Monkey See, Monkey Do, Monkey step in a big steaming pile of wet Monkey-Poo.
Past and Present Female Murderers
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Okay, so there is a little more to say about Jodi Arias, and there are 3 more articles on the way. One is an article about Jodi’s Support. Are there any supporters left and if there are, who are they? There will be one article in particular about one ardent supporter named Kareem “Lefty” Williams and his high-jinx and adventures with ‘the Joadster’. There will be one article about a new theory I have come up with called the 6-6-6 theory of Jodi Arias.
There is not going to be much more to say about Jodi Arias for a while, so here at Spotlight On Law, we are going to move onto other things. What we will be moving on to will be called Jodi Arias Wannabees Past and Present.
The sub-title will be “Monkey See, Monkey Do, Monkey step into a big steaming pile of wet Monkey Poo”.
Can you identify any of the above by either first or last name (both is even better)?
No cheating, now (No Googling or looking for articles allowed).
The thing about the fairer sex, the life givers and nurturers, being involved in murders is that it’s much more rare and it’s usually very varied as to motive and circumstance. Instead of patterns of criminal activity and violence, there seems to be more of a pattern of relationships and mental illness or mental breakdown.
Are any of these women just plain evil and born as a demon? We will take a deeper look at the facts, the crimes, and the circumstances to find out.
We will look at some older cases, some famous cases, but mostly recent cases either in court or recently committed murders. What are the known facts, what are the disputed facts, what evidence is there, and who will the witnesses be?
Did the defendant have good representation? How were the Prosecutors? Was it a fair trial? Was it a fair sentence or a just outcome? Any chance they are not guilty as charged?
As a warm up, no cheating now, can you name at least six of these accused / suspects / defendants? Can you name at least 6? For bonus points, can you name at least one victim each? Can you name more than 5 off the top of your head?
Use the comment Section to give your answers.
What happened to each of these women that possibly made them flip their burgers and kill a human being? Do they regret their activities after they realized that they had stepped in a big pile of fresh poo?
Okay, so we’ll be coming back at you with a new article on Jodi Arias, then one of these Jodi Wannabees of the past, and then we will bring you a present day Jodi Wannabee. We’ll take it from there and see what other cases we can find. Hopefully some lesser known cases as well as the more interesting of the well known cases.
Okay, have a happy! But, don’t make a rash decision then step in some Crappy.
The jury questions and the back and forth by the prosecution and defense completed computer expert witness “John Smith”s testimony today. Former Mesa Detective Steve Flores was called back to the stand to testify a little more about what happened with Travis Alexander’s lap-top computer. The two sides have finally gotten to the bottom of what happened with the computer and who did what.
The court had been grappling with two giant crater issues in the Jodi Arias Penalty Phase Re-trial. The first was Judge Sherry Stephen’s decision to clear the court room for the testimony of Jodi Arias. This decision must have everyone stumped. Be aware that that decision ONLY pertains to Jodi Arias, and not any other mitigation witnesses.
Giant Crater #1
Can Jodi Arias continue to testify in secret?
No. Many prosecution supporters were incensed with that ruling and have lashed out at the Judge, claiming that she is on the defense side and some have implied that she has been that way throughout the proceedings. It doesn’t seem so, yet they cite this ruling as a major example that Stephens is rooting for the defense.
Yet, the Judge must have had a reason, other than sending the decision to a higher court to take the blame for making the decision. The media was the most upset about the ruling, citing the Constitutional 1st Amendment right of the public to be present, especially in high profile and high consequence trials. They already can’t broadcast until after the trial, and they’re not about to be pushed any further. It’s difficult to think of a compelling reason for the Judge to have made that decision, but we should be fair in believing that she did have an important reason.
The only one I can think of is that Jodi Arias was going to talk about the other mitigation witnesses in her testimony and integrate them into her testimony. This means she would have to name them or otherwise expose them. The only way to keep the witnesses who did not want to be identified protected would be to also make Arias’ testimony secret.
Giant Crater #2
The Porn on the computer issue.
The second Large Crater in this penalty retrial is the issue of porn on the computer. How did it get there? Was it purposely accessed or was it automatically accessed due to malware? Did the prosecution try to hide porn found on the laptop hard drive, or was automatic actions of the computer creating that appearance? Canadian Deborah Maran has a good set of articles explaining the inner workings of computers, site-blockers, viruses, and malware, etc. It’s a good background on the issues surrounding Travis’ lap top computer.
Judge Stephens waited for Bryan Neumeister and his assistant, “John Smith”, to complete their testimony before issuing her ruling on lots of motions pertaining to the defenses’ desire that the court reverse the conviction or remove the death penalty from the proceedings. These rulings were released today. Boom!
“IT IS ORDERED denying the defendant’s Motion to Dismiss State’s Notice of Intent to Seek the Death Penalty Due to Continued Misconduct filed October 1, 2014,
the defendant’s Motion to Dismiss the State’s Notice of Intent to Seek the Death Penalty Due to Defendant’s Inability to Present a Complete Case for Life filed September 26, 2014,
the defendant’s Motion to Dismiss State’s Notice of Intent to Seek the Death Penalty Due to Continue State Misconduct Supplement #1 filed October 24, 2014,
the defendant’s Motion to Dismiss All Charges with Prejudice and/or in the Alternative to Dismiss the State’s Notice of Intent to Seek the Death Penalty due to Recently Discovered Purposeful and Egregious Prosecutorial Misconduct filed on November 10, 2014,
the Defendant’s Motion for Reconsideration: Motion to Dismiss State’s Notice of Intent to Seek the Death Penalty Due to Defendant’s Inability to Present a Complete Case for Life filed November 26, 2014,
and the Defendant’s Supplemental Motion to Dismiss all Charges with Prejudice and/or in the Alternative to Dismiss the State’s Notice of Intent to Seek the Death Penalty Due to Recently Discovered Purposeful and Egregious Prosecutorial Misconduct filed December 14, 2014.”
Judge Stephens ruled that nothing the defense brought up, including the computer evidence, can be construed as prosecutorial misconduct, and nothing the defense brought up justifies any sanction including the removal of the death penalty. Also the tweets by Steve Flores’ wife may or may not have been leaks from sealed meetings, however the Judge rules that the defense presented no evidence that the information tweeted came from closed meetings.
As to the hard drive evidence, it was determined that no pornographic photos were found, that much of the accessing of porn sites was the automatic workings of malware, as Deborah Maran stated in her article, and that the prosecution did nothing wrong that would change the outcome of the trial. The court also determined that differences between the different clone copies of the hard drive created on different dates were the result of waking and inspecting the original computer, and only system files were overwritten. The computer did not overwrite any registry files or porn information.
The court also determined that a porn site was accessed purposely by a user on June 3, 2008, one day before the killing.
This should put an end to the computer porn issue, and it’s doubtful that this could be deemed to be a legitimate appeal issue by a higher court. Deborah Maran also reported in her article that she felt the defense violated their “duty of candor” by purposely filing accusations and allegations they knew to be false. Juan Martinez also filed a motion to sanction the defense for the issues and allegations regarding the hard drive. That motion was also denied.
“ IT IS FURTHER ORDERED denying the State’s Motion for Sanctions (Compaq Presario Computer) filed November 16, 2014 and the State’s Motion to Strike (Compaq Presario Computer) filed November 18, 2014.”
These two Huge Craters in this elongated penalty re-trial seem to be traversed, but there’s one huge chasm left.
The remaining Giant Chasm
The remaining giant chasm is will Jodi Arias agree to continue her testimony in open court? Will her mitigation witnesses agree or refuse to testify in open court?
The Judge has ruled that there are many options available to protect the identity of witnesses short of clearing the courtroom. This is true, and we have already seen this in action with Darryl Brewer not showing his face in the original trial, and most recently, a computer expert who was given the pseudonym of “John Smith” to protect his identity. Maybe “John Smith” was fearful of what his participation in this trial would do to his prospects of being hired by “major corporations” as a private contractor.
That’s one of many reasons Arias’ mitigation witnesses are reluctant to testify. Another is cyber-stalking by over-zealous social media followers. Witnesses from the main trial had their books disparaged in reviews by trial activists on sites such as Amazon.com. Others have found photos of their children and maps to their home, as well as phone numbers publicly displayed on Facebook. Alyce LaViolette has had her speaking engagements seriously curtailed as a result of backlash from her participation and opinions in this trial. Other participants have had their safety and their life threatened.
The media appealed Judge Stephen’s decision to close the court to the Arizona Court of Appeals. The Court ruled in favor of the Media, and stayed the ruling. Arias had to stop testifying until the defense gets a chance to appeal that ruling. The Appeals Court also ordered Arias’ sealed testimony to be released to the public which happened yesterday.
Here are a few samples from Jodi Arias’ secret testimony:
(Click to enlarge)
Many people theorized that Arias wanted the testimony to be secret because she was going to make wild and outrageous new allegations of abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse and pedophilia, either by the victim, Travis Alexander or someone in her family when she was a child, or both. We have yet to see an indication of this yet.
The released transcripts reveal no real shockers, but there was some talk of drug use and more details of physical abuse by her parents when Arias was a child. The Appeals Court ruling put an abrupt end to Arias’ testimony, which covered her childhood and previous relationships all the way up to her first meeting with Travis Alexander and their initial motel rendezvous at a truck stop in Ehrenberg, Arizona, on the California border. Perhaps any anticipated shockers were yet to come? Perhaps there were not going to be any shockers at all?
The released testimony had more color and detail than in the original trial. Arias seemed to be very eloquent and comfortable and she revealed new information in terms of different friends she made and how she came to move to the different places she lived. For example, Jodi did not just cruise down to the California Coast and find the Ventana Inn job. A man named Richard Molay from Oregon worked there and she actually got a recommendation from him.
