Monkey See, Monkey Do, Monkey step in a big steaming pile of wet Monkey-Poo.
Past and Present Female Murderers
Fact-based reporting by
Okay, so there is a little more to say about Jodi Arias, and there are 3 more articles on the way. One is an article about Jodi’s Support. Are there any supporters left and if there are, who are they? There will be one article in particular about one ardent supporter named Kareem “Lefty” Williams and his high-jinx and adventures with ‘the Joadster’. There will be one article about a new theory I have come up with called the 6-6-6 theory of Jodi Arias.
There is not going to be much more to say about Jodi Arias for a while, so here at Spotlight On Law, we are going to move onto other things. What we will be moving on to will be called Jodi Arias Wannabees Past and Present.
The sub-title will be “Monkey See, Monkey Do, Monkey step into a big steaming pile of wet Monkey Poo”.
Can you identify any of the above by either first or last name (both is even better)?
No cheating, now (No Googling or looking for articles allowed).
The thing about the fairer sex, the life givers and nurturers, being involved in murders is that it’s much more rare and it’s usually very varied as to motive and circumstance. Instead of patterns of criminal activity and violence, there seems to be more of a pattern of relationships and mental illness or mental breakdown.
Are any of these women just plain evil and born as a demon? We will take a deeper look at the facts, the crimes, and the circumstances to find out.
We will look at some older cases, some famous cases, but mostly recent cases either in court or recently committed murders. What are the known facts, what are the disputed facts, what evidence is there, and who will the witnesses be?
Did the defendant have good representation? How were the Prosecutors? Was it a fair trial? Was it a fair sentence or a just outcome? Any chance they are not guilty as charged?
As a warm up, no cheating now, can you name at least six of these accused / suspects / defendants? Can you name at least 6? For bonus points, can you name at least one victim each? Can you name more than 5 off the top of your head?
Use the comment Section to give your answers.
What happened to each of these women that possibly made them flip their burgers and kill a human being? Do they regret their activities after they realized that they had stepped in a big pile of fresh poo?
Okay, so we’ll be coming back at you with a new article on Jodi Arias, then one of these Jodi Wannabees of the past, and then we will bring you a present day Jodi Wannabee. We’ll take it from there and see what other cases we can find. Hopefully some lesser known cases as well as the more interesting of the well known cases.
Okay, have a happy! But, don’t make a rash decision then step in some Crappy.
Let’s put it in terms we all can understand (with examples).
“Dumbass Eventualis” – If you are a gun owner, and you have read up on firearms and have had
classes and possibly tests, you are an educated gun owner. You know what a gun can do and you
know what can happen if you fire a weapon at a human being. Especially, you know what a hollow point bullet can do to a human being. This bullet is made to expand, fragment, and mushroom out so it will not exit the body, but will bounce inside the body and tear through vital organs, causing much more damage and bloodshed.
If you own a lethal weapon and you are foolish, hot-headed, careless and reckless, if you are just another idiot with a gun, then you are a dumbass and eventually you are going to kill an unarmed, innocent person. You are a bad accident waiting to happen. You are, for all intents and purposes, a “Dumbass Eventualis”.
Recent examples are:
-Florida’s Michael Dunn, a guy who fired 10 shots into a car full of teenagers because he
didn’t like their loud music.
-Florida’s Adele Bing who heard a loud knock on her door and open-fired through the door, killing her own
daughter carrying Adele’s grandaughter in her arms (Well, she thought it was someone else!)
– Tennessee bar owner Chris Ferrell, who shot a Country Music singer to death for smoking in a non-smoking area, giving ‘rules strictly enforced’ a whole new meaning.
– Georgia’s Philip Sailors, who shot a man to death while backing out of Sailor’s driveway that he turned into by mistake. It was a GPS mistake. Also, some news and radio talk shows had been going on and on at the time talking about how ya betta watch out, the ‘govmint is coming to grab all yall’s gunz’.
-Maine’s James Pak, who shot and killed his tenants, a 19 year-old man and his 18 year-old girlfriend for
parking in the wrong spot during a snow storm. Where were the police, you ask? They had just left the property.
-South Africa’s very own Oscar Pistorius, who heard a noise in the toilet room and fired four
Times through the closed door, killing his model girlfriend.
Yes, my friends, these are all prime examples of “Dumbass Eventualis”.
These people are all innocent, unarmed people shot to death by armed aggressors.
Now, let’s talk about “Dolus Eventualis”.
One of the very first words a criminal law student will hear is the Latin “Mens Rea”. Mens Rea – means having a guilty mind. Many crimes will consist of the Actus Reus, or the criminal act and the Mens Rea, or criminal mind. Both must be in play for a defendant to be culpable or responsible for the crime.
Criminal Act + Criminal Mind = Crime
Why? I could be sky diving and my parachute doesn’t open. I fall right into you and kill you.
The Actus Reas , or the criminal act is that I have caused your death. But there is no Mens
Rea, since I did not intend to kill you, it was an accident, I had no guilty mind.
So, very quickly in the law, people needed to distinguish between the crime committed, and the
intent and the state of mind of the person committing the crime, to decide guilt or the degree
of guilt of that person. So law is making a distinction between the criminal act and the intent. The intent of the defendant must often be proven and this often goes to the state of mind of the defendant at the time of the crime.
Criminal Mind = Actual Intent + State of Mind
Was the defendant:
-impaired by a substance?
-insane or unable distinguish between right and wrong at the time of the crime?
-under duress (forced to do the crime or under extreme emotional disturbance)?
South African law comes from a mixture of Roman and English common law, German common law, and general European or what is called “mainland” common law. So the criminal act and the criminal mind must be proven. This is where pre-planning (premeditation), sudden heat of passion, self-defense, under duress, and temporary insanity come into play. The state of mind of the defendant must be proven and the true intent discovered, before a court can determine guilt or the degree of guilt.
South African law then divides the intent of the defendant into 3 main categories. These are called:
Dolus Directus- means a direct intention. The defendant is proven to have had a direct
intention to commit a murder, even if the opportunity or chance of committing the murder is very small. (Example: OJ Simpson brings a very sharp knife, a pair of Arliss extra large gloves given to him by his ex-wife, and a dark knit cap to his ex-wife’s house just after sunset. Seems like he had a direct intent to kill said ex-wife)
This is our equivalent of Premeditation.
