Hai!! Paul Sanders is up, and the regular blog will follow this evening. Since Paul is such a great guest, he has been invited to post his articles here daily. So whenever there is a 13th Juror article it has a home here at the dogpound. Please remember that Paul is in court every day so his articles are a night behind. Thanks Paul. Everybody enjoy. See you tonight.
The Jodi Arias Death Penalty Retrial: A Juror’s Perspective
by The 13th Juror MD
“SEED OF DESTRUCTION”
Dr. Geffner smiled at the jury when he returned to the stand for his fifth day of testimony. He was comfortable in the witness chair wearing a gray suit, light blue shirt and blue striped tie. He crossed his fingers in his lap and smiled toward Jennifer Willmott as she gave him a friendly greeting to start the day.
The timeline that Dr. Geffner had created was displayed for all to see. It was based on Arias’ journal entries, text messages and emails. Blue arrows pointed to significant dates, dates that the Doctor had deemed important in his evaluation of the defendant.
“…and May 18, 2008 is significant, as well,” the Doctor explains as he turns to the jury. “Jodi Arias writes in her journal that she is looking forward to the visit of Travis Alexander but has reservations because she feels he only wants one thing. This is consistent with what I have said all along.”
Jennifer Willmott nods her head as she looks toward the projection screen. She is wearing a black business skirt suit with high heels. “Thank you. You said that May 18, 2008 is important. What is important to you, Doctor?”
“This is the day of the sex tape and we are seeing more signs of aggression by Travis Alexander. He is becoming jealous as can be seen by his saying he wanted to “whoop a vibe” on a gentleman named Abe with the intent of beating him down. I also think it important that Travis thinks Miss Arias sounds like a twelve year old girl. This is consistent with his entertaining child pornography interests,” the Doctor explains.
“Thank you, Doctor,” Willmott responds. “Why did you create the timeline that we are looking at?”
The Dr. laughs. “The amount of information we had to go through was quite intimidating. There are sixteen full binders and we had to condense sixteen thousand words into something manageable. We were able to glean it down to a summary of one hundred and twenty pages and that was still a lot of information to consume. In order to get a big picture of what was going on, I built the timeline.”
“So, in talking about your timeline, you identify five instances of physical abuse. The first is in March of 2007 when she notes that he grabs her wrist because he is angry. Is it unusual that she did not make a big deal of this?” she asks him.
“She demonstrates classic qualities of a domestic violence victim and therefore she minimizes the importance of this,” the Doctor answers.
Jennifer Willmott looks at the screen and back at Dr. Geffner. “In October of 2007, another incident is reported when she says she is pushed down by Travis Alexander and he restrains her. It is noted that he rapes her. Do you consider this physical violence?”
“I don’t think there is a question this is physical violence. It’s important to know that this incident has a higher intensity level than the incident in March.”
“Very good,” Willmott says moving to the next target date on the timeline. “We see that in January of 2008, Travis Alexander body slams Miss Arias and screams at her that he is sick of her. Is this physical violence?”
I look to the Jury as they watch Willmott and Geffner. I note that two are taking intermittent notes and their faces tell me nothing further.
“This is definitely physical abuse,” he says with a soft chuckle. “A person is being body slammed, as Miss Arias refers to it, and demonstrates a violent confrontation.”
“If I can draw your attention to March of 2008, a year after their first physical confrontation, it is noted that Travis Alexander slaps Miss Arias in the face. Is this physical violence?”
“Yes,” Dr. Geffner nods in agreement.
“Finally, on April 1, 2008, we see that they have a violent argument which results in a body slam and back handed slap. She is choked out and it results in her losing consciousness. This, too, would be considered physical?”
Dr. Geffner turns toward the jury. “This is certainly physical and the thing that makes alarms go off in my head is the fact that she is choked to unconsciousness. It shows that the situation has escalated and the time periods are closer together. This is a dangerous situation for Miss Arias although she continues to minimize its importance.”
Jennifer Willmott pauses and looks toward Dr. Geffner as if she wanted to give the jury a moment for it to sink in. “Now, Doctor, is there any documentation that she received medical care for these violent incidents?”
“What of counseling? Is there any report that she received counseling?”
