By Rob Roman & Amanda Chen
In this re-trial performance art, the part of Psychologist Robert Geffner will be portrayed by a hapless, knobby-kneed zebra. The part of prosecutor Juan Martinez will be portrayed by an athletic pack of hungry leopards.
The part of 2nd chair defense attorney Jennifer Wilmott will be portrayed by a bandage toting animal field medic.
Here we are in 2015, still watching the Jodi Arias penalty retrial finally wind down, and what’s changed in this case? We know there’s an overwhelming majority on one side and a small but dedicated following on Jodi’s side.
Trial by tweet is like listening to the World Series on an AM radio. You just don’t get a good feel for the tempo, the intensity, or the action. It’s so hard to get a sense of what the jury is actually experiencing. Then the story can be very different depending on who’s tweeting about it. Which courtroom tweeter can you trust?
We think the best are Monica Lindstrom (but she’s not there all the time), Michael Kiefer (some trial watchers see Michael as being against the prosecution), and Jen Wood from the Trial Diaries. The rest generally suck eggs, in our opinion. What do You think?
If we were to have a poll today of all interested trial watchers, the votes for Life would most likely easily win by a great majority. It’s only that those who want death are far more vocal. The percentages on social media can make it appear as if it’s 10 to 1 prosecution supporters, because Jodi Arias supporters are very present and vocal, but in fact the percentage of Prosecution supporters is easily 100 to 1.
The problems that Jodi supporters like to point out is that some facts are ignored, speculations are presented as fact, and non-facts are believed to be true. Interesting observations on the defense side in favor of Jodi Arias are often dismissed. Some important facts are not considered at all, and some prejudices that can distort the true facts inevitably leak in.
For prosecution supporters, Dr. Geffner is a slimy hired gun, who will say or do almost anything to prevent a mentally ill woman from being executed. He will cheat on tests and lie to the jury with a straight face. Plus, he’s a Dinosaur.
Geffner’s a sentimental relic of outdated psychology theory that people keep around out of nostalgia. He’s a liberal twerp who should be banned from Arizona.
Jodi Arias supporters see Dr. Geffner as another in a succession of experts trying to give the full story of precisely what went on in Arias’ head and in this relationship that lead to the grizzly killing .
I relied mostly on tweets from Michael Kiefer from the Arizona Republic and Jennifer Wood from the Trial Diaries to try and get a balanced idea of what transpired in the courtroom. Jennifer Wood blocked me on Twitter for tweeting that I thought she was biased. That really wasn’t fair, after looking at more of her tweets. One thing, I think, that gave me the wrong impression about Jen Wood is that people were re-tweeting her tweets, but then they added their own comment at the end of the tweet.
I mistakenly took this as ALL a tweet from Jen Wood. I was wrong about that, and
I apologize to her. Jen Wood’s tweets are actually the most complete and accurate that I’ve seen. I don’t think her reporting is biased at all, after taking a closer look. She even tweets the jury questions in exact quotes. Great job, Jen!
In our last retrial update https://spotlightonlaw.wordpress.com/jodi-arias-and-her-defense-add-insult-to-injury/, we were finishing up with Dr. Robert Geffner’s testimony. Juan Martinez was finishing his re-cross. They are discussing the PTSD testing and Martinez indelicately tries to ram in the coded messages written near the spine of a couple of magazines, supposedly intended for Matt McCartney. Jodi Arias allegedly tried to smuggle them out to Matt McCartney from the Estrella Women’s Jail in Phoenix via a reporter.
The prosecution side is cheering Mr. Juanderful for sticking another knife in Arias’ case for mitigation. Some Jodi supporters were claiming that those magazine messages were written by another defendant in another case, and Arias was blamed for it. Our take is this:
The magazine messages were in fact written by Jodi Arias and they were intended for Matt McCartney. Gray Hughes even pointed out on a FB page that the handwriting matched that of Jodi Arias. She was probably desperate to get some corroborating testimony from Matt. It is a legitimate fact to bring up, but we’re just saying that the foundation had not been laid down properly. This has no relation to the line of questioning. It’s just thrown in there while discussing the PTSD testing, Geffner keys right in on this, too. What does this have to do with the PTSD testing, he asks? He has never seen this before and he wants to know the context. They started arguing and talking over each other, and Judge Stephens had to admonish them. Geffner has no idea about the coded message in the magazines.
Geffner: What does this have to do with PTSD?
Martinez: Tries to ask more about the magazines and the hidden message.
