Heroes, Zeros, and Geniuses in the Jodi Arias Case #2 Lights Out
The Jodi Arias Murder Trial: The Other Side of the Story
Fact – Based Reporting by
Rob Roman and Amanda Chen
Well folks, we now know that Jodi’s motion to dump her lead attorney was denied. The defense motions for a change of venue and individual voir dire (questioning) of the jury were also denied. The motion to obtain the Twitter handles of jurors was denied and the defense motion to sequester the jury was denied.
Just a few days ago (Dec. 5), renewed motions again asking for a change of venue and individualized voir dire were denied again.
Judge Sherry Stephens has now officially become the Queen of Denial. We can call her Cleopatra. It seems the motion to move in slow motion was granted.
Jury selection is imminent, and the trial is scheduled to begin sometime in Mid-February, 2014.
A motion to limit media coverage was granted. It’s lights out for the 2nd penalty phase. We will have to depend on the few reporters who will be inside the courtroom.
So, it’s time for another Heros, Zeroes, and Geniuses segment. We have some from the original penalty and guilt phases as well as some current treasures, in both the normal and ironic senses of the word.
Cameras will still be in the courtroom, however, and we will be able to watch the trial after it’s over. The entire original trial exists on YouTube and other internet sites for everyone to see. It’s your decision whether this was a fair or unfair trial. We say “No way, Jose!”
When hearing reports in the second penalty phase, it’s important to realize just who is doing the reporting and whether what is being reported is factual, or biased speculation. If the person making the report just happens to be hawking their latest book about Jodi Arias at the same time (like Josh Hoffner, the author of “Killer Girlfriend”), be cautious.
This is the guy who claimed he had a “stare down” with Jodi Arias in the courtroom, even though Jodi probably had no idea who he was and was just wondering who this man was who had appeared on her side of the courtroom. This Associated Press Journalist with lots of experience went on CNN’s headline news, but tellingly, had nothing other than that to report as he hawked his equally speculative book about the killing.
Also on Jodi’s side of the gallery almost every day of the trial was Jodi’s jailhouse friend, Donavan Bering. If the chips are down, and the whole world is against you, this is the friend you would want.
Ms. Bering was one of the few guests talking to reporters in support of Jodi Arias. She was a guest on CNN’s Headline News studio a few times, where she reportedly burned the house down!
Sorry, Donavan, just joking. Donavan showed a rare phenomenon in a friend known as loyalty, and she stuck by Jodi’s side through hell and high water.
Now free on parole from an arson conviction, Donavan, was absolutely vilified and lambasted by the media, for being nothing but a good and true friend. The world needs more people like Ms. Bering, who by many accounts is a really nice and caring person.
Not nearly enough attention was given to the truly heartfelt and heroic closing statements delivered by Arias’ 2nd chair attorney, Jennifer Willmott form the original penalty phase.
Just listen to it one more time (below). This was a visceral and heart-felt plea for sparing the life of Jodi Arias. Ms. Willmott may have been responsible for the 4 jurors who would not back down on their votes for life.
When you have a tragedy, especially with Arias’ circumstances of good character, nothing more than a traffic ticket, and a lifelong mental illness, you try to salvage what is left from the tragedy. You don’t throw a person’s life away on the basis of what’s been presented in this case. Execution still hangs over Jodi Arias’ head, and it will be interesting to see which defense attorney does the closing arguments this time.
Troy Hayden (Fox News Phoenix)
and Ryan Owens (ABC correspondent)
This man is the Fox News reporter located in Phoenix, who interviewed Jodi Arias after the guilty verdict (see the video below). What Jodi said in this interview was the reason why she was confined to the jail psychiatric unit for 3 days after the guilty verdict (risk of being a danger to self). His interview was very fair, compared to the interview from Ryan Owens, an ABC correspondent.
Ryan Owens lied to Arias when he agreed not to show Jodi’s prison stripes or leg chains, as a condition of the interview. His reasoning was he didn’t have to abide by this agreement because it was made with Jodi Arias. Ryan Owens aggressively attacked Arias in the interview, demanding of Arias ‘When are you going to finally tell us what really happened in that bathroom?