“No, she did not.”
“Don’t you find that unusual?” Willmott asks.
“Absolutely not. This is characteristic of domestic violence to minimize and hide cases of domestic violence. They do want to admit to themselves that these things happened,” he explains. “Victims of domestic violence rarely report these cases and they rarely go to shelters. There is a sense of learned helplessness and a general feeling that they cannot get out of these destructive situations. Miss Arias’ behavior after the fact is consistent with how victims of domestic violence handle their situations. It is a family secret and kept behind closed doors.”
“To your knowledge, has she spoken of these situations?” Willmott asked.
“Miss Arias only spoke of two of these incidents. I think it took her four or five years to recognize that she was a victim. Again, she minimizes these situations she found herself in,” the Doctor explains, his attention turned toward the jury.
“How can we corroborate these incidents aside from what Miss Arias wrote in her journals?”
“I looked at indirect evidence, those things that lined up with her journals. I looked at outside witnesses as well as the history of the parties involved,” he explained. “Victims of child abuse or early domestic violence when they are young tend to make themselves more susceptible to being in these situations later in life. I also used testing results to put the pieces of the puzzle together.”
Jennifer Willmott marched to the defense table, picked up a sheet of paper and placed it on the screen. She still had the same black nail polish with silver sparkles on her fingernails. “This is Exhibit number 787. It is a statement from a co-worker of hers in Big Sur, California. He says that he found Jodi Arias to be confident, kind, never sexual. She was always upbeat and very happy until she broke up with Daryl Brewer. The co-worker says that he felt that Miss Arias had been brainwashed by Travis Alexander. Do you see that?”
“Yes,” the Doctor answers affably. “This is important to us because it shows how she began changing after she met Travis Alexander and people around her were witness to it. Even though they minimize domestic violence, it is hard to hide signs that it is happening and this is clearly seen by the comments of her coworker.”
“What are other ways to corroborate her journal entries?”
“There are a host of tests that revealed problems with domestic violence and trauma,” the Doctor answers.
“What of her history growing up?”
“That is extremely important,” he says. He looks to the jury. “You see, victims of child abuse, where it is not recognized, increases the chances for a victim to be re-victimized in later relationships. They have low self-esteem and by themselves, may seem minor, but in the big picture, it has lasting impacts.”
“Okay. Going back to the journal entries of Miss Arias, what is important in the big picture?”
Dr. Geffner smoothed his tie and looked toward the jury. “The history of the journal is from August of 2007 through mid-2008. I can identify a change in personality from her arguments with Travis Alexander and the abuse she suffered. She makes many references to being suicidal. The situation gets worse in the escalation of violence.”
“These journal entries have matching emails and text messages?” Willmott prodded.
“Yes,” he answered. “The messages focus on their relationship and is consistent with her abuse. I saw many consistencies. Almost too many to really count,” he answers in a slightly goofy laugh.
“Did you interview Jodi Arias at some point?”
“I interviewed her three times, actually. I needed to get a diagnostic impression of her and spread these interviews over nine months from October of 2013 through July of 2014.”
“Was this counseling?”
“I was there as a forensic evaluator,” he explains. “It was not counseling. I was there to get information for the court and the jury.”
“What were your observations?” Jennifer Willmott asked.
“Miss Arias had a tendency to be very close lipped about all of it. She showed signs of disassociation. She was also very tangential, not being able to stay on one subject, going off in other directions,” he said. He got comfortable in his chair as he faced the jury. “She was minimizing the incidents she experienced throughout her life as is expected with victims of domestic violence. Miss Arias kept everything inside. In fact,” he said, “she only showed emotion two times and for very brief periods during our interviews. She became emotional in talking about her mother, tearing up for thirty seconds or so. The other time she was emotional was when she spoke of Travis Alexander and how she missed him in her life…”
“Objection,” Juan Martinez suddenly said. It was nice to hear from him and although he did intermittently object through the Doctors testimony, I could almost feel his discomfort in hearing it. “Residual doubt,” he stated firmly.
The sidebar completed with Jennifer Willmott returning to her position six feet from the Doctor. “Did she get remorseful?” she asked.
