim and that Jodi is a Psycho-demon? Hannibal Lecter, you called her. You liken Jodi Arias to a fictional serial killer who consumes the victims? Is that in any way fair-minded and rational?
At trial we were shown objective evidence by text messages of a 3 hour marathon of seething and violent anger from Travis Alexander. Do you honestly have doubts that Travis could have been sexually and physically abusive towards Jodi? Can you blame that all on Arias, or did Travis have to finally deal with the truth and the inevitable exposure of his lies and hypocrisy? Do you really have absolute certainty that Travis didn’t attack Jodi on June 4th?
You wrote that “Arias had “no mitigating factors” but then the defense attorney refused to call her family members to testify as mitigation witnesses, while helping her create a slideshow demonstrating all the “mitigating” things they could think of.”
Actually, Arias was telling the truth. She didn’t have any of the usual statutory mitigating factors, (extreme child abuse, abandonment, mental retardation, insanity, severe drug and alcohol abuse and child sexual abuse) and that as many of the miscellaneous mitigating factors as possible needed to be found and employed.
How do you know that Arias didn’t try to sabotage her own mitigation case? How do you know the mitigation specialist didn’t scramble to find a way to put her factors into a slideshow so that she could present them without her witnesses?
You stated that “Arias’ lawyers hedged their bets, knowing that even if Jodi’s entire family and all her childhood friends took the stand and begged for her life, the jury would still vote for death simply because no amount of mitigation evidence would make a dent in the mountain of reasons that justify imposition of the ultimate punishment”.
What is your mountain of reasons for justifying the death penalty? There is no one on death row in America today for a murder with extreme cruelty or any other murder without one of the following factors: (Murder with Prior violent convictions, murder for money. murder by conspiracy, murder with kidnapping, rape, or torture, multiple murders, murder of a uniformed law officer, murder of children).
Please let me know if you find one without at least one of these factors. Scott Peterson? He killed his helpless pregnant while she was 8 months pregnant with his own child. Unlike Arias, we have clear and convincing proof of his bad character and bad intentions prior to the murder.
You wrote that “As judgment day on the ultimate issue grew closer, Arias’ lawyers were near frantic in their efforts to derail court proceedings, no doubt worried that the little mitigation evidence they had to offer was nowhere near substantial enough to justify life rather than death.”
- No prior record is not substantial?
- 4 relationships lasting years, not months, 3 of which ended against Arias’will and amicably are not substantial?
- A history of mental illness is not substantial?
- No history of violence or rage both years before meeting Alexander and years after the killing is not substantial?
- Proven emotional and psychological abuse (which are the precursors to sexual and physical abuse) are not substantial?
- A GED graduate who is more articulate and poised than many college graduates is not a reason to show leniency?
- A prisoner with no prospects for happiness or freedom using her time and talents to reach out to victims of abuse is not a reason to show mercy?
A major part of the strategy seemed to be to put Arias on the stand, not for sexual stimulation, but to bond with the jury in either an empathetic way or in a Stockholm Syndrome type of way. Your Victorian views on sex and your outdated views on the priorities and the lack of a capacity for empathy in males cannot change the wisdom of such a strategy.
Since that effect can hardly be achieved in the second penalty phase, why do you think “the defense is at an advantage the second time around”? Why does Arias and the defense have an advantage the longer the distance is between the 1st and 2nd penalty phase? The same review of the facts has to take place. The same aggravating and mitigating factors have to be presented. The same media and social media hounds will rise up again. So, where’s the advantage of time? Arias must spend more time behind bars because she must wait to file most of her appeals until after the inevitable sentencing.
You wrote about how the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is reversing death penalty convictions based on “ineffective assistance of counsel” because the defense attorneys refused to present mitigation witnesses.
Since you are an attorney, would you care to cite some cases in support of your position? Did you notice that in Arizona, Capital defendants are required to have a mitigation specialist? Defense attorneys have no justification for failure to present mitigation evidence or witnesses in Arizona. That is unless they are threatened and intimidated into not testifying as seen in State v. Jodi Ann Arias.
The way you put it, Arias’ defense “ploy” to not present mitigation witnesses would only work if Arias were in fact sentenced to death. You can’t appeal a death sentence in the 9th Circuit if you don’t get sentenced to death. So then, why were Jennifer Willmott’s final arguments so visceral, heartfelt and heroic? Why was Kirk Nurmi’s closing argument so full of valid and substantial reasons to be doubtful of the prosecution’s theory?
The defense can’t refuse to call mitigation witnesses the next time and you have already stated that no amount of mitigation could help Arias. So how is your imaginary strategy supposed to work? Did you forget that Arias presented no mitigation witnesses, yet there was no unanimous decision for a death sentence?
I believe your analysis is full of holes, full of speculation, and full of …. contradictions. It flies in the face of all we know about Arias’ life years before the incident all the way up the month and day of the tragic event on June 4th, 2008.
Also, there are the 5 years since that day, where Arias has been a model, compliant prisoner. It flies in the face of what you must concede we know about Travis Alexander, the lying, the manipulation and the abuse. The idea that she has “no conscience” is easily debatable. I feel that she has shown remorse all through this trial. It is really asking a little much for a mentally ill woman to show contrition to Travis Alexander’s estranged family and Mormon community as they fervently seek revenge and will stop at nothing short of execution. This woman is clearly mentally ill and clearly unable or unwilling to show emotions in the way that we would like.
What is she supposed to say and do? I think the subject of remorse is also a red herring. What could she possibly do to show remorse in the face of this killing while fighting for her life? Your answer is that she should confess to what “really happened” that day in the bathroom. As an attorney, you should know how stressful a trial like this is and how stressful 18 days on the stand can be, even given the best conditions.
Many people have very good reason to believe that this is not as it seems and that Arias did tell the truth to the best of her ability. Even though she has lied in the past, there is reason to believe that the objective and physical evidence can prove that the prosecution’s narrative is false.
Even if we take all the verdicts to be absolutely correct, it should still be abundantly clear to thinking and feeling human beings that the facts of this case do not merit the death penalty and Arias herself does not warrant execution.
Instead, I believe that this case will be successfully appealed and a new and fair trial may yield vastly different results. Then perhaps the family of crime victims will learn to their benefit that such things as “closure” and “forgiveness” should not and do not depend on the actions or the fate of the accused or the convicted.
Sincerely, Rob Roman
- How the Utah rock tumble is connected to Jodi Arias (fox2now.com)