The Jodi Arias Trial
This week, domestic violence expert Alyce LaViolette was back on the stand for the defense testifying as to why she believes that Jodi Arias and Travis Alexander were engaged in a domestically abusive relationship. LaViolette painted a picture of an almost virginal and naïve Arias who wrote lovingly about Alexander in her journals only to be rewarded with abusive verbal tirades, insidious psychological cruelty, and brutal physical violence. She labeled Jodi Arias a battered woman.
Much of this week’s testimony verged on redundant; with Jennifer Wilmott questioning LaViolette on the nature of the abuse she believes took place between Arias and Alexander. LaViolette testified about the physical abuse Arias allegedly suffered at the hands of Alexander, including the occasions Arias says Alexander broke her finger and choked her. She also went over several text messages and emails, stating that the language Alexander used towards Arias amounted to character assassination. LaViolette spoke of other women Travis was involved with and pointed to signs of his manipulative ploys and desire to control women. She stated that one of the women Alexander corresponded with was vulnerable because she was married.
When Wilmott asked LaViolette if there were things in Arias’s journals that would lead her to believe that Arias was jealous, she said no. It is probably a safe bet that Arias did not write in her journals that she had crawled through the doggy door of Alexander's home to gain entry, or that Alexander found her hiding in his closet after he returned home from a date, or that she would show up to his home unannounced and peep through his windows to spy on him, or that she was suspected of slashing Alexander’s tires on two separate occasions. (She also once drove 3 hours - round trip - to confront a girl that her ex-boyfriend, Matt McCartney, was seeing which would also point to her tendency to be jealous.) If Arias truly believed that her journals would be passed down one day, she certainly wouldn’t want her children and grandchildren reading about just how obsessed she was with Alexander. She isn’t insane. She knows the difference between right and wrong enough to try to hide her behavior. Not to mention, such journal entries could certainly be considered evidence by law enforcement were the cops ever called on her and she was picked up for stalking. Sadly, many people (including the victims) do not take female stalkers seriously. They should.
While LaViolette insisted that she did not notice anything in Arias’s writings that would point to jealousy, one can argue that there are definitely signs of obsession within those journals. Wednesday night, over 600 of Arias’s diary pages were made available to ’s Headline News program. Of course, only small snippets of these journals will be released at a time – unless our friend David Lohr manages to get his hands on them and post them for us to read in their entirety (fingers crossed) – but the part that has been released so far is dark and quite telling, with Arias writing in 2007:
"I love him. I could not possibly love him not, though I wish I could stop. Turn it off like a light bulb. Duct tape it down so it can't turn back on. Or better yet, just cut the circuit. Cut off its light source. Make it dead in a second. Lifeless. A meaningless network of wires that do and mean nothing."
Besides the diary pages, video of Arias’s parents being interviewed by Detective Flores, was also made available this week. The snippets shown – again looks to Lohr – to the public gives viewers the first glimpse into what the individuals who reared Arias thought of her involvement in Alexander’s murder, and it’s not pretty. In these videos, William Angelo Arias and Sandra Arias are observed discussing Arias’s “mental problems,” with William stating that Arias “was a strange person” and Sandra expressing her concern for Arias’s mental wellbeing, asking if Arias would now be subjected to a psychological exam. Not the response you would expect out of the parents of most murder suspects. They did not appear to be surprised that Arias was being questioned in connection to the murder. Sandra even went as far as to say that the first thing she asked Arias, upon hearing about Alexander’s death, was, “Did you go to Arizona?” Arias responded no and said that she had the gas receipts to prove it. (Still doubting premeditation?)
Sandra went on to say that Arias would flip out at her, seemingly fine one moment only to be crying hysterically the next. She also stated that a friend of Arias’s called in the middle of the night saying that Arias needed help and one friend even went as far as to call a hotline to get insight into Arias’s behavior. Sandra was in tears as she asked Detective Flores how one can behave so normally after “doing something like that.” She said that Arias cried for days, acting as if she had no idea what happened. William Arias said that he had asked Arias in the past if she thought of herself as bipolar. Arias’s response was to cry hysterically.
These videos are particularly telling given the fact that LaViolette admits that she did not interview anyone other than Arias when evaluating her. She relied on Arias’s word, police video, television interviews with Arias, and a handful of out of context text messages, emails, and instant messages to determine that Arias is the victim of domestic violence.
Jennifer Wilmott finished her direct examination of LaViolette with less than an hour left in the court day. Trial watchers, to many of their delights, got a taste of what is in store for this expert witness with prosecutor Juan Martinez coming out with his guns a’blazing. Not one to ever back down, even when faced with a woman who has indirectly implied that most men are at least mildly abusive towards women, Juan Martinez questioned LaViolette about a seminar she has given entitled, “Was Snow White a Battered Woman?” LaViolette insists that the seminar had nothing to do with the title, and that it was meant to be catchy. A similarly titled seminar is available on YouTube.
During their heated battle, LaViolette asked Martinez if he was angry with her, due to his tone and approach. The question drew laughter from the gallery and ire from Martinez who asked if her analysis would change based upon whether or not he was angry with her. Like with the defense’s previous expert witness, LaViolette resisted answering any of Martinez’s questions “yes or “no”, preferring to elaborate on each answer, which often caused the two to butt heads. At one point, Martinez asked LaViolette if she wanted to spar.
Martinez attempted to walk LaViolette through a scenario in which he drew a correlation between Jodi Arias and Snow White as the victims of abuse, stating that even in a story that is entirely fictitious, LaViolette can see abuse. LaViolette continued to deny that she ever stated that Snow White was a victim of abuse and that that was not what the seminar was about. (Well, it’s a misleading title then. Wouldn’t you want to know if she thought Snow White was an abused woman??)
For more insight on what LaViolette thinks of women in the role of the abuser, check out this 2002 article entitled: Researchers Agree Women May Hit Their Male Partners, But Infrequently 'Batter' Them — Pattern of Coercion Is Seldom Present in Female Aggression
Snippet: "No one (to my knowledge) in the domestic violence movement would support battering behavior by either gender. Beliefs about the extent of women's violence differ. The resulting arguments can resemble a battering relationship between experts. We need to question our rhetoric, allow for respectfully dissenting opinions and provide services for ALL VICTIMS. I know that shelters provide hotel vouchers, counseling, hotline and referral services for men, and that there are shelters (very few) for battered men. Having said that, I will end by quoting Ola Barnett and myself: "There is no research that can say that the cost of women's violence — emotionally, physically, or in regard to property damage — in any way matches the violence perpetrated by men."
From the above, it seems that LaViolette doesn’t believe that female abusers are as dangerous as male abusers. I think some of these men may disagree.
Court ended on an objecttion from Jennifer Wilmott, one of many during Martinez’s short cross examination on Thursday. It will resume Monday morning with LaViolette back on the stand where she and Martinez will continue to “spar” over her expert opinions of Arias. It is sure to be a long day!