“Oh, yes,” Dr. Geffner answered. “She cried and got very emotional. She was trying to apologize to him on a spiritual level.”
Jennifer Willmott moved to the psychological test results that we had last seen in Dr. Geffner’s first appearance before the Christmas holiday break. Results of the MMPI 2 (Minnesota Multi-phasic Inventory) and a host of other test results were exchanged on the screen one by one.
We had seen these results and the jury had seen the results before the break. These various pages had shown her to be in the highest of categories in some areas and also featured the results of documents with Sharpie scratched markings on the top. They had struck me as subjective, as I am sure they did to the jury, and somewhat messy in their presentation.
I could not help but notice that not one juror was taking notes at this point.
The Doctor explained that these results in the big picture showed Arias to suffer from depression, emotional problems and being traumatized. He explained that she felt persecuted and did not have positive emotions. She had elevated scales in bizarre thinking and suicidal thoughts. These issues were created because of her childhood abuse and abusive relationships.
“What is your overall opinion of her mental condition?” Willmott asked, after Dr. Geffner had seemed to go on for hours with random speculation and subjectivity in his assessment.
“Clinically,” he began, “She suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome brought about by her experience with child abuse and domestic violence in all of her relationships. She shows severe signs of dissociation and detachment “
“Is that your complete assessment?” she asked.
Dr. Geffner laughed in response. “You want me to continue?”
“Well, yes,” Willmott answered. “is there more?”
“She is in deep and major depression. Plus, I saw signs of manic depression as well as bipolar characteristics. I actually assessed these characteristics because of some who had been in relationships with her.”
“Doctor?” Willmott asked, pausing. “Is Jodi Arias a victim of domestic violence?”
“Yes,” he answered. “Both from her childhood and her boyfriends.”
“So it is more likely than not that she is a victim of domestic violence?”
“Oh, yes,” the Doctor answered resolutely.
“I am finished with questions for this witness,” Jennifer Willmott said as she strutted back to the defense table and sat down.
The court and the jury waited in silence. There was a communal realization that the game was about to change. I could see jurors sitting slightly forward. I saw one turn a page on his notepad. I could see others with pen in hand. The pause was perceptible and the silence loud as the court waited.
Watching Juan Martinez in action on the stage in front of the jury and witness is like watching a great a seasoned prize fighter as he steps into the ring. His body is clothed in a suit but is like the glistening sweat of a fighter ready for contact. His words and questions are not tender blows but are like punches to the face and vulnerable areas of the body. His thoughts move as quick as the constant moving feet of a boxer. Each step is on purpose and each phrase is important. The aura is that of the excitement of a sold out house with everyone anticipating but not seeing every blow that strikes with imperceptible speed. His next move can never be anticipated
In the moments that Juan Martinez commands the audience, he becomes the voice of the victim who can no longer speak: Travis Alexander. The jury and participants in the court room were waiting for the bull to come loose.
Juan Martinez stepped to the center of the room. He does not look at Dr. Geffner. Instead, he looks to the floor and makes a quarter turn on his feet. He puts a hand in his pocket and with the other he gesticulates.
“One of the things you talked about was the affidavits we saw yesterday. Do you remember that?” he asks.
“I’m not sure which one you are…”
Juan cuts him off piercingly. “Yes or no!”
“Yes,” he answers.
“And one of the things you said is that you used these affidavits to make an assessment of the defendant. You said these were one of the things that you used to, as you put it, put the pieces of the puzzle together. Right?” Juan Martinez asked as he raised an open hand.
“Yes,” he answered. One could not help feeling that he was walking into a trap.
“You made the assessment that Travis Alexander was the owner of a file folder with pornographic photos of children from a computer in the Bishop’s house in 2001. Am I right?”
“Well, no,” Dr. Geffner answered. “My co-worker actually made that determination.”
“But you used that information in your testimony yesterday to say that it was true that Travis Alexander owned those pictures, Am I right?”
Dr. Geffner faltered. “I don’t know.”
“Your coworker that you’re referencing is Stephanie Platte?”
“Isn’t it true that witness number one told you something different than what was in the original interviews?”
“I’m not sure what you’re referring to,” Dr. Geffner answered.