She also revealed that when living with Bobby Juarez in Montague, 6 miles outside of Yreka, Jodi owned a Samurai sword. After Bobby allegedly choked her, and then convinced her to hang up on the 911 call, she told her brother Carl that Bobby had choked her. Carl showed up with a posse at Juarez’ place to intimidate Bobby, who came sailing out the door with the Samurai sword and chased Carl and his friends away. There are interesting details like that, but no real exploding bomb shells.
Now, the big question is, will Jodi Arias continue her testimony in open court, or will she refuse to testify? Also, the Court of Appeals is under no obligation or time limit to respond to Nurmi’s appeal of their decision to stay Judge Stephen’s ruling to clear the courtroom. The Arizona Court of Appeals also said that the defense could not use their decision as a basis to put the trial on hold or to delay the trial further.
Will the defense work with the court and the prosecution to find creative ways to protect witnesses and information while still having an open court? Will Jodi Arias continue her testimony or refuse to return to the stand? If she testifies, will other mitigation witnesses refuse to testify now that the promised anonymity may not be available? Will they agree to modifications so they can testify in open court? These are the big questions coming up soon.
A witness can be given a pseudonym, a witness can ask not to be identified, a witness can testify on video or by affidavit. Another person, such as mitigation specialist Maria De La Rosa or another suitable person can testify in the place of a witness. The witness can also be subpoenaed and compelled by the defense to testify. There are many ways a witness can testify and protect their identity without going to the extreme solution of clearing the courtroom, and Judge Stephens has explained this in her ruling.
So, if witnesses make a personal decision not to testify, this most likely cannot be an appealable issue at this point, because the prosecution and the court have offered many ways for witnesses to testify without having to reveal their identity.
This is not such a simple issue, because the Judge is reluctant to force Jodi Arias or her mitigation witnesses to testify in open court, because Nurmi has appealed the ruling. Should Jodi Arias be sentenced to death, and afterwards, Nurmi’s appeal is granted, then the retrial becomes a mistrial and Jodi Arias’ sentence would possibly need to be converted to life, especially if some witnesses refuse to testify. Anything done in open court cannot be undone, so it is questionable how this trial will proceed or even if there will be a postponement of the trial pending the ruling on Nurmi’s appeal.
Some prosecution supporters believe that this “witnesses are afraid” claim is just a ruse by the defense to find an excuse not to present mitigation witnesses. This is because some death sentences have been stricken down by the 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals, based on ineffective assistance of counsel for failure of a defense attorney to present mitigation witnesses. They claimed that this was what Nurmi did in the first penalty trial, also.
If this is his strategy, it’s not going to work at this point. So, it will be interesting to see what happens next. Will the defendant and her mitigation witnesses testify or not?
Another notable thing that happened on Tuesday the 13th was that Jennifer Willmott finished re-direct questioning of Mesa Detective Steve Flores about the chain of custody and what he witnessed about the computer in the evidence room. Some evidence favorable to the defense was elicited from Detective Flores. Juan Martinez got up on re-cross and went after him in a fury and with as much ferocity as he has displayed with any defense witness. Fireworks in the courtroom. Juan Martinez also referred to himself as “Mr. Martinez”. “Objection to what Mr. Martinez thinks”.
Two Giant Craters have been traversed. Many prosecution supporters blamed the defense and Judge Sherry Stephens for all the delays and for throwing this crazy train retrial off the tracks, but that’s not the only perspective. The defense did not threaten and intimidate witnesses in the original trial and the defense did not put the porn on the computer. Theses two issues could not be ignored, they had to be confronted and worked out one way or another. The final Giant Chasm is what will the defense do now? Court is out until Tuesday after the Holiday, and we may or may not find out then.
What do YOU think?
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“Cate” believes that Judge Stephens and Juan Martinez were correct and that Kirk Nurmi, Vladimir Gagic, Amanda Chen and Rob Roman are wrong about the validity and the application of the Felony Murder charge. “Cate” supplied some very good case law on this issue.
In our last article, we were asking a number of questions about the Felony Murder Charge:
Does it make sense that in Arizona, you can find someone guilty of BOTH Felony Murder (an unplanned murder) AND Pre-meditated murder (a planned murder)?
Does the felony murder charge correctly apply to the Arias case, or was the charge kept solely to give the jurors another choice of 1st degree murder (in a sort of heads I win, tails, you lose situation for the prosecution)?
Can you be found guilty of felony murder (A death occurs in the course of another dangerous felony) based on burglary with intent to commit the murder?
Is this a legitimate charge under the facts of State v. Arias?
Were the 7 jurors who found for felony murder correct or not?
We needed to dig deeper into the issue to get to the bottom of who’s right and who’s wrong about this. I’m going to make this as easy to understand as possible, easy enough for even me to understand. The citings and cases are all here for you to look at in more detail if you like.
“Cate” offered up an appellate case which had most of the relevant case law regarding the felony murder rule in Arizona, and how the elements of the felony and the elements of the murder can now be, in some cases, the same.
The appelate case is State v. Moore, argued in the Arizona Supreme Court.
Moore: It’s not felony murder because I can’t be charged with felony murder based on a burglary that is itself based on the intent to murder.
The Court: Yes, you can, and you did.
“Relying on State v. Essman, 98 Ariz(1965), Moore also argues that under the merger doctrine, felony murder cannot be predicated upon a burglary that is itself based on the intent to murder.”
State of Arizona v. Julius Jarreau Moore is an appeal of a death sentence for a man who killed 3 people. One murder victim was outside the house with a woman who also was shot, and 2 murder victims were inside the house. Sergio Mata, Guadalupe Ramos, and Delia Ramos were all shot to death in their rental home and Debra Ford was shot and survived. The crimes took place during a flurry of crack smoking.
“Debra Ford went to the Phoenix apartment of Sergio Mata, Delia Ramos, and Guadalupe Ramos to purchase and smoke crack in the late evening hours of November 15, 1999. In the early hours of the 16th, Moore came to the apartment looking for Debra. When Debra came out to see Moore, they talked for a bit and smoked some crack.
Shortly after, Sergio came out of the apartment and Moore shot him in the head, killing him and then turned to Debra and shot her in the neck.
Debra remained alive and conscious while praying for her life. She heard several additional shots fired while she was on the ground. When police arrived and went into the apartment, they found Guadalupe on the couch and Delia inside the bedroom closet. Both were shot to death. Debra survived and testified against Moore during trial.”
Sergio was shot outside the apartment building in a public area, and there was evidence of pre-meditation, so his murder was charged as a premeditated murder. Guadalupe and Delia were shot inside the home, it appeared as if Moore’s motive was to steal drugs, and there was some reflection, so those two murders were charged as both premeditated and felony murders.
The felony murder was first based on burglary – theft, but the prosecution changed it later and based it on burglary – assault, possibly because they had more evidence of the assault than the theft.
The trial was in 2002, the jury found for the aggravator of multiple murders, but did not reach consensus on the aggravator of cruelty. The case is interesting because right during the penalty phase, Moore’s medical expert had a heart attack, causing a mistrial. Moore had a new aggravation and penalty phase in 2007, the jury found the same aggravator and sentenced Moore to death.
In the mandatory appeal before the Arizona Supreme court, Moore cites a number of issues. The relevant one to the Arias case is this:
Relying on State v. Essman, (1965), Moore also argues that under the merger doctrine, felony murder cannot be predicated upon a burglary that is itself based on the intent to murder.
State v. Essman (1965)
Essman: It’s not felony murder because the felony and the murder are the same thing.
Felony Murder does not apply when the felony is included in (Merged into) the charge of homicide.
Court: Yes, we agree.
Essman is in itself an interesting case. Essman was home and cleaning his gun with his daughter in a near bedroom. He began playing around with the gun. His wife came home and told him to put the gun away before someone gets hurt.
Essman said something like “See? It’s harmless”, as he pointed the gun at the family dog and fired twice. Nothing happened because Essman had emptied the revolver. Then he aimed the gun at his wife and pulled the trigger. The gun went off and killed her. Apparently there was one bullet left in the chamber. Jerk.
In his instruction on second degree murder the judge in Essman instructed the jury that the felony-murder doctrine applied where the felony was assault with a deadly weapon. The pertinent portion of the instruction was “when the killing is done in the perpetration or attempt to perpetrate a felony such as assault with a deadly weapon.” The felony-murder doctrine does not apply where the felony is an offense included in the charge of homicide.
The felony murder doctrine basically states that any death caused during a dangerous felony becomes a 1st or 2nd degree murder.
The decision quoted People v. Moran 246 N.Y. 1927
“The acts of assault merge into the resultant homicide, and may not be deemed a separate and independent offense which could support a conviction for felony murder.”
In the appeal of State v. Moran, Chief Judge Cardozo quoted State v. Huter
“To make the quality of the intent indifferent, it is not enough to show that the homicide was felonious, or that there was a felonious assault which culminated in homicide”. People v. Huter 184 N.Y.
“Making the quality of the intent indifferent” means that the intent needs to be to commit a felony which causes a death, rather than an intent to commit a murder. Remember in felony murder, the death caused could be accidental (heart attack, death of a bystander, etc) or intentional (sudden decision to kill, foreseeable consequence of felonious activities).
“Such a holding would mean that every homicide, not justifiable or excusable, would occur in the commission of a felony, with the result that intent to kill and deliberation and premeditation would never be essential.” People v. Wagner 245 N.Y.
– And this is why most states practice this kind of common law.
“The felony that eliminates the quality of the intent must be one that is independent of the homicide and of the assault merged therein, like robbery or larceny or burglary or rape.” 246 N.Y.
This is the Merger Rule. When the predicate felony of a felony murder merges with the actual murder itself (assault, aggravated assault, assault with a deadly weapon), the merger rule applies and the crime cannot be charged as a Felony murder.
Why is this so important?
In the case of 1st degree murder, if the crime can be charged as a Felony Murder, two things happen:
First, there are no lesser included offenses or degrees of the crime. You either get convicted of the highest degree of murder, or you are not convicted. It’s all or nothing.
With Pre-mediated Murder, the jury can decide on lesser offenses and lower degrees of the crime (2nd degree Murder, Heat of Passion, Manslaughter), so you do not necessarily get convicted of the highest degree of murder.
