In Defense of Jodi
by Robert Knox
Introduction and Postscript by Rob Roman & Amanda Chen
The Jodi Arias Murder Trial, the OTHER side of the story.
Shortly after our article, Jodi Arias and her Defense Add Insult to Injury,
We received a response to our article from Robert Knox, a close friend and confidant of Jodi Arias. I liked his response a lot, so I asked his permission to post it verbatim as a guest article. He agreed, and we are happy to post it here:
IN DEFENSE OF JODI
by Robert Knox
February 10, 2015
As I believe Rob is wrong about a number of things in his “Insult to Injury” post, I offer, at his invitation, a rebuttal. I’ll cover four main issues: Jodi’s letter; her sense of guilt or innocence; her defense team and supporter groups; and her personality.
1. Jodi’s letter to the Alexander family. Rob thinks that only an evil or seriously mentally ill person could write the long letter that Jodi wrote on 7/28/08. In reality, Jodi wrote this letter after intense and repeated pressure from police detectives Flores and Blaney to do exactly what she did. So, if Jodi is evil or ill, so are they. Here are just a few quotes from Flores and Blaney on the interview tapes. (Thanks to JAII poster Canada Carol for the excerpts and transcription.)
Video 7 – 2nd day (Flores questions)
2:40 – Tell me, tell them, tell Travis’s family what it was that pushed you to your limit. I’m just trying to fill in the holes there.
7:52 – How about Travis’s family?
Jodi – I care very much about Travis’s family, and I can’t help what they think of me. They’ll hate me regardless.
7:57 – It’s true that their feelings are probably always going to be negative about you. You know you took their son’s life. They can never get over that.
23:38 – You owe that at least to Travis’s family. Give them some closure. Because I know from working with all these families that have lost loved ones, that they’re not struggling with who did it, but they’re struggling with why,
24:15 – I know that Travis’s family is struggling with why and that would be the one thing that would give them closure. They may never like you, but I think they would be appreciative of why their son’s life was taken. You can’t give them their son back, but you can at least give them the peace of mind as to why.
25:10 – I know if it was my child, that’s what I would want. And I know that you’re not a mother, but all women have those mothering instincts within them, and I think that you can understand that what I’m saying – and that’s why you’re hanging your head right now.
Jodi — Can’t imagine what it would be like.
26:22 – Wouldn’t you want to know why you lost one of your brothers?
Jodi – Yeah. (so quietly)
26:32 – I’ve never met them – I can’t speak for them, but I would bet my paycheck that that’s what they’re wondering right now. And you can at least show that you have a soul, that you have a heart, that you understand that need in them and do something for somebody else besides yourself. That’s the least that you can do for them right now is give them an answer. Tell them why – that’s how you can control something that is happening in your life right now, because you have all the power there. It’s a gift that you can give that family. Tell them why – use me as the voice to tell them why.
(Jodi whispers something inaudible)
29:30 – Either way, those detectives in AZ have their case made, but the least you can do for that family is give them an answer. I’m not saying to portray Travis as this ugly horrible person, because I don’t think that that’s the right thing to do either, but at least let them know that it was a two-way street and that it wasn’t all your fault.
Here are a few more excerpts, from video #8, with questions by female detective Blaney:
18:14 – 18:43 … If you see your situation as so hopeless, why wouldn’t you at least give the family some closure and some peace of mind as to what happened, or why?
19:15 – If you have any feelings – any emotions within you – if you have any goodness in your heart, I don’t know why you wouldn’t do that. Because if you don’t and you don’t give them the information that they seek for the closure, that means you’re a very selfish person.
23:53 – This is your chance to make at least something right. Even if it’s on a small scale. This is a big deal to his folks.
24:23 – Just because you’re in custody doesn’t give them the closure.
25:48 – If your fate is inevitable in your mind, why wouldn’t you give the family closure?
Jodi – I don’t think …. (inaudible) I don’t know if I could give them what they want.
26:13 – Wouldn’t you want to at least try and let them make that decision? If it were my son, I would want all the information I could so that I could make some sense of it. There’s something so horrific in your mind that you don’t want to think that you could be capable of such a thing? See, that’s the person I was talking about, the person that is scared, and remorseful and didn’t want any of this to happen. So I don’t think I was wrong, Jodi. (27:47)
28:00 – This is your opportunity to make right some of your selfishness and let the family decide how they’re going to deal with that information and how they’re going to use it.
28:35 – Jodi puts her head down on the desk
28: 42 – Why should they have more suffering than they’ve already had? In your religion and, forgive me for my ignorance about it, ….
