Why Arizona Death – Qualified Juries are inherently dangerous
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.
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
“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
“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
“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
“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 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”.
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.
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”.
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.
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)
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.
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)”
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.
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.”
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.
Denial – Believing or imagining that some painful or traumatic circumstance, event or memory does not exist or did not happen.
Dependency – An 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.
Dissociation– A 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 Abandonment – An 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.”
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??
Much has been made of the 1st degree Felony murder charge in the Jodi Arias case. The popular consensus is:
1) This is a totally legitimate charge under Arizona law.
2) The prosecution can charge whatever they want. It’s still up to the jury whether or not to convict on each charge.
3) Arias’ defense attorneys are a “joke” and “do not know what the hell they’re talking about”.
4) “F*ck Off, f*cktard!!”
5) Nobody cares / It doesn’t matter, because the jury did not find Jodi Arias guilty of 1st degree Felony Murder.
6) The jury instructions said that jurors can make a finding of both 1st degree AND felony murder, and that’s what some of them did. So what?
7) Jodi Arias butchered Travis Alexander. She was unanimously found guilty of first degree Premeditated Murder by a jury of her peers, so f*ck off!
8) It was Felony Murder, because it was a felony AND it was a murder. – It’s not rocket science – Duh!
“Ladies and Gentlemen: There’s nothing.
It’s silly. It’s fearful. That charge is there out of fear.
It makes no sense …. not under any scenario does that make any sense.
Either she was there to kill him … or she wasn’t.”
– Defense Attorney Kirk Nurmi
What does he mean by “Either she was there to kill him … or she wasn’t”?
What does he mean by “That charge is there out of fear”?
Now is a good time to review the different charges for a murder:
1st degree Premeditated Murder: A deliberate plan to kill or a “period of cool deliberation”.
It’s deliberate and there is an intent to kill in the person’s mind. It’s also called a “cold-blooded murder”. It’s considered worse than 2nd degree Murder because a person calmly made a decision to murder, reflected on it, and then carried it out.
1st degree Felony Murder: A deliberate plan to carry out a dangerous felony (other than 1st degree murder) and in the course of that felony, a death occurs.
The primary or “predicate felony” is the main intent of the person. The person usually has no premeditation to commit murder. As a result of and in the course of carrying out that dangerous felony, somebody dies.
2nd degree Murder: There is no deliberate plan to kill nor a “period of cool deliberation” or it cannot be proven in court, but the person intentionally caused the death of another person.
There is no provable deliberation, but an intent to kill is formed in the person’s mind. It is a murder born of unplanned circumstances. Often, this would be called a “hot-blooded murder”.
If a jury finds that this 2nd degree murder was committed in the intense emotional turmoil called a “heat of passion”, Arizona law requires that the charge be reduced to Manslaughter.
Manslaughter: There is no deliberate plan and no intent to kill, but the person negligently or recklessly caused the death of another person.
Justifiable Homicide: A murder is justified because a person was defending their life or the life of another person.
We have a situation in a Capital murder case, where the prosecution is pushing hard for a 1st degree murder conviction, this will mean lifetime imprisonment or the Death Penalty.
The defense is pushing just as hard to get, at the least, a 2nd degree murder conviction, where the Death penalty cannot be applied and the defendant has some chance of parole and one day getting out of prison. Of course, a heat of passion manslaughter verdict or an acquittal would be even better for the defense and Arias.
The Defense in the Jodi Arias case had a primary goal or mission to get anything BUT a 1st degree murder conviction for the same reasons.
Can the additional but bogus charge of 1st degree felony murder assist the prosecution to achieve their goal of a 1st degree murder conviction?
Now, let’s review the actual instructions that the jury was given and that Judge Stephens read word for word to the jury.
“THE CHARGED OFFENSE – PREMEDITATED MURDER
Count 1 charges the defendant with First Degree Murder. Arizona law
recognizes two types of First Degree Murder – Premeditated Murder and
Felony Murder. The state has charged the defendant with both types.
The crime of First Degree Premeditated Murder requires the state to prove the following:
The defendant caused the death of another person; and
The defendant intended or knew that she would cause the death ofanother person; and
The defendant acted with premeditation.
“Premeditation” means that the defendant intended to kill another human being or knew she would kill another human being; and that after forming that intent or knowledge, reflected on the decision before killing. It is this reflection, regardless of the length of time in which it occurs, that distinguishes First Degree Murder from Second Degree Murder.
While reflection is required for First Degree Murder, the time needed for reflection is not necessarily prolonged, and the space of time between the intent or knowledge to kill and the act of killing may be very short. An act is not done with premeditation if it is the instant effect of a sudden quarrel or heat of passion.
The crime of First Degree Premeditated Murder includes the lesseroffense of Second Degree Murder. You may consider a lesser offense if either:
You find the defendant not guilty of First Degree Premeditated Murder; or
After full and careful consideration of the facts, you cannot agree on whether to find the defendant guilty or not guilty of First Degree Premeditated Murder.
You cannot find the defendant guilty of any offense unless you find that the State has proved each element of that offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
SECOND DEGREE MURDER
The crime of Second Degree Murder requires proof of one of the
The defendant intentionally caused the death of another person; or
The defendant caused the death of another person by conductwhich the defendant knew would cause death or serious physical injury; or
Under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to humanlife, the defendant recklessly engaged in conduct that created a grave riskof death and thereby caused the death of another person. The risk must be such that disregarding it was a gross deviation from what a reasonable person in the defendant’s situation would have done.
The difference between first degree murder and second degree murder is that second degree murder does not require premeditation by thedefendant.
CHARGED OFFENSE – FELONY MURDER
As stated earlier, Count 1 also charges defendant with First Degree Felony Murder. The crime of First Degree Felony Murder requires the state to prove the following two things:
The defendant committed or attempted to commit Burglary in the
Second Degree; and
In the course of and in furtherance of committing Burglary in theSecond Degree, or immediate flight from it, the defendant caused the deathof any person.
An “attempt” requires the state to prove that the defendant intentionally did something which, under the circumstances she believed them to be, was a step in a course of conduct planned to culminate in the commission of the offense. The crime of Burglary in the Second Degree requires proof that the defendant:
Entered or remained unlawfully in or on a residentialstructure; and
Did so with the intent to commit any theft or felony therein.
Residential structure means any structure, movable orimmovable, permanent or temporary, that is adapted for both humanresidence and lodging whether occupied or not.
“Intentionally” or “with the intent to” means, with respect to a result or to conduct described by a statute defining an offense, that a person’s objective is to cause that result or to engage in that conduct.
There are no lesser included offenses for First Degree Felony Murder.
Okay, I hope you lived through that. If so, you may have noticed a few things. First, it seems as if juries were very confused about how if they decide it’s a second degree murder, then they must decide if it was a “sudden heat of passion” killing. If the jury decides it is, then the 2nd degree murder is reduced to manslaughter. The instructions repeat so many times on this that it seems that there was trouble with the comprehension of this instructions.
The 1st degree pre-meditated murder charge includes the lesser offenses of 2nd degree murder, sudden heat of passion murder, and manslaughter. The Felony murder charge has no lesser included offenses.
The jury is informed that all can vote for premeditated M1, or all can vote for felony M1, or all can vote for both, or there can be any kind of mixture, as long as they are all unanimous that it’s a first degree murder.
In order to make a finding of Felony murder in this case, the jurors need to find that the defendant committed or intended to commit 2nd degree burglary. In Arizona, this only means that a defendant entered or remained unlawfully in a residence with the intent to commit any other theft or felony.
Can two people both be guilty of felony murder with one victim? Yes they can.
Example: Joe Blow and Lou Blew go to rob a horse track. Lou Blew blows away a cashier. Both Joe Blow and Lou Blew are guilty of felony murder.
Can one person be guilty of felony murder with two victims? Yes they can.
Example: Snidely Whiplash is in his Humvee being chased by the police. The police car smashes into a motorcycle, killing Hairy Ryder. Snidely runs over Midge, a little old lady with a walker who was trying to cross the street. Snidely Whiplash is guilty of two counts of felony murder.
Can one person be guilty of both felony murder and premeditated murder with two victims? Yes they can.
Example: Robin Redrum plans on killing Bumptious Q. Bangwhistle in his home a month in advance. She goes to his home and shoots him dead. Bumptious’ brother, Sumptious Z. Bangwhistle, is visiting that day. He hears the gunfire and comes out of the bathroom and Robin shoots him dead. Robin Redrum is guilty of one count of 1st degree Premeditated Murder and one count of 1st degree Felony Murder.
Now, can one person be guilty of BOTH felony murder and premeditated murder with a single victim? Only rarely, and it would take some doing and some verbal gymnastics to explain how this could be so without a separate felony.
Premeditated murder is a planned murder, or at the very least, the person had a moment of cool reflection.
Felony murder is an unplanned murder. The person plans another felony, and in the course of and in furtherance of this felony, a death occurs. (The victim could have a heart attack, your accomplice could murder the victim, the police could shoot the victim by mistake when trying to shoot you, or you could be surprised by an unexpected victim and kill them, or you could just suddenly decide to kill somebody. All these are examples of felony murder).
How does one person commit BOTH a planned and an unplanned killing with a single victim? Not very easily, BUT Arizona law does allow jurors to find both pre-meditated murder 1 and felony murder 1 concurrently under certain circumstances.
Doesn’t that seem like a blessing for prosecutors?
A) Let’s say Horatio Hornblower plans to tie up and rob little Billy Pilgrim. He ties him up and steals his computer and big screen TV. He drives away, then he thinks again and drives back to Billy Pilgrim’s house and kills him with a George Foreman 3 minute hamburger grill. Now, is this felony murder or premeditated murder or both?
B) Let’s say Horatio Hornblower again plans to tie up and rob little Billy Pilgrim. He ties him up and steals his computer and big screen TV. Billy tells Horatio that he’s a useless cowardly thieving dirt bag. Horatio Hornblower then brains Billy with a George Foreman 3 minute hamburger grill. Is this example felony murder, pre-meditated murder, or both?
C) Let’s say Robin Redrum has NO intention to kill Sweet Polly Purebred in her home by suffocating her with a plastic bag. Robin is a welcome guest. A fight breaks out. She puts a plastic bag over Polly’s head, but she’s not dying. She’s injured, but not dead. So Robin stabs her with Polly’s knitting needle 99 times until she dies. She takes the bag and the knitting needle with her. Is this premeditated murder or felony murder or both?
D) Now, let’s reverse that and say that Robin Redrum plans for months to stab Sweet Polly Purebred to death in her own home with Robin’s knitting needle. She stabs her 99 times, but she doesn’t know if she’s dead or not. She puts a plastic bag over her head just to be sure and takes her own knitting needle. Is this felony murder or premeditated murder or both?
The last example is the equivalent of the prosecution’s theory in the Jodi Arias case (gunshot last, pre-meditation, Jodi brought the gun). The one before that is the alternate theory of murder in the Jodi Arias case (gunshot first, no pre-meditation, Jodi used and stole Travis’gun).
Now, can you apply the jury instructions to these 4 cases? What do you come up with?
A) Under the laws of California and many other states, this would be premeditated murder. It starts out as a felony, but Horatio leaves, then deliberates and after cool reflection, decides to go back and kill Billy Pilgrim. For me, this would be 1stdegree premeditated murder plus separate kidnapping and burglary charges.
In Arizona, however, this fulfills all the requirements for a finding of BOTH Pre-meditated M1 AND Felony M1.
B) I would call this felony murder. Horatio intended to commit a felony. While engaged in the felony, he becomes enraged at Billy Pilgrim and, without a plan or cool reflection, murders him. I would charge felony murder and add on the kidnapping and burglary charges.
C) This would seem to me to be premeditated murder or it could be 2nd degree murder, depending on the details. Robin Redrum didn’t plan the murder. There was no intended felony. A fight broke out and Robn went wild. If there was a cooling off period proven, then it’s 1st degree premeditated murder. If there was no time for reflection, then it’s 2nd degree murder. If the jury finds it’s a sudden heat of passion killing. (Robin and Polly had an intimate relationship of some kind), then the charge could be reduced to manslaughter.
D) This would also seem to me to be premeditated murder. Robin Redrum planned the murder and carried it out. There doesn’t seem to be any intended felony or further felony other than the murder itself.
Did you come to the same conclusions as I did?
In the Jodi Arias case, there were 7 out of 12 jurors who found that it was BOTH a felony murder and a premeditated murder. How did that happen? There were also 8 jurors out of 12 jurors who voted for death. Since I do not know, I think it’s a very good educated guess that the 7 who voted for both felony and premeditated murder AND 7 of the 8 jurors who voted for death are the same people.
I would love to hear their explanation as to how this is BOTH. I would love to hear anyone’s explanation as to how this can be both a planned AND an unplanned murder.
In Arizona, there IS an explanation:
If the prosecution proves that a death occurred “In the course of, and in furtherance of, another intended felony”, a juror can make a finding of Felony Murder 1, even if that same juror also made a finding of Pre-meditated M1.
Kirk Nurmi argued that since there is no predicate felony, there is no Felony Murder. So, it is either 1st degree premeditated murder, which the prosecution argued almost exclusively, or it is a LESSER CHARGE, such as 2nd degree murder or heat of passion manslaughter. Here’s what he said about this in the guilt phase part of the trial in 2013:
“Remember when we heard the charge of Felony Murder yesterday and the state making an argument that was….incomprehensible? This idea that well…if you believe Jodi’s version of events she’s guilty of felony murder because she went to Travis’ home, and she decided to steal his gun, and in the course of trying to steal his gun, she shot him. She went there, they had sex, they did all these things, then she decided she wanted his gun, and decided to take it, and wanted it so bad that she was willing to kill him.
That’s the theory of felony murder they have put forward. That shows a little fear, and we’ll talk about some of the fear that the state has demonstrated throughout this case, but that’s just some of it – alright? We also heard this idea that….well, she was unwelcome once she put the weapon upon him and she was there to commit a burglary or another felony ….. there’s no other felony.
Ladies and Gentlemen: There’s nothing. It’s silly. It’s fearful. That charge is there out of fear. It makes no sense …. not under any scenario does that make any sense. Either she was there to kill him, because the state said “Hey this is a plot that began in May”. Either she was there to kill him … or she wasn’t, and that’s ultimately what we’re here to determine.”
– Defense lead attorney Lawrence “Kirk” Nurmi in the guilt phase closing argument.
Start at 9:15
So, in his closing statements, what does Kirk Nurmi mean by “Either she was there to kill him … or she wasn’t”?
What he means is that this is either a deliberate pre-planned, cooly reflected upon murder, or it should be a lesser charge.
The reason why he’s saying this is because he doesn’t see an underlying felony in the felony murder charge. Martinez’ answer during Nurmi’s motion to dismiss the felony murder charge is that the underlying felony can be any lesser offense of Premeditated Murder. This is after he states once again the reasons why this is clearly a premeditated murder. Then Martinez offers up “assault” as the underlying felony in the felony murder charge.