Jodi spent a lot of time under oath explaining what happened in the bathroom. What really didn’t happen in that bathroom is what the prosecution says happened, because the forensic and crime scene evidence contradicts their theory.
Last week, Troy Haden reported that he had interviewed a former cell-mate of Jodi’s who claims Arias wanted to know why Juan Martinez doesn’t love her and that Arias threatened to have Juan Martinez killed by way of “Mafia Bow tie” or slit throat.
We became immediately suspicious because
A) No details were provided such as when was this said? Where was this said, under what circumstances was this said? How long was she cell-mates with Arias?
B) No details were given about this cell-mate such as what was her crime, what is her current status, etc.
C) No other statements were given from the former prisoner, besides the derisive statements about Arias. What else happened while the two were cellmates? Are there any positive things that happened?
No real reporter could take this report seriously. Yet all the major outlets and all the most popular blogs, and all the social media parroted it like it was gospel.
Few people reported any facts at all about this prisoner, who appeared to be quite obviously mentally ill.
Since there is now a media blackout, the media will be dependent on the reporters who are actually in the courtroom and viewing the trial live. So, it’s no small wonder what Troy Hayden was trying to do. Troy Hayden is another opportunist who wanted to get a scoop so he could set himself up as the go-to guy for the 2nd penalty phase. It’s really that simple.
At least we know Nancy Grace is not liked by people on all sides of this case, regardless of her odes to the fallen heroes in Afghanistan.
Nancy Grace did everything in her power to incite the lynch mob against Jodi Arias, including declaring her guilty of premeditated murder a few days into the trial, because Travis was stabbed in the back. Actually, the stabs in the back may actually be defensive blows made by Arias while under or face to face with Travis Alexander. The description, shape and pattern of these wounds are much less likely to be made in an offensive manner as they would in a defensive manner.
Nancy was much more fair to Brett Seacat (fair trial – guilty – private legal team) and Dr. Martin MacNeil (fair trial – guilty – private legal team). See if you can spot the differences.
The good news is that CNN and Headline news are now under a shake-up due to low ratings. The new boss has promised that CNN and HLN will be unrecognizable in 2014 from what they are now .
We hope this means Nancy grace will lose her show and get the old Heave-Ho. We are tired of watching her be rude to guests who disagree with her, hang up on them, talk over them, or disconnect them in mid-talk as she has done to Beth Karas and others so many times.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio
Jodi Arias reported that a toilet near her cell was running continuously and yet no staff did anything about it for days. These are people who are supposed to notice stuff like that. So, it’s small wonder that other prisoners at the jail have cried and screamed for basic medical attention and nobody ever came around, after which they needed to be hospitalized and some died in their cells.
Joe made our list by reducing visiting hours just in time for the holiday to .5 hours per week (probably to save on overtime). Sheriff Joe also took all meat out of the prisoner’s meals to save money. He boasted that he had gotten Thanksgiving dinner down to a cost of just 60 cents per meal. Way to go, Joe!
Joe is such a good, frugal money saver, especially in election years in Arizona. So allow me to mention this fact from Wikipedia:
There have been two thousand lawsuits and the 43 million dollars in payouts against Sheriff Joe. That’s “50 times as many prison- conditions lawsuits as there were in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston jail systems combined” (Sources: Wikipedia and AZCentral.com).
For a guy who sure can save that money, you sure are losing a damn awful lot of money. Say it ain’t so, Joe!
Okay, look at this hairdo and look at the facial expression. I don’t mean to be judgmental, but this was immediately indicative of mental illness, having worked in this field.
But that didn’t stop Troy Hayden from broadcasting every inflammatory word this woman had to say about Jodi Arias, including that Jodi Arias allegedly posed for Cassandra naked with her buttocks jacked up like she was in that famous photo that Travis took, and asked Cassandra “Does this look forced to you?”
Readers who know the facts later determined that Cassandra Collins was Jodi Arias’cell mate sometime in 2009. If we wanted to research this for consistency and reliability, a good reporter would get the month and date these supposed things happened and see if they match up with testimony given in pre-trial hearings, etc.