20:35 – You are the only person that has the information that the family seeks. They don’t seek crime scene information – they will already have that. They seek something that is at a much deeper level, it’s an emotional level and you are the only person that can help them with that.
In sum, over and over on the tapes, Flores and Blaney push Jodi to explain Travis’s death to the Alexander family. And in the 29:30 quote from video 7 above, Flores specifically suggests that Jodi include ways Travis was at fault. So, when she grants the demand of powerful police detectives, that would not be surprising even if Jodi were not by nature a “people pleaser,” as one of her experts called her. And, having undertaken to write the letter, she naturally must repeat the same intruder story that she had already told Flores.
I have myself spoken with Jodi about this letter.
She says that she did not realize at the time how “immature” and “insensitive” it is, and it is one of the things she did in 2008 that now make her “want to vomit.”
So: Jodi wrote the letter, with strong police encouragement, about eight weeks after Travis’s death, while she was confused, terrified, and suicidal, with her life in ruins, and she is now disgusted by it. Doesn’t that adequately answer Rob’s concerns?
2. Self-defense and Jodi’s sense of guilt. Rob believes that Jodi is guilty of some awful crime and that she admits as much in a letter. Here’s the Jodi quote, which Rob included in his next post:
“Let me say that your belief in my guilt is not a deal-breaker. However, the group is intended for people who support me 100%, more specifically those who believe I’ve been wrongfully convicted and am innocent of what I was charged with and was overcharged to begin with. These are the things everyone in my group has in common.”
I do not read this as an admission of guilt. Jodi is just stating the beliefs common to members of her Facebook group. She recognizes the huge diversity of belief even among her declared supporters. What she is saying is: if you don’t believe at least these three things, you may not belong in the group. That rules out, for example, those who believe that she is guilty as charged, but does not deserve death. Some people with that viewpoint caused trouble in an earlier, more comprehensive group, so Jodi is probably trying to avoid this in the new one. In any case, I don’t read her here as stating her own beliefs about her guilt or innocence — just the typical beliefs of members of a FB group.
On the contrary: as far as I am aware, for over four years Jodi has never deviated from her self-defense story, nor ever admitted guilt of any homicide crime. If her trial testimony is true, she is not guilty of any such crime. Rather, by that testimony, what happened to Travis Alexander was his fault from beginning to end. Some people, including Rob, say that even if Jodi acted in self-defense, she used excessive force.
I do not understand this view. In a genuine self-defense fight, as long as one is threatened with serious physical injury, one has every moral and legal right to use all force necessary to stop the attack. Some people see excessive force in the 29 knife wounds (not, as so often misdescribed, 29 “stab” wounds,” since many of them are superficial). Well, how many knife wounds should it take for a 120-lb woman to stop a lethal attack by a nearly 200-lb man, who is a trained wrestler and kickboxer, has a heavy bag in his apartment, boasts online of his 16 1/2–inch biceps and triathlon work, and is fresh from months in the gym? Two? Seven?
Facing a similar imbalance of size, strength, and training, if someone came at me screaming that that he would “fucking kill” me, I would fly into a frenzy and fight savagely with every weapon I could lay my hands on, in the desperate hope of incapacitating him. The only arguable evidence of “overkill” is the deep neck wound. But Richard Speights has described a natural way for that to occur in a knife fight. Also, several people have argued that it was inflicted after death, by persons unknown.
Jodi has said many times that she deeply regrets Travis’s death, is very sorry for the Alexanders’ loss, and wishes more than anything that she could redo 6/4/08 by never visiting Travis again. She also says that she feels guilty about emotional pain that she caused to others after Travis’s death; the letter Rob discusses is one case of that. But she has never said that she was at fault in Travis’s death. Nor was she, if her trial testimony is true.
While her tale is bizarre, there is nothing impossible about it, and it fits the forensic evidence very well. By contrast, the prosecution story contains at least two absurdities and one impossibility. So, if we must choose between the stories, only Jodi’s is credible. That is besides the fact that we now know the state’s case to be a carnival of suppressed evidence (Jodi’s camera’s memory card with photos of her out of town on the day of the Yreka burglary; all the cellphone SIM cards); destroyed evidence (the porn history deleted from Travis’s computer while it was in state custody); and flagrant lies by some combination of Martinez, Flores, Melendez, and Horn.