We are well on our way up the hill to the Holy Grail, I promise. But first, let’s take a small detour and look at the genesis of the felony murder charge. It never changed from the time of the indictment, although premeditated and felony murder are clearly stated as ALTERNATIVES.
Here’s the relevant wording from the original indictment on July 9th 2008 (Jodi Arias’ birthday):
“The Grand Jurors of Maricopa County, Arizona, accuse Jodi Ann Arias on this 9th day of July, 2008, charging that in Maricopa County, Arizona:
JODI ANN ARIAS, on the 4th day of June, 2008, intending or knowing that her conduct would cause death, with premeditation caused the death of TRAVIS V. ALEXANDER, in violation of A.R.S. $$ 13-1101, 13-1105, 13-702, 13-703, 13-703.01 and 13-801.
The State of Arizona further alleges that the offense charged in this count is a dangerous felony because the offense involved the discharge, use, or threatening exhibition of a .25 caliber handgun and/or knife, a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument and/or the intentional or knowing infliction of serious injury upon TRAVIS V. ALEXANDER, in violation of A.R.S. $$ 13-604 (P).
OR IN THE ALTERNATIVE
JODI ANN ARIAS, on or about the 4th day of June, 2008, acting either alone or with one or more other persons, committed or attempted to commit Burglary, Second Degree, and in the course of and in furtherance of such offense, or immediate flight from such offense, JODI ANN ARIAS or another person caused the death of TRAVIS V. ALEXANDER, in violation of $$ 13-1105, 13-1101, 13-702, 13-703, 13-703.01 and 13-801.
The State of Arizona further alleges that the offense charged in this count is a dangerous
felony because it involved the discharge, use, or threatening exhibition of a .25 caliber handgun and/or knife, a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument and/or the intentional or knowing infliction of serious physical injury upon TRAVIS VICTOR ALEXANDER in violation of A.R.S. $ 13-604(P).
Did you see that? Premeditated Murder OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, felony murder. Not both, how could it be both? You either planned a murder or you didn’t, right? In Arizona, for whatever reasoning, a juror can find both if the pre-meditated murder happened “In the course of, and in furtherance of, another intended felony”.
In Arizona, you get to
I’m going to throw out a word to you now – Boilerplate. It’s a legal term meaning a standard way of wording things such that there are few problems understanding it. The exact same, time-tested phrasing is used every time. July 9th was just a month after the body was found.
“JODI ANN ARIAS, on or about the 4thday of June, 2008, acting either alone or with one or more other persons, committed or attempted to commit Burglary, Second Degree”. This standard boiler plate language should be narrowed down to exactly what the evidence shows by the time of the trial.
At that point, Jodi could have been hiding and protecting an accomplice who actually did the killing while she just watched. She would still be guilty of 1st degree felony murder, because she was a willing accomplice. Someone could have assisted her, even if Jodi did the killing. Maybe it would turn out that either Jodi didn’t premeditate the murder OR there was not enough evidence of premeditation.
So that boilerplate wording on the indictment including the felony murder charge are there as a catch-all or a just in case. They’re basically a one size fits all. Three or Four years later, you would think the prosecution would know if it was felony murder or a premeditated murder. Everyone knows what they are going to try to prove and what their theory of the case will be.
– But they left the defense guessing.
Kirk Nurmi made two major points in his closing about the Felony Murder Charge.It makes no sense, and it’s only there because of “fear”.
“Either she was there to kill him, or she wasn’t”.
In Arizona, there are 16 statutory (witten in the law) predicate felonies for felony murder. These are:
1) Sexual Conduct with a minor
2) Sexual Assault
3) Molestation of a child
5) Marijuana offenses
6) Dangerous drug offenses
7) Narcotics offenses
8) The use of minors in drug offenses
9) Drive by shooting
15) Child abuse
16) Unlawful flight from a pursuing law enforcement vehicle”
Jodi’s predicate felony is burglary? You’ve got to be kidding me. Incredibly, Juan Martinez sold that B.S. To the jury, or to many of them, anyways. I don’t think you can stretch, mutilate, and warp a law any more than Martinez did here. Then he sold it to them, because he is the fireside story teller. There were five astute jurors, though, who weren’t buying it at all.
The State has put forth that the felony predicate is burglary. In Arizona statutes, burglary is akin to trespassing with the intent to commit any felony. Jodi Arias at some point became an uninvited guest in Travis Alexander’s home. When, exactly did Jodi Arias become an unwelcome guest in Travis’ home? According to the twisted logic of the State, Jodi Arias became an unwelcome guest as soon as she began her premeditated murder of Travis Alexander.
According to the state, when Jodi Arias began killing Travis Alexander, at that point in time, she is no longer welcome in Travis’ home and is now guilty of 2nd degree burglary.
“The crime of Burglary in the Second Degree requires proof that
Entered or remained unlawfully in or on a residential
Did so with the intent to commit any theft or felony therein.”
– Arizona 2nd degree burglary statute.
Here there is a situation where, as soon as Jodi Arias starts killing Travis Alexander, she is now guilty of second degree burglary, because Travis obviously would not want her in his home at that time = remaining unlawfully in a residential structure. That same act of starting to kill Alexander also serves as the further felony Arias intended to commit. So the killing of Alexander serves as the reason why she is guilty of 2nddegree burglary, plus it is the further felony Arias intended to commit, plus it is the killing that was committed in the course of the burglary.
Do you see why this is insane circular logic? As a matter of fact, that’s what Kirk Nurmi argued when he asked the court to drop the Felony Murder charge after it became clear that the State was arguing just about exclusively for 1st degree premeditated murder. He said this is circular logic. The murder and the predicate felony and the further intended felony cannot be all the same thing.
Not only is it circular logic, but also, there’s a law against it:
“Felony-murder cannot be charged if all the elements of the felony are included in the elements of murder.This is known as the merger doctrine,which holds that if the underlying felony merges with the killing, the felony cannot constitute felony-murder. For example, all of the elements of the crime of Assault and Battery with a deadly weapon are included in murder. If a killing, therefore, occurred during the course of this crime, the accused would be charged with murder.”
Yet this is exactly what Martinez is putting forth. He wrongly divides a stabbing murder into a series of assaults with a knife, and calls the intended further felony “assault”.
Update: It has come to my attention that, In Arizona, Martinez and Judge Stephens correctly cited the law when stating that the intended felony defining the burglary can be assault even if the victim was murdered.
Again, the predicate felony = remaining unlawfully in the home (via killing Alexander) with the intent of committing any further felony (killing Alexander) and the murder part of the felony murder is (killing Alexander).
For this charge of Felony Murder, aren’t all of the elements of the felony predicate “merging” with the murder?
You cannot do that. Yet, Martinez and the state of Arizona did do it. Sound familiar?
It seems that in the Bizarro world of Arizona, a murder can be divided up into a series of assaults.
Now, let’s entertain the theory that it was Travis’ gun that was used in the killing. Besides the fact that this significantly weakens the State’s case for pre-meditation, this scenario doesn’t work so hot either. That’s because the State would have to prove that Arias’ stated intention was to remain in Alexander’s residence with the intent to steal that gun, and in the course of committing this felony, she was willing to kill Alexander.
He would have to prove that Arias intended to steal the gun prior to, rather than after, the murder.
Following this theory, the death occurred while she was in the process of stealing Travis’ gun, which was her primary intention. This is absurd. Since she got rid of the gun, one can then be confident that her main purpose was not to be in the home unlawfully in order to steal his gun.
There’s a much better argument for that:
What if, she broke into the home, was in there without Alexander’s consent or knowledge, and then he caught her with the gun in her hand? She shoots him and kills him because he identified her in his home when she was supposed to be 1,000 miles away in Yreka. This is a much clearer case of felony murder. But, as we know, Travis let her in the home, Jodi knew what he was watching on his computer (You tube: “Harder Better Faster Stronger”).
We know they took pictures of each other, and we know they had sex a number of times. One could have confidence that she was welcome in the home (at least, at first).
Neither theft of the gun, nor “assault”, nor the killing of Alexander can fulfill the “intent to commit any felony” part of the Felony Murder Statute, according to Nurmi. The intended felony must be separate from the killing.
Update: It has been brought to my attention that Arizona does not recognize the merger rule in all instances, meaning if a person is murdered, you can break down that murder into a series of assaults and you can use assault as the felony defining the felony predicate of burglary.
The prosecution, after being asked over and over again by the defense about their intentions with the felony murder charge, in 2010, finally stated what they would be using “any of the lesser included offenses” (murder 2, manslaughter). Later, they added “aggravated assault” and “theft” as the intended offense beyond 2nd degree burglary (remaining in the home unlawfully). Doesn’t this show that they have no clear theory?
Nurmi brought up a motion to dismiss the felony murder charge on the ninth day of trial, in open court minus the jury, on video. There he states that there is no underlying felony for the felony murder charge (video below). Nurmi said “The essence of the argument, your honor, is that there was nothing facilitated, at all. There was no distinct offense for this burglary….and the assertions of felony murder based on that should not stand.” Here he is saying that there was no intent to commit a theft or any felony other than the killing itself.
Juan Martinez states that the further felony is assault, now her status has changed to an unwelcome guest, the assault, and the stabbings that happened after that become the felony. Nurmi responded that it is either a premeditated murder or it’s not, and the felony murder burglary charge is just an “empty vessel” in order to seek a first degree murder conviction. (The motion was denied by Judge Sherry Stephens).
The defense motion to dismiss the felony murder charge.
Start at 47:15
Do you remember this? Jodi must have forgotten her glasses or something and is wearing a different pair. Nurmi and Martinez fight it out over the felony murder charge
At SpotLightOnLaw, we have talked about the felony murder charge a lot. Now, we hope you will soon understand why. Who gives a hoot about the felony murder charge when it’s old news? It’s over and done with, the jury was unanimous for pre-meditated murder anyways, and Nurmi is a blooming idiot!
No, there’s something to this. Either this is Martinez’ trick, or it’s just bad common law. Not the first time we’ve seen a poorly worded statute interpretated poorly in Arizona.
Nurmi seems to feel internally that this is incorrect. He’s not wrong, but his argument is not persuasive enough. He didn’t invoke the merger rule and he couldn’t find any case law specific enough to this issue. He’s a really good attorney, but he’s lacking as a trial lawyer.
I will reiterate this now in a visual format, so I hope you can see that this felony murder charge is ridiculous. It’s ludicrous. It makes no logical, practical or legal sense, does it?
Stay with me, now. I hope you will see that this is at the root of what’s wrong with the Jodi Arias case. The Holy Grail is in sight!
What do you believe is the theft or felony that Jodi intended to commit or committed? No, Juan Martinez and Judge Stephens, it cannot be the murder itself.
But, wait. According to Arizona law, and only Arizona law, Juan Martinez and Judge Stephens are correct in saying that assault CAN be used as the the felony defining the burglary.
Martinez in closing arguments of the guilt phase discussing the felony murder charge
Starts at 23:30 then he picks it up again at 37:30
Now, if you don’t believe me, look at what a very good attorney in Arizona has to say:
Vladimir Gagic, Criminal Law Attorney
“That, for the moment, leaves the felony murder charge, which is count two in the indictment. At common law, felony murder meant that someone could be charged for murder even if they never intended to kill a person, so long as the a death was the foreseeable result while the defendant was committing a dangerous felony.
The classic example of a felony murder is when a kidnap victim dies from a heart attack while stuffed in the trunk of a kidnapper’s car. Thus, even though the kidnapper never intended to kill his victim, he is still guilty of felony murder because the death of his victim was a foreseeable consequence of the underlying predicate felony, kidnapping.”
“Another example is when during a bank robbery the police shoot and kill a bank robber’s accomplice. Even though the bank robbers certainly never intended the police to kill one of them, that result was foreseeable, and thus felony murder. Other common law predicate felonies included rape and burglary. Assault is not a predicate felony in Arizona for the felony murder rule.”
“The important point with the felony murder rule is that the predicate felony is different from intent to murder, depraved indifference murder, manslaughter, or any other homicide charge because the goal of the felony murder rule is to deter the predicate felony itself, while non-felony murder homicide and murder laws deal with homicide charges directly.”
“As most of you are aware, the government has charged Ms. Arias with felony murder, with the predicate felony being burglary. The important point here is that while even though common law burglary required breaking and entering with the intent to commit a theft therein, in Arizona, which follows the model penal code, defines burglary more broadly as (see “Arizona Revised Statute ARS 13-1506 and 13-1507):
Entering or remaining unlawfully in or on a nonresidential structure or in a fenced commercial or residential yard with the intent to commit any theft or any felony therein; and A person commits burglary in the second degree by entering or remaining unlawfully in or on a residential structure with the intent to commit any theft or any felony therein.”
“The prosecutor does not allege Ms. Arias entered into Travis Alexander’s home with the intent to kill him or commit any felony, for that matter, at the moment of entry. How could he when all the evidence shows Mr. Alexander invited Ms. Arias into his house? The evidence is clear she spent at least 8 hours in his house, and during that time together they had sex multiple times.”
“Instead, the prosecutor’s argument is that felony murder applies because at some point Mr. Alexander revoked permission from Ms. Arias to be in his house, and at that point, she was “remaining unlawfully in… a residential structure”. This is where things get quite silly for the government’s felony murder allegation:
if in fact at some point Jodi Arias was still in Mr. Alexander’s house without his permission (we can call that point T1), what felony was Ms. Arias’ intending to commit at T1? If she was intending to kill him at T1, then that would be the exact same thing as count one, murder in the first degree intent to kill, premeditated murder.”
“The defense filed a motion to dismiss the felony murder charge, stating quite correctly the allegation makes no sense. In response, Judge Stephens ruled Ms. Arias’ intent at T1 could have been assault, not intent to kill Mr. Alexander. I believe that ruling is in error because of something called the merger rule.
To count any death that occurred during the course of an assault as felony murder would obliterate the distinction between assault and murder. And even more importantly, there would be no distinction between second degree depraved indifference murder and first degree intent to kill murder.”
“P.S. What I mean by merger rule is that the predicate underlying dangerous felony, the dangerous felony of felony murder, must be different from the actual murder charge itself; that is why assault is not a predicate in felony murder. If it was a predicate, then every murder would automatically be felony murderbecause every murder involves an assault. In other words, proving the murder would automatically prove the assault as the evidence is circular. And thus, there would be no degrees of murder charges (first degree, second degree) as there are now.”
There’s more to it. Let’s move on to the other pieces of the puzzle.
This explanation makes good sense and it’s the law in most states. Here is another instance, like the F(6) cruelty aggravator, where the statute is poorly written, coupled with illogical jury instructions or case law, that leaves Nurmi and Gagic and I, feeling like something is not quite right. That’s my overall feeling about the Jodi Arias case, too.
What did Kirk Nurmi mean by “That charge is there out of fear”?