Dolus Indirectus – means an indirect intent. The defendant may not have set out to commit a murder, but the defendant participated in a felony where it was
foreseeable that a participant, an innocent, or a police officer, etc. could be murdered. (Example: “Doug”and his friend, Eric, go to rob a store, they just want the money, but hey, nobody better get in their way. During the robbery, Eric shoots and kills a woman who witnessed the robbery, and the store owner shoots and kills Eric. Now, Doug will be charged with the robbery, the killing of the store owner, and the killing of Eric.)
This is our equivalent of Felony murder.
Dolus Eventualis – forseeable intent. Here the defendant does not mean to commit
a murder, but is proven to know that it was foreseeable that his or her acts could result in a
death and the defendant recklessly continues anyways.
(Example: Doug enjoys driving his vehicle through large glass greenhouses. He knows people work inside these greenhouses and that if he doesn’t stop, he may kill somebody. Doug keeps driving into greenhouses. This time he has killed Bumptious Q., Bangwhistle III, who was working inside the greenhouse. Doug is now under arrest for murder via Dolus Eventualis.
This is our equivalent of 2nd degree murder.
So it’s generally agreed upon that Oscar Pistorius in no way pre-planned or premeditated the
killing of Reeva Steenkamp. No Dolus Directus.
Pistorius lawfully owned a firearm and was lawfully protecting himself and others in his home. There was no felony that could foreseeably cause a murder. Pistorius did not commit Felony murder. No Dolus Indirectus.
Which leaves us with Dolus Evantualis. Did Pistorius know that his actions could foreseeably
lead to a death? If so, did he recklessly go ahead and do these actions anyways? The prosecution says yes, the defense says no.
Judge Masipa, if I am reading her decision correctly, is saying that she does not believe Oscar
Pistorius could forsee that his actions could lead to a death. He did not foresee that his
actions could lead to the death of Reeva Steenkamp, because his story that he folllowed the
sound of a home invader and neglected to check that Reeva was still in the bedroom could
possibly reasonably be true.
Judge Marsipa does not believe Oscar could foresee that his actions could lead to the death of
the intruder, because his disability and inability to flee combined with his heightened sense
of fear of attack caused him to react suddenly and impulsively, firing on reflex without
realizing he could cause a death.
This is understandable and this is what we hear in many cases of civilians as well as police,
however well trained in the use of firearms, will fire multiple times under fear and many times
will not remember firing so many times.
We saw this in the case of Florida’s Michael Dunn, who fired 10 shots but remembered just firing only 4. Also in the case of Missouri Police Officer, Darren Wilson, who fired 10 times at Big Mike Brown. Most likely, he does not remember firing so many shots and will report some tunnel vision and some blurring of events.
Oscar said he did not realize he had fired four times. He did not think Reeva was in the
bathroom. He heard a noise in the toilet room, but he was sure that an intruder was inside.
This is not self-defense by South African gun laws (You must know who or what your target is.
You must identify your target prior to firing) and by South African law (It’s not enough for an
intruder to be present in your home, the person must be an imminent threat to your life in
order to justify the use of deadly force.) A person hiding or cowering in a tiny, enclosed
toilet room is not yet an imminent threat.
An unjustifiable, but accidental killing is called culpable homicide – the defendant, without
intent, recklessly caused the death of another human being. This is our equivalent of
The killing is definitely not justified by mistake or by self-defense. At the very least it is
Manslaughter – Reckless, negligent, no intent – Culpable homicide
Self-Defense – Justified, must be imminent danger – Non Culpable homicide
The prosecution does not see it this way. This is letting Oscar Pistorius off the hook too
easily, like has always happened before. According to Gerrie Nel, Oscar should have foreseen
that he could cause Reeva’s death because he should have known for sure that she was not the
one in the bathroom, either by some way making sure she was present in the bedroom or making
sure of who was in the toilet room before firing.
Gerrie Nel sees Oscar’s story as impossible and unbelievable, indicating 2nd degree murder.
Further, even admitting Oscar’s story that he thought it was an intruder, it’s still Dolus
Eventualis or 2nd degree murder because Oscar should have forseen that firing 4 hollow-point
rounds into a tiny toilet room, believing there was someone inside, with no place to hide,
could lead to the death of an individual.
Some people are saying that the Judge’s decision is based entirely on Oscar’s belief that Reeva
was not in the toilet room. Therefore, he could have never forseen he would cause Reeva’s
death. I believe the judge is smarter than that and that she reasoned on both the possibility it was
Reeva and the possibility it was an intruder.
Having been defenders of Jodi Arias in the Arizona, USA case, Amanda and I are both very
sensitive to what the public opinion against Pistorius has been. We know that the media and public opinion has been heavily anti-Oscar and pro-prosecution. We also are aware that the police were very agressive in this case and that the prosecutor was very zealous and relentless in his pursuit of Mr. Pistorius on the stand and in the trial generally. We still feel this was a Valentine’s
Day argument leading to violence and death, not a home-defense accident.
Now, let’s look at what Oscar’s story really looks like, something we haven’t really seen
before. This is oscar’s story as testified to and as it must be.
1) Oscar wakes up around 3:00 AM
2) Reeva is either up or wakes up
3) She asks him if he can’t sleep
4) This is the last time he sees, hears, touches Reeva
5) Oscar gets up and brings in two fans from the balcony
(See “Your heart vs the Verdict” for why we feel this is a lie.)
Also, the idea that Oscar gets into this fan project without Reeva asking if she could help him
in any way, is definitely not like Reeva.
6) He’s distracted by the noise of the fans, etc.
7) Oscar brings the fans inside, closes the blinds
and the curtains and throws Reeva’s jeans over the
blue light of the stereo. Now the room is pitch black.
8) At the same time, Reeva gets up, goes to the bathroom
with her cell phone. She does not turn on the lights, does not contact Oscar, and loudly slides open the large
9) This must have happened if we accept Oscar’s story as true.
10) Upon hearing the window loudly slide open, Oscar does not check to see Reeva in the
bedroom or call out to her. She was awake less than a minute before, according to Oscar,
but he does not try to establish contact with her. He hears that noise and he has tunnel
vision from then on. This is the giant error that Judge Masipa sees as being possibly
11) Now Reeva is in the toilet or on her way to the toilet. Oscar is on his stumps softly
telling ‘bedroom Reeva’ to get down and call the police.