Jodi Arias denies this account. She also denies that she threatened to have prosecutor Juan Martinez killed if she received the Death Penalty, by way of a “Mafia Bow tie”.
A “mafia bow tie” is not listed in the urban dictionary at all, and is nothing but an actual bow tie. A Columbian or Mexican Neck tie, is when someone slits a victim’s throat and pulls their tongue through the slit, as a message to rivals.
Although, this was mildly amusing, few people reported the fact that Cassandra Collins was found to be incompetent to stand trial (not mentally capable of understanding the difference between right and wrong). Not only that, she was adjudicated as being “not likely to become competent any time in the near future”.
How do we know this? Jodi’s proxy tweeted the court records out on Twitter.
Did Jodi get naked and up close and personal to get Cassandra the hell out of her cell? I wouldn’t blame her. Most likely, Cassandra made the whole thing up because she wanted to ride on the Jodi train.
Good luck Cassandra in your future pursuits (of fame).
Twitter Twits in the Twitterverse
I always want to check on what facts and relevant information the Prosecution Supporters are working on. Here is what I found:
– Why should it? It’s not credible. It’s being investigated by both the defense and the prosecution, so we will be hearing more about this. If she did this, bring her up on charges! You never will, because it’s ridiculous.
– Michael Kiefer, the only fair reporter out there.
Another reason we wanted to draw attention to some of these tweets is because they are a precise blueprint for how to stalk and bully on the high – tech Interweb.
Free speech is free speech. If you want to scream to the world that you are an ignorant fool, have at it.
I don’t know the age of these people, but what are these people teaching their sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, or their children when they use the social media to attack a person like this?
It makes people feel bigger when they can project their own evilness and sickness onto soneone they feel deserves it, and gain some friends for good measure. I am the coolest because I threw the biggest rock at Jodi Arias! The kicker is that Jodi will never see these Tweets.
Great way to show us your naked cruelty, aggravation, and penchant for vengeance. Really Nice!
Great way to memorialize Travis!
So while these Twitter Twits of the Twitterverse are sharpening their claws on Jodi Arias, who are they stalking and attacking in real life? Who are they teaching to do the same?
These geniuses are pitiful, ignorant and maybe a little bit funny if they weren’t so sad.
Jeffrey Martinson 9 years in prison: Case dismissed
Maricopa, Arizona Prosecutors
PHOENIX, Nov. 20 (UPI) — “Citing “a pattern and practice of misconduct” by prosecutors, an Arizona judge has freed a man charged nine years ago in the death of his son.
Judge Sally Duncan dismissed first-degree murder charges against Jeffrey Martinson in the 2004 death of his 5-year-old son, Josh, and ordered the father be released Sunday, The Arizona Republic in Phoenix reported Tuesday.
Duncan dismissed the charges “with prejudice,” meaning Martinson cannot be tried again on the same charges.
In a 28-page ruling, Duncan detailed what she called the prosecution’s “win-by-any-means strategy.”
Duncan said Deputy Maricopa County Attorney Frankie Grimsman charged Martinson with felony murder, then tried him as if he were charged with premeditated murder.”
Here we go with the felony murder vs. premeditated murder thing, again.
Let’s do a review.
Felony murder is usually when an unintended murder is a by-product of another intended felony.
You go to rob an empty home. Someone is unexpectedly there or shows up unexpectedly and you kill them. That’s felony murder,
You go to rob a bank and the teller has a heart attack and dies. This can be felony murder.
You rob a bank with a friend and the friend shoots and kills a cop. You and your friend have both committed felony murder.
You rob a bank with a friend and the friend gets shot and killed by a cop. You have committed felony murder.
You go to a home to kill someone and after that, you decide to rob him. Tthat’s premeditated murder and a separate charge of burglary.
So, what happened in this case? Martinson was accused of child abuse and the death of his 5 year-old son. It was a death penalty case.
The prosecution theory is that Martinson abused and drugged his child many times, and one time when he was abusing him, the child died.