Second, intent to murder no longer has to be proven, only that a death occurred during an intent to commit a dangerous felony.
It might be advantageous for the prosecution to charge felony murder over premeditated murder, because a conviction would be of the highest degree, and intent to kill doesn’t need to be proven.
This is why the Merger rule is meant to prevent a murder with no dangerous felony other than the murder itself from being charged as a felony murder.
A serious problem with the Arias case is that the prosecution never really specified prior to trial exactly what the felony defining the burglary was, meaning the Felony part of the felony murder is Burglary with intent to …….?
It’s not even specified in the jury instructions, the way it is in other cases. It merely says burglary with intent to commit any theft or felony.
So what’s the felony in the felony murder charge in the Arias case?
In Moore, State v. Miniefield is also cited. You can hear Kirk Nurmi discussing this on day 9 of the trial (we included the video and where to find it in the Holy Grail article).
Miniefield basically got drunk and went ballistic trying to kill a guy he got angry at. He had at times, a handgun, a shotgun, and finally, Molotov Cocktails. He finally managed to set the guy’s house on fire and the guy’s young daughter was burned to death.
Kind of makes it difficult to root for this guy in his appeal, doesn’t it?
This guy wanted the felony murder conviction dropped so badly, he was even willing to admit to pre-meditated murder.
Minefield: It’s not felony murder because I intended to murder the victim.
It’s not felony murder because the arson was not independent of the homicide.
Court: Yes, it is felony murder and the arson IS independent of the homicide.
“Later Arizona cases implicitly rejected the broad language in Essman suggesting that the predicate felony must be “independent of the homicide.” For example, in State v. Miniefield, the defendant argued that it was fundamental error to charge him with felony murder by arson because “the arson was merely the use of fire to attempt to kill the victim.”
The Court rejected this argument by noting that the felony murder statute provided that when a person commits arson and the arson results in death it is first-degree murder. “The statute does not draw a distinction between a person who intends to kill another by fire and one who only intends to burn down a dwelling house and accidentally kills one of the occupants.”
See the logic there? Arizona doesn’t care if premeditated murder and felony murder, seemingly mutually exclusive, are both charged and both found as long as the basic elements of each theory are proven.
Most recently, the Court distinguished Essman in State v. Dann (Dann I), (2003).
“There, the defendant argued that because he intended to murder a victim rather than assault him, he could not be convicted of felony murder.
Noting that the defendant did not dispute that felony murder could be predicated on burglary based on intent to commit assault, the Court held that sufficient evidence supported the finding of the predicate offense. The Court further observed that the merger rule does not apply in cases in which the separate crime of burglary is alleged.”
Meaning that it helps a felony murder charge, to have a separate charge for the felony.
The Jodi Arias case did not have a separate charge for felony.
“Moore complains that the State, while charging felony murder based on burglary, did not specify until the settling of jury instructions, and after the close of evidence, that burglary would be defined by his intent to commit murder rather than theft.”
Arizona prosecutors sure like to keep secrets from the defense, don’t they?
“We agree with Moore that Blakley implies that the state should identify before trial the particular felony that will be used to define burglary when the latter crime is the predicate for felony murder.”
Moore was indicted for and convicted of two counts of premeditated and felony murder for the murders of Delia and Guadalupe, one count of premeditated murder for the murder of Mata, one count of attempted first-degree murder for the injuries to Ford, and one count of first-degree burglary. The trial court was to sentence Moore in August 2002, but the hearing was vacated after the Supreme Court held that Arizona’s capital sentencing scheme was unconstitutional. See Arizona v. Ring (Ring II), (2002).
Arizona v. Ring (Ring II), (2002). Is a landmark case which held that juries, not judges, should decide the death penalty mitigators and aggravators and decide on life or death.
Landmark cases are sometimes based on the trials of real pieces of ……… work, like Ring.
“In November 2004, the trial court empanelled a jury to determine Moore’s sentence. The State alleged two aggravators: that Moore murdered Delia in an especially cruel manner, and that Moore murdered multiple persons on the same occasion. The jury did not reach a verdict on the (F)(6) aggravator, but did find the (F)(8) aggravator. Before the penalty phase concluded, the court declared a mistrial because Moore’s medical expert suffered a heart attack.
Moore was another endless case.
Why felony murder is so contentious:
Remember that Felony Murder means that if someone dies in the course of a dangerous felony, that death can become a 1st degree murder. A defendant could get life in prison or the death penalty. While Premeditated Murder includes lesser charges a jury could decide on.
There’s a famous case where a man goes into a home with a gun to rob it. He hears a sound and changes his mind and runs out of the home. On the way, he trips over a wire falls and the gun goes off. Unknown to him, there was a person behind the wall who was shot and killed. The man leaves thinking the worse thing he did was the gun went off. He was arrested for felony murder and faced the death penalty. This is because he attempted a burglary and in the course of the attempt, he caused the death of a person.
This is the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case of Furman v. Georgia.
Scary to think that because of the felony murder law, the man faced the death penalty for what was otherwise an accidental shooting. Without the felony of burglary – theft, this would normally be a 2nd degree murder at most or manslaughter.
So, there are lots of consequences, sometimes unintended, when applying the law to the facts of a case or deciding how a defendant will be charged.
Dann: It cannot be Felony Murder if I enter the home in order to commit premeditated murder.
Court: It is felony murder because the felony was burglary with intent to commit assault. In the course of that felony, you caused the death of a person. There is sufficient evidence to find intent to assault.
“The jury found Dann guilty of felony murder on all three murder charges. The predicate offense for the felony murders was burglary, which, in turn, was predicated on an intent to commit aggravated assault. The State charged that Dann went to the apartment intending to shoot Andrew, which constitutes an aggravated assault.
Dann asserts that the evidence showed that he entered Andrew’s apartment intending to murder Andrew, not assault him; therefore, he argues, the only felony offense to support the burglary charge was murder, not aggravated assault.”
“This results in ‘bootstrapping’, Dann maintains, because the State is saying that he committed felony murder because he entered the apartment intending to commit premeditated murder.”
The Court held that sufficient evidence supported the finding of the predicate offense. The Court further observed that “merger does not apply in cases in which the separate crime of burglary is alleged and established.”
“Dann I and Miniefield defeat Moore’s argument that felony murder cannot be predicated on a burglary that is based on the intent to murder. The felony murder statute, A.R.S.§ 13-1105(A)(2), does not distinguish between burglaries defined by intent to commit assault versus intent to murder.”
In Arizona, yes you can!
So who is right about the Arias case? “Cate” and Juan Martinez and Judge Sherry Stephens and The Supreme Court of Arizona or Amanda Chen and Rob Roman and Kirk Nurmi and Vladimir Gagin?
“Cate” made the comment that legal interpretations and decisions should be left to the professionals (Prosecutors and Judges), and not to layman blog writers. She forgets that Nurmi and Gagin are experienced criminal defense attorneys in Arizona, and they say the felony murder charge is in error.
“Cate” also forgets I went to law school as did Amanda, I’m a paralegal working in Federal and State Civil Litigation with an emphasis on the Disabled. I think I can give it a shot.
“Cate” made a big legal boo-boo. She forgot that in State v. Moore, all those cited cases and the appeal apply to State v. Moore. They do not necessarily apply to State v. Arias.
Now let’s bring down all the questions from the top of this article and see if these cases have answered our questions:
Does it make sense that in Arizona, you can find someone guilty of BOTH Felony Murder (an unplanned murder) and Pre-meditated murder (a planned murder)?
Yes, it makes sense – in Arizona. You can find a defendant guilty of both premeditated murder AND felony murder. You can see that it’s a correct verdict in State v. Moore, because Moore was convicted of both 1st degree premeditated murder and felony murder of 2 victims.
So, to clarify, you can be found guilty under both theories of first degree murder IF, in the course of a dangerous felony, you commit pre-meditated murder. That’s the reality in Arizona.
This seems to be only in Arizona, as far as I know. It seems like this gives prosecutors two bites at the apple, though.
Arizona seems to like those second bites at the apple, as shown in their nifty little ‘if at first you don’t succeed (at the death penalty) try, try again’.
Does the Merger rule apply in Arizona? Can you be found guilty of felony murder based on a burglary with intent to commit murder?
Can Juan Martinez use an intent to assault or murder as the basis for the Felony burglary in State v. Arias?
If the felony merges with the murder, then any murder would be a felony murder and there would be no need to prove pre-meditation, deliberation, or an intent to kill.
This is the law in most states. This was the law in Arizona. But, Arizona didn’t like that too very much, so they do it their way.
Later Arizona cases implicitly rejected the broad language in Essman suggesting that the predicate felony must be “independent of the homicide.”
These next three cases reflect that rejection of Essman:
Moore: How can I be guilty of Felony Murder based on a burglary with the intent to commit pre-meditated murder?
Court: Because we find you committed burglary with the intent to commit assault. In the course of this felony, you caused the death of a person. Have a nice day.
Other states have held that a felony-murder conviction cannot be based on a burglary intended solely to murder the victim. Arizona don’t give a squid what them there other states do.
“We have already recognized that Arizona’s felony-murder statute identifies burglary based on assault as a valid predicate offense”.
Miniefield: It’s not felony murder because I intended to murder the victim
Court: Your intention to murder the victim is of no consequence for the purposes of felony murder. Your intention was to commit arson because you did commit arson. Whether you intended to kill or not, doesn’t matter in felony murder. You set the building on fire and someone died as a result, Jerk.
Miniefield: I did not intend to commit arson, my intent was to kill the victim.
Court: You lit the Molotov cocktail and you threw it at the house. How was that not your intention, sir?
Dann: How can it be Felony Murder if I enter the home in order to commit premeditated murder?
Court: We have proof you entered the home to commit an assault. Also, we have a separate felony charge
Felony murder can be predicated on a burglary that is based on the intent to murder.