Although, in another version, he screams back for Reeva to call the police right before he
fires. In the first version, he softly tells Reeva to get down and call the police. Here, only
‘bedroom Reeva’ can hear him, and not ‘bathroom Reeva’, explaining why she did not call the
police. In the other version, both a potential ‘bedroom Reeva’ and a ‘bathroom Reeva’ can hear
him yell out for her to call the police, but neither of them call the police because ‘bathroom
Reeva’ is immediately shot to death.
12) Oscar walks down the hallway on his stumps, I presume making a distinct sound. Reeva hears
this and does not try and contact him?
13) She goes in the toilet room and closes the door and Oscar hears the door close. He calls
out for the intruder to “get the f*ck out of my house”. He yells this twice.
14) Maybe at this stage Reeva realizes that something is wrong, so she locks the door and
listens at the door. But she also pulls the key out of the door lock!
14.5) Oscar, in one version, now yells out for Reeva to call the police, and still Reeva does
nothing to alert Oscar that she is in the toilet and she does not call anyone.
15) Oscar hears a noise inside the toilet room, panics, and the gun fires four times.
16) For Oscar’s account to be true, Reeva never makes a sound as a bullet crashes into her hip
(fatal injury), her shoulder, her finger and her skull (fatal injury). She can make no
identifying sound because, according to Oscar’s story, he does not realize it was Reeva until
he gets back to the bedroom. Yet he must know he shot someone, because the person fell over and
against the toilet.
17) So having just fired four shots and hearing someone fall (granted, Oscar claims the shots
deafened him), he now notices the door is locked. Oscar turns his back on the danger to go back
to the bedroom. He then realizes that Reeva is not there and it could be Reeva in the toilet
This is when all the agonized crying for help and screaming happen, according to Oscar.
18) Oscar goes back to the toilet room with his prosthetics and tries to kick down the door
then gets the cricket bat.
19) All the screaming arguing crying, blood curdling screams, man and woman’s voices, and
Oscar’s cries for help were all only coming from Oscar and they all occurred at this time.
20) After breaking down the door, more cries and screams are heard and they are all Oscar until
he makes his first phone call at 3:19 AM.
I will leave it up to you if you believe that this story is possibly reasonably true. The
Defense and Judge Masipa feel that it is. Gunshots are extremely loud. To try to explain that no witnesses heard the gunshots but they all heard the door being broken with the cricket bat is hard to believe.
If you do not believe that this story can be possibly reasonably true, then the story is false
and Oscar knowingly fired through the door at Reeva Steenkamp, most likely in anger. This is
Dolus Eventualis or 2nd degree murder. Unlike the explanations of some people who don’t understand the law, the prosecution does not need to have a correct theory or a story that is exactly true.
If Oscar’s story, the Defense story, can not be seen to be possibly, reasonably true, then he’s
lying, and he’s guilty of knowingly causing Reeva Steenkamp’s death. This is what guilt beyond
a reasonable doubt means.
If you side with the judge on part one, we move on to part two. Taking Oscar’s story as
truthful, did he reasonably forsee that he could cause the death of whomever was inside the
toilet room and then recklessly proceed and go ahead with his actions anyways?
The Judge is saying that Oscar did not attempt to make contact with the intruder. He heard a
sound inside the toilet room, he panicked, he responded to the noise, not to a person, and the
gun started firing. In this way, Oscar did not foresee that he would cause the death of
whomever, if anybody, was inside the toilet room.
This can be seen as a fair judgement if you overlook all of Oscar Pistorius’ past and consider
him not as a Paralympic Champion or Olympic Runner, but as the average double amputee in the
middle of the night. If you agree, then that’s the end of the case.
I suppose the judge cited various facts in coming to this decision. Namely Oscar’s disability,
his inability to flee (though he claimed he could put on his prosthetics in 30 seconds), his
innate feelings of being attacked, treated unfairly, and preyed uopn, his startle response and
extreme fear, his previous experiences with crime and fearful situations in the past when he
thought an intruder was present, his tunnel vision when responding to noises at night, and his
impulsivity, and foolish recklessness with firearms in the past, confirmed by the prosecution.
The Prosecution would cite that Oscar seemed to shoot in an arc across the toilet door, moving
the gun as ther target moved, rather than just random firing, his experience with handling and
using firearms and his practice on the range, the mandatory training in South Africa for a gun
owner which states you should never fire on a target or person without positively identifying
South African law states that you should not use deadly force unless faced with an
imminent threat of serious injury or death, that a person possibly inside the house is not yet
an imminent threat, that Oscar’s past responses have been responses of aggression and heading
towards the danger, not fear and panic, that his past recklessness with guns should have taught
him to be more careful, that Oscar had faced his disability and overcame his difficulties, that
he did have the opportunity to flee or avoid conflict.
Oscar also was Not alone. Especially since he was handicapped, you would expect him to enlist
the help of his partner, by contacting Reeva, or at least making sure she was safe in the
bedroom. He is afraid of the danger but makes no effort to make contact with whoever is in the
toilet room or to give them a warning. He doesn’t call security in the beginning, he claims he
didn’t set his home alarm. If he was so paranoid and fearful of intruders, you think he would
set the alarm, yet, if he did set it, then he’s lying and is guilty anyways because the alarm
would have gone off if Reeva went downstairs for a snack or if an intruder opened the window. Of
course, Oscar has explanations or excuses for all these things.
If you side with the prosecution, then this case is not over for you.
Is South Africa prepared to dismantle the legendary myth of Oscar Pistorius? I think they would
prefer to avoid this. It seems like Oscar would have a difficult time coming back in sports
after not only this shooting incident, but other really bad behaviors that were covered up for
him in a seemingly organized manner.
Hopefully Judge Masipa will have the fortitude to make Oscar have to pay for his crimes
with a little prison time. Then it’s up to South Africans whether they want to rejuvenate their
legend. We will see whether they are willing to forgive, and how much they are willing to
Opposing viewpoints are welcome. Please comment.