3. Jodi, her defense team, and her supporters. Rob thinks that the defense team (DT) is doing a poor job, perhaps under influence of the “JAII crew” or of Jodi herself. As far as I know, no supporters influence the DT’s strategy, though some have sent useful suggestions or links on issues of detail. As for Jodi, far from running the DT, she had continual conflicts with Nurmi over strategy for both trials, as she stated in a post-conviction interview and in a pre-retrial letter asking to dump him.
When she did briefly seize control of strategy while acting pro se, she blew the case wide open by sending Neumeister to examine TA’s computer. The only reason the state’s rank misconduct regarding Travis’s porn history ever came to light is that Jodi herself made it happen. So it was while she was “driving the train,” as Rob puts it, that what may be the single best appellate issue was discovered.
As for the “JAII crew,” (JodiAriasIsInnocent.com) there is no such thing, only several dozen people who post there regularly. It is SJ’s website, so of course he controls it. But Ben Ernst (whom Rob mentions) has no involvement in JAII and does not even post there. Most conflicts among Jodi’s supporters are rooted in a bitter dispute over fundraising. At no time has SJ, Ben, or anyone outside the Arias family ever controlled any money donated to Jodi’s official appellate fund, www.justice4jodi.com. This fund is in the hands of its unpaid trustee, Jodi’s mother’s twin sister Sue Allen Halterman.
All important information about the fund and the appeals process is clearly explained in the FAQ section on that website. By contrast, Jason Weber and others purport to collect money for Jodi’s appeals at www.justice4jodiarias.com. But no such money has ever been transferred to Arias-family control, and there is no reason to expect any ever will be. That is why Jodi and her family have repeatedly denounced these efforts. Jodi has done so by a phone call to Lisa Schilling, by a three-page letter to supporters, and by many individual letters asking people to leave the Weber FB group.
Her mother and father have done likewise by a video on the true site, www.justice4jodi.com. To see the dishonesty of Weber’s group, note that, months and months after they were publicly denounced by the Arias family as frauds, their site www.justice4jodiarias.com continues to call itself “the official Jodi Arias website.” That is a bald-faced lie. And that is the only thing anyone needs to know about conflicts between the Weber group and Jodi’s other supporters.
Regarding the DT, in my opinion, they have done a fine job so far in the retrial. They have found powerful experts whose status dwarfs that of the state experts: Geffner and Miccio-Fonseca vs. DeMarte on psychology, Neumeister and John Smith vs. Perry Smith on computers. And they have been patiently building a long record of dismissal motions which document appellate issues. As to specifics, the introduction of Marc McGee’s affidavit was not the “disaster” that Rob said it was.
Shortly afterward, Jennifer showed that Deanna is not, as Rob thought, “a very honest witness, highly credible and reliable.” Rather, she was confronted with her lie in a recorded interview, when she was asked if she knew whether TA was having sex with other women besides Jodi (not other women besides Deanna), and she said she didn’t know. Moreover, in court she refused to admit this lie, defiantly saying that she wasn’t asked about herself. False: she was asked about other women besides Jodi, and she is another woman besides Jodi, whom she certainly knew to be having sex with TA.
Nurmi’s cross-examination of the bishop also put his credibility in doubt. And why should Marc McGee not have trouble remembering the date of an over-10-year-old incident? I couldn’t be sure of the date when something happened even two years ago, let alone 10 or 15.
4. Jodi’s personality. Unlike Rob, I do not believe Jodi suffers from any “mental illness,” or even significant mental disorder. Time and again, throughout the last two years, she has acted more sanely and sensibly than many of her supporters, despite living under psychologically brutal conditions of extreme deprivation. And to suggest that Jodi may be a “psychopath” shows total ignorance of this diagnostic category, as a glance at Wikipedia shows.
Such a diagnosis is disproved three different ways. First, by Jodi’s psychological test results: as summarized by Geffner, a past APA division president, they consistently show high scores for anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and PTSD, and low scores on self-esteem and dominance. None of this is consistent with psychopathy; for example, psychopaths are noted for their strange lack of anxiety.
Second, look at Jodi’s reading list at www.jodispage.com. A large proportion of her books are in the areas of religion, spirituality, and inspiration and personal development. She is highly religious and has an overactive conscience, not a lack of one. Third, listen to Darryl Brewer’s description in his TV interview
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okbAekjQVdA) of Jodi’s personality and her position in the community, in the years she lived with him — a description again inconsistent with psychopathy. And do not say that Jodi became a psychopath after meeting TA!
Psychopathy is a deep mental disorder that begins in earliest childhood. You can no more change into a psychopath at age 26 than you can change into a pelican or a sea-turtle. On all this evidence, not to mention the experience of many people who have gotten to know Jodi during her imprisonment, she is essentially the opposite of a psychopath.