The felony murder statute does not distinguish between burglaries defined by intent to commit assault versus intent to murder.
Does the felony murder charge correctly apply to the Arias case, or was the charge possibly kept solely to give the jurors another choice of 1st degree murder, (in a sort of heads I win, tails, you lose situation) for the prosecution?
I would not put it past a prosecutor who tries to bring in evidence of “animal cruelty and torture” based on a vague, 3rd party report of a too tightly squeezed cat. After that monkey business with the order of injuries, I wouldn’t trust him anyways, nohow.
Can you be found guilty of felony murder (A death occurs in the course of another dangerous felony) based on burglary with intent to commit the murder?
Under some circumstances, yes you can.
Is this a legitimate charge under the facts of State v. Arias?
No. They can charge whatever they want, but then you have to wonder if there is an ulterior motive.
Were the 7 jurors who found for felony murder correct or not?
Incorrect. (but, it’s complicated)
In Arizona, Yes You Can:
Prosecutors can charge a defendant with BOTH 1st degree pre-meditated murder AND 1st degree felony murder of a single victim. (Guess what? You can charge a defendant with anything you want – but, then you have to prove it)
Jurors can find a defendant guilty of BOTH 1st degree pre-meditated murder AND 1st degree felony murder (The verdict form proves it and State v. Moore proves it) (A juror can make any decision allowed by the jury instructions).
Arizona’s felony murder statute recognizes assault as a valid predicate offense.
In Arizona the Merger Rule doesn’t always apply. The felony can incorporate some parts of the murder.
In Arizona the felony predicate does not need to be independent of the homicide
In Arizona, felony murder can be predicated on a burglary that is based on the intent to murder.
In Arizona, burglary does not distinguish between an attempt to assault and an attempt to murder.
So, are Juan Martinez and Judge Stephens correct that the felony murder charge is a viable extra 1st degree murder charge under the facts of the Jodi Arias case?
Has “Cate” decimated all the arguments we made in the Holy Grail article?
Do Nurmi and Gagic and Chen and Roman have it all wrong and are their arguments are no good?
Uh………no. They’re still good. Here’s why:
In State v. Arias,
There is insufficient evidence to support the finding of the predicate offense of burglary with intent to commit theft.
There is insufficient evidence to support the finding of the predicate offense of burglary with intent to commit assault.
Although the Essman ruling used to be the law, where the merger rule always applied and a predicate felony needed to be independent of the homicide, that’s no longer true, because of the decisions in the above cases
Later Arizona cases implicitly rejected the broad language in Essman suggesting that the predicate felony must be “independent of the homicide.” The key here is “the broad language” That does not mean that the Merger rule never applies or that felony predicates can always be the same as the elements of homicide.
The important thing is that each element needs to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to the jury. This means that to find for pre-meditated murder or felony murder, each element of the charge needs to be proven according to the requirements of the two separate theories.
So let’s take another look at the chart from the Holy Grail article, and see if we can find Jodi Arias guilty of Felony murder under the facts of the case.
To find Arias guilty of 1st degree felony murder, we need:
A predicate felony (We are told it is 2nd degree burglary)
A death caused in the course of that felony.
CHARGED OFFENSE – FELONY MURDER
As stated earlier, Count 1 also charges defendant with First Degree Felony Murder. The crime of First Degree Felony Murder requires the state to prove the following two things:
The defendant committed or attempted to commit Burglary in theSecond Degree; and
In the course of and in furtherance of committing Burglary in the Second Degree, or immediate flight from it, the defendant caused the deathof any person.
An “attempt” requires the state to prove that the defendant intentionally did something which, under the circumstances she believed them to be, was a step in a course of conduct planned to culminate in the commission of the offense. The crime of
Burglary in the Second Degree requires proof that the defendant:
Entered or remained unlawfully in or on a residentialstructure; and
Did so with the intent to commit any theft or felony therein.
#1 As far as the first part of burglary, I will accept Juan Martinez’ explanation for now that once Jodi Arias started stabbing Travis Alexander, he revoked his permission for her to be there, and she was now remaining unlawfully in the residence.
Many people believe Alexander was shot first. Then, let’s say that once Arias ‘began her assault’ on Travis, she was no longer welcome and she was now remaining unlawfully in the residence.
Problem: Wait a minute, Juan is assuming intent to assault or intent to kill – take your pick. We don’t know exactly what happened in that bathroom. Reporters still want to ask Arias that question.
Let’s ignore that for a moment and move on.
#2 Remained unlawfully in the residence with the intent to commit any theft or felony therein.
Juan Martinez gave us the theft of the gun as defining the burglary. If we believe Arias’ account of the crime
(No premeditation, she brought no weapons with her, A fight breaks out, Arias shot Alexander with his own gun in self-defense, he kept attacking, she finishes him off with a knife, she steals his gun).
I say “No pre-meditation”, because for felony murder, pre-meditated or not makes no difference. Only an intent to commit the dangerous felony matters. You cannot use your finding of premeditation as proof of intent in a felony murder.
So theft of the gun fails as defining the burglary right here. Why? Because, Juan Martinez did not PROVE WHEN the intent to take the gun was formed. The intent could have been formed AFTER the killing (and most likely was). This means that the death would not be caused “in the course of and in furtherance of the burglary”.
Do you understand?
A death has to be caused as a consequence of Arias trying to steal that gun. If she forms the intent to steal the gun after he’s already dead, then the death is not a consequence of the theft.
“Cate” made a remark that maybe Juan might have been being facetious about the gun. I thought of that also, but I hope not, because this is somewhat of a serious matter.
So the gun theft fails. Let’s move on to the assault.
Jodi Arias remained unlawfully in the home. She did so with the intent to commit assault upon Travis Alexander.
Problem: Where is Juan Martinez’ proof beyond a reasonable doubt of intent to assault? There isn’t any, because Nurmi was right, there is no other felony. There is no other felony because Juan Martinez failed to PROVE it.
Well, I believe she pre-meditated the killing, isn’t that intent?
No, because pre-meditated or not makes no difference. It cannot be an element of intent to assault, or intent to kill. That has to be proven separately. Well, that’s really bizarre. Yes, but law is very bizzare sometimes.
Well, there’s the crime scene and the stabbed and shot body. No one else was there. It had to be Arias. Isn’t that intent to commit assault?
No. Because Juan Martinez didn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Arias intended to assault Alexander.
Well, what about all that case law above?
Right. Did you see the Judge say hey, Moore, You were convicted of both premeditated AND felony murder? You dispute the felony murder, but, you premeditated it, so there’s the intent. He didn’t say that.
Did you hear the judge say, hey, Moore, you see that dead body? That proves your intent. He didn’t say that either.
What the judge said was, it doesn’t matter what’s in your mind, we have evidence that you were heavily engaged in crack smoking throughout, that you got a gun, that you told your gf you “weren’t going to stand for it” and to come and find you if you didn’ return. You showed a friend the gun and asked him for hrlp to “get”the victim. You entered the home with a weapon. There’s an eye witness. That’s proof of intent to assault. And people died in the course of the assault. That’s felony murder.
That kind of evidence does not exist in the Jodi Arias case.
In Minifield, it was proven that he took a Molotov cocktail, lit it, and threw it at the home. That’s proof of intent to commit arson. A little girl died. That’s felony murder.
That kind of evidence does not exist in the Jodi Arias case.
In Dann, he claimed there was no other felony except the murder. The State charged an intent to kill, but later changed it to an intent to commit aggravated assault. Dann told the court he intended to kill the victim, not assault him, so there is no other felony.
The court replied that we have testimony that you borrowed a gun from your ex-gf, you tried to boorow another “untraceable gun” from a friend, you told your friend you intended to “straighten out the problem, you entered the home with the gun, you called your ex-gf and told he you just shot three people, and that’s proof of intent to assault. As a consequence, someone died. That’s felony murder.
That kind of evidence does not exist in the Jodi Arias case.
– Well, what if we forget about pre-meditation for now, and let’s say Jodi Arias was proven to be going to Alexander’s home after preparing for a nefarious purpose of some kind, isn’t that proof of intent to assault?
No. Because we don’t know when or where or if she formed the intent to assault, no proof.
– Well, it’s a reasonable assumption that Jodi brought a gun and/or knife to Mesa and into Travis’ home. Isn’t that proof of intent to assault?
No. There’s no proof that Jodi brought the gun or the knife to the crime scene.
In Moore and Dann, there was proof they were armed when they entered residences. Moore was also charged separately with a felony, so for the facts of his case, the merger rule doesn’t apply anyways.
Arias was charged with the felony predicate of 2nd degree burglary – assault. They used 2nd degree instead of 1st degree precisely because the state could not prove she brought a weapon into the house.
– Well, she said she did it. She said she did it all. So, if I don’t believe her self-defense story or that Travis attacked her, or if I believe she went way too far, then that proves her intent to assault, doesn’t it?
No, I don’t think so. I wouldn’t rely on her word about anything. I see the merger rule coming into play here, as there’s no distinct felony here, just like Nurmi said. I don’t see how there’s a clear intent to kill or assault, beyond a reasonable doubt.
She was an invited guest, they did interact and have a good time, she was there over 12 hours, then something happened, and I believe there will always be some doubt there as far as what exactly happened. Apparently, it wasn’t very clear to 5 of the jurors.
Now, I believe the only way that felony murder makes any sense at all in this case is if the gunshot was first. Think about this: She shoots him in the shower, as part of a plan to kill him, only he doesn’t die. Jodi Arias doesn’t leave the residence, and she doesn’t call for an ambulance or for help. At this point, she’s remaining in the residence unlawfully. It’s burglary – assault. Jodi Arias then picks up a knife and finishes him off.
Here I would say this is a clear burglary – assault, and in the course of and furtherance of this felony, she caused the death of Alexander. The other way, it’s not so clear at all. Maybe Juan Martinez wanted it that way.