You can also comment on Facebook at “Spotlight on law”
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:
Shining a spotlight on the Prosecutor Juan Martinez
Fact based reporting
By Rob Roman
“Mr. Martinez, you keep trying to make this a rational scenario, and it isn’t rational.” – Expert defense witness
For Juan Martinez, there are no “irrational” scenarios about a murder. Murder is against the laws of God and man. There is a victim here. A human being is dead in an unnatural way. The defendant is the accused. Many hours of police work and investigation have been rendered. The defendant has been brought to trial. Juan Martinez is going to trial to put them in a cage. A conviction will slam the door shut. When the conviction survives appeals, the door will be locked. That is the only rational response to murder.
Juan Martinez doesn’t want to hear about any exceptions to the rule. He doesn’t want to hear “this is not what it seems”. The defense always seems to have an excuse, a rationalization, explanations, and alternate scenarios. The prosecution must prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. All the defense must show is any doubt, any doubt at all. The prosecution needs a unanimous jury to convict. The defense only needs one juror on their side to jam the wheels of justice. If you get a conviction, an appeal can change a sentence, send the case back to trial, or even free the defendant.
Seeing this from Juan’s perspective, one can see why he may feel like the system is against the victims of crime. To Juan it’s truly an “adversarial system” and he will fight to win. When the death penalty is involved, the two sides tend to go too far and we might be losing a search for the truth. Winning the conviction becomes more important than the truth. Juan’s black and white way of viewing crime works well most of the time. But sometimes there will be someone in the defendant’s chair who is innocent of the crime charged. Sometimes this person gets stuck in the wheels of justice. Many innocent defendants have been convicted and jailed and some have been executed. So we must always be sure a trial is a search for the truth, even if sometimes the guilty person is set free. The prosecution and the defense both play vital roles in this process. The rights of victims must be carefully balanced with the rights of the accused.
During the final arguments in the guilt phase of the Jodi Arias murder trial, lead Defense attorney Lawrence Kirk Nurmi talked about shining a spotlight on the actions of the prosecution, specifically detective and co-counsel Esteban “Steve” Flores and the sole prosecuting attorney, Juan Martinez. The implication was that Mr. Martinez had acted improperly during the trial. I believe Detective Flores to be an honest man who only followed Dr. Horne’s opinion and he tried to help Jodi at the interrogation.
Of the enthusiastic trial watchers in the Jodi Arias case, there is also a spotlight on Juan Martinez. Prosecution supporters (Justice4Travis), see him as a “bulldog” a hero who tenaciously pursues the defendant until he can wrest a guilty verdict. Defendant supporters (Team Jodi) see him as over the top, going too far, and using a combination of emotionally charged persuasion, some direct evidence and some speculation to sway juries to render a guilty verdict.
There are many ways a prosecutor can win a case. There is hard work, attention to detail, experience, excellent direct and cross-examination of witnesses, and preparation. There is also a fierce devotion to the job of bringing a dangerous criminal to justice. Finally you will need a good grasp of the evidence, and know how to explain and persuade a jury that your evidence is sound. Juan Martinez is all of this and more.
He is passionate, dedicated, and I believe he sees the defense as having too many advantages in the system. I believe he employs methods normally used by defense attorneys to persuade the jurors to see things his way. Juan Martinez is known for using wild speculation and “facts” not supported by the evidence in his closing arguments.
Maybe the truth is not in the extremes but somewhere in the middle. We can shine the spotlight on past and present cases to try to determine what is motivating the prosecutor with the impressive 19-1 record, Juan Martinez.
Here is what his admirers in cyber space say about Juan:
-Respectfully I’d like to thank Mr. Martinez for giving me the realization there’s someone fighting for victims. My father was brutally murdered in 1990, very similar to what happened to Travis Alexander.
It was very brutal I lost my faith in the judicial system after what my family went thru and watching the way these murderers have all the rights yet the victims do not. Mr. Martinez, as I see it, represents a man who I wish there were more of. He is God’s light and I wish him all the best in this world where sometimes I think our society’s become blind to so many things…
And if anything at all, perhaps some could look at this man and appreciate what he does for so many. He is truly an asset to the state. As for Ms. Arias, I hope for the victims’ family…Justice.
-Juan Martinez is the best. So sick of the trash that is going around surrounding this case. Who is on trial here?
-I think he is the best. If I ever need a lawyer he’s it. No BS with him. Why waste time with guilty killers?
Juan is the second youngest of a family of nine. He came to America at age 6 when his family immigrated and settled in California. He vowed to learn English well and be a success. He participated in many activities, such as running long distance track in high school. He finished college and attended ArizonaStateUniversity where he earned his law degree. Juan did some volunteer legal work and some work defending clients. Then, in 1988, he joined the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.
What is in Juan Martinez’ heart and mind? We can try to have a better understanding of him by knowing his feeling. In this world and surely in Arizona, there is crime and there are criminals. There are vicious and violent senseless crimes and uncaring evil and cruel criminals. Juan is very aware of this. Let’s take a look at the A B C’s of the convicts now on Arizona’s Death Row.
\Kidnapped and raped an 8 year-old boy. Kidnapped, raped and Killed an 8 year-old girl and left her in the desert.
With three accomplices, beat a man half to death with a baseball bat, threw him in the trunk of his car, cut off his finger, shot him with a shotgun and threw him off a cliff.
Kidnapped and raped a woman and shot her twice in the head.
Choked his girlfriend’s 2 1/2 year-old son nearly to death then later drowned him in a swimming pool.
Beat an older man to death with a hammer, then bound his wife and struck her in the head repeatedly with a hatchet. He wrapped them up in plastic, hid in their home, then stole everything they had of value including their car.
Raped a 17 year-old girl, then shot, stabbed and beat to death the girl, her father and mother and her 5 year-old brother.
With an accomplice, broke into a couple’s home, bound them with telephone cord and masking tape, then suffocated the husband with a pillow and choked the wife to death.
So, it’s easy to see why Juan grew up believing in law and order, right and wrong, good and bad. He believes that if you intentionally caused a person’s death, you should pay by being removed from society and in many cases, sentenced to death. It’s just so simple. It’s not difficult to see where his sentiments come from.
It was 1997, ten years after Juan Martinez joined the Maricopa County Attorney’s office. Late at night in an upscale neighborhood in MaricopaCounty, Greg Koons heard screams coming from his neighbor’s back yard. He went outside and peered over the fence. He saw his neighbor, casually pushing his wife into his in-ground swimming pool and holding her head under the water. He sprinted inside and called the police.