Now, we are getting to what Kirk Nurmi said about the prosecution’s ”fear”. What’s the distinction between 1st degree Felony Murder and 2nd degree Murder? Both involve no pre-planning, and in both, the person must have an intent.
The difference is that in Felony Murder, as normally observed, there must be an intent to commit another dangerous felony (where a death is foreseeable). There must be a primary or “predicate felony” OTHER THAN THE KILLING, with no pre-planned intention to kill. In the course of committing this dangerous felony, a death occurs.
Martinez argued premeditation throughout this case. He even argues a short moment of cool reflection in the bathroom was also possible, in case the jurors don’t accept the long premeditation theory. The – Travis was “killed three ways” argument is also meant to show deliberation and premeditation. He argued throughout the case that Travis didn’t own a gun, and that Jodi brought the gun with her from Yreka.
Now, Martinez is telling the jury that according to Arias’ version of events, Travis did own a gun and he’s arguing that she did steal it and that makes theft the felony defining the burglary. He’s arguing that Travis Alexander was murdered, and in the process of the murder he was assaulted, making assault the felony defining the burglary.
Martinez is telling the jury that yes, you can find that this was both a felony murder and a pre-meditated murder if the premeditated murder happened in furtherance of the burglary. He’s telling them that as soon as Arias first assaulted Alexander, that at that point, she was now unwelcome and unlawfully in the home. He’s telling them that this fits the Arizona burglary statute.
Who’s right and who’s wrong?
Why is he doing this? What is going on here?
Imagine there are 4 rooms, like motel rooms. Imagine there is a door to each of these rooms. The first room is 1st degree pre-meditated murder, the second room is 2nd degree murder, the 3rd is manslaughter and the 4th is justifiable homicide. Which door will the jury walk through?
If some jurors are unsure about premeditation or if some feel it’s a heat of passion homicide,they could have a compromise verdict and choose to walk through the door of 2nddegree murder. But what if the state is allowed to add the door of 1st degree felony murder? In this motel scenario, that extra door would lead into the same room as the 1st degree pre-meditated door, (or they could be connected rooms). In any case, it’s another choice for the jury.
It’s another choice which gives the prosecution another opportunity for the jurors to go into the room they want. That’s only fair, Martinez would say, because the defense has 3 doors and 3 rooms and we only have one. Now, it’s more fair because they have 3 doors and we now have 2 doors.
That’s what’sreally going on here. He wants it to be as ambiguous as possible.
Whether Jodi Arias is completely innocent or whether she is a cruel and evil, cold-blooded murderer shouldn’t even matter. Does what Jodi did give officials the right to do what they’re doing here, or what they have done and continue to do in the State of Arizona?
Maybe the statute and/or the interpretations of the statute is just plain wrong.
In the beginning of this case, Juan Martinez had much less information about the gas cans than he did by the end of the trial. The major evidences of pre-meditation at the beginning of the trial were the license plates being tampered with, the car being rented 90 miles from Yreka, the borrowed gas cans, the hair coloring, the phone being off, and the recovered bullet being the same caliber as the gun stolen in Yreka.
All these occurrences could have nefarious explanations, but all these could have innocent explanations. If I were the prosecutor on this case, I would have been a little worried. Maybe that explains, both the change by the prosecution in the order of injuries from gun first to gun last (with the help of Dr. Horn), AND the retention of the felony murder charge. Is it just a coincidence that both of these absurd assertions help to dramatically increase the odds for the prosecution?
The biggest untold embarrassment of this trial is that there was division in this jury. They could not agree on the essentials of this case, and they disagreed 8 to 4 over the death penalty. Seven jurors voted for BOTH felony murder and premeditated murder.
Just because the boiler plate jury instructions state that you can vote for both felony murder AND premeditated murder doesn’t mean that voting for both in any way applies to this particular case.
These 7 people were following Juan Martinez’ interpretations while the remaining 5 were at least considering some of the defenses’ arguments.
All this is the Holy Grail of the Jodi Arias case.
Remember the list of 16 predicate felonies?
If you or someone with you causes the death of a person in the course of one of these dangerous felonies, the killing is elevated to 1st degree murder. You could say that 1stdegree Felony Murder is when a person commits a 2nddegree murderin the course of one of thesedangerous felonies.
Notice that 1st degree premeditated murder is not on that list. Premeditated murder cannot be the predicate felony for felony murder. Assault with a deadly weapon also is not on this list. Assault can be the further intended felony that’s required in 2nddegree burglary, but it cannot be the predicate felony for felony murder.
So, 2nddegree murder and 1stdegree felony murder have A LOT in common. Also, 2nddegree murder and 1stdegree premeditated murder have A LOT in common, particularly when the period of cool deliberation or reflection is very short.
This caused a legal expert to say:
“The point is that in jurisdictions where no time is too short to support a finding of actual thought and reflection, sufficient to establish premeditation, the dividing line between first and second degree murder is extremely murky, to put it mildly”.
They could fear that they would lose the case. Remember, Juan Martinez, as shown in his prior and current cases, will cheat even when he has a slam dunk case.(State vs. Morris, State vs. Dixon, State vs. Gallardo, State vs. Lynch). But we know that Juan will cheat even more when he fears he may lose the case (State vs. Falater, State vs. Grant, State vs. Carr, Robert Towery commutation hearing, State vs. Chrisman).
For Juan Martinez, not getting a 1stdegree murder conviction would be a LOSS in the Jodi Arias case. The Death Penalty would be off the table and Jodi Arias would get out of prison one day. That’s unacceptable to the prosecution. This case has been widely viewed throughout the United States and the world. People are getting a good look at Arizona Justice, and this trial was on live TV. Also, the 2nd penalty phase will be available on video and transcripts after the sentencing.
This case is a very big deal in Arizona. There are plenty of biblical law types, who demand the most severe punishment possible when a woman kills a man. The Mormons are a very powerful political base of themselves, and they support the ultra conservative right which reigns supreme in Arizona. Woman’s Death Row just lost one woman (due to a wrongful conviction), so there are now only two women on Death row in Arizona. Isn’t it awful expensive to run a maximum security Death Row for only two women?
Remember that Juan does not like to lose a case, and anything less than 1stdegree murder would be a loss. Remember also that Juan did not really have a handle on the gas can situation until late in the trial. As things stood in 2011, this is too risky for a guy like Juan. He wants every advantage possible. He got that advantage by changing the order of injuries and not dropping the felony murder charge, for starters.
Now, I hope you can understand this just a little better and we hope you will start to see why we consider the retention of the felony murder charge, along with the one-two switcheroo of the order of injuries to be the Holy Grail of wrongdoing by the prosecution.
Arizona Justice: The very strange case of Patrick Bearup
by Rob Roman
research by Amanda Chen
In the midst of the Jodi Arias trial, people tend to forget that this case is happening in the state of Arizona. There are 18 states without the Death Penalty and there are 32 states plus the Federal Government that have the Death Penalty. The Federal Government, mostly due to acts of international and domestic terrorism, has dramatically increased the qualifications for and the use of the Death Penalty.
Among the states with the Death Penalty, there are states that rarely use it, there are states that use it, but are reluctant to carry out executions, and there are states that actively use and carry out the death penalty. Texas is a very prominent user and enforcer of the D.P., so is Ohio, Florida, Oklahoma, and, of course, Arizona.
Furman vs. Georgia was the landmark 1972 U.S. Supreme Court decision making the Death Penalty as practiced unconstitutional and saved the lives of the Manson family, for one. The decision paved the way for Capital punishment, formerly used for crimes like rape, to be used only for 1st degree murder. The decision caused all states using the Death Penalty to employ some sort of guidelines to narrow the types of cases which could qualify for the Death Penalty and make these qualifications uniform and fair.
The idea was to prevent prosecutors from using too much discretion to be able to unfairly target any particular individual with the Death Penalty. Many states used statutory guidelines called “aggravating circumstances” or “special circumstances”. For example, O.J. Simpson was charged with murder with the special circumstances of “lying in wait” and “multiple murders” (Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson). The prosecutor made the decision to take the D.P. off the table for the football star and celebrity, even though the crime qualified for this penalty in California.
Most states have similar aggravating circumstances such as the murder of a child, multiple murders, prior violent felonies, conspiracy, murder for monetary gain, or the murder of a police officer. Arizona has all these aggravators, but they have added more and more to the list until now, many people believe there is almost no murder that cannot qualify for the Death Penalty if the prosecutor chooses to use it. This seems to go against the entire purpose of Furman vs. Georgia.
The Arizona statutes now have 14 aggravating circumstances to qualify a defendant for the death penalty.
Prior offense for which a sentence of life imprisonment or death was imposable.
Prior serious offense even if committed at the same time as the murder.
In the commission of the offense the defendant knowingly created a grave risk of death to another person besides the murdered person.
The defendant procured the commission of the offense by payment, or promise of payment, of anything of pecuniary value (conspiracy).
The defendant committed the offense as consideration for the receipt, or in expectation of the receipt, of anything of pecuniary value (murder for hire).
The defendant committed the offense in an especially heinous, cruel or depraved manner.
The defendant committed the offense while in custody, or on parole for a violent offense.
Murder of a child or unborn child or a person over the age of seventy.
Murder of a Police Officer.
Murder as part of or to join a street gang or syndicate.
Murder of a witness or Police informant.
Cold and Calculated.
Use of a stun gun during the murder.
This caused some public defenders in Arizona to make this statement:
“Two public defenders in Arizona’s Maricopa County contend that the state’s death penalty law is unconstitutional because its aggravating factors allow for a death sentence in virtually every first-degree murder case.”
The statute, they argue in the motion filed in February, “has no method of meaningfully distinguishing the few cases in which death is deserved from the many cases in which it is not.” The New York Times mentions the motion in a story about less culpable defendants who draw harsher sentences than co-defendants.”
Most of Arizona’s 14 aggravating circumstances are the same as most other Death Penalty states. The use of a stun gun (Number 14) doesn’t seem to make too much sense. “Cold and Calculated” sounds good, but the interpretation of exactly what that means could cause problems. Numbers 2 and 3 are unique to Arizona.
Number 2, like most states, provides that a prior violent felony can qualify a murderer for the death penalty. But in Arizona, that “prior” violent felony can be committed at the same time as the murder. This means that if the defendant is not guilty of the murder, then they might also be not guilty of another felony committed during the murder. So there is then a scenario in which an innocent person can be found both guilty of the murder AND qualify for the Death Penalty. Arizona has used this aggravator to impose the Death Penalty on defendants whose crimes would not normally qualify at all.
Number 3 seems reasonable, that a defendant who created a grave risk of death to another person besides the murdered person qualifies for the Death Penalty. This aggravator however, also seems to be wide open to interpretation.
The gold standard in Arizona, though, is number 6, the “especially heinous, cruel and depraved” aggravator. This aggravator has 3 “prongs”. There can be a finding of any combination of the three. The prong that is the most wide- open to interpretation is the Cruelty prong. As a matter of fact, 6 of the 8 most recently executed prisoners in Arizona had “especially cruel” as one aggravating factor.
That is the aggravating factor used in two out of three of the most recent Death Penalty cases in Arizona, Jodi Arias and Marissa DeVault. Cruelty stands out in Arizona as being applicable to almost any murder. There is no “especially” in “especially cruel”. According to the statute and the jury instructions, the prosecution has to show that the victim suffered, either mentally or physically, and the defendant knew they would suffer.
Why is this a problem? The problem is that almost every murder victim suffers. Even people who die a natural death suffer. There is nothing in the statute or jury instructions which make the distinction of extreme, extraordinary, or above average suffering, it is simply any suffering at all. On this basis, not just most murders but most natural deaths, even death by lethal injection, fit this definition. The Arizona aggravating circumstance, as written and as explained in the jury instructions, can be made to fit almost any murder. Defense attorneys have claimed this, Kirk Nurmi filed an appeal on this basis in the Jodi Arias case, and we have claimed this here at SpotightOnLaw.
So between this cruelty aggravator, the 14 Arizona Death Penalty Aggravators, and the other 3 strange aggravating circumstances, it seems clear that Arizona has a scheme to make any murder fit the Death Penalty qualifications if they want it to, thus violating at least the spirit of Furman vs. Georgia.
Maricopa County Prosecutor Juan Martinez even tried, unsuccessfully, in State vs. Miller to make execution style murders fit under the especially cruel aggravator.
More than this, the actions of Arizona prosecutors show that they target specific individuals with the Death Penalty, while not invoking the Death Penalty for other defendants whose crimes are as bad or much worse than those targeted.
SpotlightOnLaw showed the large disparity between the punishment of Robert Towery (Death), and his accomplice, Randy Barker (10 years) in the strangulation murder of retired philanthropist Mark Jones. We also showed the large disparity in the punishment between Richard Dale Stokley (Death) and his accomplice, Randy Brazeal (20 years), in the rape and murder of two 13 year-old girls.
Sometimes it’s necessary to give a sweetheart deal to one of the defendants in a murder case in order to get needed testimony and evidence against the other(s). We saw this with the Manson family, as first Susan Atkins and then Linda Kasabian, were given sweetheart deals in exchange for testimony that would help convict the other Manson defendants.
Usually, you have the least culpable defendant testify against the more culpable defendants. Randy Barker was Robert Towery’s accomplice, but Towery is the one who strangled the victim to death. Linda Kasabian was with the Manson murderers, but she was the designated driver and she did not participate in the actual killings. But in Arizona, they needlessly give co-defendants a sweetheart deal in order to get the Death Penalty for the other.
In the case of Robert Towery, Robert knew Mark Jones and devised the home invasion robbery. Robert Towery was the one who strangled the 68 year-old victim to death. While Towery was executed, his accomplice received 10 years and is now living among us. Towery was a meth. addict and had been severely abused as a child. It was prosecutor Juan Martinez who prevented Towery’s sentence from being commuted to life by falsely claiming there was no evidence of childhood abuse and falsely claiming that Towery injected the victim with battery acid (a claim that had been disproved 20 years earlier). It was Juan Martinez who made sure Towery was executed 6 days after his commutation hearing. Robert Towery was the more culpable of the two, yet the disparity in sentencing was massive.
In the case of Richard Dale Stokley, the opposite occurred. Two young girls were kidnapped, raped and murdered. Stokley couldn’t live with his guilt and went to the police the next day and confessed. Randy Brazeal knew the sister of one of the 13 year-old girls. He devised the kidnapping, rapes and murders. It was his car and entirely his plan. Most of the evidence pointed at him and he raped both girls.
Richard Stokley was more or less just along for the ride. But Randy Brazeal claimed that Richard Stokley was the mastermind of the murders. He made a deal to testify against Stokely before DNA tests came back showing Brazeal had raped both girls. As a result, Stokley was sentenced to death and executed in 2012. Brazeal served 20 years. Brazeal was released in 2011 and was recently arrested (July 2014) in Arkansas for “urinating on Horseshoe Lake City Hall”.