Stephens: Stop talking over and interrupting each other!
The poor court reporter is probably working up a good case off carpal-tunnel syndrome right around now.
Juan is attacking, demanding Yes or No answers. He demands to see Geffner’s notes. He’s getting all up in Geff’s grill. Juan’s always wanting to see the notes. Geffner is claiming he can’t answer these questions with a simple Yes or No. Kirk Nurmi objects to Martinez’ questioning as badgering and argumentative. Judge Stephens overrules the objection. Rumble in the jungle – it’s on.
Judge Stephens seems to have a very simple formula for objections. On direct and cross she sustains most objections. On re-cross and re-direct, she simply overrules most objections. Sidebars abound. The main point Juan wants to make is that Jodi Arias, still clinging to the ridiculous Ninja-intruder story, claimed a non-sexual attack by a stranger as the trauma giving rise to PTSD. The prosecution claims this invalidates the entire test, the defense claims it does not, that the trauma was actually a non-sexual attack by a known person, and all the other answers are valid. Jodi Arias suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress.
Martinez’ wingman, Detective Esteban Flores, whose teenage son recently died in a tragic accident, is noticeably missing from the proceedings.
It’s the old Lions and Tigers and Bears argument made famous by a juror in the original trial. Who cares if it was a Lion or a Tiger, or even a Bear? The attack is the same. Martinez puts the PTSD or PDS test up on the big screens. Geffner complains that the test questions are copyrighted and should not be shown to the public. Juan calls Dr. Geffner combative. Geffner actually has to appeal directly to Judge Stephens and tells her “Your Honor, this is getting real borderline”. Micheal Kiefer calls the questioning “snarly and contentious”.
The hungry leopards hang onto the hapless zebra and commence tearing flesh. The zebra is trying to shake them off.
Geffner tries to say that Martinez is mixing up two different tests. The back and forth is described as ‘going in circles’. Geffner reads verbatim from the test to show that Juan Martinez is paraphrasing and mischaracterizing what was said on the test. Juan transitions out of this and he questions Dr. Geffner’s certification to testify in Arizona. Dr. Geffner says there’s no such thing as a certification to testify. He’s licensed in California to practice, but not Arizona. Juan’s finished and Jennifer Willmott gets up for re-direct.
Juan Martinez is licensed to pounce. For now he’s returned to his chair and is crouching, scanning.
Willmott explains that practicing in Arizona requires a license, testifying does not. This is where my theory about Juan Martinez comes in. Once in a while, Martinez will just throw things in that seem to be trivial, not related, to make no sense. Remember that Martinez didn’t want any co-prosecutors on this case. He has had co-prosecutors in the past. He wants to take care of this himself and he’s gonna handle every detail himself.
My theory is that he has a set way of handling witnesses. Juan has a list of testimony he wants to elicit, and points he wants to make. But he doesn’t want the defense to figure out how he prepares and how he picks the points he wants to cover, so he throws a couple curve balls in there. He brings up things which are irrelevant or not really important, just to keep the defense from discovering his system, which is pretty straightforward. I’ve noticed this a few times, and the not-being-licensed-to-practice-in Arizona is something he knows is not even an issue.
Other trial watchers have pointed out that it is an issue, and that out of state Psychologist enlisted as trial witnesses who aren’t licensed to practice in Arizona have gotten into trouble for things they testified to.
Here’s a strange occurrence in the trial. Willmott and Geffner are both saying that Juan Martinez did not tell the whole story about the porn found on the Bishop’s computer. This is the Friday before the Super Bowl football championship between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks, also going on in Phoenix. Judge Sherry Stephens sends the jury out.
The story of the porn at the Bishop’s residence is that the computer either crashed or was not working well. Witness # 1 sees pop-ups of sexy scantily-clad women. Witness #1 knows about computers and investigates the malfunctioning computer. He traces this back to a file or folder with Travis Alexander’s name on it. He claims he found some child porn. Witness #1’s affidavit continues the story with Travis and the witness going out to his car and they have a heart to heart conversation about the porn. Witness #1 says, “Travis, you are not who you’re supposed to be”. Then Travis breaks down and explains he was sexually abused at age 12.
Then Martinez and Willmott have an argument over whether or not Travis confessed to being the one responsible for the porn. At this point, Judge Stephens tells the gallery “You are not to respond verbally to anything that’s about to be said.” That was quite unusual. The judge calls the two to the stand. They return. Geffner continues. “Travis, you are not the person you’re supposed to be. You would be homeless if I told the Bishop.” Juan objects – another sidebar. Geffner interviewed the witness with associates. Willmott asks if Geffner believed that Travis confessed to the porn? Martinez objects, and it’s overruled. Geffner answers that was his understanding.