Soon after, the neighbor, Scott Falater, opened his door to the police. Confused and not understanding what the fuss was all about, the police went into his backyard and found his wife Yarmilla floating dead in the pool. She had been stabbed 44 times. Scott Falater was a High Councilor in the Mormon Church, and a husband and father of two. He was a successful design engineer and very active in the church. He was a mild-mannered man, had seldom become angry, and had no motive to kill his wife whom he loved dearly.
Juan Martinez went to court to exact justice. It seemed like an open and shut case. There was an eye witness, a direct identification of the perpetrator, and a viciously stabbed and drowned wife. The man was arrested within minutes of the crime. The courtroom was nearly empty. Next door in a crowded courtroom was a high profile case. Teen members of a Crips gang were on trial for a brutal, three hour sexual assault of a fifteen year-old mentally handicapped girl.
Juan Martinez was shocked to find out that the man’s high paid attorneys were claiming their client, Scott Falater, was innocent by reason of sleepwalking! Like the Jodi Arias case, the focus was not on who did the killing, but why. The defense claimed that Scott Falater had no incentive, motive or reason to kill his wife of 20 years. There had to be another explanation for why this would occur. For Juan, there is no why. She’s dead and he killed her and justice will be done. For Juan, you are either a good or bad person. If you do something like this, you are a bad person and the “why” shouldn’t matter at all. Still he needed to give the jury a viable motive.
This is the template case for the Jodi Arias case. Both involved horrific killings where the defendants admitted to horrific acts but claimed no knowledge of the killings or any intent of murder. Both defenses relied on crucial expert testimony. Juan struggled to find a motive for this senseless killing during the trial. He offered many scenarios to the jury. His wife refused to have more children. His wife was moving his family away from the Mormon Church.
Sure, he was mild mannered, but he took his anger from work home to his wife. Juan argued with the defendant and declared that Falater didn’t even know his wife’s birthday. He told a shocked Falater he had the year wrong. Juan was mistaken due to an incorrect report. He even argued that Falater killed his wife because he thought she was fat and dumpy. Falater made the statement to police that “a terrible sin has been committed”. Falater was referring to the killing. Juan suggested to the jury that Scott Falater killed his wife because SHE committed a terrible sin.
By the end of the trial, State v. Falater starring Juan Martinez had become the new high profile trial in Arizona. The sleepwalking defense became famous around the country. Juan attacked the defense experts. He claimed that the expert’s conclusions were invalid because the expert was not provided with all the details. The defendant recognized his dog but not his wife, and he cleaned up the scene and the evidence.
In closing the defense attorney reminded the jury that Juan Martinez mischaracterized the evidence and made comments not supported by the evidence. The defense attorney implied that the prosecuter violated his duty to see that truth and justice is done. The defense reminded the jury that Scott Falater was a passive and non-violent man, and that the prosecution could not come up with a valid reason or motive for the killing.
The defense attorney tried to explain to the jury that sometimes there are cases were things are not as they seem. There are exceptions when things happen which are difficult to explain. At one point the defense expert witness addressed the prosecutor:
“Mr. Martinez, you keep trying to make this a rational scenario, and it isn’t rational.” At some point in the closing, Martinez slammed the door on all this talk about sleepwalking.
“Do you think that she deserved to die?” he asked. “Look at her. We’ve placed so much attention on him, everything’s about him. Look at her!”
Juan Martinez then threw a photo up of the victim on the autopsy table. He loudly implored the jury to look at her, to look at the indignity of the victim. The defense attorney talks about reasons, REASONS? Scott Falater “had 44 reasons to KILL his wife”, Martinez screamed. He was referring to the 44 knife wounds. Only one member of this Arizona jury had a college degree.
He appealed to the nuts and bolts sense of the jury. He had a sound argument for the jury:
“This guy here killed his wife ….. and he’s guilty of first-degree murder.”
Scott Falater was found guilty and sentenced by the judge to life without parole.
Even 15 years before the Jodi Arias case, Juan Martinez was already honing his craft. He was becoming an expert at arguing the details with expert witnesses, discrediting witnesses, questioning the memory of the defendant and defense witnesses, and calling them out as liars. He was becoming better than defense attorneys at weaving speculation into the facts of the case while at the same time, calling defense evidence fictions and “fantasy”.
He ridiculed defense theories, calling them such things as “The man of La Mancha defense”. Fifteen years before the Arias trial, Juan was already in the habit of yelling at witnesses, including a priest, and ridiculing witnesses. Even in the Falater trial, he questioned the children of the victim and the defendant in a voice laced with irony and sarcasm. Yarmilla Falater In Juan’s view, he had delivered justice for Yarmilla
Later, Juan had another case of obvious 1st degree murder. Two divorced Mormons had married. Doug Grant was a very successful in the health products business. He owned a multi-million dollar company. His clients included famous professional athletes and NBA teams. Doug cheated on his wife with his receptionist. His wife, Faylene, found out and complained to the church. Here we see the dangerous nexus between the LDSChurch, social life and business. It seems that if Doug Grant did not return to his wife, the church would get involved and this would impact his business. It’s important to understand this dynamic of the Mormon Church in the Jodi Arias trial.
Doug told Faylene he ended it with his girlfriend Hilary, and he wanted to remarry Faylene in Las Vegas. They went for an impromptu 2nd Honeymoon at TimpanogosCaveNational Monument where his wife suddenly and mysteriously fell into trees down a sixty foot cliff.
She survived and they returned home. Faylene took some pain killers and a bath heal from her injuries. She was found dead in the bathtub by Doug Grant in September, 2001. Three weeks after Faylene’s death, Doug Grant married his receptionist, Hilary Dewitt, and they soon became a family aftter Hilary adopted Faylene’s two sons.
Another high priced attorney and in Juan’s mind, more excuses, fancy explanations, technicalities, more sure signs of guilt that the court would not admit into evidence.
Imagine Juan’s shock and disbelief when he could not convince the jury of the 1st degree murder he believed was so obvious. The jury was clearly divided and Juan was forced to give instructions for lesser included offenses. Murder one and the death penalty was off the table for Doug Grant. He got away with a 5 year sentence for manslaughter. I can imagine that Juan was devastated, and thought justice had not been done. He had failed to get justice for Faylene. He contemplated his lessons and moved on.