That’s another reason why the change in the order of injuries by the prosecution is problematic. The felony murder charge certainly fits much better with the gunshot first murder theory. I believe that when the prosecution changed the order of injuries to gunshot last, they forgot that this new theory doesn’t fit felony murder. I believe that later, they stubbornly refused to drop the charge, for fear it would draw attention to the fact that they swcithed the order of injuries intentionally to squash Jodi Arias’ self-defense claim.
– Well, what is your reasoning for felony murder not working the other way, with the stabbings first?
I see a merger rule problem with that theory. I just don’t see clear proof of intent either to kill or assault, to make this strictly a felony murder.
“Cate” said something to the effect of, well, if the felony murder charge really didn’t make sense, why weren’t the legal minds in the major media discussing it? This is her type of street logic that I just don’t get, using something that didn’t happen to prove that something else did.
Remember the saying – “Evidence of absence is not absence of evidence.”
You drive me crazy that way, Cate, I have to admit.
Maybe they weren’t discussing it because the prosecution was pushing pre-meditation, or because pre-meditation elements and the lesser included offenses that go with it are more interesting to talk about. Or maybe the viewers weren’t asking about it. Who knows?
If Arias was found unanimously guilty of felony murder 1 instead of premeditated murder 1, maybe they would have talked about it then.
Who are these legal experts she’s talking about, anyways? Dershowitz? Beth Karas? Vinnie Politan? – Please!
Is there a quote or an article or a video from anyone about how the felony murder charge is correct?
I couldn’t find any major media Legal Eagles speaking on the soundness of the charge, but I did find one legal commentator who said what Nurmi said – that there was nothing there. Does the name Monica Lindstrom ring a bell?
This case is not the same as the other cases cited above. This is the only case of the above in which I see no clear felony outside of the murder, despite the Arizona way of not always using the merger rule and sometimes allowing the felony to incorporate certain parts of the murder, which certainly seems to favor the prosecution.
Why was the prosecution so reluctant to explain to the defense exactly what their felony murder theory was in this case?
Why was there was a lot of contention in motions in 2010, before Nurmi took over the case about this exact question?
Why did the prosecution argue for pre-meditation all day every day and then spend just 5 minutes arguing felony murder?
Why didn’t the prosecution specify the exact felony (assault, murder, theft, etc.) defining the burglary, even in the jury instructions? Other cases do.
Why was the prosecution intentionally ambiguous about it, and why did they spend so little time explaining it?
That’s just more than a little fishy when the felony murder is obviously not as clear-cut and much harder to understand.
Maybe Nurmi was right: “(This) is either a premeditated murder or it’s not, and the felony murder burglary charge is just an “empty vessel” in order to seek a first degree murder conviction”.
It certainly seems that felony murder charge was left there more to ensure a first degree murder conviction than because the prosecution honestly believed it was a legitimate charge.
Good job rejecting it, jurors!
Again, the predicate felony = remaining unlawfully in the home (via killing Alexander) with the intent of committing any further felony (killing Alexander) and the murder part of the felony murder is (killing Alexander).
Even in Arizona, and even considering all the cited cases above, “Felony-murder still cannot be charged if all the elements of the felony are included in the elements of the murder”. This is the merger doctrine in Arizona.
The gun theft fails, timing of the intent to steal the gun – not proven – therefore no burglary, therefore no felony murder.
The assault fails – no clear and convincing of proof of an intent to assault, therefore no burglary, therefore no felony murder.
Remaining unlawfully in the home. No clear proof of intent to assault – therefore no proof of revocation of consent to be in the home, therefore no burglary, therefore no felony murder.
The charge should have been dropped.
We invite any legal expert, especially those who practice criminal law in Arizona to explain to us why the felony murder charge in the Jodi Arias case makes any sense at all.
Much has been made of the 1st degree Felony murder charge in the Jodi Arias case. The popular consensus is:
1) This is a totally legitimate charge under Arizona law.
2) The prosecution can charge whatever they want. It’s still up to the jury whether or not to convict on each charge.
3) Arias’ defense attorneys are a “joke” and “do not know what the hell they’re talking about”.
4) “F*ck Off, f*cktard!!”
5) Nobody cares / It doesn’t matter, because the jury did not find Jodi Arias guilty of 1st degree Felony Murder.
6) The jury instructions said that jurors can make a finding of both 1st degree AND felony murder, and that’s what some of them did. So what?
7) Jodi Arias butchered Travis Alexander. She was unanimously found guilty of first degree Premeditated Murder by a jury of her peers, so f*ck off!
8) It was Felony Murder, because it was a felony AND it was a murder. – It’s not rocket science – Duh!
“Ladies and Gentlemen: There’s nothing.
It’s silly. It’s fearful. That charge is there out of fear.
It makes no sense …. not under any scenario does that make any sense.
Either she was there to kill him … or she wasn’t.”
– Defense Attorney Kirk Nurmi
What does he mean by “Either she was there to kill him … or she wasn’t”?
What does he mean by “That charge is there out of fear”?
Now is a good time to review the different charges for a murder:
1st degree Premeditated Murder: A deliberate plan to kill or a “period of cool deliberation”.
It’s deliberate and there is an intent to kill in the person’s mind. It’s also called a “cold-blooded murder”. It’s considered worse than 2nd degree Murder because a person calmly made a decision to murder, reflected on it, and then carried it out.
1st degree Felony Murder: A deliberate plan to carry out a dangerous felony (other than 1st degree murder) and in the course of that felony, a death occurs.
The primary or “predicate felony” is the main intent of the person. The person usually has no premeditation to commit murder. As a result of and in the course of carrying out that dangerous felony, somebody dies.
2nd degree Murder: There is no deliberate plan to kill nor a “period of cool deliberation” or it cannot be proven in court, but the person intentionally caused the death of another person.
There is no provable deliberation, but an intent to kill is formed in the person’s mind. It is a murder born of unplanned circumstances. Often, this would be called a “hot-blooded murder”.
If a jury finds that this 2nd degree murder was committed in the intense emotional turmoil called a “heat of passion”, Arizona law requires that the charge be reduced to Manslaughter.
Manslaughter: There is no deliberate plan and no intent to kill, but the person negligently or recklessly caused the death of another person.
Justifiable Homicide: A murder is justified because a person was defending their life or the life of another person.
We have a situation in a Capital murder case, where the prosecution is pushing hard for a 1st degree murder conviction, this will mean lifetime imprisonment or the Death Penalty.
The defense is pushing just as hard to get, at the least, a 2nd degree murder conviction, where the Death penalty cannot be applied and the defendant has some chance of parole and one day getting out of prison. Of course, a heat of passion manslaughter verdict or an acquittal would be even better for the defense and Arias.
The Defense in the Jodi Arias case had a primary goal or mission to get anything BUT a 1st degree murder conviction for the same reasons.
Can the additional but bogus charge of 1st degree felony murder assist the prosecution to achieve their goal of a 1st degree murder conviction?
Now, let’s review the actual instructions that the jury was given and that Judge Stephens read word for word to the jury.
“THE CHARGED OFFENSE – PREMEDITATED MURDER
Count 1 charges the defendant with First Degree Murder. Arizona law
recognizes two types of First Degree Murder – Premeditated Murder and
Felony Murder. The state has charged the defendant with both types.
The crime of First Degree Premeditated Murder requires the state to prove the following:
The defendant caused the death of another person; and
The defendant intended or knew that she would cause the death ofanother person; and
The defendant acted with premeditation.
“Premeditation” means that the defendant intended to kill another human being or knew she would kill another human being; and that after forming that intent or knowledge, reflected on the decision before killing. It is this reflection, regardless of the length of time in which it occurs, that distinguishes First Degree Murder from Second Degree Murder.
While reflection is required for First Degree Murder, the time needed for reflection is not necessarily prolonged, and the space of time between the intent or knowledge to kill and the act of killing may be very short. An act is not done with premeditation if it is the instant effect of a sudden quarrel or heat of passion.
The crime of First Degree Premeditated Murder includes the lesseroffense of Second Degree Murder. You may consider a lesser offense if either:
You find the defendant not guilty of First Degree Premeditated Murder; or
After full and careful consideration of the facts, you cannot agree on whether to find the defendant guilty or not guilty of First Degree Premeditated Murder.
You cannot find the defendant guilty of any offense unless you find that the State has proved each element of that offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
SECOND DEGREE MURDER
The crime of Second Degree Murder requires proof of one of the
The defendant intentionally caused the death of another person; or
The defendant caused the death of another person by conductwhich the defendant knew would cause death or serious physical injury; or
Under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to humanlife, the defendant recklessly engaged in conduct that created a grave riskof death and thereby caused the death of another person. The risk must be such that disregarding it was a gross deviation from what a reasonable person in the defendant’s situation would have done.
The difference between first degree murder and second degree murder is that second degree murder does not require premeditation by thedefendant.
CHARGED OFFENSE – FELONY MURDER
As stated earlier, Count 1 also charges defendant with First Degree Felony Murder. The crime of First Degree Felony Murder requires the state to prove the following two things:
The defendant committed or attempted to commit Burglary in the
Second Degree; and
In the course of and in furtherance of committing Burglary in theSecond Degree, or immediate flight from it, the defendant caused the deathof any person.
An “attempt” requires the state to prove that the defendant intentionally did something which, under the circumstances she believed them to be, was a step in a course of conduct planned to culminate in the commission of the offense. The crime of Burglary in the Second Degree requires proof that the defendant:
Entered or remained unlawfully in or on a residentialstructure; and
Did so with the intent to commit any theft or felony therein.
Residential structure means any structure, movable orimmovable, permanent or temporary, that is adapted for both humanresidence and lodging whether occupied or not.
“Intentionally” or “with the intent to” means, with respect to a result or to conduct described by a statute defining an offense, that a person’s objective is to cause that result or to engage in that conduct.
There are no lesser included offenses for First Degree Felony Murder.
Okay, I hope you lived through that. If so, you may have noticed a few things. First, it seems as if juries were very confused about how if they decide it’s a second degree murder, then they must decide if it was a “sudden heat of passion” killing. If the jury decides it is, then the 2nd degree murder is reduced to manslaughter. The instructions repeat so many times on this that it seems that there was trouble with the comprehension of this instructions.