“Let me make it clear for you. Didn’t witness number one in the affidavit say that Travis Alexander owned pornographic pictures on a computer shared in the Bishops house when Deanna Reid, his bride to be and Travis Alexander lived there?!”
“Uh, I don’t know exactly,” he answered uncomfortably.
Juan Martinez walked over to his desk and walked a sheet of paper to him saying “May I approach?” along the way. He handed the sheet to Dr. Geffner and walked back toward the prosecution table and turned around while the witness inspected the exhibit.
“Don’t you see that it says ownership by Travis Alexander right there?”
“Uh, yes,” the Doctor answered. “But I’m a little confused.”
Juan stared at him in the eye. “Isn’t it true that you did not review the statement made by Stephanie Platte before the trial?”
“I did,” Dr. Geffner defended. “I saw this before the trial.” He is inspecting the document.
“You don’t need to look down,” Juan Martinez barked. “Answer me here!” Juan demanded as he pointed toward his own two eyes with two fingers.
“Objection!” Willmott shouted, jumping up from her chair. “Argumentative!”
The Judge calls them to a sidebar and Juan Martinez casually walks toward the bench, his hand still in his pocket. They a have a few minute discussion and everyone returns to their seats but Juan. He takes position in the center of the room with his focus on the witness.
“Isn’t it true that when Stephanie Platte spoke with the witness, he denied they were his photographs?”
“Um, I’m not sure,” the Doctor answered.
Juan marches over to the Judge’s assistant seated next to her behind a computer. The court waits patiently while she copies an exhibit that Juan promptly takes and hands to the defense team and has it admitted as exhibit number 821. A copy is put in Dr. Geffner’s hands.
“Do you mind looking at the first page, Sir?” Juan Martinez commands. “Look at the second page and the third page.”
The witness waves the paper without looking at it. He looks toward the judge and the defense table.
Juan looks nowhere but at the witness. “Put your eyes to the paper and look at it!”
“Argumentative!” Willmott says jumping up. One can tell she is getting flustered.
The jury’s attention is gripped on Juan.
“The very first page you see,” Juan directed. “Isn’t this an accurate account of what Stephanie Platte wrote down?”
“Yes,” Dr. Geffner answers softly.
“According to this,” Juan explains. “Witness number one says that he put a Post-It on the Bishops computer that it had crashed. He then confronted Travis Alexander about the crash due to pornography being in a folder. Did he not say that Travis admitted it was his pornography?”
“Yes, at two AM,” Geffner concedes.
“Look at the second page of that document,” Juan says. “This document is dated February 7, 2014 after Stephanie Platte made another contact with Witness number one. Am I right?”
“Yes?” the Doctor answers in more a question than answer.
“The date is February 7, 2014. Right?”
“You remember this because you had her type the interview because you said she types faster than you write. Do you remember that?”
Dr. Geffner laughs. “She does type fast. Yes, I remember that.”
“Does it not say that Witness number one put a note on the computer and talked to Travis at two in the morning and Travis Alexander, in fact, denies anything to do with the pornography which is not what you told us in earlier testimony. Isn’t that right?” Juan asked pointedly.
Dr. Geffner stares at the paper as if confirming what Juan said. “Well, it looks like it.”
“You were wrong, weren’t you?” Juan Martinez states loudly.
The Doctor looked away from the jury and down at his lap and then back toward Juan Martinez. “I really can’t answer that.”
Juan did as we are accustomed to and changed gears without warning. I, and the jury, actually liked that about him. He keeps the mind busy. He keeps the juror searching for answers down a darkened hallway where one does not know what is around the corner. He keeps the room mentally charged with grace, perception and commanding authority.
Juan begins to pace. “Did you speak to Deanna Reid?”
“No,” Geffner answers.
“One of the things we talked about was, according to Witness number one, was that he was in the area to get married in December of 2000. Am I right?”
“Yes, Deanna Reid was staying at the Bishops house,” he answered.
“He courted his future bride by the internet . Do you remember saying that they had never met?”
“I don’t really recall,” Dr. Geffner says as he looks toward the ceiling. “I can’t remember.”
“Isn’t it true he didn’t meet his bride to be until he went to California? And during that time, she had been staying at the Bishop’s house. She kept a diary, right?” Juan says as he stops his pacing.