The case was presented to the Grand Jury, charged, presented to the court, and presented to the defense attorneys as a first degree felony murder. In the course of the defendant committing the felony of child abuse, the child died. The Aggravator making the case death penalty eligible was “ extremely heinous, cruel or depraved”, stating that it was depraved because it was a “senseless murder”.
Shortly before trial, in spite of objections from the defense and warnings from the judge, the prosecution presented the case as a first degree premeditated murder.
This means that they must have discovered at the last minute that they couldn’t get a conviction on their original theory, so they changed it. But the prosecution did not inform anyone about this change, but they tried to hide it.
In addition, the aggravator of senseless depravity is not relevant to premeditation in this case. The prosecution refused to admit this error and violation of the rights of the defendant to know what crime he is being charged with .
This dismissed case was a Death Penalty case. The man was in jail and prison for 9 years. You do not play games when someone’s life is at stake.
If you have read some of the other articles on this site, you will know there is a clear pattern of “get the conviction at all cost no matter what the facts and the evidence are” in Maricopa. Arizona.
….and the mainstream media will never report about that!
At the trial, Jodi Arias said something very true about Dr. Horn and the prosecution. She said “I disagree with the order of injuries”.
The diagram above is how Jodi explained the gunshot. A not incapacitating shot stunned Travis, and he fell to the bathroom floor, before going to the sink. This diagram is not scientific. The shot (red line) would have to come from above Travis’ head and to his right on a roughly 45 degree downward angle.
This theory fits the forensic evidence. Jodi Arias may have gone to his aid, when the deadly struggle resumed. Dr. Horn made the jury and all of us certain that this could not be so. So we should take a look at the very important testimony of Dr. Kevin Horn.
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.
Detective Flores was very convinced before the trial that the gunshot was first. He told the 48 hours interviewer three times that this was so. Was this because he trusted what Jodi Arias told him? I don’t think so. Detective Flores said that he is not a medical doctor and he cannot determine the order of injuries. He must rely on the medical examiner to be so confident that the gunshot was first or last.
Why does it matter? If the gunshot was last, this means many things that Jodi Arias said on the stand about June 4th, 2008 must be lies. It means that the attack on Travis Alexander began with a knife. After so many knife wounds and slitting the throat of her victim, Jodi then shot Travis in the head in cold blood, just to be sure he was dead or maybe to create the illusion of two attackers. Here, there is no possibility of self-defense.
Pretend that it was proven that the gunshot was first. What does this mean? Here, there are two possibilities. Jodi shot Travis while he was sitting in the shower. The shot did not incapacitate or kill him and he was still moving about in pain. Jodi could not call the police or get help, because it looks very bad for her. So she gets a knife and “finishes him off”.
The other possibility is that Jodi was telling the truth. She shot him in self-defense and he continued to come at her, so she got hold of a knife and fought back. Then in a highly charged state fueled by adrenaline, she went too far. Her memory was impaired in some way.
If even one juror could believe this possibility, this jury could “hang”. If more jurors see the possibility, Jodi might not be found guilty of 1st degree murder. This is not a good position for the prosecution. Jodi Arias already tried to plead guilty to 2nd degree murder. Every member of the jury must be convinced that the gunshot was last for the prosecution to be certain of winning this case.
Then we are introduced to Doctor Kevin Horn. Dr. Horn proved convincingly that the gunshot was last. During his testimony, the prosecutor asked over and over about this point. Dr. Horn testified three times during the trial, and each time he gave more testimony about the gunshot and the order of injuries.
A medical examiner is a trusted public servant, a scientist, and something of a detective. They are experts in their field and we can be sure what they say is true, right?
If you saw the trial of George Zimmerman, you will remember Dr. Shipping Bao testifying for the prosecution. First he said Trayvon Martin could only live 3 minutes after being shot. Then he said Martin could live 10 minutes. He thought Martin could have been shot from .4 inches away or maybe from 4 feet away.Bao said Trayvon would be immediately incapacitated. Later, he said Martin could have walked 20 feet. He said that many things were “not my job”. He read from notes that no one ever saw before. He admitted to improper procedures before, during and after the autopsy.