Similarly, Daniel Wayne Cook was sentenced to death in 1988 and executed in 2012. He and an accomplice, John Matzke, brutally murdered Matzke’s 26 year-old roommate and a 16 year-old co-worker. The murders included sodomy, torture, strangulation, purposely prolonging the murders and the burning of the victims genitals with cigarettes. John Matzke, received only 20 years for these heinous murders and is reported to be living in Tucson, Arizona, under an assumed name. We could not even find a photo of Matzke, who’s identity has been carefully hidden by prosecutors. Did prosecutors really need to give these sweetheart deals in order to convict their accomplices? Not really, but they needed them in order to achieve the Death Penalty for their accomplices.
Without the Death Penalty being involved, all these murderers would likely still be behind bars. Arizona prosecutors didn’t seem to mind that equally culpable or even more culpable defendants were allowed to plead to 2nd degree murder and get relatively short sentences, as long as one of the defendants got the Death Penalty. Sure, it’s great for the prosecution that one of the defendants was sentenced to death, but the other vicious and dangerous murderers were released out into the public.
It didn’t seem to matter either, to Arizona prosecutors, if the more culpable defendant got a sweetheart deal as long as somebody was made to pay and sit on Death Row. This leads us to the very strange case of Patrick Bearup.
Four “skinheads” were arrested for the murder of Mark Mathes. Mathes was the roommate of Jessica Nelson, who thought Mathes had stolen $200 from her room. She called her “skinhead” friends and the four murdered the roommate. They were soon arrested as suspects in the murder.
“One of those defendants was Patrick Bearup, who helped three co-defendants in the murder of a man they accused of stealing $200 from his roommate. By all accounts, the Times says, Bearup was not directly involved in the killing, though he did help dispose of the body and severed one of the victim’s fingers to retrieve a ring. Bearup was the only defendant in the Maricopa County case to receive the death penalty. The three others, including a defendant who shot the victim, accepted plea deals and avoided execution.”
Patrick Bearup didn’t beat the victim nearly to death with a baseball bat, he was not in the car that concealed the victim in the trunk. He didn’t shoot him twice with a shotgun, and he didn’t throw him over a cliff. His co-defendants did. Yet they all were allowed to plead guilty to 2nd degree murder while Patrick Bearup was sentenced to death.
Not coincidentally, Patrick Bearup is the son of Tom Bearup, a man who worked for Maricopa County and was Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s right hand man.
That is, until they had a big falling out. In fact, Tom Bearup was a born and bred local who gave support and legitimacy to Sheriff Joe, a transplant from Massachusetts . Tom Bearup rationalized Joe’s eccentricities to co-workers and assured the others that Sheriff Joe was a good leader. It wasn’t long before they had a falling out and became enemies.
Tom Bearup didn’t like how Joe Arpaio was making lots of money on the side selling pink underwear to the public (mimicking the pink underwear he forces all prisoners, men and women, to wear) and diverting the money to his personal “posse”. Tom Bearup started sounding the alarm that Sheriff Joe had crossed the line from eccentricity to being a very dangerous person. He clashed with Arpaio over the wrongful death of Scott Norberg, which cost the county 8.25 million dollars. Tom stopped supporting Sheriff Joe, claiming Joe had “turned into a monster”.
“In 1992, Arpaio, a longtime DEA agent, was elected sheriff in Maricopa County, the largest in Arizona, which includes Phoenix and its suburbs. Bearup was raised in Phoenix, and besides having been a police officer in and mayor of Soldotna, he was a longtime Republican operative. He worked with the Reagan administration, and was once nominated to be the U.S. ambassador to South Korea. His reputation and connections helped Arpaio secure his position.
After Arpaio was elected, Bearup became an executive officer in the new sheriff’s office. He was Arpaio’s right hand man, the buffer between underlings and the big guy. He managed the sheriff’s publicity and media relations—no small task for a lawman obsessed with seeing himself on television. In the process, Bearup helped forge Arpaio’s mythic persona—that of “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” a title later made famous by a January 1996 profile in Penthouse magazine (and also the title of Arpaio’s 1996 book).
Arpaio is known for many things: his “Tent City” jail, constructed of Korean War-era tents on concrete in a city that’s temperature reaches more than 110 degrees (43.,3 degrees C.) for long stretches; male, female, and juvenile chain gangs; dressing inmates in stripes and feeding them green bologna; and, not least of all, inmates dying in his jails. In 1997 Amnesty International issued a condemnation of many of these practices.
“I’m so embarrassed that I’ve ever had the relationship I had with Joe Arpaio, because I helped him get to where he’s at,” Bearup tells Kelley. “I think a lot of it was my credibility that got him to where he’s at, because people trusted me when I told them about him. ‘Don’t worry about that, he’s a little bit eccentric, but his heart is in the right place. He wants to do the right thing.’ And I know there was something in my heart that said maybe there’s something wrong there… the guy’s a little wacky in some areas…He became a monster. And that monster is not anything that I could be with.”
Bearup ended up running against Arpaio after leaving the MCSO. His opposition to Joe earned him retaliation in the form of wiretaps and being tailed by undercover deputies. Bearup and his wife Adele eventually gave up on Arizona, heading north to Alaska, and freedom from fear.
But there’s another, sadder part to Bearup’s life, his son Patrick’s involvement with neo-Nazi skinheads here in Sand Land and with the brutal 2002 skinhead slaying of 40-year-old Mark Mathes. Papa Bearup contends his son is innocent, but his son was convicted for his part in the killing, which according to testimony involved Patrick cutting Mathes’ ring finger off while Mathes was still alive. Patrick is currently the only one on death row for the murder, though all parties agree he did not strike any of the fatal blows in Mathes’ beating death. Two others involved copped pleas. Ringleader Sean Gaines is still awaiting trial.
I’ve read about Patrick’s story before, and though he may not deserve to be on death row, it’s hard to feel any sympathy for him. Bearup’s die-hard belief in his son’s innocence seems borne of a father’s willful blindness more than reality.”
Scott Norberg was a local football star who got drunk and got in trouble with the law.
Amnesty International believes Scott Norberg was shocked multiple times with a stun-gun while he was handcuffed and forced into a face-down position. He was then transported to a restraint chair and strapped in with a towel over his face. He was surrounded by a gaggle of Corrections Officers.
After some time working on him, they quickly dispersed, laughing. Norberg wasn’t moving. There were allegations that the scene was washed down and evidence destroyed. After he was found dead, detention officers accused Norberg of attacking them.
With three accomplices charged with beating a man half to death with a baseball bat, throwing him in the trunk of a car, cutting off his finger, shooting him twice with a shotgun and throwing him off a cliff.
“The three men got out of their vehicles and approached the Mathes home. Gaines carried a loaded shotgun, Johnson had an aluminum baseball bat, and Bearup had a folding knife with a nine- or ten-inch blade. They advanced across the backyard toward Mark, who was sitting on the rear patio with Nelson.
Bearup, Johnson, and Gaines surrounded Mark. Johnson attacked Mark with the baseball bat, striking him in the head and upper torso as many as twenty-five times. Bearup maintained his location throughout the assault, preventing Mark from leaving.
The witnesses disagreed about whether Mark was alive following the beating. Nelson was certain that Mark was killed on the patio, while Johnson claimed that Mark was still conscious and groaning. After the attack, Johnson and Bearup dragged Mark to one of the cars and stuffed him in the trunk. Bearup kicked Mark’s head to make him fit into the trunk.
The four perpetrators got into two vehicles – Bearup and Nelson in Bearup’s car and Johnson and Gaines in the vehicle containing Mark’s body – and drove to an isolated area near Crown King. Johnson testified that he heard Mark mumbling and moaning in the trunk during the drive.
When the cars stopped on Crown King Road, Bearup pulled Mark from the trunk. Gaines and Nelson stripped him to make the body more difficult to identify. Nelson was unsuccessfully attempting to remove Mark’s ring when Bearup approached and cut off the finger with a pair of wire clippers. Mark was then thrown over the guardrail and, as he lay in the ravine below, Gaines shot him twice.”
“Mr. Bearup’s case was one of135 pending capital cases in Maricopa County in 2006, more than the combined number of cases in the next three jurisdictions at the top of the list: Los Angeles County, California and Clark County, Nevada., each with 36; and Harris County, Texas, with 17”
“The highest number of pending cases was 149 death penalty cases.” This is in Maricopa County alone.
Is it just a coincidence that the least culpable of 4 perpetrators of a horrendous crime sits on death row when the 3 people most responsible and who caused the death of the victim directly got sweetheart deals?
What kind of justice is this? All three should have gotten life sentences.
Well, you might say, Patrick Bearup was the leader who, like Charles Manson, didn’t get his hands dirty. However, it’s undisputed that Sean Gaines was the leader of the gang.
The 3 others will all be up for parole between 2019 and 2028 and could be out of prison and living in your neighborhood in 5 to 14 years.
Sean Gaines, 22, Jessica Nelson, 27, Patrick Bearup, 26, and Jeremy Johnson, 20, were arrested by Phoenix police on September 10 and 11, 2003 on charges of the murder of Mark Mathes.
Jessica Nelson (14 years) –
Instigated the murder of her roommate. Mark Mathes, accusing him of stealing $200 and calling her skinhead friends, asking them to exact revenge
Eligible for parole 2019
Jeremy Johnson (14 years) –
Beat Mark Mathes nearly to death with a baseball bat, tossed him in a trunk and helped throw him off a cliff.
Eligible for parole 2019
Sean Gaines (25 years) –
Blasted Mark Mathes twice with a shotgun, and helped throw him off a cliff.
Eligible for parole 2028
– Helped stuff Mathes into the trunk of a car and cut off Mathes’ ring finger to retrieve a ring.
Sentenced to Death
To his credit, Sean Gaines is reported to have denounced racism and his skinhead association, saying, “I’m tired of living a lie. They can kill me, but at least they kill me with all of this off my shoulders.”
“Superior Court Judge Warren Granville chastised the County Attorney’s Office at the time over the disparity in sentencing in the Mathes affair. “Granville was not pleased that Bearup was the only defendant facing the death penalty.”
The County Attorney, as the law allows, made a unilateral decision not to withdraw the death notice for Mr. Bearup, a defendant who, even under the State’s theory of the case, did not cause the physical death of Mr. Mathis.[sic] Under the State’s theory of the case, Mr. Bearup acted only as support for Mr. Johnson as he baseball batted Mr. Mathis [sic] to death or to near death, and helped drag Mr. Mathis [sic] to a car trunk and the desert. Under the State’s theory, Mr. Bearup’s act of cutting off Mr. Mathis’ [sic] ring finger while cruel and heinous, was not a cause of the death.”
“Granville further noted:
“This Court, nonetheless, finds that Mr. Bearup’s death penalty sentence for Count 1 was not justified in the context of the relative responsibility of the co-defendants whom the County Attorney chose to withdraw the notices of death and reduce their sentencing range. It is the County Attorney’s motto that `let justice be done.’ This, of course, coincides with a prosecutor’s unique ethical responsibility. This Court finds that justice was not done for Mr. Bearup in Count 1.”
“Patrick Bearup was no angel, by all accounts. I know his father was upset when I said in my 2008 column that I figured Bearup probably deserved to spend the rest of his life in prison. But to face execution, when the ringleader and the main protagonists cheat death? That’s more than a little whack.”
“Which is why I regard the death penalty as an obscene joke, one that should be banned. The Mathes murder is but one example. There are a plethora of cases just like it, where justice is a card sharp’s game. But they receive little or no attention.”
The jurists and attorneys involved are all playing their assigned roles. I wouldn’t argue that they shouldn’t.
But if Bearup is executed while those more responsible for Mathes’ slaying live on with the hope of eventual release, that just further proves that capital punishment should be abolished, because our criminal justice system is not capable of meting out such draconian judgments equitably.”
So, is there some kind of connection between the large number of Arizona wrongful convictions, the lack of the use of good forensic science, the tight budgeting of law enforcement in Arizona, the targeted use of the death penalty, more culpable defendants getting sweetheart deals, the secret deals and unexplained deaths in the jails of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the omnipresence of corruption in Maricopa County, the checkered history of prosecutor Juan Martinez, and the Jodi Arias case?
Or are these all mere coincidences?
At SpotLightOnLaw, we have been trying to demonstrate to you that there is such a connection. Please take a look at our past articles (especially “Spotlight on Juan Martinez”, “What’s Going On in Arizona, Maricopa?”, “Stranger than Fiction – The real Sheriff Joe” “The Executives and the Executed” and “Spotlight on Dr. Kevin Horn”)
It seems as if Arizona likes to run things on the cheap, ignore and avoid a lot of forensic science, target certain people with the Death Penalty, make a lot of under the table money with schemes such as taking the meat out of all prisoners meals, “video visitation” at 65 cents per minute – no more face to face visits allowed, and the sale of pink underwear, and corruption just seems to permeate all areas of their “justice system”. We all know the Jodi Arias case could have been settled long ago, but instead it goes on ad infinitum, along with the suffering of the Alexander family.
Even though there is effectively zero evidence remaining against Deborah Milke in the shooting death of her young son, the D.A. still refuses to drop the charges against her after she wrongfully spent 23 years on Death Row. They cannot admit they were wrong and will not accept responsibility for the egregious error.
Whether the Jodi Arias case is as it appears to most people, or the truth of it has been carefully hidden, we do have her case to thank for shining a spotlight onto the very odd occurrences, the very strange case of Patrick Bearup as well as all the other really strange goings on which many people have helped to uncover in Maricopa County, Arizona.
The mirror and dual sinks in Travis Alexander’s master bathroom
Fact Based Reporting by
Amanda Chen and Rob Roman
His broad clear brow in sunlight glow’d;
On burnish’d hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow’d
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
As he rode down to Camelot.
Juan Knight Stand
From the bank and from the river
He flash’d into the crystal mirror,
“Tirra lirra,” by the river
Sang Sir Lancelot.
She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces thro’ the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume:
She look’d down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack’d from side to side;
“The curse is come upon me,” cried
The Lady of Shalott.
From The Lady of Shalott, by Alfred Lord Tennyson
“This individual, the defendant, Jodi Ann Arias, killed Travis Alexander. And even after stabbing him over and over again, and even after slashing his throat from ear to ear, and then even after taking a gun and shooting him in the face, she will not let him rest in peace.
But now instead of a gun, instead of a knife, she uses lies” – Juan Martinez
It’s important to remember that the prosecution has the burden of proof. It’s not a popularity contest and it’s not about which side has a better story. It’s about a search for the truth. We review Mr. Martinez’ efforts towards a search for the truth in his final argument.
“After all the lies you’ve told, why should we believe you now?” – Alternate Juror #17, Tara Kelley, questions Jodi Arias during the guilt phase of the trial.
This is a “white lie”. Typically a white lie is a harmless lie that is often done to be polite. Here it is a lie that plays into Martinez’ themes and theories, but it’s immaterial to the murder charge. These white lies are far from harmless.
This is an exaggeration. It’s a fish story where a mountain is made out of a mole hill.
This is a misrepresentation. It’s a deliberate effort to skew a fact to align it with other facts in the case.