The 1st degree pre-meditated murder charge includes the lesser offenses of 2nd degree murder, sudden heat of passion murder, and manslaughter. The Felony murder charge has no lesser included offenses.
The jury is informed that all can vote for premeditated M1, or all can vote for felony M1, or all can vote for both, or there can be any kind of mixture, as long as they are all unanimous that it’s a first degree murder.
In order to make a finding of Felony murder in this case, the jurors need to find that the defendant committed or intended to commit 2nd degree burglary. In Arizona, this only means that a defendant entered or remained unlawfully in a residence with the intent to commit any other theft or felony.
Can two people both be guilty of felony murder with one victim? Yes they can.
Example: Joe Blow and Lou Blew go to rob a horse track. Lou Blew blows away a cashier. Both Joe Blow and Lou Blew are guilty of felony murder.
Can one person be guilty of felony murder with two victims? Yes they can.
Example: Snidely Whiplash is in his Humvee being chased by the police. The police car smashes into a motorcycle, killing Hairy Ryder. Snidely runs over Midge, a little old lady with a walker who was trying to cross the street. Snidely Whiplash is guilty of two counts of felony murder.
Can one person be guilty of both felony murder and premeditated murder with two victims? Yes they can.
Example: Robin Redrum plans on killing Bumptious Q. Bangwhistle in his home a month in advance. She goes to his home and shoots him dead. Bumptious’ brother, Sumptious Z. Bangwhistle, is visiting that day. He hears the gunfire and comes out of the bathroom and Robin shoots him dead. Robin Redrum is guilty of one count of 1st degree Premeditated Murder and one count of 1st degree Felony Murder.
Now, can one person be guilty of BOTH felony murder and premeditated murder with a single victim? Only rarely, and it would take some doing and some verbal gymnastics to explain how this could be so without a separate felony.
Premeditated murder is a planned murder, or at the very least, the person had a moment of cool reflection.
Felony murder is an unplanned murder. The person plans another felony, and in the course of and in furtherance of this felony, a death occurs. (The victim could have a heart attack, your accomplice could murder the victim, the police could shoot the victim by mistake when trying to shoot you, or you could be surprised by an unexpected victim and kill them, or you could just suddenly decide to kill somebody. All these are examples of felony murder).
How does one person commit BOTH a planned and an unplanned killing with a single victim? Not very easily, BUT Arizona law does allow jurors to find both pre-meditated murder 1 and felony murder 1 concurrently under certain circumstances.
Doesn’t that seem like a blessing for prosecutors?
A) Let’s say Horatio Hornblower plans to tie up and rob little Billy Pilgrim. He ties him up and steals his computer and big screen TV. He drives away, then he thinks again and drives back to Billy Pilgrim’s house and kills him with a George Foreman 3 minute hamburger grill. Now, is this felony murder or premeditated murder or both?
B) Let’s say Horatio Hornblower again plans to tie up and rob little Billy Pilgrim. He ties him up and steals his computer and big screen TV. Billy tells Horatio that he’s a useless cowardly thieving dirt bag. Horatio Hornblower then brains Billy with a George Foreman 3 minute hamburger grill. Is this example felony murder, pre-meditated murder, or both?
C) Let’s say Robin Redrum has NO intention to kill Sweet Polly Purebred in her home by suffocating her with a plastic bag. Robin is a welcome guest. A fight breaks out. She puts a plastic bag over Polly’s head, but she’s not dying. She’s injured, but not dead. So Robin stabs her with Polly’s knitting needle 99 times until she dies. She takes the bag and the knitting needle with her. Is this premeditated murder or felony murder or both?
D) Now, let’s reverse that and say that Robin Redrum plans for months to stab Sweet Polly Purebred to death in her own home with Robin’s knitting needle. She stabs her 99 times, but she doesn’t know if she’s dead or not. She puts a plastic bag over her head just to be sure and takes her own knitting needle. Is this felony murder or premeditated murder or both?
The last example is the equivalent of the prosecution’s theory in the Jodi Arias case (gunshot last, pre-meditation, Jodi brought the gun). The one before that is the alternate theory of murder in the Jodi Arias case (gunshot first, no pre-meditation, Jodi used and stole Travis’gun).
Now, can you apply the jury instructions to these 4 cases? What do you come up with?
A) Under the laws of California and many other states, this would be premeditated murder. It starts out as a felony, but Horatio leaves, then deliberates and after cool reflection, decides to go back and kill Billy Pilgrim. For me, this would be 1stdegree premeditated murder plus separate kidnapping and burglary charges.
In Arizona, however, this fulfills all the requirements for a finding of BOTH Pre-meditated M1 AND Felony M1.
B) I would call this felony murder. Horatio intended to commit a felony. While engaged in the felony, he becomes enraged at Billy Pilgrim and, without a plan or cool reflection, murders him. I would charge felony murder and add on the kidnapping and burglary charges.
C) This would seem to me to be premeditated murder or it could be 2nd degree murder, depending on the details. Robin Redrum didn’t plan the murder. There was no intended felony. A fight broke out and Robn went wild. If there was a cooling off period proven, then it’s 1st degree premeditated murder. If there was no time for reflection, then it’s 2nd degree murder. If the jury finds it’s a sudden heat of passion killing. (Robin and Polly had an intimate relationship of some kind), then the charge could be reduced to manslaughter.
D) This would also seem to me to be premeditated murder. Robin Redrum planned the murder and carried it out. There doesn’t seem to be any intended felony or further felony other than the murder itself.
Did you come to the same conclusions as I did?
In the Jodi Arias case, there were 7 out of 12 jurors who found that it was BOTH a felony murder and a premeditated murder. How did that happen? There were also 8 jurors out of 12 jurors who voted for death. Since I do not know, I think it’s a very good educated guess that the 7 who voted for both felony and premeditated murder AND 7 of the 8 jurors who voted for death are the same people.
I would love to hear their explanation as to how this is BOTH. I would love to hear anyone’s explanation as to how this can be both a planned AND an unplanned murder.
In Arizona, there IS an explanation:
If the prosecution proves that a death occurred “In the course of, and in furtherance of, another intended felony”, a juror can make a finding of Felony Murder 1, even if that same juror also made a finding of Pre-meditated M1.
Kirk Nurmi argued that since there is no predicate felony, there is no Felony Murder. So, it is either 1st degree premeditated murder, which the prosecution argued almost exclusively, or it is a LESSER CHARGE, such as 2nd degree murder or heat of passion manslaughter. Here’s what he said about this in the guilt phase part of the trial in 2013:
“Remember when we heard the charge of Felony Murder yesterday and the state making an argument that was….incomprehensible? This idea that well…if you believe Jodi’s version of events she’s guilty of felony murder because she went to Travis’ home, and she decided to steal his gun, and in the course of trying to steal his gun, she shot him. She went there, they had sex, they did all these things, then she decided she wanted his gun, and decided to take it, and wanted it so bad that she was willing to kill him.
That’s the theory of felony murder they have put forward. That shows a little fear, and we’ll talk about some of the fear that the state has demonstrated throughout this case, but that’s just some of it – alright? We also heard this idea that….well, she was unwelcome once she put the weapon upon him and she was there to commit a burglary or another felony ….. there’s no other felony.
Ladies and Gentlemen: There’s nothing. It’s silly. It’s fearful. That charge is there out of fear. It makes no sense …. not under any scenario does that make any sense. Either she was there to kill him, because the state said “Hey this is a plot that began in May”. Either she was there to kill him … or she wasn’t, and that’s ultimately what we’re here to determine.”
– Defense lead attorney Lawrence “Kirk” Nurmi in the guilt phase closing argument.
Start at 9:15
So, in his closing statements, what does Kirk Nurmi mean by “Either she was there to kill him … or she wasn’t”?
What he means is that this is either a deliberate pre-planned, cooly reflected upon murder, or it should be a lesser charge.
The reason why he’s saying this is because he doesn’t see an underlying felony in the felony murder charge. Martinez’ answer during Nurmi’s motion to dismiss the felony murder charge is that the underlying felony can be any lesser offense of Premeditated Murder. This is after he states once again the reasons why this is clearly a premeditated murder. Then Martinez offers up “assault” as the underlying felony in the felony murder charge.
We are well on our way up the hill to the Holy Grail, I promise. But first, let’s take a small detour and look at the genesis of the felony murder charge. It never changed from the time of the indictment, although premeditated and felony murder are clearly stated as ALTERNATIVES.
Here’s the relevant wording from the original indictment on July 9th 2008 (Jodi Arias’ birthday):
“The Grand Jurors of Maricopa County, Arizona, accuse Jodi Ann Arias on this 9th day of July, 2008, charging that in Maricopa County, Arizona:
JODI ANN ARIAS, on the 4th day of June, 2008, intending or knowing that her conduct would cause death, with premeditation caused the death of TRAVIS V. ALEXANDER, in violation of A.R.S. $$ 13-1101, 13-1105, 13-702, 13-703, 13-703.01 and 13-801.
The State of Arizona further alleges that the offense charged in this count is a dangerous felony because the offense involved the discharge, use, or threatening exhibition of a .25 caliber handgun and/or knife, a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument and/or the intentional or knowing infliction of serious injury upon TRAVIS V. ALEXANDER, in violation of A.R.S. $$ 13-604 (P).
OR IN THE ALTERNATIVE
JODI ANN ARIAS, on or about the 4th day of June, 2008, acting either alone or with one or more other persons, committed or attempted to commit Burglary, Second Degree, and in the course of and in furtherance of such offense, or immediate flight from such offense, JODI ANN ARIAS or another person caused the death of TRAVIS V. ALEXANDER, in violation of $$ 13-1105, 13-1101, 13-702, 13-703, 13-703.01 and 13-801.