The Grant family still believes Doug is innocent. They list a number of accusations of prosecutorial misconduct in State v. Grant. This includes
-“Losing” key evidence, “throwing away reports”, and failure to turn over key evidence to the defense in a timely manner.
-Convincing the judge to not allow into evidence testimony that the medical examiner was pressured to change his opinion about the cause of death on the victim’s autopsy report from “accident” to “undetermined”.
-Convincing the judge to rule possible exculpatory evidence as inadmissible
-Convincing the judge not to allow into evidence testimony and records showing that investigators were removed from the case when they told their superiors they could not find evidence of foul play.
-Objecting over fifty times during the defense opening statements.
-Preventing defense witness from trying to explain their answers by cutting off their answers and forcing them to answer either yes, or no.
-When these same witnesses were being questioned by the defense, Juan Martinez objected “over 200 times per day”.
-The prosecution case took three and one half months, but the judge ordered the defense to complete their case in two weeks in order to “stay on schedule”.
-Intimidating defense witnesses by accusing them of violating the law without evidence or any record of a law having been broken. The accusation that they broke the law is used to discredit their testimony and truthfulness.
-Accusing defense witnesses of lying but using arguing tactics and word tricks rather than evidence to support it.
-Using the normal and common variations in a witness’ statements and memory to attack their memory of an event, and then to suggest that the memory varies because the witness is lying.
-Also in this trial, jury members who were not a part of the final jury admitted that they had been influenced by the media and they had made up their minds the defendant was guilty before the trial began.
The jury did not believe the prosecution’s theory and did not like the tactics. Do any of these tactics foster a “search for the truth”? Do you recognize any of these tactics from the Jodi Arias trial? Doug’s family feels that truth and justice were not found in State v. Grant. These two quotes appear on their website:
“Anybody who understands the justice system knows innocent people are convicted every day.” –Florida Supreme Court Justice, Gerald Kogun (Ret.)
“In this country the presumption of innocence is dead, dead, dead.” –John Grisham
Not long after, Juan found himself on the losing side of a case. A man had been found shot dead in the forest. The defendant was David Wayne Carr. The evidence was thin. Juan started fighting back in his own way. With less than two weeks before the trial, Martinez did not give the defense a list of his witnesses and other materials. The defense was angry. They could not properly prepare their defense. They filed a complaint to the judge. This offense was punishable by up to six months in jail. The judge was very upset that his court was delayed.
The County attorney hired a high powered attorney to defend Juan. He fought back against the charge. Juan accused the defense of not giving a list of possible defenses to him until 2 weeks before the trial. He ended up forced to write a letter of apology to the court. The case was delayed and later, the jury found David Carr not guilty.
This is the only case Martinez lost. Strangely, a mysterious friend of Jodi Arias appeared in the courtroom during her trial. He called himself “Bryan Carr”. He claimed to talk to Jodi daily and he had confidential information. He claimed Jodi was telling the truth about the two masked people that were responsible for the murder. The claim was that Travis Alexander’s murder was actually an old Mormon atonement ritual called “blood atonement”. A Mormon who had committed grave sins could still go to heaven if he paid for his sins through this death ritual. Arias claimed she did not know Carr and she did not listen to him. Then, “Bryan Carr” disappeared from the courtroom and the media as quickly as he had appeared.
Martinez recovered with the murder trial of Wendi Andriano. Wendi’s Husband was terminally ill. There were changes in his life insurance policy. He was going to win a large lawsuit. The bleach blonde Wendi was neglecting and cheating on her husband and always out drinking. She was never home. There was a question about whether her husband would leave her. Maybe he would cut her out of his will.
On October 8, 2000, Wendi tried to poison her husband. She called an ambulance, then she sent the ambulance away. Later she hit him 23 times in the head with a barstool. She stabbed him multiple times leaving the knife in his throat.
Juan cross examined Wendi Andriano ferociously. Wendi claimed that the poisoning was a planned assisted suicide, that her husband accepted her cheating, and that he attacked her and she defended herself. On the stand she said “If I am convicted, it is because of my own bad choices”. Interestingly, Jodi Arias actually mimicked some of the mannerisms of Wendi Andriano and quoted her while on the stand. Wendi’s hair also returned to its natural brown color and she dressed down and wore glasses at her death penalty trial. But the victim, xxxx Andriano would win the day. The jury didn’t believe her story and they sentenced her to death only a few days before Christmas, 2004.
Empowered from his victory, Juan must have felt invincible. Things were going well for Juan, and his record was impressive. Then he ran into a legal buzz saw named Shawn P. Lynch. This may have really hardened him about the justice system. Lynch and a friend had killed a man and then went on a spending spree with his credit card. There was plenty of evidence and little doubt about who committed the crime. The confusion came from who did what. The jury convicted Lynch of murder but they could not agree on premeditation.
Next Juan would learn about the aggravation of the aggravators. The jury agreed on murder for a money motive, but they disagreed on heinous cruel or depraved. A second mitigation and penalty phase was ordered. During the second phases, Juan instructed the jury that there were four aggravating circumstances: Pecuniary gain (money), heinous, cruel, and depraved. In 2006, the jury found all four aggravators and sentenced Lynch to death. Juan thought he had justice for xxxxx, but the case was far from over.
Shawn Lynch appealed with a barrage of issues, including prosecutorial misconduct on the part of Juan Martinez. The higher court rejected most of the claims. Technically, heinous, cruel and depraved are not three aggravators. They are three “prongs” of a single aggravator. The court stated that since the jury was instructed there were four aggravators instead of two, this was prejudicial to the client. So this crime from 2001 and death penalty sentence from 2006, has yet go back to trial a third time for another sentencing phase. More than 12 years later, there is not a final sentence. There has been no closure for xxxx. I think this experience aggravated Juan and made him feel that the justice needs a little push since the system and appeals process are all on the defendant’s side.
Juan had better success with State v. Glick. Dean Glick, 41, was a vile and degenerate person by any standards. He lived with his 82 year old mother. He abused her and stole her money. He hired a prostitute and promised her a huge bonus. His mother protested when he tried to use her credit card to pay. The prostitute left with her driver when the argument became heated. They quickly called the police. Dean Glick then beat his 82 year-old mother to death with a plastic flashlight. When the police arrived, Glick had barricaded the front door. There was plenty of evidence and two eye witnesses who saw the beginning of the fight just minutes before the murder.