Jennifer Willmott then goes on to show that Travis Alexander had another issue with porn pop-ups in 2007. From testimony we know that Alexander was again having a computer problem from a virus or malware on the day of June 4th, 2008. So, she’s making a connection between Travis Alexander, computers, and an ongoing problem with masking his apparent porn addiction.
Willmott gets Geffner to explain that the date witness #1 gave as the date that Travis grabbed Deanna Reid, his girlfriend at the time, and pushed her down on the couch, was off at first, but he was sure about the incident. This was when Travis supposedly said “Get it through your f*cking head, I’m not going to marry you!” the jury is brought back in. Jenn moves on to Jodi Arias and elicits testimony relating to the months after she killed Alexander. Geffner explains to the jury that Jodi was hazy about what happened. She was not able to come to terms with what she did, so, she made up some stories.
She knew these stories made no sense, but she held onto them anyways. Wilmott asks Geffner if Jodi Arias disavowed the Ninja story and finally confessed. Geffner says that she did. Willmott asks Geffner why she made up the story. There’s an objection and another sidebar and Willmott drops the question. Then she moves on to the masturbation to the photos of young boys allegation about Travis Alexander. Why was there confusion between whether the photos were paper photos or images on his laptop? Geffner explains that all versions and all notes about that story talk about paper pictures, except Alyce LaViolette’s. She had apparently assumed it was images on a computer.
Now Willmott moves on to July 29, 2007, when Arias says she broke up with Alexander after finding intimate communications with several different women on Alexander’s phone. Next she wants to explore what the difference is between the two “going steady” or “officially going out” and being broken up. Geffner explains there was little difference, because they were still seeing each other, still having lots of sex and still hiding the relationship. During that summer, there were text messages of Travis Alexander jealously accusing Lisa Andrews of seeing her ex-boyfriend, while at the same time, he’s wooing Jodi Arias and another woman.
Now it’s time to review the idea about Travis keeping the relationship secret and what that means. Martinez likes to point out that most people do not talk about their sexual experiences and that Jodi Arias also kept it a secret. Keeping things secret, especially in a Mormon environment, is normal and has no application to abusive behavior or any other alleged malfeasance on the part of Travis Alexander.
But that’s really not the point, is it? It wasn’t just the sex, but Travis kept everything else secret from his friends, his co-workers, and his community, too. He didn’t go to dinner with her, or a movie, or a walk. He didn’t participate in any social activities with her, and he made sure she stayed on a different team at Pre-Paid Legal Services. As far as her friends, cohorts and community knew, Jodi hardly existed. That’s what the defense is talking about when they are alluding to abuse.
Beyond that, text messages between Travis and Lisa show a cycle of love-lust and anger-jealousy directed at Lisa Andrews by Travis. Next, Geffner and Willmott discuss the times Travis talks about marrying several women. The implication here is that in Travis’ world of the LDS church you promise marriage in order to get sex from single Mormon women.
And this is one part of this penalty re-trial and the original trial where the two sides of supporters dramatically diverge. Prosecution supporters seem to discount the whole of Alyce LaViolette’s testimony, when she was giving this same type of evidence. There were multiple women with whom Travis was exchanging risqué messages of love and lust. They were talking about encounters they had in the past and planning more of them. There was lots of sexually graphic talk, including talk about making babies, pubic hair and sexy underwear and clothes. There was talk of boobs, too.
Geffner had to make a graphic chart of the women, there were so many. Jodi Arias supporters believed this testimony and they understood it was objective testimony straight from Alexander’s phone. It didn’t come from Jodi.
Prosecution supporters felt it was just talk and didn’t mean much. They figured that the relationship with Jodi was casual anyways, and that it’s natural for a single man to pursue a number of women. Arias supporters saw this as a betrayal, a web of lies and secret trysts that were most likely also happening in real life with a number of these women, at the same time, Travis was claiming love and monogamy with Jodi, consistent with the Mormon precepts and tenets.
Prosecution supporters saw this simply as Travis playing the field, but Jodi supporters saw it as sexual and emotional abuse, especially when you add in Travis’ jealousy whenever Arias talked about her plans to see other men.
Prosecution supporters see this as manipulation on the part of Arias, trying to keep him and draw him in by the prospect of eligible rivals in the mist.