The State of Arizona further alleges that the offense charged in this count is a dangerous
felony because it involved the discharge, use, or threatening exhibition of a .25 caliber handgun and/or knife, a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument and/or the intentional or knowing infliction of serious physical injury upon TRAVIS VICTOR ALEXANDER in violation of A.R.S. $ 13-604(P).
Did you see that? Premeditated Murder OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, felony murder. Not both, how could it be both? You either planned a murder or you didn’t, right? In Arizona, for whatever reasoning, a juror can find both if the pre-meditated murder happened “In the course of, and in furtherance of, another intended felony”.
In Arizona, you get to
I’m going to throw out a word to you now – Boilerplate. It’s a legal term meaning a standard way of wording things such that there are few problems understanding it. The exact same, time-tested phrasing is used every time. July 9th was just a month after the body was found.
“JODI ANN ARIAS, on or about the 4thday of June, 2008, acting either alone or with one or more other persons, committed or attempted to commit Burglary, Second Degree”. This standard boiler plate language should be narrowed down to exactly what the evidence shows by the time of the trial.
At that point, Jodi could have been hiding and protecting an accomplice who actually did the killing while she just watched. She would still be guilty of 1st degree felony murder, because she was a willing accomplice. Someone could have assisted her, even if Jodi did the killing. Maybe it would turn out that either Jodi didn’t premeditate the murder OR there was not enough evidence of premeditation.
So that boilerplate wording on the indictment including the felony murder charge are there as a catch-all or a just in case. They’re basically a one size fits all. Three or Four years later, you would think the prosecution would know if it was felony murder or a premeditated murder. Everyone knows what they are going to try to prove and what their theory of the case will be.
– But they left the defense guessing.
Kirk Nurmi made two major points in his closing about the Felony Murder Charge.It makes no sense, and it’s only there because of “fear”.
“Either she was there to kill him, or she wasn’t”.
In Arizona, there are 16 statutory (witten in the law) predicate felonies for felony murder. These are:
1) Sexual Conduct with a minor
2) Sexual Assault
3) Molestation of a child
5) Marijuana offenses
6) Dangerous drug offenses
7) Narcotics offenses
8) The use of minors in drug offenses
9) Drive by shooting
15) Child abuse
16) Unlawful flight from a pursuing law enforcement vehicle”
Jodi’s predicate felony is burglary? You’ve got to be kidding me. Incredibly, Juan Martinez sold that B.S. To the jury, or to many of them, anyways. I don’t think you can stretch, mutilate, and warp a law any more than Martinez did here. Then he sold it to them, because he is the fireside story teller. There were five astute jurors, though, who weren’t buying it at all.
The State has put forth that the felony predicate is burglary. In Arizona statutes, burglary is akin to trespassing with the intent to commit any felony. Jodi Arias at some point became an uninvited guest in Travis Alexander’s home. When, exactly did Jodi Arias become an unwelcome guest in Travis’ home? According to the twisted logic of the State, Jodi Arias became an unwelcome guest as soon as she began her premeditated murder of Travis Alexander.
According to the state, when Jodi Arias began killing Travis Alexander, at that point in time, she is no longer welcome in Travis’ home and is now guilty of 2nd degree burglary.
“The crime of Burglary in the Second Degree requires proof that
Entered or remained unlawfully in or on a residential
Did so with the intent to commit any theft or felony therein.”
– Arizona 2nd degree burglary statute.
Here there is a situation where, as soon as Jodi Arias starts killing Travis Alexander, she is now guilty of second degree burglary, because Travis obviously would not want her in his home at that time = remaining unlawfully in a residential structure. That same act of starting to kill Alexander also serves as the further felony Arias intended to commit. So the killing of Alexander serves as the reason why she is guilty of 2nddegree burglary, plus it is the further felony Arias intended to commit, plus it is the killing that was committed in the course of the burglary.
Do you see why this is insane circular logic? As a matter of fact, that’s what Kirk Nurmi argued when he asked the court to drop the Felony Murder charge after it became clear that the State was arguing just about exclusively for 1st degree premeditated murder. He said this is circular logic. The murder and the predicate felony and the further intended felony cannot be all the same thing.
Not only is it circular logic, but also, there’s a law against it:
“Felony-murder cannot be charged if all the elements of the felony are included in the elements of murder.This is known as the merger doctrine,which holds that if the underlying felony merges with the killing, the felony cannot constitute felony-murder. For example, all of the elements of the crime of Assault and Battery with a deadly weapon are included in murder. If a killing, therefore, occurred during the course of this crime, the accused would be charged with murder.”
Yet this is exactly what Martinez is putting forth. He wrongly divides a stabbing murder into a series of assaults with a knife, and calls the intended further felony “assault”.
Update: It has come to my attention that, In Arizona, Martinez and Judge Stephens correctly cited the law when stating that the intended felony defining the burglary can be assault even if the victim was murdered.
Again, the predicate felony = remaining unlawfully in the home (via killing Alexander) with the intent of committing any further felony (killing Alexander) and the murder part of the felony murder is (killing Alexander).
For this charge of Felony Murder, aren’t all of the elements of the felony predicate “merging” with the murder?
You cannot do that. Yet, Martinez and the state of Arizona did do it. Sound familiar?
It seems that in the Bizarro world of Arizona, a murder can be divided up into a series of assaults.
Now, let’s entertain the theory that it was Travis’ gun that was used in the killing. Besides the fact that this significantly weakens the State’s case for pre-meditation, this scenario doesn’t work so hot either. That’s because the State would have to prove that Arias’ stated intention was to remain in Alexander’s residence with the intent to steal that gun, and in the course of committing this felony, she was willing to kill Alexander.
He would have to prove that Arias intended to steal the gun prior to, rather than after, the murder.
Following this theory, the death occurred while she was in the process of stealing Travis’ gun, which was her primary intention. This is absurd. Since she got rid of the gun, one can then be confident that her main purpose was not to be in the home unlawfully in order to steal his gun.
There’s a much better argument for that:
What if, she broke into the home, was in there without Alexander’s consent or knowledge, and then he caught her with the gun in her hand? She shoots him and kills him because he identified her in his home when she was supposed to be 1,000 miles away in Yreka. This is a much clearer case of felony murder. But, as we know, Travis let her in the home, Jodi knew what he was watching on his computer (You tube: “Harder Better Faster Stronger”).
We know they took pictures of each other, and we know they had sex a number of times. One could have confidence that she was welcome in the home (at least, at first).
Neither theft of the gun, nor “assault”, nor the killing of Alexander can fulfill the “intent to commit any felony” part of the Felony Murder Statute, according to Nurmi. The intended felony must be separate from the killing.
Update: It has been brought to my attention that Arizona does not recognize the merger rule in all instances, meaning if a person is murdered, you can break down that murder into a series of assaults and you can use assault as the felony defining the felony predicate of burglary.
The prosecution, after being asked over and over again by the defense about their intentions with the felony murder charge, in 2010, finally stated what they would be using “any of the lesser included offenses” (murder 2, manslaughter). Later, they added “aggravated assault” and “theft” as the intended offense beyond 2nd degree burglary (remaining in the home unlawfully). Doesn’t this show that they have no clear theory?
Nurmi brought up a motion to dismiss the felony murder charge on the ninth day of trial, in open court minus the jury, on video. There he states that there is no underlying felony for the felony murder charge (video below). Nurmi said “The essence of the argument, your honor, is that there was nothing facilitated, at all. There was no distinct offense for this burglary….and the assertions of felony murder based on that should not stand.” Here he is saying that there was no intent to commit a theft or any felony other than the killing itself.
Juan Martinez states that the further felony is assault, now her status has changed to an unwelcome guest, the assault, and the stabbings that happened after that become the felony. Nurmi responded that it is either a premeditated murder or it’s not, and the felony murder burglary charge is just an “empty vessel” in order to seek a first degree murder conviction. (The motion was denied by Judge Sherry Stephens).
The defense motion to dismiss the felony murder charge.
Start at 47:15
Do you remember this? Jodi must have forgotten her glasses or something and is wearing a different pair. Nurmi and Martinez fight it out over the felony murder charge
At SpotLightOnLaw, we have talked about the felony murder charge a lot. Now, we hope you will soon understand why. Who gives a hoot about the felony murder charge when it’s old news? It’s over and done with, the jury was unanimous for pre-meditated murder anyways, and Nurmi is a blooming idiot!
No, there’s something to this. Either this is Martinez’ trick, or it’s just bad common law. Not the first time we’ve seen a poorly worded statute interpretated poorly in Arizona.
Nurmi seems to feel internally that this is incorrect. He’s not wrong, but his argument is not persuasive enough. He didn’t invoke the merger rule and he couldn’t find any case law specific enough to this issue. He’s a really good attorney, but he’s lacking as a trial lawyer.
I will reiterate this now in a visual format, so I hope you can see that this felony murder charge is ridiculous. It’s ludicrous. It makes no logical, practical or legal sense, does it?
Stay with me, now. I hope you will see that this is at the root of what’s wrong with the Jodi Arias case. The Holy Grail is in sight!
What do you believe is the theft or felony that Jodi intended to commit or committed? No, Juan Martinez and Judge Stephens, it cannot be the murder itself.
But, wait. According to Arizona law, and only Arizona law, Juan Martinez and Judge Stephens are correct in saying that assault CAN be used as the the felony defining the burglary.
Martinez in closing arguments of the guilt phase discussing the felony murder charge
Starts at 23:30 then he picks it up again at 37:30
Now, if you don’t believe me, look at what a very good attorney in Arizona has to say:
Vladimir Gagic, Criminal Law Attorney
“That, for the moment, leaves the felony murder charge, which is count two in the indictment. At common law, felony murder meant that someone could be charged for murder even if they never intended to kill a person, so long as the a death was the foreseeable result while the defendant was committing a dangerous felony.
The classic example of a felony murder is when a kidnap victim dies from a heart attack while stuffed in the trunk of a kidnapper’s car. Thus, even though the kidnapper never intended to kill his victim, he is still guilty of felony murder because the death of his victim was a foreseeable consequence of the underlying predicate felony, kidnapping.”