Why do I bring up Dr. Bao? It took Dr. Vincent DiMaio, a renowned medical examiner and gunshot expert, to discredit Bao’s testimony. It seems that many times, lower level workers and assistants do a lot of the work, and a supervisor signs off.
Dr. Bao said something very interesting. ‘My opinion is mine, it belongs to me. I can change any time, my right to change.’ But a change in opinion in a capitol murder case can mean the difference between life and death.
There’s always plenty of other evidence and witnesses in a case. Can the testimony of a medical examiner be so critical to a case? Can a small change in the medical examiner’s report or opinion change the outcome of a trial? Let’s look at some recent cases:
“Dallas, Texas — A jury found appellant, Victor Hugo Quinonez-Saa, guilty of murder and assessed punishment at 75-years confinement and a fine of $10,000.
In his first point of error, appellant asserts that the admission into evidence of autopsy photographs was reversible error because the medical examiner who testified had not performed the autopsy or viewed the body of the deceased. The autopsy had been conducted on the deceased by Dr. Auerlio Espinola, an assistant medical examiner.”
“BROCKTON, Mass. — Massachusetts prosecutors have taken the highly unusual step of charging one of their own expert witnesses — Connecticut state medical examiner Dr. Frank Evangelista — with perjury for what they allege are inconsistencies in his testimony in a murder case.”
“ST. PAUL, Minn. — After spending six years in prison, a Minnesota man has been exonerated in his daughter’s death. Avry was just four months old when she died. Mike lost his daughter and then six years of his life, after being convicted of killing her. A judge found the Ramsey County medical examiner gave false or incorrect testimony.”
“Highlands, Texas — On May 5, 1999, Brandy Briggs found her 2-month-old baby Daniel Lemons limp, barely breathing and unconscious at her home. She called 911 and the baby was rushed to the hospital. On May 9, the baby died. Ms. Briggs was prosected for 1st degree murder. The evidence was based on the opinion of Dr. Moore, a medical examiner.
The trial court found that “Dr. Moore’s trial opinions were based on false pretenses of competence, objectivity, and underlying pathological reasoning, and were not given in good faith.” The trial court characterized her testimony as “expert fiction calculated to attain a criminal conviction.””
Here is a passage from the court report on this case:
“The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment is violated when the State knowingly or unknowingly uses perjured testimony to obtain a conviction. We held on direct appeal that false testimony resulted in a due process violation when there was a fair probability that the death sentence was based upon incorrect testimony.””
Medical examiners make honest mistakes like everyone else. Medical examiners are overworked and they are under pressure to help the prosecution team get a conviction. So, what do a few cases gone wrong really show?
Doctor Horn appeared confident, thorough, and trustworthy. We should not try to implicate Dr. Horn because of mistakes in other states and under different conditions. He is very careful with his reports and testimony, isn’t he? Let’s take a look at two of Dr. Horn’s past legal cases:
“Ms. Randall operated a home day care business. She discovered a four-month-old child unconscious on her floor on April 18, 2007. She called 911. Paramedics transported the child to Phoenix Children’s Hospital. The youngster was taken off of life support the following day, and passed away.”
“Kevin Horn, M.D. (“Horn”) performed an autopsy. A CT scan revealed a “possible skull fracture, secondary to brain swelling.” The Peoria police were notified and Detective Kevin Moran was assigned as the lead investigator. Subsequently, Dr. Horn concluded that the youngster died from “blunt force trauma of the head and neck.”
A grand jury indicted Randall for the child’s death in November 2007.The Prosecutor’s Office announced they would seek the death penalty.”
“Nearly two years later, the State finally withdrew its notice seeking the death penalty. After argument, the charges were dismissed with prejudice on August 4, 2010.
Ms. Randall then filed a complaint. The amended complaint alleged eleven causes of action and the named defendants included Maricopa County, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, Thomas, Whitney, Horn, Moran, and the City of Peoria.”