To know Jodi is to know a remarkably friendly, cheerful woman who is also very intelligent, articulate, well-informed, reliable, and energetic. Her generosity, despite her appalling living conditions, is legendary. Here are two examples. A young man wrote to Jodi that he was considering suicide. She used part of her precious one hour of daily freedom (and limited phone time) to call and ask how he was doing. This was a wholly private act of kindness, never publicly revealed; I know of it only because the man told the story in a secret FB group.
More recently, Jodi was put on restriction (no hour of freedom) for over a week for sharing her snack food with a hungry prisoner. Read about this incident at Jodi’s blog on http://www.jodiarias.com. Then look at her other entries for a sense of her personality. I’m sorry that Rob and Amanda have reached such a negative view of Jodi; perhaps they have had little direct contact with her. To those of us who know her, she is a courageous and inspiring woman and a wonderful friend.
I have given my response to Robert Knox’s post below.
We hope you might also respond to this post by leaving a few words in our comment section and let’s continue the conversation.
Update: The Arizona Supreme Court has upheld the ruling of the Arizona Court of Appeals. Jodi Arias cannot testify in secet in a cleared courtroom.
- Jodi’s letter to the Alexander family.
In the original article, I was really asking for an explanation for the letter, because I couldn’t think of one besides Jodi being evil, which I do not believe, and being severely mentally ill which I can believe. Especially thinking she may have still been in a dissociated state in the months after the killing. I believe Robert’s explanation sheds more light on Jodi’s reasoning and motivation for writing the letter.
If you remove the Ninja story, which, as Robert explains, Jodi was almost compelled to include, what you see is a story of events both good and bad, in Jodi’s relationship with Travis. As Robert states, she was advised by both the Detectives, to tell something personal and true, regardless of how it reflected on Travis. Robert Knox is correct that she did exactly what they advised her to do. She wrote it on Travis’ Birthday, as on this day she may have been thinking of Travis and his family and that may have inspired her to take the advice and send the letter.
Also, contrary to claims that Jodi Arias gave a list of ‘countless’ acts of violence at the hands of Travis Alexander to psychologist Dr. Karp (prior to changing attorneys from Victoria Washington to Kirk Nurmi), her story of only a handful of incidents has remained consistent from even before she contemplated her defense of self-defense. They are detailed in the letter to Travis’ family.
- Self-Defense and Jodi’s sense of guilt.
I am assuming from this that Jodi claims full justification for the events of June 4th, 2008, due to self-defense. I had previously believed that self-defense was a reasonable possibility, but may have been more of a defense strategy than a reflection of what actually happened.
I take this to mean that Jodi stands 100% behind her testimony that she did not premeditate a murder, but was instead suddenly attacked in a violent argument quickly escalating into a critical situation: She was forced to fight for her life and defend herself.
I now recognize that Jodi, in her letter, was merely repeating the minimum requirements for being in her closest group of supporters, and not giving her personal beliefs about her guilt. We had similar problems when trying to decide whether people who believed Jodi was guilty of M1, guilty of M2, or not involved in any way at all, could belong to a close group of her supporters.
Believing Jodi was not guilty of premeditated murder was the minimum requirement that we came up with, so I understand the need to have such a requirement, as it is very difficult to unite a group of people with many varying beliefs and ideas about this case. As a small minority, one would want and need to be as inclusive as possible.
I do agree that if you have a reasonable belief that your life had been threatened, you have every right to defend yourself with any force available. You do not have to have serious injuries by law, only a belief that you face imminent serious injury or death.
At Spotlight on Law, we have also stated, as Robert Knox has, that Jodi’s story fits the forensic evidence very well, while the prosecution’s theory simply does not.
- Jodi, her defense team, and her supporters
I do believe Jason Weber and Lisa Schilling to be sincere in their desire and efforts to start an additional platform to tell Jodi’s story, but I acknowledge that JAII, the fundraising and Art sites are the official sites endorsed by Jodi Arias and her family.
In the supporter arena, like Robert Knox, I’m also an independet. I’m always eager to communicate with supporters from any group, and I like to know what everyone is thinking and doing. I also enjoy communicating with prosecution supporters of good will, to get their perspectives and to test my views and beliefs. I like to try and give them something to think about, when possible.
