I feel shitty, oh so shitty…
Hai guys. Sorry I just sort of fell off the map. I’ve not been feeling well and mostly been sleeping. Mostly. Since I am not feeling great Blue and Paul are taking the wheel for the next few days.
Posting Day 18 of the 13th Juror first today and Blue will be coming at you this afternoon with something completely different (yet fascinatingly familiar) and then Day 19 of the 13th Juror will appear tomorrow.
So without further fanfare I present Mr. Paul Sanders. My friend and one hell of a writer. The 13th Juror.
The Jodi Arias Retrial: A Juror’s Perspective
“DR. CHUCKLES AND THE ANGEL’S CHAIR”
I am not sure that anyone on the Jury was thrilled to see Dr. Robert Geffner on the witness stand as they filed into their seats. We were moving into his third day of Psychological testimony. The Jury has learned that he has testified in over three hundred trials as a twenty five year experienced Psychologist who also has opened many clinics throughout the country.
Dr. Geffner was dressed conservatively in a dark blue suit with a white shirt complimented with a gray tie. Jennifer Willmott handled his questioning who was sharply dressed in a medium dark blue business skirt suit wearing black stockings and black high heels. The view of her shoulder length hair from the back shows it to be perfect in form and shape. Every hair is in line and she carries herself confident in appearance and in questioning.
“Doctor,” Jennifer Willmott started. “We ended yesterday talking about the childhood of Jodi Arias.”
“Yes,” he offered, turning in his chair to look at the Jury, “she came from an abusive family and left when she was eighteen.”
“Thank you, Doctor. I would like to move on and talk about some of the experiences she had after she left home. Are you familiar with her first boyfriend, Bobby Juarez?” Willmott asked.
“Certainly,” he answered with a chuckle. He had a habit of making small laughs throughout his testimony the prior two days. This was the first time it really started to seem annoying. He may have done this out of being a nervous expression or maybe it was done as a way to bond with the Jury. This, however, being his third day, there was a failure by all to see the humorous inflections as a good thing.
The family of Travis Alexander sits in the front two rows every day and in their same seats. Samantha sits on the end of the front row and she carries a small book and takes notes periodically throughout testimony. They are a close group and I feel great empathy for them.
The Jury feels empathy for them especially in knowing that the Defendant has been convicted of first degree murder. The Jury feels an enhanced sense of empathy given that the Defendant is Death Penalty qualified in the cruel and heinous nature in the crime. This empathy is unspoken but it is there. I do not think the family of Travis Alexander enjoys these minor attempts at lightheartedness and neither does the Jury.
The law says that the Jury may not feel empathy or sympathy for the Defendant in rendering their decision.
I speak as a former Juror of the Marissa DeVault Trial in the brutal killing of Dale Harrell. The trial began in January of 2014 and recently concluded in June. We felt this same empathy for the family and conveyed it as great respect for the family of the victim. We may not have used it in the Jury room but it was there, deep inside, a great sadness in the senseless loss of life and the unending pain that the family would endure the rest of their lives despite our reaching a decision to give the Defendant life in prison without the possibility of parole. I speak of the DeVault Trial in much the same way I construct the daily Juror Perspective on the Jodi Arias Trial in my book, “Brain Damage: A Juror’s Tale,” (available on Amazon.com).
We did not consider feelings of sympathy or empathy for the killer, Marissa DeVault.
Dr. Geffner turned toward the Jury, “Bobby Juarez was an abusive relationship for Miss Arias at eighteen years old. This set up a pattern in her later boyfriends. I believe, or evidently,” he said correcting himself with a laugh, “I heard he was a big guy.”
“Where did you get this information?” Willmott asked.
“I look at Jodi’s journals and I got this from her brother from his interview.”
“Very good,” Willmott said. She walked over to a projector screen and put up a picture of Arias with Bobby Juarez. The picture came onto the screens throughout the Courtroom.
The picture was of Bobby and Arias on the floor with Bobby’s arm wrapped around her. He was shirtless and somewhat muscular. One could see a “six-pack” on his stomach. They both looked young and Arias so much so that she was almost unrecognizable as one had to struggle to match her features as she looks in the present sitting in the Defendant’s chair. Bobby and Arias were both smiling playfully in the scene from seventeen years prior.