The implication on the defense side was that this game was going on long before Travis met Jodi and continued unabated the whole time they knew each other. At the least, there’s a misunderstanding as to the nature of the relationship. There’s also a psychological component, as Arias lost out on the affections of her father when her younger sister, Angela, was born.
From a psychological point of view, Jodi Arias may have then drifted from one overbearing or controlling boyfriend to another, doing anything to gain his affections. When she was finally rejected, even as a friend, and cast aside for a younger girl, she may have lost control. Travis may have paid for the sins of the father, in addition to anything he may have done.
The defense fleshes out this line of thinking further with testimony from Dr. Geffner. Travis Alexander and a woman named Chaitanya Lay are seen on texts discussing a tryst they had while at the same time, Alexander is texting and sexting with other women. Geffner and Willmott then go into the early 2007 Chris and Sky Hughes e-mails, where Sky is talking about various ways Alexander supposedly toyed with and abused other women.
Geffner explains about copyrighted Psych. Tests, relating how Juan had put the actual questions up on the big screen, and answers he got from Dr,DeMarte out onto the public record. It’s a serious issue. The questioning moves to witness #1 and the porn on the Bishop’s computer and Travis’ alleged admission he had been abused as a child. Juan objects, asking what’s the relationship between the admission to childhood abuse and porn on the computer? Geffner replies that it was Travis and witness #1 that made that connection, not him.
Geffner amplifies the subject about witness #1 seeing Travis grabbing Deanna Reid by the wrists, pushing her down on the couch and yelling at her at the Bishop’s residence. Could it have been someone else he saw? Geffner relates that witness #1 knows exactly who Travis and Deanna are and he knows he saw them, although he may have been mistaken on exactly what month and day he saw the altercation.
Geffner explains that it was only one report from “Psychologist #1”, who everyone believes was Alyce LaViolette (although LaViolette is not a psychologist), that described Travis as being on his knees when Arias alleges she caught him masturbating to pictures of young children. I still cannot figure out why this would be an issue. I suppose Juan Martinez is skeptical about Alexander’s positioning? There were a number of things LaViolette seems to have misunderstood. Next time, she should get a tape recorder and document when she makes an error in her notes.
Dr. Geffner tried to explain why Jodi Arias made up the Ninja intruder story. According to Jodi, it was to find a way to halt further questioning without revealing or facing up to what she had done. The questioning turns to the January 22, 2008 finger-breaking incident, where Jodi claims Travis threw her to the floor, kicked her in the ribs, and broke her finger while she was trying to protect her side. They discuss a possible hidden meaning in her journal entry at the end of that weekend: “Nothing noteworthy to report”.
Then they discuss the Secret and the Law of Attraction (The philosophy that negative thoughts will bring negative events into a person’s life) as a reason why Jodi rarely mentions negative issues involving Travis. Geffner says Jodi adheres to the law of attraction consistently in her journal entries.
Dr. Geffner relates that Jodi was experiencing anxiety and depression early in her relationship with Travis. Juan Martinez suggests that perhaps Jodi was feeling these things because of financial problems and losing her house to foreclosure. Geffner said it wasn’t money or foreclosure because her journals only speak of Travis in relation to feeling anxious and depressed.
As a counter to charges that Travis was manipulating Jodi while seeing other women behind her back, Juan charges that Jodi was being manipulative with Travis in May and June, 2008, as she was seeing Travis while also courting Ryan Burns.
Jen from The Trial Diaries reported that Jodi Arias has had the same blank stare all day long in court with no visible emotions.
Geffner states that there had been no aggression in Jodi Arias’ history since the teen years and there was low aggression found in her testing. Dr. Geffner stated that Dr. Janeen DeMarte’s report discussed aggression between Jodi Arias and her rival for Matt McCartney, a woman named Bianca. Geffner stated this was not true at all as the encounter was casual and amicable. He stated that Dr, D. had based some of her conclusions on this misrepresentation of facts. Geffner stated that Jodi Arias had often stated that she always wanted the best for Travis, even when they were no longer an item.
Prosecution supporters see this as more manipulation from Jodi Arias. The hungry pack of leopards is poised under shade trees on the periphery, ready to spring.
He stressed that the Havasupai trip was devastating for Jodi, as a nice vacation was soured by a bitter argument with a chilling aftermath. Juan Martinez registered lots of objections here, which were all overruled. There were contentions about a letter Jodi Arias wrote to Abe Abdelhadi, a fellow team member in her PPL group, in December of 2006. In the letter, she was saying she could no longer see him. The idea was that Travis forced her to write the letter. Juan argued that she did it on her own, possibly as a manipulation of Travis to get him to commit to her, and that she never actually sent the letter.