Imagine Juan’s attitude towards defense attorneys when Glick’s attorneys told the jury that Dean was caring and responsible. He loved his mom way too much to kill her. They simply had an argument. The argument got out of control and the beating was not so bad. Glick broke his mom’s ribs and sternum not while beating her but while trying to perform CPR on her fragile body! It is not difficult to understand Juan’s disdain for the defense. Dean Glick was convicted of 1st degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Martinez had further success with a high profile serial killer case. Cory Morris was accused of killing his girlfriend and four other women and burying them next to his trailer. From 2002 to 2003 he had lured the women into his home with promises of money. Then the victims were subjected to beatings, rape, murder and then necrophilia. Imagine the disdain on his face when the defense counsel addressed the jury. The defense said that although his client committed 5 murders, he had not premeditated any of them. Therefore, Corey Morris should get five counts of 2nd degree murder and not the death penalty. The jury did not accept the argument. Morris was sentenced to death in July, 2005.
In 2005, Juan Martinez was the prosecutor in the case of an ArizonaStateUniversity athlete who shot a teammate to death in a parking lot. Juan was not moved by the idea of the popular Arizona Sun Devils running back making some bad decisions and a terrible mistake. In 2007, Loren Wade was found guilty of second degree murder and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Juan had another win under his belt. Most likely Juan doesn’t remember Loren Wade’s name, but he certainly remembers xxxx, the less well known football player who’s life was cut so short.
Then there was State v. Miller. William Craig Miller, 34, was a business owner who committed arson, burning down his own home for insurance money. He talked his employee Steven Duffy into helping him. When Duffy and his girlfriend, Tammy Lovell, offered to help the police prosecute him, Miller retaliated. He killed Duffy, his eighteen year old brother, Lovell, and her two children ages 15 and 10. Imagine the ire in the conscience of Juan Martinez when the defense attorney implored the jury to “keep an open mind” and to remember that “things are not always as they seem”.
The defense attorney told the jury that life in prison is punishment enough and showed smiling baby photos of Miller. They said to remember that there was a human being inside the monster and that Miller suffered from bipolar disorder. Juan pounced on this sickening plea. What about xxxxx? Where is their mercy? The jury convicted him of five counts of 1st degree murder and sentenced him to death in 2011.
For Juan Martinez, he will grudgingly provide a “why”. If the jury needs a “why”, he will find one to give them. But for Juan, there is no why. You took a life. We know you did it, and now it is time to pay for your sin. Many murders are straightforward. Juan Martinez doesn’t see that there are rare exceptions and sometimes there are possible explanations for something that seems like a horrible and vicious murder.
In 2013, in the Arias trial, Juan finds himself once again accused of prosecutorial misconduct. Withholding from the defense text messages, Instant messages, and e-mails recovered from the cell phone of Travis Alexander in time for trial. Thousands and thousands of messages were recovered and turned over in 2011 shortly before the anticipated beginning of the trial. The trial was delayed many times. Other incidents of misconduct throughout the trial have been alleged by the defense, including suborning perjury in the testimony of the Medical Examiner, Dr. Kevin Horn.
Juan Martinez was in his usual element, berating defense witnesses, attempting to insult and humiliate the defendant and expert defense witnesses. Appealing to the emotions rather than the reason and logic of the jury, trying to shape the testimony of defense witnesses, cutting them off before they can explain their answers, and questioning witnesses with cynical and aggressive questioning, even screaming, barking and snapping at witnesses in bulldog fashion.
Nurmi attempted to shine a “spotlight” on the actions of the prosecutor by making accusations of misconduct throughout the trial, an attempt to deceive the jury by making their unlikely order of injuries a scientific certainty which would highly benefit the prosecution’s case. Finally, adding the nonsensical charge of 1st degree felony murder for fear that the jury would not believe the thin and mostly speculative evidence of premeditation. Whatever it took, Juan vowed to deliver justice for Travis Alexander and his shattered family.
Many trial watchers praised Juan Martinez as a hero. In the media and also in social media, victim’s rights were enshrined and Juan’s devices were duplicated. Witnesses were threatened and intimidated by mostly anonymous Facebook and Twitter avengers. Only one side of the story was presented. Anyone who said anything in support of the defendant, her attorneys and witnesses was castigated. Speculations were presented in the media and social media as fact. Exculpatory evidence was not allowed into the public domain. Any opinion in any way favorable to the defendant or the defense was ridiculed, blocked, and deleted. Posters were driven away by swarms of avengers and Facebook pages supporting Jodi Arias were deleted due to false complaints of “pornography”.
Currently, Juan has completed the Chrisman trial where a former Phoenix police officer is charged with 2nd degree murder, assault, and cruelty to animals after shooting a man and his dog in his home during a complaint of violence. Juan had an eye witness and some evidence, but there was a problem with missing evidence from outside the home favoring Chrisman.
Juan responded in a clever fashion. He suggested to the jury during closing arguments that Chrisman’s fellow officers may have hidden and destroyed evidence as well as altering the crime scene. No evidence was introduced in support of the accusation. The judge gave the jury instructions that what is said in closing arguments is not evidence and that lack of evidence should be seen as favorable to Chrisman. Even so, jury members were influenced by the contention that his fellow officers helped Chrisman by removing and destroying evidence.
Chrisman claimed that he shot the victim because he picked up a bicycle and threatened to assault the officer. Juan told the jury that “no gun residue was found on the bicycle”, proving that Chrisman was lying. In fact, no tests were conducted on the bicycle for gun residue. Juan Martinez had used a defense-style tactic to influence the jury.
Chrisman’s defense attorneys have complained that the Grand Jury was not given the evidence it needed to make a sound decision about whether the case should be brought to trial or what proper charges were to be brought.
“Chrisman’s lawyers filed a motion claiming the prosecutors in the case, Juan Martinez and Ted Duffy, omitted certain facts and ignored questions from the grand jury that indicted him”.
“Chrisman’s lawyers say prosecutors never told the grand jury about the victim’s alleged drug use or comments made by Chrisman to the first officer on the scene.”
In the past, these actions were deemed as misconduct by Arizona judges. Now the exact same behaviors are not viewed as misconduct. Here is the response to such behavior in Arizona in a 2006 murder case:
“Mr. Duffy (the prosecutor) did a lot of things during the trial that in my opinion were just outrageous,” said Raynak (the defense attorney).”