The picture displayed showed that Bobby Juarez looked the same size as Arias even though the Doctor had just said he was a “big guy”. The Jury notices little inconsistencies like that and they usually end of in the pile of discarded witness testimony once it reaches the deliberation room. One or two inconsistencies in testimony and a few objective interpretations will easy dispose of a witness. I noticed five Jurors taking notes.
“How was there relationship abusive in your opinion, Doctor? Can you give us an example?” Willmott continued.
“Certainly,” he answered affably. “There was an incident when they broke up that is corroborated by Jodi’s bother. Bobby Juarez was heavily into martial arts. He was also into control and power. One night, he hit and choked her, twisted her wrist and put her on the floor. When her brother found out, they went to his house because he wanted to scare Mr. Juarez. Well, when Bobby opened the door, he flipped the tables because he was wielding some sort of Samurai sword and they ran away.”
Jennifer Wilmott walks over to the projection machine. One can see her dark blue sparkled fingernail polish as she centers the “Abuse Wheel of Power and Control” document that we had seen the day prior on the projector.
“And how does this apply to this document?” Willmott asked.
“Again,” he said turning again to the Jury, “this is a prime example of what her future was going to be like with her relationships. She falls into situations where the men in her life exercise great power and control of her. She really is a victim as demonstrated by the chart with physical and sexual abuse. It is a cycle with her and Bobby Juarez. It was the first abusive relationship after coming from an abusive family.”
“Very good, Doctor,” Willmott responded cordially. She slides the document off the screen and the Courtroom is introduced to a picture of Arias and Matt McCartney. The Jury looks at the screen stoically.
The picture shows Matt wearing a white sweater with his arm wrapped around Arias in a posed picture. It looks like the two of them are in front of an aquarium with a large maroon Scallop shell framing them in the background. Matt looks kind and Arias looks much more familiar in relation to her present looks.
“Can you tell us your expert opinion about this boyfriend?” Willmott asks.
“This is another abusive boyfriend,” he answers readily. “In this case it wasn’t physically abusive but it was emotionally abusive. He had been cheating on her and she found out. This was very hard on her psychological make-up. It caused her to distrust people, diminished her self-esteem and was damaging because she had not planned on the relationship to end in that manner. She had to look for answers.”
“Did there come an occasion where she went to see Bianca, the girl he was having an affair with behind Jodi’s back?” Willmott asked.
“Yes,” he said. “She drove to see her, it might have been a somewhat long drive and there are some conflicting stories on what was discussed.”
“Did she go up to confront her?” Jennifer Willmott queried.”
“I wouldn’t say it was a s much a confrontation as it was a validation. She couldn’t understand what happened in their two year relationship. As I understand it, she cried a lot when Matt went to Crater Lake. He had started this relationship while Jodi was living with him and Jodi needed to clear her mind. So, she went to Crater lake to see Bianca and, from what her brother verifies, it was not a nasty confrontation by any means,” he explained.
Jennifer Willmott turns around, away from the Doctor and walks to the defense table, picks up a document, places it on the projector screen and her shiny blue fingernails straighten it out. Her fingers look small.
“Do you know what this is, Doctor?”
“It’s the results of an interview with the boyfriend, Matt McCartney.”
“Can you discuss the importance of these answers?” she asked.
Dr. Geffner turns to the Jury while Jennifer Willmott uses a cursor to direct the Jury’s attention toward the statements he was speaking on.
The Doctor relayed the answers on the screen saying that Jodi was very affectionate and kind. She was not clingy or needy and the boyfriend and girlfriend had discussed marriage at some point. The attention was directed toward Jodi always having her “moods” which was a sign of early stages of chronic depression. He further explained that Matt had said she would take things the wrong way and cry a lot. He felt she sobbed excessively and she was very emotional.
“Did Matt McCartney think she may have had some issues about that?” Willmott asked.
“Yes,” Dr. Geffner answered with a little laugh. “He was not a Psychiatrist or trained in my field and he felt that she was bipolar. This did not show up in any of the tests but now that I think about it, there could be signs of being bipolar,” he offered.
“Why do you think that?”