Here, Dr. Horn seems to make a neutral diagnosis of injuries, which then changes to intentional infliction of injuries shortly after meeting with Detective Moran and the D.A.’s office. This death penalty case never made it to trial. In the next case, the self-defense case of Harold Fish, Dr. Horn seems to pass off mere speculation for scientific certainty.
“ISSUE PRESENTED FOR REVIEW:
The speculative testimony of the Medical Examiner, Dr. Horn (in State v. Fish), was relied upon by the State as “forensic science” in arguing their case to the jury. Yet, the testimony of Dr. Horn failed to meet minimum evidentiary standards.”
“Although the Court of Appeals found that Dr. Horn ultimately focused upon “offensive” and “defensive” wounds as equally likely ….. we submit that expert testimony speculating about gunshot wounds as “defensive wounds” when they are no more likely than “offensive wounds” not only falls short of evidentiary standards, but is more prejudicial than probative.”
“The State relied upon the testimony of Dr. Horn as essential evidence to support its conviction. It is obvious that the State would not have prevailed (in State v. Fish) without the testimony of Dr. Horn.”
“An expert opinion must be within a reasonable degree of medical probability which is an important evidentiary standard throughout the United States that must be enforced in order to prevent unreliable medical testimony from swaying juries, which is exactly what happened in Fish’s case.”
“Dr. Horn’s interpretation of the wounds as “consistent with defensive wounds” was nothing more than a speculative judgment about one possibility within an array of many possible inferences.”
“The testimony of Dr. Horn not only swayed the jury, it was used as the decisive “evidence” against Fish. Dr. Horn’s testimony fell below evidentiary standards and was misleading. It violated due process of law.”
In the Arias case, Dr. Horn said that the gunshot pierced the skull and therefore must have impacted the brain. Dr. Horn said the victim was shot in the frontal lobe and therefore would be “immediately incapacitated”. Dr, Horn’s report indicated that the brain was not impacted by the bullet, but he claimed it was a typographical error. All of this is highly questionable.
Dr. Horn stated that he found no blood in the wound tract. Crime scene photos show blood pouring out of Mr. Alexander’s nostrils. Dr. Horn stated that the gases from the gunshot would cause a massive shockwave through the brain. If the brain was impacted, the wound tract through the brain could only be mere fractions of an inch.
Shortly before the trial, Juan Martinez aksed Detective Flores to meet with Dr. Horn. They met to discuss possible death penalty aggravators. Detective Flores changed his opinion and his sworn testimony. Dr. Horn’s opinion and report also changed. Detective Flores stated all this at trial. Dr. Horn was insistent and adamant about his new opinion after holding the opposite opinion for years. Imagine that!
Imagine this: Lisa Randall was a grandmother and Day care operator who faced the death penalty and three years of prosecution based on no evidence other than the faulty medical opinion of Dr. Horn.
Harold Fish was a retired teacher and a Mormon father of 7. Fish was an avid hiker and hunter forced to kill a man who attacked him on a trail. His conviction was reversed and he was released from prison to enjoy three years of freedom before he passed away.
In both cases, there was no evidence at all to support a conviction. There is nothing anywhere in the past of either to suggest they would harm or kill another person. There are only the tragic events of one day and the testimony and opinion of Dr. Kevin Horn.
Lisa Randall: Death Penalty and First Degree Murder Charges Dropped
Harold Fish: Conviction Reversed
The Prosecution was certain that the gunshot was last. It was a post-mortem gunshot and Travis Alexander was already dead. If so, then there is no question that this is “gratuitous violence”, needlessly inflicting a gunshot after the victim had died. If so, this easily proves the heinous and depraved prongs of the cruelty aggravator. Interestingly, heinous and depraved were not charged in this case.
The prosecution took the gunshot last theory, persuaded the jury and most trial watchers, and got the conviction. Yet, the way the case was presented shows that the prosecutor does not even believe his own theory.
Here is something else to imagine: the theory, using a presumption of guilt, that the gunshot was first and that Travis Alexander was shot above the right eyebrow while sitting down in the shower.