Here’s a video of Abe Adelhadi talking about most of the stuff he discussed on the stand as a prosecution witness:
Geffner also reported that there was no proof that Jodi wrote the coded messages in the magazines purportedly intended for a potential witness, her ex-boyfriend, Matt McCartney.
They move on to the jury questions:
Question: Do norms testing for the PTSD tests include incarcerated people?
Geffner – No.
Question: Since JA tested years after the incident, how accurate was the test?
Geffner – I’m looking for consistency.
Question: Could depression, anxiety and PTSD come from murdering someone and being in jail?
Geffner – Yes but we talked to other people who knew her at the time to establish it was not the result of being incarcerated.
Question: Can Jodi fake non-aggression on a test?
Geffner – It’s very hard to do.
Question: Why does JA continue to have sex with Travis after being abused?
Geffner – That’s the cycle.
Question: Why does JA call Travis the T-Dogg?
Geffner – That was Travis’ macho side.
Question: Who was the recipient of the coded messages?
Geffner – I don’t know.
Question: Is there any supportive documentation of DV?
Geffner – No, just Jodi’s word.
Question: In your review of records and expert opinion did physical abuse take place?
Question: Why was the DV not powerful enough to write about it?
Geffner – JA was going by the Law of Attraction but some of it still sank into her journals.
Question: Did verbal abuse really happen?
Geffner – Yes.
Question: Can a person be attracted to young girls AND young boys?
Geffner – Yes and also to adults as well. This would be a non exclusive type of pedophile.
Question: Aren’t you surprised as an expert that JA continued having sex with TA after she caught him?
Geffner – I’m not surprised anymore. JA felt bad for TA.
Question: How long did JA talk with Psychologist #1?
Geffner – Alyce LaViolette talked to JA for two days and had type written notes.
Question: How can Jodi Arias function normally and go to work, etc., after the homicide?
Geffner – Jodi blocked it out.
Question: A question about giving JA the same test twice?
Geffner – She was given 2 tests with 100 questions each. One was done from the perspective of now and one we asked her to go back in time to the months following the crime in 2008.
Jennifer Willmott goes back on direct after the jury questions:
Birds can be heard whooping and cawing, twigs are snapping, and snakes are heard slithering in the jungle.
Willmott elicits testimony from Dr. Geffner showing it’s nearly impossible to fake aggression on the test. Geffner says 2 tests were given over a span of 2 years and the results were too consistent to be faking.
Geffner states he looked very closely at Jodi’s ring finger and it’s broken, not sliced.
Geffner says the sex tape of referencing a 12 year-old while masturbating corroborates JA’s story of the incident when she caught Travis with the photos of young children.
The hungry pack of leopards leap out of the brush.
Juan crosses and states that he thinks JA learned a lot about PTSD while she’s been in jail as well while she’s been absorbing the proceedings at her trial. He shows there’s no other evidence about the photo incident except Jodi’s word. He asks Geffner if he believes there was Domestic Violence? Geffner answers that it’s not his belief, but his opinion. Juan asks where is there any reference to physical harm in her journals? It’s all based on Jodi Arias’s word, Geffner agrees.
Someone asked a juror what time it was? The juror said they can’t talk to the person. Kirk Nurmi jumps on this and wants a chamber conference.
Kirk Nurmi says Juan Martinez will now call the Mormon Bishop and Abe Abdelhadi. Nurmi wants Abe precluded from testifying.
The jungle is temporarily closed.
This ended the questioning of Doctor Robert Geffner in mitigation testimony. Did Geffner offer any solid mitigators as to why Jodi Arias should receive a sentence of Life in prison rather than Death? Did Geffner, along with Dr, Miccio- Fonseca and Alyce LaViolette finally explain why this was an abusive relationship that destabilized Jodi Arias? Or, are they all just hired guns attempting to rationalize and minimize what Jodi did in order to protect her?
Is there any solid evidence that Travis was sexually and emotionally abusive towards Jodi Arias? Is there any credibility to what witness #1 alleges? What exactly transpired after the relationship soured and Jodi and Travis fell apart? These are the questions many trial watchers are asking, answering, and continuing to ask.
Our next trial update will go into the testimony of PPL co-worker Abe Abdelhadi, Bishop Verno Parker, and Psychologist Dr. Janeen DeMarte.
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