This is a mirror. It’s a manipulation of the jury. Juan Martinez is projecting his own or other’s feelings, motives and behaviors onto the defendant.
This is a Whopper. It’s an obvious untruth in light of the facts. It’s deceitful and a breach of integrity
The Ninja Intruder Story
For Juan, Jodi’s intruder story illustrates how well she can lie and manipulate and how she can turn this situation into one where she’s the victim who then plays the hero. On the surface, this appears correct, but a deeper look reveals a far more salient truth.
Juan tells the jury that Jodi said “I wish I stayed and fought more”, showing how she plays the hero. Juan shows the jury how Jodi manipulates the story to make her look better. He tells them “Her lying does not stop. She lied to the jury, she lied to the medical professionals, the police, and the media”. “She lied and made herself look like a person who could not do it (murder Travis).”
Juan likes to dwell on the interrogation videos as evidence in the murder trial, yet Arias has admitted that she lied, and explained why she did it. The main thing about the intruder story is there is no way Arias could have thought that her story would be believed by anybody. It’s a really bad lie. She failed to manipulate Detective Flores and no one could possibly believe her story, including Jodi herself.
She claimed it was merely a stalling tactic, and there is no reason to believe otherwise. She’s still counting on the law of attraction to fix everything at that point. That’s what you see in her early interviews. So there are two remaining hypotheses. One is that Jodi is mentally ill (which has been proven), and the other is that she had a diminished capacity, was in an altered state of mind, and her self-defense story is true. Both of these remaining hypotheses are in favor of the defense.
Jodi Has “Violent Tendencies”
Juan claims that Jodi had violent tendencies because she wrote that in an e-mail to Travis.
Note to Juan Martinez: Writing in an e-mail that you once became violent is not displaying “violent tendencies”, it is exactly the opposite. Juan highlighted an e-mail Arias wrote to Travis Alexander where she admits to having broken a door and a window at some vague time in the past.
Juan and his Psychologist witness both seized on this single report of violence in 15 years of journal entries and 80,000 communications as proof of both Borderline Personality Disorder and 1st Degree Murder.
Knowing that she has had violent episodes in the past (probably in her high school days), and acknowledging them is great therapy. It’s something known as telling the truth. It shows she has insight into her feelings and behaviors, she’s trying to improve them, and she’s acting on her feelings in a socially appropriate way by writing them down. If only Travis Alexander, or Juan Martinez, for that matter, had that kind of insight and honesty about their inappropriate behaviors.
Travis Did Not Give Jodi the Underwear
There’s some attention given by Martinez about there being no mention in that same e-mail of the chocolates, T-shirt and underwear that say “Travis Alexander’s” and “Travis’”, and the boys Spiderman underwear Travis was supposed to have given Jodi for Valentine’s Day 2007. We do know for a fact that Travis wanted to dress up as a park ranger, for example, and he wanted Jodi to dress up in a schoolgirl outfit.
Now, maybe Travis gave her these things and maybe he didn’t. Maybe Jodi bought those things for herself and maybe she didn’t. Maybe they both thought the Spiderman underwear was sexy and maybe they didn’t.
How are Juan Martinez’ accusations any different than those he condemns Jodi Arias for making? Jodi Arias and Travis did not exchange e-mails or text messages about the Valentine’s gifts. They still might have talked personally or called each other. Nothing was proven one way or the other. Juan Martinez does not get to say that Jodi Arias and her entire defense are liars, so therefore his baseless accusations are true, does he?
Obviously, Travis became very upset by something Jodi allegedly did or was going to do by May 26, 2008. But there is nothing about that in their communications. This, according to Juan, must not have happened either. They must have talked over the phone, or communicated some other way. So why doesn’t this apply to Valentine’s Day? Just because there is no mention of gifts by text message or e-mail doesn’t mean there were no communications about the Valentine’s gifts.
Jodi Attacked Travis’ Reputation
How do you apply a justifiable homicide defense without saying anything negative about the victim?
Travis has left us his reputation independently of what Arias said. But that sex tape really helps us to see that Arias was telling the truth about Travis. In just 45 minutes, he mentions orgasms and a 12 year-old girl in the same sentence, and talks about taking the virginity of a little girl, reveals his overbearing personality, his love for talking about himself, and his callous use of Arias solely for sexual gratification.
At least one former friend has finally come forward and talked about the Travis he really remembers as opposed to the sympathetic denial of anything bad Travis has done because of his awful death.
Jodi Lied about Travis’ Sexual Interest in Children (that he displayed on the sex tape)
The pedophilia claims do not help her case in any way, except one. It’s a very dangerous claim to make in a death penalty case. The jurors will retaliate if they don’t believe you.
As a juror, even if the victim was a convicted pedophile, it would make zero difference to me as far as my sympathy for the victim or the guilt or innocence of the defendant. The only reason Arias brought up the pedophilia claim is to show what happened in January 2008, and why the abusive relationship may have quickly escalated into physical violence.
If Travis Alexander had a dark secret, he may well have confided in Jodi Arias. Her story about catching him in the bedroom with pictures of young boys also illustrates Travis’ open-door policy. She typically let herself in and she went right up the stairs and into his room.
Talking about a “twelve year-old having her first orgasm” and “corking the pot of a little girl” is just role playing and fantasy talk, says Juan Martinez, the apologist.
Pedophilia “is termed pedophilic disorder in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), and the manual defines it as a paraphilia in which adults or adolescents 16 years of age or older have intense and recurrent sexual urges towards and fantasies about prepubescent children that they have either acted on or which cause them distress or interpersonal difficulty.”
Travis Alexander just happened to casually and spontaneously mention these things in the only sex conversation that happened to be recorded. Draw your own conclusions.
Nothing Noteworthy To Report
The Law of Attraction + my lies + my word + Alyce LaViolette = It did happen. – Juan Martinez (paraphrase)
Dr. DeMarte, when questioned by Juan Martinez , told the jury that she would take this entry in Jodi’s diary at face value. What he didn’t ask her is if she would take a client’s claim of domestic violence on the same day at face value.
Martinez wants to say that nothing bad happened between Jodi and Travis, like Alexander kicking her in the ribs, slapping her, or choking her into unconsciousness, if it’s not written down in Jodi’s journal.
Jodi did not write negative things about Travis in her journal, and besides a few carefully worded entries, we saw at the trial that there were none. We do know that Travis and Jodi had a large number of violent arguments and caustic break-ups, and that Travis was cheating on Jodi. Entries about these incidents are rarely found in her journals. These incidents must not have happened as well.
About the “three tender kisses”, when does Travis ever get romantic with Arias? When he’s leaving her or when he’s in trouble with her. So yes, the three soft kisses in April, 2008 could have been a sweet goodbye like Juan says, or they could have been an apology for physical violence like Jodi and Alyce LaViolette claim.
Remember, the defense only has to show that it’s possible. The prosecution must prove their case to the exclusion of any other possibility. This may also explain why Travis could not break it off for good with Jodi in January, like he told Dan Freeman he was planning on doing, because he felt too badly about what he had done.
Are there any other entries in 15 years of journals where Jodi writes that there was “nothing noteworthy to report”? That is something we would need to know. We didn’t see other entries like this. Martinez proved nothing here, and maybe it’s time for Juan to actually prove something, because this is a Capital murder case.
Jodi Was Not Physically Abused Because She Didn’t Call 911
Juan’s big contention that Jodi would have called the police on Travis just isn’t realistic. She wasn’t going to do that and it has nothing to do with the 911 call with Bobby Juarez. She was remaining loyal to Travis and she did so even after his death.
The idea that if there is no documentation, no photos, no journal entry, and no police report, then there was no physical violence is insulting. This is the reason that Jodi is working now on helping to get the message out that if you are physically abused, you should tell someone, document it and call the police.
Jodi Told Darryl Brewer She Was Going to Mesa
Juan seizes on any minor inconsistency he can find, and then magnifies it into a major piece of evidence. Here is a big lie from Martinez: After Darryl Brewer testified in court that Jodi never told him she was going to Mesa, here is Martinez lying to the jury in closing arguments, and telling them that she did tell Darryl Brewer that she was going to Mesa, because it was in his notes.
Here is what really happened. Darryl, at the time he was questioned, knew that Jodi had gone to Mesa and killed Travis. What he was saying at the questioning incorporated what he knew then, not what he knew in June, 2008.
Juan jumped on this and tried to use it as proof of premeditation. Even after the witness said under oath that Jodi did not tell him she was going to Mesa, he still uses it in his closing argument.
This is the prosecutor who claims that even an exaggeration, a failure to tell the complete truth to everyone you know, or even a little white lie, is a shocking breach of trust.
Jodi Lied Because She Didn’t Use Priceline
“The only reason Jodi Arias went to Redding airport was to kill Travis Alexander.” – Juan Martinez
How does Martinez know this? Because, he says, Jodi lied about Priceline. This is a fact from Juan, so we better be sure. This happened in 2008 and the trial was 4 ½ years later. Jodi did make a purchase for air tickets on Priceline a few weeks later.
Jodi did use her records to refresh her memory and she did state she used Priceline to scout locations and prices. At no time does she say she purchased the rental through Priceline. If she did intend to say that, she could have been mistaken. After all, Jodi was on the stand all day for 18 days.
Here’s the thing: IF Jodi planned on killing Alexander, and the trip to Utah was only for purposes of an alibi, then the California, Nevada, Utah part of her trip would need to be very visible. Therefore, there is no reason whatever to hide a car rental. There’s better deals at the airport, whether you use Priceline or not.
Jodi Is Guilty Because She Brought the CD’s
Juan likes to make a lot out of the fact that Jodi brought the CD’s from her vacations with Travis. This tells Juan she knew she was going to see Travis. Jodi did say it was a possibility and she planned too many things for the amount of time she had.
These CD’s were never entered into evidence and we don’t know if they just have the trip photos on them or if they have all kinds of pictures on them. Many people, including myself, have CD’s and DVD’s in their laptop carrying case. They go with us wherever we bring our laptop.
There was no evidence to suggest that Jodi brought those CD’s because she knew she was going to murder Travis Alexander. It was merely an unsupported allegation presented to the jury with nothing to back it up. Think how stupid this idea is. I want to murder you, but before that, let’s reminisce about our lovely vacations together and let me give you those photos I promised you.
Jodi Violated the Law (of attraction)
Here, Juan Martinez is trying to revive the blown theory that Jodi dyed her brown hair brown as part of some kind of plot rather than doing it to improve her appearance for Ryan Burns. This is the real law of attraction: Improve your appearance to attract a new boyfriend.
Jodi Is Lying Because Other People Misunderstood Her
As far as the knife story with the apple and the rope and whether her ankles or wrists were tied, this doesn’t mean anything. There is no specific statement by Jodi which says the knife was for cutting an apple or her ankles were bound. These came from Alyce LaViolette’s notes.
Jodi Arias has a habit of talking about a subject generally instead of a specific incident. So when she spoke to Detective Flores at the interrogation about her fingers, she talked about other times she cut or hurt her fingers besides on June 4th. When she was asked about Travis shaving, she talked about other days that she saw Travis shave, besides June 4th. This is one source of inconsistencies Juan Martinez likes to seize upon.
This can easily be attributed to a misunderstanding or error of the person documenting the story. LaViolette specifically stated that she was hired to look into the question of whether there was domestic violence in the relationship and she was specifically not hired to be a detective or look into any of the events of June 4th.
About the sleigh bed, there is nothing about the bed which means you cannot have a rope. The rope could be behind the head board or looped around the head board. This can also explains why the rope was more than 20 feet long.
Jodi Is Lying Because She “Staged the Scene”
Juan Martinez told the jury that if Jodi were in an altered state of mind, she would have not taken off her socks and she would have left bloody footprints all the way out of the house. Martinez also stated that in an altered state of mind, Jodi would have left bloody footprints near the bed, when she went to retrieve the rope. Martinez offered no scientific evidence to substantiate his claims other than his own statements and a general assessment by Dr. DeMarte..
Sometime before the shower and photos incident, the bed sheets were removed and thrown in the wash by either Travis or Jodi. At that time, the rope could have been taken downstairs. Self-preservation is automatic and it extends to removing evidence. Juan’s repeated contention that Jodi would have to leave bloody footprints through the house or to get the rope are nonsense.
Jodi Lied about the Gun Being First Because Martinez Lied First About the Gun Being Last
There is no forensic evidence saying the gun was last. Every bit of logic and evidence, forensic and otherwise, suggests the gun was first, except for the photo of the bullet casing on top of a 2 inch spot of blood at the edge of the floor and the highly questionable testimony of Dr. Horn.
Jodi Lied Because the Shell Casing Defied the Laws of Physics
We know there was a large amount of water on the floor. We know there was a cleanup and a lot of hectic movement in the bathroom after the killing. We know the roommate went into the bathroom and found the body and the police went in after that. We know there is an unexplained foot print in blood near the closet door and things were moved around.
It would be far more likely that the shell casing was not in it’s original position than that it remained exactly where it landed after the gun was fired on June 4th, 2008.
Jodi Is Guilty Because She Was Not Random and She Was Goal Directed
Juan Martinez points out that someone in an altered state of mind would behave randomly, not “striking to kill”, but stabbing someone all over, like a blind robot. Where is the science for this? That’s not the experience of documented homicides in an altered state of mind.
The blood on the carpet appears more like Arias wiping her feet than stomping and hovering over him. This says nothing about what happened. Arias also left the camera in the washing machine. This is all chaotic activity. Here, Juan is saying that Jodi is both goal directed and chaotic. But you can’t have it both ways, can you, Juan?
Juan states that in an altered state, there would be knife wounds all over instead of a strike to kill. There were knife wounds all over and the idea that someone in an altered state of mind cannot have directed behavior such as aimed stabs and some clean up is a fallacy. There is no evidence for that.
Juan’s contention seems to be that if this happened the way Arias says it did, then Travis would have stab wounds randomly all over his body. He would not have a slit throat, he would have been found at the end of the hallway. There would be bloody footprints going out the bedroom and down the stairs. There would be bloody footprints around the bed as Arias retrieved the rope. There would have been no cleanup and all the incriminating evidence would be left behind.
This is the same argument he used in the Falater case. But there is no evidence, facts or testimony and no serious source which can prove that this is what would have happened if a killing took place by a person with an altered state of mind.
“It takes time and takes thinking to chase and kill. In front of the sink, in the mirror, Travis can see ‘that thing’ deliver the strikes to his back.” – Juan Martinez
That Alexander can see Arias coming at him with the knife in the mirror is totally unsupported speculation. There is nothing to support the idea that Travis was stabbed in the shower or in the back at the sink. A person under attack would not support themselves on their severely wounded left hand as Martinez claims. A person under a knife attack would not be able to stand at the sink for that length of time.