“It’s my understanding that they met in December 2000.”
“Yes,” Juan Martinez responds. “They were engaged in January of 2001 and married in March of the same year. You saw that in Dr. Platte’s notes, right?”
“Yes, I think so,” he answers falteringly. One thinks that he is feeling the tightening of a noose.
“This was a communal computer shared by his future bride, Travis, Witness number one and the Bishop. Right?”
“That is my understanding.”
“But witness number one was not living with the Bishop, right?” Juan asks.
“Yes,” the Doctor answers quietly.
“Witness number one was having a relationship with his future bride, though. Witness number one had access to this computer, right?”
“I would imagine so.”
“And Mark McGee got engaged with his bride in January of 2001 and married in March of 2001. They then moved to California. Right?”
“Yes,” Geffner acquiesced.
“Let’s talk about some other letters. The affidavit marked as number 819 said that Witness one may have erred and the events actually took place in November and December of 2001. Right?”
“Yes. Witness number one submitted a new affidavit recently and noted events were from November of 2001.”
“Correct,” Juan said. “This event happened in the household where Deanna Reid was living. Right? Witness number one told you that, right?”
Juan paused, looked at the witness, looked at shoes and back up at the witness. “Didn’t Deanna Reid serve on a mission for her church from January of 2000 until June of 2001?”
“Yes,” he answered. The noose had gotten tight.
“Isn’t it true that Mark McGee admitted lying to the Bishop about this incident?”
“No, no,” Dr. Geffner responded quickly. He was trying to escape. “He said he was not honest about what happened that night with the computer. I don’t have much more information on that.”
Juan marched over to the Judge’s assistant and had a new exhibit copied which he promptly marched to the defense table. It was admitted as Exhibit number 825.
“Take a look at Exhibit 825,” Juan commanded the flailing witness. “I want you to read it with me. It states in quotes ‘I was not honest with Bishop Parker how it went down’. Do you see that?”
“Yes,” Geffner answered.
“Witness number one got married on March 10, 2001. He remembers when the computer crashed and he would have been in trouble with the church and the Bishop. Isn’t it true that it was his pornography and not that of Travis Alexander?!”
There it was staring at the jury straight in the face. A reasonable man could see exactly what happened with witness number one. He was not afraid to testify because of online bashing or fear of supporters of Travis Alexander. His story did not fit. Deanna Reid was gone on her mission so she could not have been present in January of 2001. Further, witness number had self-impeached himself in not only a conflict of dates but having motive to hide the pornography from knowledge of anyone.
Witness number one had thrown Travis Alexander under the bus to be trashed like the lies of Jodi Arias. It reeked foul in intent as well as lack of truth and that truth would resonate with the Jury. The Jury would discard this segment of pornography and the words of witness number one like a boxer would throw a sweat laden towel into a spit bucket in the corner of the ring.
The downhill slide of Dr. Geffner continued as Juan Martinez dissected the incident where Arias claimed she had seen Travis Alexander masturbate to little boy pictures on the bed. It had caused her such mental trauma and PTSD.
“Didn’t you point out that there was a significant discrepancy between what Jodi Arias claimed on one date and then on another?” Juan Martinez highlighted.
“I did,” Dr. Geffner stated.
“What was that discrepancy as detailed in Exhibit number 827?”
Dr. Geffner was silent and his laughs had disappeared the moment Juan Martinez went on the attack. He looked tired and worn. It is not an easy task to suffer the wrath of Juan. He showed the wear and tear. Slowly he admitted, “In one instance, she stated she had seen him masturbating to multiple pictures of little boys with the pictures spread on the bed.”
“And what did the other instance say, in the words of the defendant?” Juan Martinez asked.
“She said that he was masturbating to pictures on the internet…”
“They contradict each other, don’t they?” Juan asked.
The seed of destruction had been planted as Judge Stevens closed the Court for the day.
Travis Alexander was in the room in the words of Juan Martinez. He would be back tomorrow to witness the seed grow into full bloom as Juan’s cross examination of Dr. Geffner continued…
“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)
“Brain Damage: A Juror’s Tale” also available on:
Barnes and Noble Booksellers