This theory fits the forensic evidence. It has a much more profound “cruelty aggravator”, and it is a much more reasonable theory to seek a 1st degree murder conviction. Further, this is the only scenario under which the charges of both 1st degree premeditated AND felony murder make any sense at all.
So you really need to ask yourself: Why, then, did the prosecution try so hard to disprove it?
Death From Above
I call this the “death from above” theory.
It’s not so scientific. Like Jodi, I’m an artist, so maybe I can see images in my mind and understand the dimensions easier than others. Maybe we need to use a dummy to truly see it.
If Travis was sitting in the shower, then taking a presumption of guilt, this is how he was shot. It’s a slightly angled downward shot from in front and above Travis. The prosecution didn’t want the jury to consider this theory because then the jury would also have to consider the defense theory, and the defense theory is the most reasonable of the three, according to the facts.
Post Traumatic Death on the Floor
This is the prosecution’s theory. After Travis Alexander is stabbed and his throat is cut, Jodi drags him still “bleeding out” near the bathroom sink where, for some reason, she shoots him at a slight angle. She doesn’t shoot him last in the shower, because he was found in the shower with his left side facing out.
The average width of a human head is 18cm (7.1 inches). Let’s imagine Travis’ head diameter is 8.0 inches. The gun barrel would have to be somewhere near 8 to 12 inches above the floor.
That makes good logical sense, doesn’t it, Dr. Horn?
? ? ?
These are actual X-Ray and CT scans of the brain. Look at all that room right where Travis was shot. There is easily plenty of room for that gunshot to completely miss the brain. Travis was shot in the face through the skull and the nasal cavity. Travis was not shot through the frontal lobe. It was not “rapidly incapacitating”. Dr. Horn is wrong again.
The “Linebacker” position
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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.
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 or over-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. Horn’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 well 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 22-1 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 emmigrated from Mexico 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 until dead.
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 with Motorola 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.
Juan Martinez 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 where 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 of 1st degree muder 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. In Juan’s view, he had delivered justice for Yarmilla. Her children who lost two parents may beg to differ.
Later, Juan had another case of seemingly 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 LDS Church, 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 Timpanogos Cave National 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 to 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 a 5 year sentence for manslaughter.
Faylene had made many statements about committing suicide and had even given Hilary her blessing to take car of her children. The prosecution had tried, unsuccessfully, to hide these facts from the jury.
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 Juan’s 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. Do you recognize this lawyer’s tactic of counter-charging from the Jodi Arias trial? Juan ended up being 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 that 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. It wasn[t the first time. She called an ambulance when it seemed like he was about to die, then she sent the ambulance away when he partially recovered. 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, Joseph Andriano would win the day. The jury didn’t believe her story and they sentenced her to death just 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 James Pazarella, 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 found to be 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 the Panzarellas. I think this experience aggravated Juan and made him feel that the justice needs a little push sometimes since the system and appeals process all seem to be 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 a horrible 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.
This is the case where Juan Martinez cut open an evidence bag containing the coat of one of the murdered and buried victims, removed it, and “invited the jury to take a good whiff”. This was supposedly to prove necrophelia, even though:
1) There was really no need to do so, and
2) How does a jacket that smells like death prove necrophelia?
The defense was equally irrational, arguing that although Morris 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 Arizona State University star running back 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 Brandon Falkner, who was shot to death for talking to Wade’s girlfriend. Falkner was 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 Duffy, Lovell, her brother, and the children? 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. More recently, there are allegations that the prosecution tried to hide evidence found on victim, Travis Aexander’s computer.
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 Danny 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, pepper spraying, tasing, then shooting Rodriguez to death, 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 for gunshot murders 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.
Update: Bryan Hulsey was found guilty of 1st degree murder of a Police Officer and was sentenced to death in the murder of Glendale Police Officer Anthony Holly on August 28th, 2014. Juan Martinez was the prosecutor. Hulsey threateningly gave the jury a standing ovation, of sorts.
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 felony 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. So is purposely dropping evidence (the camera).
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 start to 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 will have left Justice far behind.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
We warmly welcome any comments from anyone with any opinion.