Defense rests case in Jodi Arias murder trial
PHOENIX (AP) — Defense attorneys in Jodi Arias’ murder trial rested their case Tuesday after about 2 1/2 months of testimony aimed at portraying the defendant as a domestic violence victim who was forced to fight for her life on the day she killed her one-time boyfriend.
The trial is expected to continue at least several more weeks before jurors begin deliberations. Testimony in the trial began in early January with the prosecutor making quick work of the state’s case, concluding in less than two weeks. Defense attorneys began their case Jan. 29 and concluded a dramatic run of witnesses with a simple, soft-spoken sentence.
“At this point, the defense rests,” attorney Kirk Nurmi told the judge Tuesday morning.
Arias faces a possible death sentence if convicted of first-degree murder in the June 2008 killing of Travis Alexander in his suburban Phoenix home.
Authorities say she planned the attack in a jealous rage. Arias initially denied involvement then blamed it on masked intruders. Two years after her arrest, she said it was self-defense.
Arias testified she was taking pictures of Alexander in the shower after a day of sex when she dropped his camera and he became enraged, forcing her to defend herself.
Alexander suffered nearly 30 knife wounds, was shot in the head and had his throat slit. Arias’ palm print was found in blood at the scene, along with nude photos in the camera of her and the victim from the day of the killing that authorities say Arias tried to delete.
Arias said she recalls Alexander attacking her in a fury. She said she ran into his closet to retrieve a gun he kept on a shelf and fired in self-defense but has no memory of stabbing him.
She acknowledged trying to clean the scene, dumping the gun in the desert and working on an alibi, even attending a memorial service for Alexander and sending his family flowers before her arrest.
Arias’ grandparents reported a .25-caliber handgun stolen from their Northern California home about a week before Alexander’s death — the same caliber used to shoot him — but Arias said she didn’t take it. Authorities believe she brought it with her to kill the victim.
Later Tuesday, Martinez called to the witness stand a state-hired clinical psychologist who evaluated Arias. With her testimony, the prosecutor tried to discredit two defense witnesses — one who diagnosed Arias with post-traumatic stress disorder and amnesia and another who said the defendant suffers from battered woman’s syndrome.
Martinez accused both defense witnesses of shoddy, biased work.
Clinical psychologist Janeen DeMarte addressed the more than 40 hours the defense’s domestic violence witness — psychotherapist Alyce LaViolette — spent interviewing Arias in jail, explaining that amount of time was extreme to come to a diagnosis.
“It becomes therapeutic,” DeMarte explained, adding that such a relationship could skew findings.
Martinez then worked to the attack the credibility of another defense witness, psychologist Richard Samuels, who diagnosed Arias with amnesia and PTSD.
DeMarte said Arias’ responses to certain questions on tests administered by Samuels were untruthful, meaning the conclusions by Samuels were invalid.
DeMarte said Arias suffers from borderline personality disorder, showing signs of immaturity and an “unstable sense of identity.” People who suffer from such a disorder “have a terrified feeling of being abandoned by others,” DeMarte said.
Based on her evaluation and testing of Arias, the defendant doesn’t suffer from PTSD or amnesia and wasn’t a victim of domestic abuse, DeMarte said.
DeMarte said none of Arias’ behavior after the killing fit the criteria for the diagnoses, including telling several psychologists different stories about how many times she says Alexander physically abused her, from twice, to four times, to “numerous times.”
She said Arias’ memory problems from the day of the killing were concerning, given Arias testified that she didn’t realize what had occurred until she had driven far away from Alexander’s home and saw blood on her hands.
“She said, ‘I knew this meant I killed him,’” DeMarte said Arias told her.
That response was “illogical,” the witness said.
“You wouldn’t think, ‘I just killed someone,’” DeMarte said. “You might think, ‘I just cut my finger, what happened?’ Not, ‘I killed somebody.’”
DeMarte said that someone suffering from dissociative amnesia from the trauma of a killing, as the defense witness testified, wouldn’t have the wherewithal to clean the scene, delete photos, dispose of the gun, or immediately begin to work on an alibi.
“That’s organization and planning,” she said.
Arias has said that Alexander grew more physically abusive in the months before his death, yet no other evidence or testimony has supported her claims.
DeMarte stated Arias was not a battered woman.
“The inconsistencies (in her stories) give the appearance that she wasn’t being truthful,” DeMarte testified.
She resumes testimony Wednesday.
Brian Skoloff can be followed at https://twitter.com/bskoloff