“Raynak says Duffy’s misconduct included introducing evidence after he was told not to, and making statements about evidence that simply weren’t true. Judge Arthur Anderson agreed, and after notifying the bar, Duffy was suspended for 30 days and given probation for a year”. In the Chrisman case, Martinez and Duffy had teamed up to deliver Justice for xxxx Rodriguez and his mother who had called the police to begin with.
Although it seems that ex-officer Chrisman was very wrong in his actions, the jury should be given the sound evidence and be able to make a fair decision based on the evidence and testimony presented. The jury should not be unduly influenced by tricks and tactics designed to influence the jury outside of the facts of the case.
The prosecutors should not mislead the Grand Jury, try to keep out exculpatory evidence, and make arguments to the jury which mischaracterizes evidence. Expert witnesses can be discredited or have their opinions questioned, but character assassination, taunting and ridicule of qualified experts should not be allowed. The prosecution should turn over witness lists and evidence to the defense on time.
In his upcoming case, State v. Christopher Redondo, Juan has been sparring with the judge. Redondo has already been convicted for the unrelated murder of Ernie Singh on June 24, 2009. For this, Redondo was sentenced to life in prison. Now, Redondo is accused of shooting to death Gilbert Police Lt. Eric Shuhandler in January 2010.
Redondo was reportedly despondent in his cell and refusing to talk to defense counsel. Judge Barton requested that Juan Martinez attempt a plea bargain to life in prison and has ordered a competency hearing. Juan Martinez became incensed and convinced that the judge is trying to stop him from getting Redondo the death penalty. Juan also feels Judge Barton is “sympathetic” to the defendant and should not be allowed to preside in the competency hearing. I would say she believes the Death penaty should be used judiciously.
He wants a stricter judge to find him competent to stand trial and to be eligible for execution. Juan knows Redondo is already serving life in prison for the killing of Singh. If he is found guilty, this means he will get no extra punishment for the killing of Officer Shuhandler in 2010. So, Juan feels that Redondo should stop playing mentally sick and should just face execution. In his motion, “Martinez accused Barton of being hostile toward the death penalty in three other cases”.
This can be directly traced back to State v. Miller. The judge in that case was Judge Barton. Miller was the man who killed 5 people as retaliation for testifying against him in an arson case. Even though there were multiple aggravators such as multiple murders, prior felonies, witness elimination, and the murder of two children. Juan still insisted in motions with the judge that the especially cruel, heinous or depraved aggravator be allowed to be used. The judge replied that there were plenty of other aggravators, and that the five were shot in rapid succession, making it difficult to prove significant mental suffering took place.
“Based upon the evidence presented, the state has not shown that any significant period of time elapsed between the killings and that any victim did not die instantly from the gunshot wounds,” Barton responded. “Rather, it appears that the victims were killed in rapid succession and none of them had significant time to contemplate their fate,” the judge said.
Why does Juan Martinez fight so hard to get an aggravator he doesn’t need to get the death penalty? The answer is precedent. If this particular crime is seen as supporting the heinous, cruel, or depraved aggravator, then many more cases can claim this aggravator due to the precedent that can be created in State v. Miller. This allows the prosecutors in Arizona to use the threat of the death penalty more often to force a plea in selected cases. This also widens rather than narrows the number of homicides that can be found eligible for the death penalty. Judge Barton has presided over other death penalty cases where the sentence was death. Judge Barton has also refused to block death sentences from being carried out. So maybe Juan Martinez is being too tenacious in attacking Judge Barton for being reasonable and judicious in the application of the death penalty.
It’s wonderful when you have a tough prosecutor who will fight hard for the rights of victims and victim’s families. It’s a blessing to have a tenacious prosecutor to protect society from serial killers, cop killers, rogue cops, mass murderers, and outlaw murderers with drug habits. The problem comes when you have people such as Scott Falater and Jodi Arias.
These are passive people with no criminal history or history of violence who are claiming that something irrational or not easily explainable happened resulting in a murder. These are cases where the jury really needs to decide on the facts and the evidence without the undue influence from emotional arguments, speculation, and deceptive tactics.
The code of ethics for prosecutors states:
(a) The office of prosecutor is charged with responsibility for prosecutions in its jurisdiction.
(b) The prosecutor is an administrator of justice, an advocate, and an officer of the court; the prosecutor must exercise sound discretion in the performance of his or her functions.
(c) The duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict.
So to try to discredit an expert Psychological witness with 30 years experience because he made a math mistake, or to try to discredit a domestic violence expert with 30 years experience because of the title she chose for a speaking engagement, seems a little over the top. To withhold evidence and witness lists from the defense in order to put them at a disadvantage in a case where their client faces possible execution also seems over the top.
To try to convince the jury with argument based on speculation and emotion also seems to fall outside the bounds of the ethics of a prosecutor who is supposed to seek justice. To express the sentiment that the defendant is a liar and by extension, all defense witnesses are liars also, falls outside these bounds. To accuse defense witnesses of crimes without evidence and to use these accusations to try and prevent a witness from testifying is a violation of law. For Judges to tolerate these tactics is wrong on its face. Excessive screaming, sarcasm, taunting, and contempt violate the decorum of a capital case.
Do you want to defend a mass murderer? Neither do I. Do you want to defend a child rapist and killer or an outlaw drug induced spree killer? Neither do I. How far over the line would you go to prosecute the bad guy? If you go too far, the scales are tipped, and you st become part of the problem. But if you are falsely accused of such a thing, you would want a prosecutor with ethics. You would not want a Grand Jury to indict you on false, misleading, or missing information. You would not want charges to be brought against you without probable cause. You would not want to be overcharged in the crime.
You would not want a prosecutor withholding evidence that could set you free, manufacturing, destroying or mischaracterizing evidence, influencing the jury with speculation, or shopping for a hanging judge. Deciding whether a person lives or dies should be based on their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. People who think Juan Martinez is a hero like to ask “What if Travis Alexander was your son, your brother, or your friend? But you also need to ask “What if Jodi Arias was your daughter, your friend, or your sister?”
There is no “Justice for Yarmilla”, “Justice for Faylene” or “Justice for Travis”. There is only Justice for all. The balance between victim’s rights and the rights of the accused must be carefully maintained. Otherwise, we are only seeking a conviction. We have left Justice far behind.