“Another example is when during a bank robbery the police shoot and kill a bank robber’s accomplice. Even though the bank robbers certainly never intended the police to kill one of them, that result was foreseeable, and thus felony murder. Other common law predicate felonies included rape and burglary. Assault is not a predicate felony in Arizona for the felony murder rule.”
“The important point with the felony murder rule is that the predicate felony is different from intent to murder, depraved indifference murder, manslaughter, or any other homicide charge because the goal of the felony murder rule is to deter the predicate felony itself, while non-felony murder homicide and murder laws deal with homicide charges directly.”
“As most of you are aware, the government has charged Ms. Arias with felony murder, with the predicate felony being burglary. The important point here is that while even though common law burglary required breaking and entering with the intent to commit a theft therein, in Arizona, which follows the model penal code, defines burglary more broadly as (see “Arizona Revised Statute ARS 13-1506 and 13-1507):
Entering or remaining unlawfully in or on a nonresidential structure or in a fenced commercial or residential yard with the intent to commit any theft or any felony therein; and A person commits burglary in the second degree by entering or remaining unlawfully in or on a residential structure with the intent to commit any theft or any felony therein.”
“The prosecutor does not allege Ms. Arias entered into Travis Alexander’s home with the intent to kill him or commit any felony, for that matter, at the moment of entry. How could he when all the evidence shows Mr. Alexander invited Ms. Arias into his house? The evidence is clear she spent at least 8 hours in his house, and during that time together they had sex multiple times.”
“Instead, the prosecutor’s argument is that felony murder applies because at some point Mr. Alexander revoked permission from Ms. Arias to be in his house, and at that point, she was “remaining unlawfully in… a residential structure”. This is where things get quite silly for the government’s felony murder allegation:
if in fact at some point Jodi Arias was still in Mr. Alexander’s house without his permission (we can call that point T1), what felony was Ms. Arias’ intending to commit at T1? If she was intending to kill him at T1, then that would be the exact same thing as count one, murder in the first degree intent to kill, premeditated murder.”
“The defense filed a motion to dismiss the felony murder charge, stating quite correctly the allegation makes no sense. In response, Judge Stephens ruled Ms. Arias’ intent at T1 could have been assault, not intent to kill Mr. Alexander. I believe that ruling is in error because of something called the merger rule.
To count any death that occurred during the course of an assault as felony murder would obliterate the distinction between assault and murder. And even more importantly, there would be no distinction between second degree depraved indifference murder and first degree intent to kill murder.”
“P.S. What I mean by merger rule is that the predicate underlying dangerous felony, the dangerous felony of felony murder, must be different from the actual murder charge itself; that is why assault is not a predicate in felony murder. If it was a predicate, then every murder would automatically be felony murderbecause every murder involves an assault. In other words, proving the murder would automatically prove the assault as the evidence is circular. And thus, there would be no degrees of murder charges (first degree, second degree) as there are now.”
There’s more to it. Let’s move on to the other pieces of the puzzle.
This explanation makes good sense and it’s the law in most states. Here is another instance, like the F(6) cruelty aggravator, where the statute is poorly written, coupled with illogical jury instructions or case law, that leaves Nurmi and Gagic and I, feeling like something is not quite right. That’s my overall feeling about the Jodi Arias case, too.
What did Kirk Nurmi mean by “That charge is there out of fear”?
Now, we are getting to what Kirk Nurmi said about the prosecution’s ”fear”. What’s the distinction between 1st degree Felony Murder and 2nd degree Murder? Both involve no pre-planning, and in both, the person must have an intent.
The difference is that in Felony Murder, as normally observed, there must be an intent to commit another dangerous felony (where a death is foreseeable). There must be a primary or “predicate felony” OTHER THAN THE KILLING, with no pre-planned intention to kill. In the course of committing this dangerous felony, a death occurs.
Martinez argued premeditation throughout this case. He even argues a short moment of cool reflection in the bathroom was also possible, in case the jurors don’t accept the long premeditation theory. The – Travis was “killed three ways” argument is also meant to show deliberation and premeditation. He argued throughout the case that Travis didn’t own a gun, and that Jodi brought the gun with her from Yreka.
Now, Martinez is telling the jury that according to Arias’ version of events, Travis did own a gun and he’s arguing that she did steal it and that makes theft the felony defining the burglary. He’s arguing that Travis Alexander was murdered, and in the process of the murder he was assaulted, making assault the felony defining the burglary.
Martinez is telling the jury that yes, you can find that this was both a felony murder and a pre-meditated murder if the premeditated murder happened in furtherance of the burglary. He’s telling them that as soon as Arias first assaulted Alexander, that at that point, she was now unwelcome and unlawfully in the home. He’s telling them that this fits the Arizona burglary statute.
Who’s right and who’s wrong?
Why is he doing this? What is going on here?
Imagine there are 4 rooms, like motel rooms. Imagine there is a door to each of these rooms. The first room is 1st degree pre-meditated murder, the second room is 2nd degree murder, the 3rd is manslaughter and the 4th is justifiable homicide. Which door will the jury walk through?
If some jurors are unsure about premeditation or if some feel it’s a heat of passion homicide,they could have a compromise verdict and choose to walk through the door of 2nddegree murder. But what if the state is allowed to add the door of 1st degree felony murder? In this motel scenario, that extra door would lead into the same room as the 1st degree pre-meditated door, (or they could be connected rooms). In any case, it’s another choice for the jury.
It’s another choice which gives the prosecution another opportunity for the jurors to go into the room they want. That’s only fair, Martinez would say, because the defense has 3 doors and 3 rooms and we only have one. Now, it’s more fair because they have 3 doors and we now have 2 doors.
That’s what’sreally going on here. He wants it to be as ambiguous as possible.
Whether Jodi Arias is completely innocent or whether she is a cruel and evil, cold-blooded murderer shouldn’t even matter. Does what Jodi did give officials the right to do what they’re doing here, or what they have done and continue to do in the State of Arizona?
Maybe the statute and/or the interpretations of the statute is just plain wrong.
In the beginning of this case, Juan Martinez had much less information about the gas cans than he did by the end of the trial. The major evidences of pre-meditation at the beginning of the trial were the license plates being tampered with, the car being rented 90 miles from Yreka, the borrowed gas cans, the hair coloring, the phone being off, and the recovered bullet being the same caliber as the gun stolen in Yreka.
All these occurrences could have nefarious explanations, but all these could have innocent explanations. If I were the prosecutor on this case, I would have been a little worried. Maybe that explains, both the change by the prosecution in the order of injuries from gun first to gun last (with the help of Dr. Horn), AND the retention of the felony murder charge. Is it just a coincidence that both of these absurd assertions help to dramatically increase the odds for the prosecution?
The biggest untold embarrassment of this trial is that there was division in this jury. They could not agree on the essentials of this case, and they disagreed 8 to 4 over the death penalty. Seven jurors voted for BOTH felony murder and premeditated murder.
Just because the boiler plate jury instructions state that you can vote for both felony murder AND premeditated murder doesn’t mean that voting for both in any way applies to this particular case.
These 7 people were following Juan Martinez’ interpretations while the remaining 5 were at least considering some of the defenses’ arguments.
All this is the Holy Grail of the Jodi Arias case.
Remember the list of 16 predicate felonies?
If you or someone with you causes the death of a person in the course of one of these dangerous felonies, the killing is elevated to 1st degree murder. You could say that 1stdegree Felony Murder is when a person commits a 2nddegree murderin the course of one of thesedangerous felonies.
Notice that 1st degree premeditated murder is not on that list. Premeditated murder cannot be the predicate felony for felony murder. Assault with a deadly weapon also is not on this list. Assault can be the further intended felony that’s required in 2nddegree burglary, but it cannot be the predicate felony for felony murder.
So, 2nddegree murder and 1stdegree felony murder have A LOT in common. Also, 2nddegree murder and 1stdegree premeditated murder have A LOT in common, particularly when the period of cool deliberation or reflection is very short.
This caused a legal expert to say:
“The point is that in jurisdictions where no time is too short to support a finding of actual thought and reflection, sufficient to establish premeditation, the dividing line between first and second degree murder is extremely murky, to put it mildly”.
They could fear that they would lose the case. Remember, Juan Martinez, as shown in his prior and current cases, will cheat even when he has a slam dunk case.(State vs. Morris, State vs. Dixon, State vs. Gallardo, State vs. Lynch). But we know that Juan will cheat even more when he fears he may lose the case (State vs. Falater, State vs. Grant, State vs. Carr, Robert Towery commutation hearing, State vs. Chrisman).
For Juan Martinez, not getting a 1stdegree murder conviction would be a LOSS in the Jodi Arias case. The Death Penalty would be off the table and Jodi Arias would get out of prison one day. That’s unacceptable to the prosecution. This case has been widely viewed throughout the United States and the world. People are getting a good look at Arizona Justice, and this trial was on live TV. Also, the 2nd penalty phase will be available on video and transcripts after the sentencing.
This case is a very big deal in Arizona. There are plenty of biblical law types, who demand the most severe punishment possible when a woman kills a man. The Mormons are a very powerful political base of themselves, and they support the ultra conservative right which reigns supreme in Arizona. Woman’s Death Row just lost one woman (due to a wrongful conviction), so there are now only two women on Death row in Arizona. Isn’t it awful expensive to run a maximum security Death Row for only two women?
Remember that Juan does not like to lose a case, and anything less than 1stdegree murder would be a loss. Remember also that Juan did not really have a handle on the gas can situation until late in the trial. As things stood in 2011, this is too risky for a guy like Juan. He wants every advantage possible. He got that advantage by changing the order of injuries and not dropping the felony murder charge, for starters.
Now, I hope you can understand this just a little better and we hope you will start to see why we consider the retention of the felony murder charge, along with the one-two switcheroo of the order of injuries to be the Holy Grail of wrongdoing by the prosecution.
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!