A hand cut as severely as Alexander’s left hand would have left much more blood than that at the sink. If Alexander were stabbed in the shower, he wouldn’t have taken a left and headed for the sink, trapping himself in the bathroom. He would have gone right and out the closet door or down the hallway immediately. He wouldn’t have gone to the sink at all. The prosecutor’s theory makes no logical, scientific, common, or intuitive sense at all.
A “strike to kill” has no bearing on state of mind. This is not blind man’s bluff or a blindfolded girl striking at a piñata
Jodi “lied in this sacrosanct place of finding the truth” – Juan Martinez
Here is a crystal clear instance of projection by a dangerous sociopath and Maricopa County’s “Prosecutor of the Year”.
Like the Falater case, the Grant case, the Carr case, the Lynch case, The Morris case, the Miller case, the Towery case and the Chrisman case, Juan has once again badgered witnesses, misrepresented facts, made exaggerations, given incomplete or distorted facts, told white lies, told regular and ornate lies, and presented mere speculation as fact.
The Falater Case:
Juan suggested no less than six competing motives for why Mormon high Councilor Scott Falater killed his wife. None of the six motives were supported by any facts, testimony, or evidence. Juan badgered and ridiculed defense experts, yelled at a priest, and intimidated child witnesses.
Martinez produced a highly biased expert witness who was chosen for his rapport and communication skills rather than for his knowledge on the subject. Martinez misled the jury by suggesting, that people in an altered state of mind cannot engage in goal directed behavior and do not clean up or remove evidence . There was only one college graduate on the jury.
The Grant Case:
Juan withheld evidence from the defense, objected over 50 times during the defense opening statements (something that is just not done), pressured the judge to not allow evidence into trial, wouldn’t let defense witnesses fully answer questions, and then objected constantly when they were being questioned by the defense.
Juan accused defense witnesses of lying but offered no supporting evidence. Juan intimidated defense witnesses by claiming they had violated the law in some way. Juan’s theory of the crime was fashioned out of whole cloth.
The jury did not believe his theory of the crime, and Doug Grant was found guilty of manslaughter instead of 1st degree murder.
The Carr Case:
Juan withheld evidence, was admonished by the judge for an offense punishable by jail time, and refused to admit wrong doing. He was provided with a top attorney by the County. He blamed the defense for his actions, was forced to write a letter of apology, and lost the case.
The Lynch Case:
Juan told the jury there were four death penalty aggravators when in fact there were only two, forcing a retrial.
The Morris Case:
Juan unsealed an evidence bag containing the jacket of a victim who had been buried near Morris’ trailer and invited jurors to take a good whiff. Juan lied to the jury by trying to convince them that Morris had sex with his dead victims because the dead bodies smelled badly.
The Miller Case:
Juan is still angry at Judge Bartlett for not doing something that no judge has ever done: Charging Miller with the cruelty aggravator for execution style shootings. He argued with the Judge even though Miller already had four other death penalty aggravators (prior violent crimes, pecuniary gain, multiple murders, and the murder of a child).
Juan never forgot this, even though Judge Bartlett was protecting him from being over-zealous. To this day, Juan declares that Judge Bartlett, who has presided over numerous death penalty convictions, is soft on crime and the death penalty. He is continuing to try to get Judge Bartlett thrown off the pending Redondo case in favor of a “hanging judge” .
The Towery case:
Juan suggested to the commutation board that Robert Towery injected his victims with battery acid and his claims of severe childhood abuse had no foundation – two obvious and and glaring lies.
The Chrisman case:
Juan told jurors that Officer Chrisman was lying because gun powder residue was not found on the bicycle, proving that the decedent, Danny Rodriguez, did not threaten him with the bicycle before Chrisman fired his weapon. In fact, no gunpowder tests were ever performed on the bicycle. How is this not a lie?
Juan did not get the 2nd degree murder conviction he wanted, but he blamed that on the police and he told the jury this was because the police must have somehow hidden his evidence and obstructed justice. Juan, as usual, offered no facts, testimony or evidence in support of this allegation, other than the allegation itself.
The Arias case:
Juan purposely dropped the camera on the floor, then denied any wrongdoing. Juan invited Alyce LaViolette, a completely non-violent therapist working with the victims and perpetrators of violent domestic crimes, to spar with him. Juan badgered defense witnesses, threatened at least two of them with criminal prosecution if they testified, and made baseless accusations. Juan personally attacked the defense attorneys on such things as their knowledge of the law, their appearance, and whether or not he would kill himself if married to one of them.
Juan once again withheld evidence until shortly before the scheduled start of the trial and there is reason to believe he suborned perjury in the testimony of the medical examiner. Juan bent the law and logic to the breaking point by insisting that if it is not a 1st degree premeditated murder, then it’s a 1st degree felony murder because Arias entered or stayed in the home with the intention of committing 1st degree premeditated murder.
This carefully planned and concealed surprise intimidation of defense witness Lisa Andrews- Daidone, which also needlessly shocked and emotionally traumatized members of the Alexander family, is typical of Martinez’ courtroom decorum in a capital murder trial:
(The video itself contains more lies about Arias’ reaction to the photo. She was looking at the judge, not at the video screens.)
Juan Martinez sees everything in black and white. In a rare case where things are not as they appear, Juan insists on seeing things only as they appear on the surface. Juan is the mirror in this case, projecting his own flaws and inner demons onto Jodi Arias.
Juan Martinez is a certified liar.
Juan Martinez is a sociopath per DSM – 5 Anti Social Personality Disorder with the following characteristics:
Superficial charm and good intelligence
Untruthfulness and insincerity
Lack of remorse and shame
Poor judgement and failure to learn by experience
Specific loss of insight
Pathological egocentricity and incapacity for love
Juan projects the behaviors of a typical hardened criminal or psychopath onto Jodi Arias. She is proven to be neither of these. His closing arguments, on the shallow surface, make sense and are logical, but a closer, deeper look, coupled with a history of Juan’s behavior in other cases, shows that once again, Juan told a pack of lies, and the mirror crack’d from side to side.
All comments are appreciated and opposing views are welcome!
The Jodi Arias Murder Trial: A Juanderful Closing Argument
(SpolightOnLaw The Jodi Arias Murder Trial: The OTHER side of the story)
Fact based reporting by
Rob Roman and Amanda Chen
In this photo, Travis Alexander is wearing the costume and carrying the wig of “Eddie Snell from Alabama”, his crude and violent alter-ego.
In the all-important closing argument, Maricopa, Arizona prosecutor, Juan Martinez, promised to “shine the light of truth” on the defendant. He explained that Jodi Arias is guilty of first degree murder because:
Jodi called her sister “stupid” (Important)
She had conflicts with her parents
She got in big trouble and lied about it
Jodi “adjusted” Ryan Burns
A Mormon couple, modeling their “magic underwear”.
She “committed perjury”. Everything she said is nothing but lies.
Jodi is a liar and manipulator because she testified that Ryan Burns was “full of crap”…
…after Ryan testified that he thought she said “she worked at Margaritaville” and he “touched her vaginal area”.
“A field of lies sprouted every time she took the witness stand”.
After earthly life, the next step for Mormons is to become celestial rulers and live with God on Earth’s sister planet Kolob, which is closer to the throne of God, because Earth was relocated away from Kolob to it’s present position in our solar system.
She is a waitress / manipulator who flirts with customers for tips.
The defense experts and defense team are all liars.
If Jodi told the truth about Travis having a gun and she did not premeditate the murder, she’s still a thief because she stole Travis’ gun and she’s still a murderer in the first degree because the prosecution, with the approval of the judge, legally manipulated the law with the felony murder charge.
Jodi Ann Arias is ” a chameleon who will adjust to the situation and make herself go further to manipulate. ” – prosecutor Juan Martinez
She stomped around like a wildebeest migration and left behind incriminating evidence.
She was focused and deliberate, removed incriminating evidence and she did not leave a trail of bloody footprints while exiting the home.
A real Wildebeest standing, not “hovering”, in a real field.
Jodi is a liar because she has a good memory for buying a Strawberry Frappuccino but can’t remember the details of a horrific, traumatic killing.
The only victimization or trauma Jodi ever experienced in her life was this: Jodi is “a victim of the trauma of lying”.
Jodi implicated herself on the stand and violated the spirit of the law by stealing a license plate that she was not absolutely sure belonged to her rental car.
Jodi was criminally careless and negligent in possibly depriving a citizen of their lawfully obtained California license plate.
Jodi “has created a fantasy world”. Yet, even in her fantasy world, Juan reaches in and catches her several times violating the law.
Scene from Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
She decorates her lies with ornamentations to make them more believable.
Jodi is a lying liar. She even lied to Travis by faking an orgasm.
Jodi is a story-teller and sociopath who will defy the laws of common decency, bend the law to suit her purposes, lie, manipulate and even break the law in order to achieve her goals.
Jodi is strong-willed.
Scene from the “Wildebeest Stampede” in Disney’s The Lion King
“She’s not a reasonable person, she’s a liar and a murderer.”
She is physically strong enough to take Travis and she “Adjusted Ryan” (Important)
After killing Travis the “chameleon” proceeds to Utah where “that thing” kisses Ryan Burns, straddles and “adjusts him”, and “rubs genitalia”.
Jodi exaggerates and is dramatic.
“Has a dumb, stupid sister”
“Is not nice to her mother”
“Is not a very nice person”
“will lie and manipulate at every turn”
“targeted a good Mormon boy”
Because she “decided she needed to breed”
Good Mormon boy whose halo is a CTR (Cherish The Right) Ring reminding him never to defile his future bride by engaging in inappropriate sexual conduct prior to marriage.
For prosecutor Juan Martinez, this is key evidence in the Jodi Arias trial. Jodi called her sister stupid one time while communicating with Travis Alexander. This was one of the first questions he put to Arias on cross-examination. Juan made certain to bring up this major piece of evidence in his closing argument.
Allegations that Arias also once stuck her tongue out at her sister, Angela, and called her a “poopy face” were not allowed into evidence.
Judge Sherri Stephens absolutely controlled the courtroom because earlier in the trial she made sure the spectators remained silent and did not interrupt the prosecutor in an hour back and forth examination about crucial testimony concerning Snow White, the role of the Prince, the ages of the Seven Dwarfs, and whether their home was a “shack” or a “cute cottage”.
If Judge Stephens had the temerity to simply ask Juan “Where are you going with this?” she may have risked a mistrial or a successful appeal. It was a grand fishing expedition, but Juan got nary a nibble.
According to Juan Martinez, Jodi Arias should allow Travis Alexander to berate her father and her grandfather (people he never met) because Jodi called her own sister “stupid”. These are the footprints of murder.
Arias, like many young people, had a strained relationship with her mother. This is evidence of either abuse or Jodi’s mental and emotional problems stemming from her childhood and mental illness. This is an issue which supports the defense, not the prosecution.
Martinez stated that Arias’ behavior and acts from her birth to her late teens were irrelevant to the crime or it’s mitigation. Yet, he brought them up again and again in this capital murder case.
Juan Martinez is fond of saying “You can’t have it both ways”.
This is a man whose imagination is confined to the world of Disney, where the whole world is invited to participate in the reduction of great works of literature and psychologically profound fables about passages into adulthood, into simplistic and pleasing tales and colorful, lilting rides.
That’s why author E.L. Doctorow, in his historical work, The Book of Daniel, called Disney World rides, themed after simplistic Disney stories loosely based on the true literary works of art, “a sentimental compression of something that is itself already a lie”.
“If it’s not written in the journal, it didn’t happen” – Juan Martinez
That’s the Jodi Arias trial in a nutshell, ladies and gentleman, after the actual, and complicated truth was corrupted and bastardized into a simplistic good versus evil morality play by the “Bulldog” of Maricopa County.
Your opinion is valuable. All comments are welcome and appreciated
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(Please do not reproduce this article in whole or in part without permission)
Lisa LaSalle, a Canadian blogger, fired the first shot across the bow in the battle of the upcoming 2nd penalty phase in the Jodi Arias trial with her article called “The Infamous Trial of Candy Crush”. Lisa’s article was a very well written and intelligent summary of many of the problems Jodi Arias supporters and others see in the first phases of the trial.
This shot must have made quite a splash, because JustDaTruth, a well-known advocate for the prosecution fired back with a scathing article, called “Crushing the Candy Crush”. In this article, the author, who prefers to remain anonymous, gave factual reasons and logical arguments for he believes the Candy Crush article was off base.
In this article, we will be replying to the Crusher of Candy Crush, and we will not fire back. We will simply serve him or her milk and cookies, better known as food for thought, This culinary response is based on facts, logic, and reasoning.
These are the first articles we have read from Lisa LaSalle and from JustDaTruth. We were impressed with both articles as civil dialogue and a healthy exchange of ideas. Links to both articles are shared below. We highly encourage and recommend that you read both of these articles to get some real insight into the major arguments from both sides.
Some of your points were very good and interesting, but we find fault with some of your arguments. Your points are highlighted and below them are our responses:
One major point:
We disagree with the verdict of 1st degree premeditated murder. We do not find fault with the jury on that verdict. We are saying that what was presented to the jury was not the truth.
Why Try to Plead to 2nd Degree When Arias Claims it was Self-Defense?
Jodi is responsible for Travis’ death, regardless of whether it was self-defense, heat of passion, or murder. She knows this and she was willing to take a 20 year sentence for that responsibility and to avoid making this so public with a trial. However, she is not willing to take a life sentence or allow the state to execute her for a domestic homicide with no prior offenses, which has no business being a death penalty case in the first place.
“Death qualified jury” means that no one who is totally opposed to the death penalty should be allowed to serve. That’s a whole lot of people. This is why the State of Arizona prosecutors like almost every murder trial to qualify for the Death Penalty. This means there are more people on the jury who will sympathize with the prosecution and be more willing to convict. This deprives Arias of some jurors who will understand the rights of the accused, including some who are especially empathetic and understanding of both domestic violence and some of the less understood causes of violence in our society.
(Please see new discarded jury questions for Jodi Arias….)
The Defense Attorneys “Are Not Public Defenders”
All Arizona defendants in a capital crime MUST, by statute, have two attorneys. A mitigation specialist is now required. Nurmi and Willmott ARE public defenders no matter where they work now. They are under constraints of a budget when presenting a defense. They cannot advocate for the defendant in any way outside the courtroom. Lawyers who are strictly public defenders also clear their schedule for a major trial and are very busy at other times, just like private defense attorneys.
Niether Nurmi nor Willmott can compete in terms of trial experience with Martinez’ 25 years prosecuting cases and influencing juries in court. If you look at his trial history, you can see that winning the conviction trumps the truth and ethical considerations, in spite of his having convicted some really bad blokes.
(Please see Spotlight on Juan Martinez, State vs. Falater, State vs. Grant. You might also want to watch Martinez’ testimony at Robert Towery’s Commutation hearing on Youtube. Look at the defenses’ response and the testimony of Towery’s sisters. There’s something about this Martinez, there really is.)