As for Jodi’s defense team doing a poor job, I said this in relation to that particular week, and the affidavits from the witnesses. Not bringing live witnesses in, and pitting a piece of paper against two live witnesses, one a Mormon Bishop of sound repute, and the other Travis’ long-term former girlfriend, seemed foolish to me. Deanna Reid appeared very credible in the first trial and was well-received by jurors and trial-watchers alike.
Why cause a well-received credible witness to come to the stand again? We wrote the article after the direct exam of Dr. Geffner, but before the remaining cross in the trial on Monday. As it turned out, there did appear to be some question as to a few previous statements by Deanna Reid. She did appear to be somewhat equivocating and defensive on the stand.
As for the defense team, I thought Jennifer Willmott has done a fine job throughout. She did make a few blunders, such as asking questions she did not know the answer to, etc. Her closing set of arguments in the last penalty phase were stunning This was one of the most dramatic moments I’ve ever seen in a trial. This could have been what saved Jodi’s life. Kirk Nurmi, I believe is very under-rated and has done an impressive job throughout this very complicated trial.
- Jodi’s pesonality
I have repeatedly stressed that Jodi Arias is not a Sociopath and certainly not a Psychopath. I didn’t mean to give that impression. Dr. DeMarte diagnosed Marissa DeVault as a Psychopath, but she did not make that finding for Jodi Arias, so that’s your proof right there. She does not fit the category.
We keep seeing more and more piling on of new diagnoses, however. Now we have adjustment disorder and there’s more and more talk now about bipolar disorder.
As for Robert Knox’s quote:
“Time and again, throughout the last two years, she has acted more sanely and sensibly than many of her supporters, despite living under psychologically brutal conditions of extreme deprivation”,
I can personally attest to that. Jodi Arias continues to be unusually bright, cheerful, and engaging. Her letters show a warmth, a caring, and an originality that is very endearing to her supporters. She has returned letters to everyone who has written her at least once, to my knowledge. I also know she has managed to perform unpublicized acts of kindness and generosity. All this while being in 23- hour lockdown solitary isolation, which could utterly envelope and destroy many mentally strong people.
She also has a great sense of humor.
Jodi’s performance in 18 days of intense examination amazed and impressed me, especially knowing that she needs to get up before 4:00 AM for court, didn’t return to her cell sometimes until 7:00 PM, and was doing this on 2 paltry meals a day, having breakfast as early as 5:00 AM.
I was a witness once in a Federal case for what seemed like 3 hours, and I found the experience extremely stressful and mentally challenging. But I ate 3 quality squares and slept in a comfy bed in a nice hotel room. So while I maintain that Arias has a potentially severe and untreated mental illness, I do acknowledge she has remained extremely mentally tough and resilient and she appears absolutely normal to me in many of her writings and actions.
“To know Jodi is to know a remarkably friendly, cheerful woman who is also very intelligent, articulate, well-informed, reliable, and energetic. Her generosity, despite her appalling living conditions, is legendary.” – Robert Knox
I heartily agree with this statement, and this is a big reason why Jodi’s supporters are so loyal to her and why they believe in her and her story. Her generosity is genuine, it’s not a show or a put-on, as far as I can tell.
Robert Knox wanted to set the record straight. We were happy to receive and post his response. Our article was critical of the recent defense strategy: using the affidavits instead of live witnesses, not finishing up with Jodi’s testimony, and not seating the remaining witnesses to offer a full and complete case for mitigation.
Our article was not intended to be a repudiation of the Defense team’s performance generally or of Jodi Arias in particular. We questioned the wisdom of introducing the affidavit from witness #1, Marc McGee, and we wondered if this was done by Jodi Arias and against the wishes of the Defense Team?
We believe that the defense is playing a dangerous game by leaving the case for life so incomplete. The remainder might have to come from Jodi in her allocution. The trial has always been a roller-coaster experience for me, with abrupt highs and sweeping lows. The Insult to Injury article was a reflection of that roller-coaster ride.
We are always inviting reader participation for that reason. I really want to know what others think about all the many facets of this case.
We also want to present the OTHER side of the story: Facts, issues and perspectives that most prosecution supporters and mainstream trial watchers may not be aware of or may not have occasion to learn about elsewhere. The positive personal experiences many people have had getting to know Jodi Arias directly is part of that story.
Posting Robert Knox’s response is part of our desire to make the other side of the story available to you.
We extend that invitation to any reasonable person of any perspective. Prosecution supporters are welcome. Send us a detailed comment and we may post it verbatim as an article on our site.
We wish to Thank Robert Knox for posting his response to our article here on Spotlight On Law. We are grateful for his views.
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