“She had severe emotional shifts. She also had some spending issues which is characteristic of being bipolar and these were some pretty bad habits causing her financial problems. This is one manifestation of a complicated condition,” he said. He leaned forward toward the Jury. “She was not manipulative and she did not appear angry by any means after they broke up. She had self-esteem and depression issues which might lead an average person to think it was bipolar. She had identity issues as anyone might have after the collapse of a two year relationship.”
“Did she have a relationship after Mr. McCartney?”
“She did,” he answered. “She met Darryl Brewer a short time after she moved to Big Sur. She was twenty-two while he was forty two and he had a young son. They had a long relationship. There were no signs of abuse or aggressiveness. He was a catering manager for a restaurant she had applied at and they started a relationship very quickly. I believe they broke up in 2006 when he met Travis Alexander.”
Jennifer Willmott put a picture of Darryl and Arias with his son in his arms taken on a sunny and windy day. She looked a lot as she does in the present except that her hair was long and she did not wear glasses. It looked like an All-American family picture of happiness and contentment.
“What do you think important about this relationship,” Willmott asked.
“Objection!” Juan Martinez said. “Calls for speculation.”
“Sustained,” Judge Stevens said calmly.
Juan Martinez had as many objections sustained as he had them over-ruled throughout the three days. I would watch him as he sat in his chair leaning forward with his elbows on the prosecution table with his chin resting in his thumbs. He would look at the screens and sometimes he would quickly jot notes on his legal pad. He was not obtrusive by any means but one felt he was being patient as well as having command at the same time. I expect that the wheels never stopped turning in his head.
Jennifer Willmott recovered quickly without looking toward the Prosecution table. “Based on the interview results of Darryl Brewer,” she emphasized, “What do you make of this relationship in your professional opinion?”
“There are some things that Darryl said that are consistent with what Matt McCartney said,” he explained to the Jury. “For instance, he said that she showed signs of being bipolar. He saw a lot of mood swings and the signs of depression that we have spoken of in her prior relationship. It really made me think twice about a bipolar condition.”
“Was there anything else of importance in your opinion?”
The Doctor, never being short of words, went on and on about the damage Jodi had suffered in her prior relationships and she was looking for something greater. He felt she had limitations in that Darryl wanted no more children and she was looking for children in her future. Darryl could not provide that. She met Travis Alexander and this changed her life.
At one point in the early afternoon, Jennifer Willmott had the typewritten results of the Darryl interview on the projection screens throughout the Courtroom. I mentioned in an earlier Perspective that Jurors not only listen to what is said, they always read beyond what the Defense may draw their attention to. They are continually searching for answers and more information.
The answer to one question did not go past the Jury. Its causal link was obvious but unintended. Jennifer Willmott was very good at removing documents quickly after hearing testimony on a subject whereas Kirk Nurmi had a habit of leaving documents on the projection screens for an extended amount of time. This piece of information was exposed subtly.
I looked at the Jury and I saw them reading documents in their entirety while they were on the large screen in front of them. I saw Judge Stevens doing the same thing while Dr. Geffner spoke.
One answer read:
“When they moved to the desert, they weren’t used to the heat. He (Darryl) started keeping a five gallon gas can in the back of the car in case of running out of it and often took a few gas cans on trips.”
The Jury did not miss this and it was not mentioned by the Defense even though it was on the screen for all to see. Its qualification and reason for having gas cans did not make sense. But, even more so, it brought attention to the gas cans. I don’t think the Defense wants to talk about gas cans. I think the Jury wants to know what gas cans have to do with moving to Arizona.
We spent the rest of the afternoon painstakingly beginning the process of going through a day by day and moment by moment timeline of the relationship of Travis Alexander and Jodi Arias. The ill-fated meeting was in September of 2006. The met for the first time at the Rainforest Café of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
This timeline would continue into Day 19 of the Trial. The Jury would be excused for the day after an extra hour of testimony.
The gas can mention was a seed in the Jury’s head.
Juries love evidence that they can touch see and feel. They also like dates and times.
Somebody on the Jury is trying to remember when she bought the gas cans…
“Every good relationship that develops as a result of this Trial is the manifestation of the Spirit of Travis Alexander.”
Justice 4 Travis Alexander…
Justice for Dale…
Paul A. Sanders, Jr.
The 13th Juror @The13thJurorMD (Twitter)