Arias is death penalty eligible meaning her crime qualifies her for the death penalty. But does it really? No one in America has faced the death penalty with similar facts. This is because of Arizona’s F(6) aggravator cruelty prong which can qualify almost any homicide for the DP. Three other women stabbed their partners to death in AZ in 2008. One shot their partner to death, and two ran them over with cars. None of these women, or any of the scores of men who killed their partners in 2008, or any other years, besides one man who chased down and stabbed his wife to death outside his home in front of witnesses, faced the DP in Arizona.
Traditionally Non-Sequestered Jury in AZ.
If we always rely solely on precedent, we ignore the realities of an ever-changing society. The new reality, according to Alan Dershowitz, the very experienced appellate attorney and Harvard law Professor, recommended by Fox News, is that no one can expect a fair trial in a high profile murder case in this day and age. He went on to say that even judges and governors can be affected by ratings motivated sensationalism and the “lynch mobs” they create.
(Please see Heroes, Zeros ans Geniuses in the Jodi Arias Case)
Judge Stephens Controlled the Court Room
Judge Sherry is not experienced in capital cases and this was her first. What’s the reason? The court in AZ is jammed with capital murder trials, so they need more and more judges to preside over them. Judge Stephens was afraid to make the tough decisions for fear of political backlash and appellate review and she was not in control of her courtroom. Had a cell phone gone off during Martinez’ closing statement instead of Nurmi’s, do you think that Judge Stephens would have admonished the court instead of just giving a blank stare? The idea that Arias’ family said or did anything inappropriate in the courtroom is a flat-out lie, there’s no evidence of that at all and they are as just as about far away from the jury as you can get.
The Alexander family did in fact purposely make eye contact and conducted non-verbal communication with jury members. It’s not their fault, they were never told they cannot do this. This is entirely different than emotional reactions when they were looking straight ahead instead of to their left. This is forbidden in most court rooms throughout the US. Did you see this principle being clearly demonstrated in the Zimmerman trial? The Martin family members were stoned-faced throughout the trial, and they left when they felt they could not keep their emotions in check.
Evidence of this non-verbal communication is clear in many trial videos. Family members can be seen making direct eye contact with jurors. This communication revealed itself when one juror went directly up to the Alexanders and apologized for the failure to achieve a death verdict. If Sherry had no bias, how do you explain her emotions when the jury could not come to a unanimous agreement? Failure to reach a unanimous decision happens all the time, so what was that emotion about?
Electronic Devices Are Not a Problem
It’s just too easy to go on Facebook or Twitter, etc. and see things about the trial without meaning to do so. If these comments and reports are all one-sided, the juror then is aware of overwhelming public sentiment, and may feel compelled to act in support of that sentiment, which is the main argument for sequestration. (Please see New Discarded Juror Questions….)
Your statement “What exactly was out there that was patently false, that the juror’s might have been influenced by?” – You really can’t be serious by asking this, can you? Where would we begin?
Lisa Daidone: Stalking Evidence
Lisa Daidone hardly knew Jodi, had rarely been around her and only spoke of one incident when Jodi showed up at Travis’ home. She depended primarily on the word of Travis Alexander, who was derisive of Jodi to his friends while talking to Jodi for hours and having sex with her late at night between and after dates with Lisa Daidone. Did YOU watch the trial? Please tell me who else testified with a first-hand story about Jodi’s “stalking behavior”?
Deanna Reid didn’t testify that Jodi hid behind a Christmas tree or crawled through the doggy door. Deana Reid, Travis ex-girlfriend, showed up at Travis’ home one week when Travis was away on business. She claimed that Travis asked her to walk his dog, Napolean. Deanna went over to Travis’ home and was surprised to see Jodi Arias there. She claims that Travis had no knowledge that Jodi was there. Is this true? Jodi didn’t hide behind a Christmas tree then. Instead, she was baking and she offered Deanna some chocolate chip cookies. Deanna’s described Jodi’s behavior to the jury as like a “Stepford Wife”. Damned if you do serve cookies, and damned if you don’t and just hide behind the tree .
LaViolette Was Not Balanced / Fair To Travis
As far as Travis being afraid of Jodi, he did not report any incident, he did not change his locks, he did not change his garage code, and he did not even lock his front door. He did not stop answering the booty call. This is why LaViolette was saying that Travis’ actions did not mimic his words when he said he was in fear of Jodi.
Alyce LaViolette is one of this country’s foremost experts in domestic violence. She isn’t a “shopped for” witness. With over 30 years experienced directly dealing with both the victims and the perpetrators of domestic violence, she’s a wish-list witness. Her testimony is that Travis Alexander’s behaviors as reported by Jodi Arias and as objectively supported by independent evidence, were derisive and abusive throughout the relationship. They fit a pattern she recognized. LaViolette stands by her testimony to this day.
(Please see Spotlight on Domestic Violence)
Samuels Cheated for Jodi
Psychologist Dr. Samuels did not think that Jodi needed to be re-tested because whether she is a witness to a murder or a participant in a killing, the trauma she experienced is the same trauma experience. Therefore the idea that she needed to re-tested is a ludicrous technicality. PTSD victims have different symptoms and different ways of compensating, depending on their personalities, etc. Since you feel Jodi Arias does not suffer from PTSD, can either you or DeMarte explain the extra symptoms in her testing not accounted for by either BPD or PD non-specified (NOS), yet do account for PTSD? We are patiently awaiting your answer……
Offering Books to Prisoners
Offering books to prisoners, to put it bluntly, don’t mean sh*t.
This is just nitpicking by Martinez.
Arias was tested by 3 psychologists in all and the findings of 2 were reviewed by a 4th psychologist. Yes, there were four Psychologists altogether. You may hear from the 4th Psychologist at the 2nd penalty phase. The sole dissenting opinion about the diagnoses came from Dr. DeMarte, a novice.
How do you know the prosecution did not “shop” for Dr. DeMarte, as they did with Ray Krone, who spent 10 years in prison and 2 years on death row on shopped for false expert testimony?
(Please see What’s going on in Arizona, Maricopa part 1 and 2)
Jodi Lied to Her Parents
What Jodi’s parents said about her, that was not brought into evidence at trial, was that Jodi did not CONFIDE in her parents. This is much different than saying she lied to them all the time. She hardly spoke with them. Jodi did not share the details of her life with her parents. This is understandable as she was shown little affection or love. If you think a good idea as a parent of a 14 year-old is to call the police because your daughter is growing some pot seeds in Mom’s Tupperware on the roof, then God bless you. Experimentation is the basic job description of teens and if your own parents are not on your side and loyal to you, God help you. Who throws their own child to the wolves and doesn’t even provide legal help for a daughter accused of murder? Fortunately people can change. Jodi has changed and her parents have changed.
The Defense Agreed with DeMarte
The defense did not “buy” Borderline Personality Disorder. They had already stated Personality Disorder NOS (Non-Specified). The defense adopted both BPD and the 1st degree premeditated guilty verdict at the time of the 1st penalty phase because that is what threy believed the jury accepted. At that point in the trial, you have to argue the facts that the jury most likely believes, not your own.
Martinez Destroyed Defense Witnesses
With both LaViolette and Samuels, Martinez did little damage to their testimony and the objective facts they presented. What Martinez is so experienced at is discrediting the source of the information. Samuels is nothing more than a Messy Marvin and a pervert aching to touch Jodi’s naughty parts. LaViolette is a kooky liberal lesbian who believes that even Snow White is a battered woman.
Defense Expert’s False Claims
There were no experts who claimed or tried to demonstrate that Jodi acted in self-defense or that it was a sudden heat-of-passion homicide. The experts presented merely provided evidence and testimony which demonstrated that it was a possibility, and that’s all they needed to do.
Gas Can Evidence Proves Premeditation
The amount of gas purchased at Tesoro was 25 + gallons. The capacity of 2 gas cans and the Ford Escort gas tank is 25 + gallons. It was not proven that Jodi had 3 gas cans at Tesoro, nor was it proven that she did not return the third gas can to Wal-Mart. It was merely proven that a clerk, who testified that a SKU number is spelled S-K-E-W, did not find a record of return in the places that she searched.
Talk about skewed testimony! The defense had no opportunity to adequately investigate and respond to this claim.
Back Stabbing and George Barwood
A note about George Barwood.
George is a UK resident. He has painstakingly compiled many facts and ideas about the Jodi Arias case on a Wikispace. George is active in helping advocating for the accused in wrongful conviction cases and he has worked on issues such as reducing domestic violence and abolition of the death penalty.
George is attacked as “not an expert” and not from the United States and therefore not qualified to give his opinion. This is the typical Martinez tactic of attacking the source rather than the information. Since George Barwood, as posters say, is not an expert, then you don’t need to be an expert to refute his ideas. So how about attacking his ideas and opinions with some of your own, instead of trying to cop out and attack him personally? Hmmmm?
The questions surrounding the tight pattern of wounds on Travis’ back have been contemplated by many people with the autopsy photos and a sense of reasoning. It is not only George Barwood’s theory, but agreement among many people, including, believe it or not, Juan Martinez.
Many people on the defense side of this trial have vastly differing beliefs about what the verdicts should be as well as having vastly different theories. This includes ideas from George Barwood, a meticulous collector of facts, and two articles by Richard Speights, on how the knife attack can be defensive in nature and a theory about the gun being first. Various others with varying degrees of experience and common sense, have also come to similar conclusions.
It was Juan Martinez himself, demonstrating using the court reporter as victim, who showed that a person can be stabbed from a variety of angles and positions. Juan used both sides of the same argument to make his points many times during the trial.
If you stabbed a person in the back from in front, the sharp edge could still be facing downward depending on how you grasped the knife. Most of the stab wounds are diagonal. How can a stab wound to the back be an inch or more deep when they were all stopped by the ribs and spine? – Only due to the decomposition / bloating of the body.
Use of Felony Murder Charge
If the prosecution was so positive it was a premeditated murder and only Jodi was involved, then there’s no need for the 1st degree felony murder charge. You stated that under felony murder if a fight breaks out and a person is killed, if it’s the victim’s house, it’s first degree felony murder and if it’s at the perpetrator’s home, it’s not.
This is what you said. Think about it. That’s ludicrous.
This is why felony murder and domestic violence don’t mix. The added charge of felony murder means that the prosecution does not believe the gun was last (Gun first is the only reasonable explanation for felony murder). The felony murder charge can also mean that the prosecution doesn’t believe that only Arias was involved in the crime (felony murder charges are often used when accomplices are involved) and/or that this was a pre-mediated murder (felony murder charges are used when the murder is not pre-meditated).
In any case, this doesn’t bode well for a fair trial, because the jury believed all of these ideas.
This is just an advanced version of Martinez’ trick questions akin to “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?”. A good example of this is “Did you cry when you were stabbing him?”. How clever! Both trails of yes and no choices mean you beat your wife, you stabbed him and you are going to the execution chamber.
Sex Evidence Used for Distraction
The sex evidence was not used for distraction or to win over a horny juror. The sex evidence was crucial in showing Travis’ carefully hidden character and why it was possible that he suddenly could fly into a severe and violent rage. This was a hidden relationship with hidden activities, hidden conflicts, and alleged hidden violence. Without that sex evidence, no jury could ever believe what Jodi was saying about Travis, an ordained elder in the LDS Church. The sex evidence was not aimed at “trashing Travis”
(Please see An Open Letter to Wendy Murphy)
“Humiliation / Battery” of Victim’s Family
Perhaps this is just your perception because of your viewpoint. There is no real evidence that Jodi lied under oath about Travis. There is no basis to claim that she has done anything at the trial or publicly during the trial or since that “batters” or “humiliates” the Alexander family. This is begging for sympathy for Travis, which by the way we ALL have, but not when evaluating the facts.
As a matter of fact, Jodi Arias sided with the prosecution against her own attorney in arguing to clear the court for the playing of the sex tape.
If you insist that your allegations of “humiliation and battery” are true, please supply specific examples. Travis’ lifestyle and behavior were objectively proven, independently of Jodi’s testimony, to be abusive and demeaning throughout the relationship. In fact, he was abusive to Lisa Daidone and Mimi as well. Deanna was all for living with Napoleon, not so much with Travis.
Oh Holy Night
Both Lisa LaSalle and JustDaTruth are correct. Sheriff Joe has not done anything negative towards Jodi Arias, in fact he has done some good things for her (allowing her interviews, supplying her with excellent protection during the trial, allowing her participation in a talent contest at Christmas time). Regardless of how anyone feels about the other policies of Sheriff Joe, he has been generally good to Jodi Arias.
Lisa LaSalle’s paragraph about Oh Holy Night (the song Jodi sang in Estrella Jail to win the Christmas talent contest) wasn’t about Sheriff Joe, it was about how so-called “haters” love to hate Jodi and love to wish her cruelties and suffering even at Christmas time.
This hating of a complete stranger continues, even though Jodi Arias is in custody and will face life in prison or execution for her acts.
…….As if somehow this is not enough.
Relax. Let justice run its course. Listen to both sides of the story, follow the 2nd penalty phase and enjoy some milk and cookies!
Now, why would a blog in support of Jodi Arias say something like this?
We are saying it for one little, insignificant reason, because it’s true.
There are many people helping Jodi Arias as we speak. They send her supportive cards and letters, they go to visit her at Estrella Jail, they communicate with each other and share important news about the case. These Jodi-helpers write letters and sign petitions, write blogs and comment on websites, purchase her art and raise money for her appeal, organize gift-packs, and keep in communication with her family members.
Still others may feel that Jodi Arias may be guilty but they do not believe it was a fair trial or they do not believe in the death penalty. All these people support Jodi in some way. They yearn to be able to do something more to help. They might not believe that best way to do this is to join in objectives that are not about Jodi Arias.
Help to End Executions in the USA
Help to End State Executions
in Arizona and the other states that use it.
There are two basic categories of the death penalty in America. The first category is the death penalty statutes in the individual States. These can be repealed by acts of the individual state legislatures. This can depend on who is in power in the legislature and who the Governor is at the moment. There will be an election in Arizona in 2014, and Jan Brewer cannot be re-elected. Governor Brewer has already tried to get the legislature to change the rules so that she can serve an extra four years. Here is a good place to start.
This is the new abolition movement in America. Most of us will never be accused of murder and most of us will not be imprisoned on death row. But we know that many people on death row have been wrongly convicted and some have been executed. We know that the death penalty creates numerous injustices, even for the victims of violent crimes as well as the free citizens of death penalty states,
Some states such as Texas, Ohio, and Arizona have the death penalty and use it frequently. It’s a hot political issue and many people in these states think it is the right thing to do and it’s the will of God. These states may one day decide that the amount of money spent on capital cases could be put to better use. The victim’s family and friends are not satisfied with a guilty verdict, but suffer through decades of appeals and wait 20 years to finally “get closure”. Most of the time, the execution is of little solace to the family and friends.
Each State is Different
Some states have repealed the death penalty and no longer execute convicted criminals or sentence them to death. Many states have found that the death penalty violates their individual state constitutions. In these states it’s significantly more difficult to return to executing convicted murderers.
Still other states put moratoriums on the use of executions, but the moratoriums can be lifted. The states that do not use the death penalty but have not found it unconstitutional may bring it back into use. There has been talk of this in several states. Other states still have the death penalty, but use it rarely. These states are the most likely to one day create a moratorium or repeal the death penalty statutes.
People living in the states that have a moratorium can argue against bringing the death penalty back. They can get involved in efforts to end the death penalty in states that still use it. People in other states and outside the U.S. can also write letters and articles supporting the abolition of the death penalty in the states that use it regularly.
If you want to help Jodi Arias, or even if you don’t, you can make an effort to end the death penalty in the state of Arizona. You will have done everyone residing in Arizona and humanity a favor, and indirectly, you will be helping Jodi Arias. Then, we would not have to see similar spectacles from Arizona, such as more exonerations of death row prisoners like Debra Milke, and the Jodi Arias trial, embarrassing Arizona and the U.S. in the eyes of the world.
Help end federal executions by the United States Government
The second category is executions practiced by the U.S. Federal Government. The federal government reinstituted the death penalty in 1998. There are 59 people currently on Federal death row. Fifty people have been sentenced to death from 2000 to 2012.
Since 1998, three people have been executed by the United States government. Timothy McVeigh was executed in 2001 for the bombing of a U.S. Federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1995. This act was primarily why the Federal government brought back the death penalty in 1998.
Also in 2001, the U.S. executed Juan Raul Garza, a drug dealer and murderer from Texas. In 2003, Luis Jones Jr. was executed for the 1995 kidnapping, rape and murder of a young Army recruit in Texas. Both McVeigh and Jones were military veterans who fought in foreign wars.
Should mass murderers and terrorists such as Timothy McVeigh and the Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, be executed? Timothy McVeigh is long gone. Wouldn’t it be better if he was still in prison having to face the consequences of his act?
If you want to talk about injustice, how just is it to make the innocent children, siblings, and parents of Condemned prisoners face the death of their loved ones by the government? How just is it that many other countries will refuse to extradite criminals to the U.S. Government or to states that use the death penalty?
As long as the Federal Government executes people, the states will also want to have that right for themselves. If the Federal Government ends the use of executions, this could set the stage for abolition of the death penalty in individual states. This can also indirectly help Jodi Arias.
Help restore the “presumption of innocence”
for suspects and defendants.
The power of public opinion is so pervasive it infuses court proceedings and can influence juries, judges, people in high places, and even governments.
There are many reasons to believe that Bruno Richard Hauptman was guilty of the kidnapping and murder of the Linbergh baby (Charles Lindbergh was famous for making the world’s first trans-Atlantic flight in 1927).
The prosecutor in his trial exhorted the jury to look at Hauptmann’s “predatory eyes” as proof of the certainty of his guilt. We should all be outraged by such tactics, as they are entirely subjective, appeal to the emotions rather than logic, and obscure the facts. Yet, in the case of Jodi Arias, there was much talk on the media about Jodi’s “dead shark eyes”.
Yet even today, emotional persuasion, speculation, and a presumption of guilt have been utilized in the place of or to supplement facts and evidence that should be the sole determinant of guilt or innocence in a trial.
Here are some quotes about the presumption of innocence for suspects and defendants:
So the people will pay the penalty for their King’s presumption, who, by devising evil, turn justice from her path with tortuous speech –Hesiod, 700 BC
It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer. –William Blackstone,Commentaries on the Laws of England, 1767
Innocence is its own defense. –Benjamin Franklin, 1733
To vice, innocence must always seem only a superior kind of chicanery.-Ouida, Two Little Wooden Shoes, 1874
“Always the innocent are the first victims…. So it has been for ages past, so it is now.” -J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, 2001
Innocence is the weakest defense. Innocence has a single voice that can only say over and over again, “I didn’t do it.” Guilt has a thousand voices, all of them lies. –Leonard F. Peltier, Prison Writings, 1999
“Anybody who understands the justice system knows innocent people are convicted every day.” –Florida Supreme Court Justice, Gerald Kogun (Ret.)
“The presumption of innocence only means you don’t go right to jail”. –Ann Coulter, Hannity & Colmes (Fox News), Aug. 24, 2001
“In this country the presumption of innocence is dead, dead, dead.” –John Grisham
Which of these quotes does not seem to go with the others? Which of these quotes just doesn’t belong?
“What was the quesion…..?” –Vinnie Poitan, Headline News, 2013
The media is a major culprit in the erosion of the presumption of innocence for the accused and defendants in a trial.
“The presumption of innocence, sometimes referred to by the Latin expression Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat (the burden of proof is on he who declares, not on he who denies), is the principle that one is considered innocent until proven guilty.”
“Application of this principle is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, recognized in many nations. The burden of proof is thus on the prosecution, which has to collect and present enough compelling evidence to convince the trier of fact, who is restrained and ordered by law to consider only actual evidence and testimony that is legally admissible, and in most cases lawfully obtained, that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If reasonable doubt remains, the accused is to be acquitted.”
“The proof lies upon him who affirms, not upon him who denies; since, by the nature of things, he who denies a fact cannot produce any proof.”
“This right is so important in modern democracies, constitutional monarchies, and republics many have explicitly included it in their legal codes and constitutions.”
“Trial by Media” and the huge public interest in murder trials has been an ever-growing factor in the erosion of the presumption of innocence. The public is exposed to speculation and selective facts as well as evidence not allowed in at trial. Murders and murder trials, crime and punishment have a huge entertainment value, which is exploited by media outlets for profit.
Most trials are over 90% boring and there is a constant temptation for the media to spice things up with speculation, unsupported evidence, and outright lies. This creates an assault on the presumption of innocence because once people make up their minds, they will ignore or reject facts which challenge their opinion.
According to Wikipedia, “Trial by media is a phrase used to describe the impact of television and newspaper coverage on a person’s reputation by creating a widespread perception of guilt before, or even after, a verdict in a court of law.”
“During high-publicity court cases, the media are often accused of provoking an atmosphere of public hysteria akin to a lynch mob which not only makes a fair trial nearly impossible but means that regardless of the result of the trial the accused will not be able to live the rest of their life without intense public scrutiny.
The counter-argument is that the mob mentality exists independently of the media which merely voices the opinions which the public already has.”
For the accused and defendants of less means, who have public defenders, the negative impact of trial-by-media is far greater. They often have no representative or proxy to give their side of the story and to counter untruths. This is why HLN and other media handled the recent Brett Seacat murder trial (A police officer with a private attorney) and the Dr. Martin MacNeil murder trial (An M.D. with a private attorney) with kid gloves compared to the way they absolutely crucified Jodi Arias.
This is especially true of CNN’s HLN, who took a public interest and right to know concept of televising trials, and twisted it to the point where they seem to believe they actually own these trials and can control public opinion.
Yes, HLN was voicing the opinions of the public in the Jodi Arias trial, but they super-charged it and raised the hatred to epic proportions. They told documented untruths, rumors reported as facts, and they told pure lies every week during the Jodi Arias trial. In addition we have instant communication to the masses by means of the social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram which allow facts, rumors and falsities alike to travel at light speed.
This has also added the challenging dimension of creating the ability to harass and intimidate participants in the trial as well as people holding unpopular, minority opinions. This phenomenon has outraced common legislation to control such harmful new capabilities.
Help reduce trial by media and restore the presumption of innocence
before and during trials
We should call HLN on its lies and incomplete facts and make them prove their allegations. Jodi killed her childhood dog, Jodi wore fake glasses, Jodi attacked another prisoner at the Estrella jail, Jodi has a bad jail record, Jodi flipped the bird at Nancy Grace, Jodi deliberately made “throat slashing” gestures, Jodi lied about wanting the death penalty rather than life in an Arizona jail – all lies told by HLN.
The camera feeds from these high profile trials are available publicly and some websites have offered links to these feeds to shut out players like HLN who try to co-opt and exploit the defendants and their trials for their own ratings and profit purposes. We need to see more of this. Let’s make the feed available to everyone publicly, so that there is less trial by media. It’s too late for Jodi Arias as far as a presumption of innocence and trial by media, but we can help the next person to get a fair trial.
Help reduce wrongful convictions
by advocating for extra funding for forensic testing and more adequate investigations.
Of course, there are always limits in manpower and materials to completely investigate each and every factor and lead in a murder investigation.
Still, grossly under-investigated crimes combine with political agendas and this leads to the pressure to indict, arrest, and convict on scant evidence. This is especially true of states like Arizona that are constantly seeking to cut spending to the bare bone. This approach is short sighted and counter productive because it ends up costing more in the long run.
States should put more money into complete and competent investigations and scientific testing in order to save money from wrongful convictions, reversals, appeals, re-trials, and lawsuits.
Incomplete and incompetent investigations and inadequate testing are two huge factors in wrongful convictions. More thorough investigation and more testing of evidence may change the tide of the Jodi Arias case in appeal and will help to prevent countless wrongful prosecutions.
Help to promote humane prison conditions.
Inhumane prison conditions cause embarrassment to us all as a nation and reduce our ability to promote improvements in other countries. Arizona is a proven culprit in creating inhumane prison conditions. There should be strict standards for the treatment and conditions of people in custody in the U.S.
This would help Jodi Arias in the short run and would benefit every citizen in the long run.
Help end the “Incarceration Nation”
and reduce extremely long prison terms for non-violent offenders
Fareed Zakaria wrote in Time magazine that the number of jailed prisoners in the United States is one of the great scandals of American life. “Mass incarceration on a scale almost unexampled in human history is a fundamental fact of our country today,” writes the New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik.”
Over all, there are now more people under ‘correctional supervision’ in America – more than 6 million – than were in the Gulag Archipelago under Stalin at its height.”
Is this hyperbole? Here are the facts. The U.S. has 760 prisoners per 100,000 citizens. That’s not just many more than in most other developed countries but seven to 10 times as many. Japan has 63 per 100,000, Germany has 90, France has 96, South Korea has 97, and Britain – with a rate among the highest – has 153.
Even developing countries that are well known for their crime problems have a third of U.S. numbers. Mexico has 208 prisoners per 100,000 citizens, and Brazil has 242. We here in America make up 5% of the world’s population but we make up 25% of the world’s jailed prisoners.
The prison system has become a major for-profit industry in the United Sates.
This is mostly due to the “war on drugs”, but has expanded to include other non-violent crimes.
In two recent cases in Florida, a 19 year-old was sentenced to 162 years in prison with no possibility of parole for a series of unsuccessful armed robberies where no one was hurt. He shot only at a dog, but he missed. A woman who was threatened by her estranged husband in her own home was sentenced to 20 years in prison for discharging a firearm into a wall as a warning to her ex-husband.
These laws are unfairly applied to people of less means and to minorities. There are alternatives to incarceration which include GPS monitoring, rehabilitative counseling, mandatory drug and alcohol treatment, and training and education which can help turn lives around as opposed to throwing lives away.
Such concepts as mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines should be restricted because they remove the discretion of judges in individual cases and give too much power to District Attorneys.
Shining a spotlight on our embarrassing prison system will help the U.S. to look at the value of rehabilitation as opposed to warehousing people in prisons. We can try to reduce the growth industry of private prisons and replace this with more constructive and beneficial enterprises.
Help keep local and state governments honest
When government corruption, especially in law enforcement is observed it should be reported and acted upon. The Jodi Arias trial has helped to shine a spotlight on a variety of highly questionable practices in Arizona. You can get active and speak out on these practices and advocate for investigations and reforms. You do not have to be from a particular state or even from the United States to speak out on these matters.
Help to reduce bullying and domestic violence.
Domestic violence is not really growing in America, but it’s becoming more deadly, due to the proliferation of firearms and an inability to communicate and deal effectively with conflicts. Bullying in America has increased due to our competitive and aggressive culture.
High-tech has served to make one-time incidents permanent by photo or video. These incidents, accusations, and rumors can spread with lightning speed throughout an entire community. This high-tech dimension makes fleeting incidents into long lasting attacks that few people are equipped to withstand.
Worse than this, like the current epidemic of the “knockout game”, where young people go out and sneak up on an unsuspecting person and punch them in the head as hard as they can while a friend records it on video, bullying has become a dangerous and potentially deadly “game”. Some young people get a thrill out of using technology to try to destroy the life of another young person, hoping they will cause them emotional distress, or even run them out of a school or the town. They are excited at the idea of using their computers and cell phones to cause a person to take their own life.
We see this same tactic employed by adults in society at large and especially in the social media, where people can hide behind a computer or cell phone and lash out at opponents protected by anonymity and multiple profiles. Here, we are setting a dangerous and potentially deadly example for children and young adults. This leads to the next item:
Help fight for Jodi by not fighting for Jodi
There are political courses and classes that teach people to attack the opinions of others by means of personal attacks. These attacks are meant to silence people with an opposing opinion by short circuiting the issues and changing the subject. The usual response to this is to counter-attack with insults and personal attacks.
If we hold an unpopular or minority opinion, fighting with others will not change their opinion or help our cause. It’s better to present factual reasons why we believe the way we do and to respect the holders of opposing opinions. This way we can take the high road and show that our reasoning is based on facts and that we have considered our position carefully.
We can give our opponents some facts to ponder and some things to think about. This helps our cause by reducing the criticisms that the holder of a minority opinion is ignorant, unreasonable, or crazy. It also makes the attacker look bad when the holder of an unpopular opinion refuses to counterattack or ignores the attack completely.
Another thing we can do is to see if we can find common ground in any of the above issues. People who don’t hold the same opinion you do most likely agree with you on at least one of these other issues.
Helping to put an end to federal and state executions, restoring the presumption of innocence for the accused and defendants, and limiting trial by media is something we can all do to improve the criminal justice system in America.
Advocating for the Reduction of wrongful convictions through more complete testing and investigations, and improving prison conditions will help to make our system more just and will save money in the long run.
Helping to reduce our prison population, investigating and reporting corruption in government, and helping to reduce bullying and domestic violence incidents and deaths are all things we can work on to improve our society.
Setting a good example for our kids by not allowing ourselves to be reduced to the level of personal attacks on social media is another positive step we can take. Taking the high road when communicating with “Travis supporters” may get more people to rethink their ideas and opinions about the Jodi Arias trial. We can show we have a more complete knowledge of the case and we can improve our debating and communicating skills.
Each of these issues directly helps to improve our society and positively impact our culture. They make us a better country in the eyes of the world.
These are not liberal or conservative issues, but are a matter of evolution.
As a bonus, all of these issues indirectly benefit Jodi Arias. That’s one of the reasons why Jodi wants to help domestic violence victims by making sure they seek help and document their abuse. It’s to prevent many others from the same tragic circumstances Jodi is facing now.
We can help improve the system and conditions which may have failed Jodi Arias, and will certainly fail countless others if nothing is done to change the conditions .
Sometimes, the best way to help Jodi Arias is to not help Jodi Arias. I think even Jodi would agree.
For more insight into why the death penalty is unjust to crime victims and the public please see: