How could juries be helped?

[ Under construction ]

I was thinking of some measures that might possibly help juries to reach correct decisions in complex cases.

One aspect that I believe is unfair is the prosecution may never actually ever disclose it’s theory ( or theories ), possibly introducing a new theory after the defence have concluded their closing argument.

And then perhaps to help the jury, there could be a collection of facts that are not in dispute, clearly laid out to help them understand the evidence.

Why do juries sometimes go so badly wrong? I think it certainly is related to emotional arguments.

[ Need to talk about the scientific method, and how you must form a hypothesis before testing it ]

The death penalty and victims of crime

I am opposed to the death penalty for numerous reasons. However one reason that came into particular focus for me following the botched execution in Arizona yesterday was the effect of the death penalty on family members, in this case the family of the victim.

I watched the press conference following the execution, and was disturbed by the levels of anger, and the account by the family of how they had regularly been reminded of the terrible event for the last 25 years.

I thought of the phrase “let go of anger” and on searching immediately found a wikiHow page How to Let Go of Anger. It says:

Anger can eat you up inside and slowly wreck your life. While anger is a natural emotion and a healthy response at times, hanging onto anger can be dangerous. You need to learn to let it go for your own sake. Here’s some advice about how to do just that.

There are then a couple of steps, “Identify the root of your anger” and “let yourself grieve” but the third step seems most significant “Replace resentment with compassion”.

Perhaps compassion may be hard to feel for someone who has committed a terrible crime on your relative, but every crime has a cause, and at least understanding the cause is I think necessary to avoid the very real harmful effects of anger.

I believe the lengthy legal process associated with capital punishment, the invitation to sustain anger over a long period of time and the impossibility of mutual forgiveness  and compassion due to sustained conflict, causes further psychological damage to the family of the victim. They do not deserve this. The death penalty should be abolished.

See also:

Could Juan Martinez fail to pass Go?

The crazy soap opera that is the Jodi Arias trial rumbles on, with revelations that Juan Martinez, the “PitBull” prosecutor has been conducting an affair with Jen Wood, one half of the “Trial Divas”. Comments were left on a blog stating:

Anonymous July 14, 2014 at 9:21 PM
Hey Sandra, this may be old news to you but I will take a shot anyway. Did you know that Teflon Juan and Mrs Trial Diva/Diaries Jen Wood are having an affair? It has been going on for about a year. This upstanding honest man is cheating on his lady with a married woman and Jen is cheating on her husband. On tonights spree she is no longer wearing her wedding ring. No wonder she gets so many scoops huh. This all came out when her ex business partners cell got stolen a couple weeks ago. Lots of screen shots out there of Jen admitting she loves Juan. Caused quite a twitter stir and fight between some at one time twitter friends, Jens camp bullied some who defended the ex business partner. No one denied it and now all seems hush hush. Just thought you might be interested.

Anonymous July 14, 2014 at 9:39 PM
Oh and if I knew how to contact you I would send you the screen shots of Jen’s texts to Sharee. That is why Sharee ended the partnership by the way and she made Jen refund donations because people were paying for her to meet up with Juan. I am just sick of everyone thinking Juan is some sort of God. He by cheating on his lady and with a married woman in my opinion makes him no better than some of the people he prosecutes who have cheated.

Subsequently, the screen shots were posted, and I confirmed with Sharee** that the story was correct, so there is little doubt that Juan has indeed committed adultery.

Historically, adultery has been viewed as a serious crime, in the Old Testament we find

And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

Moreover Sharia law to this day indicates this punishment, and according to this article, in some countries it is regularly carried out:

Stoning to death for adultery has been a historical tradition in Islam that goes to the days of Islam’s birth and continues to this day in some Muslim countries, although many Muslim countries have abandoned this barbaric form of punishments due to Western secular-democratic influence. Stoning-to-death for adultery is a legal form of punishment in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Muslim-dominated northern Nigeria, Taleban-rule Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Islamists-controlled region of Somalia. Indonesia’s Aceh province legalized stoning to death of adulterers in 2009.

In Sharia-ruled Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran, stoning being a form of legal punishment, offenders are killed by stoning on a regular basis, but those cases get little media attention to the outside world. Stoning adulterers and/or fornicators to death or orders to do so have also been reported in countries like the Sudan, Turkey, Nigeria, and Pakistan, perpetrated extra-judicially upon fatwa by local imams and village courts. In 1997, 23 Islamic clerics in Bangladesh demanded that former president Hussain Muhammad Ershad and his mistress of 14 years, Mrs Mosharraf, be publicly stoned to death for adultery.

However, in the New Testament, Jesus famously advocated against capital punishment for adultery, saying “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

But what of the law in Arizona? Perhaps surprisingly, adultery is still a crime. As recently as 2012, the Daily Mail claimed that “‘Cheating’ wife could face jail as husband urges police to enforce Arizona adultery law”. And here we find

13-1408. Adultery; classification; punishment; limitation on prosecution

A. A married person who has sexual intercourse with another than his or her spouse, and an unmarried person who has sexual intercourse with a married person not his or her spouse, commits adultery and is guilty of a class 3 misdemeanor. When the act is committed between parties only one of whom is married, both shall be punished.

B. No prosecution for adultery shall be commenced except upon complaint of the husband or wife

So it turns out that if Jen Wood’s husband were to make a complaint, Juan Martinez could in theory be punished. In practice, it is very unlikely that will happen, but nevertheless the law does recognise that adultery is an offence, damaging to marriage and children.

Melissa Murray, professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley wrote in 2012

“Now we live in an age when sex is not limited to marriage and laws are slowly responding to that,” she said. “But we still love marriage. Nobody is going to say adultery is O.K.”

Apologists for Juan Martinez may seek to place the blame on the woman, but the Go_to_Jailancient law and Arizona law make it clear that  both parties are guilty. I suspect that Juan Martinez will “Pass Go” and will not go straight to jail. Nevertheless it is in my opinion indicative of his general character, which was shown during the circus trial of Jodi, and this raises additional doubts about the safety of Jodi’s conviction. If a man lies and cheats in his private life, what may he do in public? This mirrors the argument Juan made at trial:

And I would only have to point out as far as the May 10th, 2008 conversation in terms of showing that she has no problems lying on the telephone where she says well yeah, I was faking it and you know what she said she was faking, even though you heard her squealing like a cat. No, no, no that’s just me faking it and you know why? Because I need two hands, that’s why she was faking it. Okay, if you can lie on May 10th of 2008 on the telephone to Mr. Alexander, what makes us think that you can’t lie about what you and he talked about on June 3rd, 2008?

However Jodi’s lie was told for the benefit of Travis Alexander, to bring him sexual pleasure. The lies that Juan must have told in his private life are of a different nature.

The issue of Juan Martinez’ conduct would normally not be my concern, however this is a serious business. Jodi has been wrongly convicted of first degree murder, and Juan Martinez and the State of Arizona are again seeking the death penalty. Adultery, stealing another man’s wife, destroying a family, is the act of an unprincipled, dishonest and selfish person. His conduct deserves public exposure and condemnation.

See also:

** Here is how my conversation with Sharee ( Trial Queen )  went:

16/07/2014 15:43 George Barwood
Is all this true: … ?

That is you split from Jen Wood because she had an affair with Juan.

“That is why Sharee ended the partnership by the way and she made Jen refund donations because people were paying for her to meet up with Juan.”

is what someone said anonymously.

If true, I think you acted rather honourably there, well done. I just wanted to confirm it.

Trial Queen 16/07/2014 15:59
I did split with Jen for this reason. I also did offer refunds for people after I found out. Thank you for your support, I appreciate it. I tried to work it out before we split, but my reputation, image and everything else was on the line. It was unfortunate but necessary and I don’t regret it.

Oscar Pistorius

To err is human, to forgive divine.” — Alexander Pope

The death of Reeva Steenkamp on the early morning of Thursday, 14 February 2013, was undoubtedly a tragic event. Reeva was a beautiful, intelligent woman, aged 29, who had worked as a model and a paralegal, and was hoping to be a qualified legal advocate by the age of 30. The day before she died, she was preparing a speech on domestic violence, planning to use her growing fame to make a difference. She had canceled a coffee date with her best friend, Gina Myers, to keep working on the speech. She had been dating Oscar Pistorius for just four months, and had chosen ValentineCardCroppedValentine’s day to give him a card in which she declared her love for the first time. Inside the card she wrote

 “I think today is a good day to tell you that… I love you”

However Reeva never gave the speech, instead, shortly after 3am on the morning of 14th February, noises were heard by neighbours, and at 3:18am Oscar Pistorius called his friend and manager of the estate Johan Stander, pleading

“Please, please come to my house. I shot Reeva, I thought she was an intruder. Please, please come quick.”

He then made two further telephone calls, one to emergency services and then a very brief call lasting just 9 seconds to Estate security. He then  picked Reeva up and carried her down the stairs , where he was met coming down the stairs with Steenkamp in his arms by Johan Stander and Stander’s daughter. Stander testified

“He was broken, he was screaming, he was crying, he was praying, I saw the truth that morning”

Dr Johan Stipp testified that when he examined Reeva at around 3:25am, there was no pulse or signs of life, her pupils were fixed dilated and cornea milky, and had already started to dry out.

However, Pistorius was arrested, and according to Chief investigating officer Hilton Botha’s testimony at a bail hearing on 29th February, a witness had heard gunshots coming from Pistorius’ home, then a female screaming followed by more gunshots, suggesting that Reeva had been murdered.

Trial commenced on 3 March 2014. Witness  and neighbour Estelle Van Der Merwe testified in Afrikaans that she woke up at 1:56am to a woman’s raised voice for about an hour, followed by four loud sounds. She could not hear what was said, or even the language. She had put a pillow over her head and looked out the window on the opposite side of house, away  from Pistorius’s home facing open land at some point to see where voice was coming from but couldn’t ascertain the source. No other witnesses heard a raised voice.

Many witnesses heard screams coming from the house around 3:15am, and the defence case was that these screams were in fact Pistorius screaming for help and not Reeva. In summary Michelle Burger, Charl Peter Johnson, Dr Johan Stipp and Anette Stip all heard screams, which they interpreted as a woman or were not sure.

However, immediate neighbours Michael Nhlengethwa and his wife Eontle both testified they heard a man crying loudly in a high-pitched voice and calling three times for help. Another immediate neighbour  Rika Motshuane, insisted that she heard a man crying, describing it as a “cry of pain”.

Pistorius testified commencing 7th April that he had mistaken Reeva for an intruder, after hearing the bathroom window open, believing her to be in bed. After advancing on the bathroom, hearing a noise from inside the toilet, he had opened fire without thinking, firing four shots in a state of terror. After firing the shots, he waited for an indeterminate length of time, and then made his way back to the bedroom, where he could not locate Reeva. After an unsuccessful attempt to break down the toilet door, he put on his artificial legs, and broke down the toilet door with a cricket bat he had used to wedge bedroom door shut ( the bedroom door having a lock that was not substantial ).

On 12 May, forensic psychiatrist Dr. Merryl Vorster testified that Pistorius had a generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). After a prosecution request, Pistorius’ mental condition was evaluated. The evaluation found that Pistorius was not mentally incapacitated, and did not find GAD, however the report largely confirmed the defence case, finding that

 “Mr Pistorius has been severely traumatised by the events that took place on 14 February 2013, He currently suffers from a post-traumatic stress disorder, and a major depressive disorder … The degree of anxiety and depression that is present is significant. He is also mourning the loss of Ms Steenkamp. Mr Pistorius is being treated and should continue to receive clinical care by a psychiatrist and a clinical psychologist for his current condition. Should he not receive proper clinical care, his condition is likely to worsen and increase the risk for suicide.”

 The report found some jealousy but no evidence of abuse by Pistorius:

“There is evidence to indicate that Mr Pistorius was genuine with his feelings towards Miss Steenkamp and that they had a normal loving relationship. He did become insecure and jealous at times but this was normal for the specific situation. He would express his displeasure and irritation but would try and sort it out later by talking with Miss Steenkamp. Although the relationship was still young, there were no signs of abusive coercion like those often found in these kinds of relationships.”

The defence case was reinforced by the many factors that could have disposed Pistorius to fight rather than flee when confronted by a perceived intruder.

  • Experiences from childhood, his mother kept a gun under her pillow
  • High rates of crime generally in South Africa
  • Pistorius’ inability to flee due to not having his prosthetic legs on
  • His strong desire to protect Reeva
  • The bedroom door being locked
  • Sprint athletes are trained to react to the noise of a starting gun
  • Incidents at the Estate where Pistorius lived
  • Violent incidents which Pistorius had experienced prior to shooting Reeva

The prosecution case was apparently that Pistorius had shot Reeva shortly before making the call to Johan Stipp, and the sounds which the defence attributed to the cricket bat breaking down the door were actually the gun shots.

There appear to be numerous problems with this prosecution case:

  • While the prosecution has sought to portray Pistorius as hot-headed, there is no evidence of abuse, as confirmed by the psychiatric reports.
  • There is no evidence of an argument, other than from Van Der Merwe, who apparently heard an unrelated event.
  • The time from when witnesses heard a second series of loud bangs to the time at which Pistorius called Johan Stipp is not sufficient for Pistorius to have performed all the necessary actions. Immediately after the last set of loud bangs, Pistorius was heard calling loudly for help, and he then made the series of telephone calls.
  • Especially significant is an unopened Valentine’s card Reeva gave to Oscar, telling him for the first time that she loved him.This indicates the relationship was at an early stage, far too early for a major argument to be plausible.There is no evidence of a progression of violence, or that Oscar had ever been verbally or physically abusive to a woman.His character generally is exemplary, performing charitable work for the disabled, and also helping victims of crime on two occasions.
  • Forensic evidence given by prosecution expert witness Johannes Vermeulen, a police forensic analyst, shows that the door was struck by the cricket bat after the gun shots were fired:

Roux: What’s your view, was the door hit after the shots?
Vermeulen: My lady, in my view the door was hit after the shots. There is a crack here. There had to be a hole in the door, otherwise the crack would have gone straight through.
Roux: You explained the crack that ran down into a hole and then down to a different place.
Vermeulen: Yes, My lady. I have quickly drawn a picture to show you. There is a crack coming into the bullet hole. The crack goes out on the left hand side of the bullet hole. That is why I say the bullet hole was there before the crack.

  • It is agreed that Pistorius was not wearing his artificial legs when the shots were fired. It seems unlikely that he could have broken the door while on his stumps, as he is barely able to balance, let alone wield a cricket bat with force. It seems very implausible that he would remove his artificial legs solely to fire the shots, and then put them on again before carrying Reeva down the stairs.

In my opinion, the prosecution has failed to prove  beyond a reasonable doubt that Pistorius intended to kill Reeva, and there is substantial evidence that indicates that this was in all likelihood a tragic accident.

On Thusday, 3rd July, the court adjourned until Monday 7th July, to allow the prosecution to prepare possible further cross-examination of defence witness Wayne Derman, professor of sport and exercise medicine at the University of Cape Town, reportedly the last witness for the defence.

Support for Oscar Pistorius has grown steadily, with membership of a grass-roots Facebook group discussing the trial growing from a handful to over 4,600 members as  the trial has progressed. A poll of members showed that more than 75% are of the opinion that Pistorius did not know that Reeva was in the toilet when he opened fire.

Update: On 8 July, the defence closed its case. Defence lawyer Barry Roux protested “We were unable to call a number of witnesses because they refused, and didn’t want their voices heard all over the world.” Closing arguments were scheduled for 7 and 8 August. Via

Glenn Fritz


This is a case of a fabricated identification in Missouri. The man who likely murdered the mother of Glenn Fritz’s son was observed dumping her purse and trash bags in a dumpster. Witnesses were coerced into changing their statements to say that the vehicle they saw was the victims vehicle, and the man they saw was Glenn Fritz.


On Friday, April 25th, 2014, Terry Glenn Fritz was found guilty and convicted of 1st degree murder and armed criminal action, in the murder of Kinga Gillibrand, after a week long trial – see here for news report. Kinga was the mother of his son, living at his home, but they were no longer in a relationship.

Probable Cause

The probable cause stated the following points: ( commentary in italics )

  • On June 8, 2010 Rolla Police went  the Budget Apartments at 1805 N. Bishop Rolla, after a resident found Kinga’s purse in the apartment complex dumpster. The Rolla Police made contact with Terry Fritz, advising him of this. The purse contained Kinga’s drivers license and four credit cards.
    Not disputed.
  • On June 15, Bradley Stope, the investigating officer, telephoned Wilford Gann, who said an early 2000 Toyota 4-Runner Black with Illinois plates had pulled into the Budget Apartments, and a white male, with short salt and pepper hair exited the vehicle, threw three black trash bags into the dumpster and left.Gann stated the plate started with “G” had a “B” in the middle and ended with “1”
    This statement was inconsistent with an earlier statement given by Gann on June 8 . See key testimony below.
  • On June 16, Stope interviewed Fritz at his home, and observed Kinga’s vehicle on his driveway.
    The date of the interview is disputed. In fact it was before Stope called Gann on June 15.
  •  On June 17, the vehicle was found to have blood in the back cargo area.
    Lab technician Shena Latcham testified the blood found was not human.
  • On July 1, Stopes obtained a DVD, showing Fritz purchasing a king sized mattress cover and two pillows from Wal-Mart on June 8, 2010 at 09:24.
    This is not disputed.
  • On July 2, police searched Kinga’s home at 39367 Maries County Road, finding spattered blood located on a wall behind the bed, and a pool a large stain of blood. In addition a small hole was found in the mattress and a small calibre slug was photographed and taken as evidence, along with the mattress cover.
    It is disputed that the spatter was blood.

Key testimony

Gann originally stated to Rolla Police officer, Jessie Hoyt, who took his report on June 8th, that he saw a man with hair, driving a black, 4 door passenger car, pull up to the dumpster and throw in the trash bags approximately an hour before calling Rolla Police. That Curtis Mann brought him the purse from the trash bags and he, Gann, then called the police within an hour of seeing the man. Hoyt testified that Gann specifically stated to her that it was a black, passenger car, not a truck or SUV, and that he did not see the license plate number or any of the letters or digits. She asked  for these specific details and questions in case the purse became a reported burglary or robbery. Mr. Gann confirmed this with his own testimony. See page 9 of Hoyt’s deposition taken before trial ( her trial testimony clarified this further).

Q. And what else did those folks say to you if anything?
Hoyt: From what I vaguely recall, he advised he observed a male in a black passenger car dumping the purse. He didn’t give a description. He didn’t have a plate or anything for the vehicle.

Thus it is apparent that Gann’s statement on July 15 was manufactured by feeding him information.

Further points

The probable cause also stated:

  • That Fritz’s mother’s had said that her four year old grandson (W.F.) said while travelling near the Budget apartments that his father Fritz had thrown “big trash” in a dumpster.
    However at trial, Fritz’s mother testified that when W.F. was asked about throwing trash away at a dumpster he answered Fritz had thrown away ceiling tiles at a dumpster at a gas station, not near the Budget Apartments, and not on the day in question.
  • That Wilford Gann and Curtis Mann identified Fritz in a photo lineup, apparently on June 17.
    This was a  6 picture, photo array line-up. The photograph used was a 15 year old photo, when Fritz had hair, was nearly 60 pounds lighter in weight, and did not resemble his appearance on June 8th, 2010. No video recording of the witness identification, or the process was made, contrary to good practice.


It is apparent that all of the reasons for Fritz to be suspected of murder in the probable cause were refuted at trial, a strong indication of a wrongful conviction.

Please consider supporting Fritz, by

Thank you!



Jodi Arias


Every day in the United States of America, about three women are killed by their abusive intimate partner. The case of Jodi Arias is a stark dichotomy – was it an abused woman attacked by an abusive man who lost control – or was it a cunning pre-meditated murder, perpetrated by a diabolical “femme fatale”? Some very circumstantial evidence suggested the latter, but the truth is that Jodi is a survivor of sexual, emotional and physical abuse. There is no example in the history of crime of a sane woman premeditating murder by a week for a motive as weak as jealousy, this idea is in fact ridiculous. Jodi Arias is not the first “femme fatale” in history. This is a  wrongful conviction – an abused woman who was not believed when she finally told the truth. Jodi was convicted on a wave of prejudice after she lied to detectives and on TV to protect her and her abuser’s reputation, while intending to commit suicide.

Introduction – undisputed facts

JodiSmilingJodi Arias travelled from Yreka, California to Mesa, Arizona, stayed one night and admits killing her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander on June 4th 2008. She then travelled back to Yreka via Salt Lake City, where she met Ryan Burns, a new boyfriend who she had met on the internet. When interviewed by the police, she first denied ever having visited Mesa, then claimed that two intruders had killed Travis. Travis suffered a single gun shot wound to the head, and numerous knife wounds. There was extensive blood evidence at the scene, and also photographs recovered from Travis’ camera. Jodi was convicted of 1st degree murder in May 2013. The jury could not agree on the death penalty, resulting in a retrial of that phase scheduled after many delays for September 2014.

The prosecution case

The prosecution case was that Jodi stole a gun from her grandparent’s home where she was living, staged as a burglary, and attempted to conceal her visit to Mesa by using gas cans to avoid having to buy gas while in Arizona. The prosecution  argued that Jodi attacked Travis in the shower with a knife, and subsequently shot Travis after he was dead. The prosecution also argued an alternative of Felony murder, in which Jodi did not bring the gun, but instead stole a gun which belonged to Travis.

The defense case

The defense case was that Jodi acted in self-defence, after an argument that escalated. Jodi testified that she first accidentally shot Travis as he rushed at her in a rage, following which she was so terrified that she has little recollection of what occurred. She explained that a knife had earlier been used to cut rope for a sex game. She also explained that she lied due to fear and shame, and had planned to commit suicide, to avoid trial.

Jodi was visiting friends on the way to see her new potential boyfriend in Utah. Jodi did not realise that visiting an abusive, possessive, conflicted ex-boyfriend can be very dangerous indeed. She blamed herself for what happened, as many abused women do.

No premeditation

There is one simple fact that shows the State’s “premeditation by a week” theory is wrong. Jodi called Ryan Burns between 8pm and 9pm on June 3rd, and told him to expect her around 12am to 1pm on June 4th. This is completely inexplicable if she was intending at that moment to go to Mesa to murder Travis. It would be impossible to carry out the murder and not be many hours late to see Burns. Making an appointment you cannot keep for the time when you are planning a murder is just nonsensical. If Jodi was planning murder, she would have told Burns to expect her on June 5th, not June 4th.

Disputed issues

There were several issues that were disputed at trial :

  1. Whether the gunshot was first or last.
  2. Whether Jodi used two or three gas cans on her trip to Mesa.
  3. Whether Jodi was a victim of domestic violence.

In addition the prosecution presented other circumstantial evidence of pre-meditation, to support the theory that Jodi planned to conceal her trip to Mesa. For example, when hiring a car for the trip, Jodi stated that she was not travelling to another State, and preferred a white car to a red car.

A wrongful conviction?

The fundamental doubt about the case arises from the lack of a credible motive, the lack of any previous criminal record or evidence of insanity and numerous internal contradictions in the logic of the prosecution case. I will start my analysis by looking at the evidence for and against extensive premeditation, starting with motive, and then consider the evidence at the scene.


It is of course not necessary for the State to prove a motive, however women rarely commit heinous murder, so it is reasonable to be sceptical about a woman planning murder for a whole week for no clear reason, especially considering that Jodi had no criminal record. The trial examined two possible explanations for Jodi having decided to murder Travis : firstly that she was stalking him, and secondly that she was jealous that Travis was taking another woman on a trip to Cancun.


There was some hearsay evidence of stalking – Travis had suggested to his friends that Jodi was stalking him. However, while making this claim, in fact he was in constant communication with Jodi, and never showed real fear. It was simply a way for Travis to explain her presence, without admitting that he had a secret lover – not something that can be admitted in Mormon society. It is not disputed that Travis slept with Jodi after she arrived very early in the morning of June 4th. In addition they took photographs of each other, and on any view were in an intimate relationship in which neither were frightened of the other. Domestic violence expert Alyce LaViolette testified that a stalking relationship is characterised by extreme fear, so stalking is not a credible explanation of events. See this video from around 54 minutes in, where Alyce LaViolette explains that Travis was having a conversation with Jodi on the same day he says she was stalking him:


The idea that Jodi was so jealous that Travis was taking another woman on a business trip to Cancun, that she decided to murder him,  is ridiculous. It would be unprecedented for a woman to have sufficient jealousy to embark on murder and to sustain that jealous rage for a whole week. In addition, Jodi was moving on from her relationship with Travis, and expressed no expectation that she would be going to Cancun in a recorded telephone call in early May:

Travis: The beginning of June through like the beginning of July it’s going to be a busy time in Mr. Alexander’s life.
Jodi: Yeah, me too. For me, I might make a trip at the end of the month to Utah. You’re what, going to Cancun and you’re coming here. Then I guess you’ll go up to what, see your friends in Washington or something?
Travis: I’m not going to do all that. You’re the top of the list.

Jodi had known for many months that Travis was seeing other women. She wrote that she was devastated at the time, but by January 24, 2008 she was philosophical about Travis, and quite detached. She wrote in her journal:

The problem with Travis is that he`s so used to girls falling all over themselves for him, and she” — Mimi  — “doesn`t do that. He needs that. I really think he does.

By June 2008, Jodi was courting a new potential boyfriend in Salt Lake City, Ryan Burns, and was prepared to drive thousands of miles to see him. When an abused woman is leaving a relationship, this is very often the trigger for serious violence.

“Abusers are often deadliest when victims are trying to leave their control,” Kim Gandy, President and CEO of National Network to End Domestic Violence.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence ( or intimate partner terrorism, perhaps a more accurate term ) is very common, but at the same time hard to comprehend for those who have not experienced it first hand. It could perhaps be said to be a form of madness or insanity, and there are several paradoxical behaviours that need to be well understood to comprehend the defence case.

  1. Why would a woman who has been subject to violent physical abuse voluntarily travel hundreds of miles to visit her abuser?
  2. Why would a man violently attack a woman simply because she dropped his camera?
  3. Why would a woman feel guilty and suicidal if she was defending herself after being attacked?

These are tricky questions, but there is extensive evidence and literature that shows that abused women and abusive men do in fact behave in this way. I hope to expand more on this subject in time. There was testimony at trial from domestic violence expert Alyce LaViolette on this subject. LaViolette also testified that Jodi was abused, based on an evaluation of extensive documentary evidence and interviewing Jodi. See here for some of the documented evidence of abuse ( to be covered in more detail in a future article ). Of particular note is an entry in Jodi’s journal about 6 months before Travis died, where she describes a typical cycle of domestic violence – heated arguments followed by sweetness and making up:

Well, today was interesting to say the least. Highs and lows. Travis was obscenely mean to me, but then he was extremely sweet and apologetic.


Circumstantial evidence of premeditation

The State’s case-in-chief was circumstantial. A gun was stolen from Jodi’s grandparent’s home where she was living in Yreka. However the ammunition stolen did not match the bullet recovered at the scene, and the State argued an alternative in which Jodi did not bring the gun, but instead stole an old gun that Jodi testified Travis kept on a shelf, implying that the gun  theft was simply an unrelated coincidental event.

As noted above, the call to Ryan Burns on June 3rd demonstrates there was no significant premeditation, but let’s have a look at the claim.

The Gas Cans

In closing arguments, Juan Martinez referred to gas cans no less than 26 times. It was undisputed that Jodi borrowed two five gallon gas cans from a friend en-route to Mesa, and also that she purchased another gas can ( in fact a Kerosene can ) from Wal-Mart in Salinas. However Jodi testified that she did not use this can on her trip to Mesa, instead she returned it to the same store, obtaining a cash refund. During rebuttal, the prosecution called a Wal-Mart employee, Amanda Webb, who testified that she could not find any record of this can being returned to Wal-Mart on June 3rd. However, there are reasons for suspecting that Webb was mistaken. In 2010, Wal-Mart relocated from N. Davies to N. Main. Webb was unaware of this, and it seems possible that some return records were transferred to head office, or for some reason were not available to Webb. Webb was not sure how many registers there were, suggesting she did not have a good way of enumerating them.

Juan Martinez: How many cash registers were there back on June 3, 2008 at Wal-Mart?
Amanda Webb: There was, I believe, 25 on the front end, then there’s a few outlying registers, like sporting goods and electronics, so I would say 27/28 maybe 30.

In addition, there are receipts for the gas that Jodi purchased at Pasadena, which show purchases of 9.59, 8.301 and 2.77 gallons. These purchases are not consistent with filling three five gallon cans unless one of the cans Jodi borrowed was already about half full. A careful analysis of the previous leg of her journey from King City to Pasadena shows that Jodi had space for at least 9 gallons in her gas tank based on mileage per gallon later in her road trip at similar speeds. The 9.59 gallons would fill two 5 gallon gas cans. Jodi testified that the 2.77 gallons would be a “top up”, and if she did not fill the tank completely on the previous leg, there could easily be space for 11 gallons in total. This is plausible considering Jodi delayed filling the gas cans until she reached Pasadena, where the gas was significantly cheaper on the day than at King City.

It’s my view that such confused and inherently unreliable evidence, introduced in the middle of a trial, cannot and should not be the basis for any criminal conviction, let alone a conviction in a capital case.

Other circumstantial evidence was ambiguous, with innocent explanations readily apparent, and I will not deal with it here.

The Scene

There was an abundance of physical evidence recovered from the scene: a bullet, a cartridge casing, extensive blood evidence and photographs recovered from a camera found in a washing machine.

The main area of dispute was whether the gun shot would have immediately incapacitated Travis, implying that Jodi’s account that he was first shot and then moved around could not be true. There was extensive evidence on this on the last day of trial, which will be the subject of a future article. At the conclusion of Medical Examiner Dr Horn’s testimony, he stated that the bullet must have passed through Travis’ brain, and therefore the statement in his autopsy report that the Dura Mater was intact must have been a typographical error:

He apparently did not consider that the bullet could have deflected, instead of passing through the fracture in the skull observed on the X-ray. This would seem to be the correct interpretation of the autopsy evidence.

The changing prosecution case

One sign that a prosecution is wrongful is when the State changes their case. Lead detective Flores claimed at trial that he had originally “misunderstood” Dr Horn:

Nurmi: You were asked if it was Dr Horn’s opinion that this rendered the victim unconscious or did he still remain conscious. Pretty specific question, right?
Flores: Yes
Nurmi: And you answered “He said it would possibly have rendered the victim unconscious but definitely could have been conscious”, correct?
Flores: Yes
Nurmi: You were also asked, but in the circumstances, based on all the other injuries, it was his opinion that it did not render him unconscious, correct?
Flores: Yes
Nurmi: And you say that you “misunderstood” Dr Horn? That is your testimony here today?
Flores is ruled non-responsive by the judge (403).
Nurmi repeats the question.
Flores: Yes.
Nurmi: You put this “misunderstanding” first in your police report, right?
Flores: Yes.
Nurmi: And second time, under oath, and giving sworn testimony, you perpetrated the same “misunderstanding”, correct?
Flores: Yes.
Nurmi: And then again you did it while being interviewed on national television, is that correct?
Flores: Yes, that is what I believed.

This “misunderstanding” is not credible. Flores lied at trial to cover up that Dr Horn’s opinion had changed, there was no misunderstanding. It seems that prosecutor Juan Martinez, in a desire to find evidence that Jodi’s testimony was untrue, manipulated Dr Horn into stating that Travis would have been immediately incapacitated by the gunshot.

Logical contradictions in the prosecution case

Besides doubts about motive and the reliability of Amanda Webb’s testimony, there are numerous logical contradictions in the prosecution case. For example, if this was a premeditated murder, why did Jodi allow herself to be photographed at the scene? Instead of using gas cans, Jodi could simply have bought gas with cash. And the 3rd gas can was not secret : she kept the receipt. Indeed her trip was far from secret : she left a trail of evidence, including credit card details. She even used her phone while in Arizona, which is not consistent with a plan to conceal her movements. She called Travis twice just before driving to Mesa from Pasadena. Why did she not attack Travis when she arrived in Mesa, or when he was asleep? And stealing a gun, but then attacking a much stronger opponent with a knife is strange, to say the least.

Why would Jodi lie about returning a gas can to Wal-Mart? She had five years to consider her testimony, why tell a lie that might be contradicted by computer records? Jodi could have instead said she accidentally left the gas can on the garage forecourt for example, and in any case why lie about the number of gas cans used – using three rather than two gas cans is not proof of premeditated murder in any case. Or she could have said she did not use the 3rd can at Pasadena, there is in fact no evidence that she did, although there was evidence she used more than 2 gas cans at Salt Lake City.

Jodi testified for 18 days in great detail. She cannot be said to be a good liar, since her lies to the police when interviewed were not credible. It’s very hard to lie and not make a mistake under intensive cross-examination, and Jodi’s testimony is well backed by documents and other physical evidence.

The prosecution theory has Travis standing at the sink, not reacting at all to Jodi stabbing him many times in the back (there was a group of nine shallow knife wounds on Travis’ back). The prosecution theory also fails to account for a pool of blood near the entrance to the toilet, which is well explained by Travis bleeding immediately after he was shot, as per Jodi’s testimony. Another issue is that Travis apparently bled from his nose, mouth and ear, and this cannot be due to a stab wound to the chest causing a nicked lung.

Alternate theories

Due to the many problems with Juan’s theory at the scene, many people have proposed alternative theories. However these theories generally do not fit the evidence well. For example there is no trail of blood from the shower, the blood evidence suggests Travis first bled near the entrance to the toilet. In addition it is practically impossible to account for the camera moving from near the shower to the far end of the hallway in a theory where Jodi first attacks Travis in the shower.

The defence case is extraordinary

How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth? – Sherlock Holmes

In any self-defence case where the accused person testifies, a trial can turn into a battle to find some tiny inconsistency. That was certainly the case here, with every aspect of Jodi’s story coming under the microscope. One hard to comprehend aspect is Jodi’s claim to be unable to remember what happened.Dr Richard Samuels, a psychologist, testified that extreme fear and stress leads to amnesia, that is loss of memory. See 42 minutes into this video:

The amnesia and Jodi blaming herself and believing she had done something very wrong is key to understanding why Jodi did not call the police. Of course not calling the police, and the lying made Jodi look very guilty, but sometimes truth is very strange and hard to comprehend. Domestic violence and stress-induced amnesia are the only logical explanation for the facts.

Self-defence – really?

Finally, many people have suggested that since Jodi did get possession of the knife and undoubtedly used it to kill Travis, this somehow indicates premeditation rather than self-defence. However, given that Travis had already attacked Jodi three times, she cannot be blamed for firstly grabbing it ( to prevent him getting it), and then using it in circumstances that are unclear. It appears that Travis was not to be placated, and a fatal fight broke out some time after Travis was accidentally shot. It could well be that a fatal “deadlock” occurred, with Jodi frightened that Travis would get the knife and kill her, while Travis was fighting to disarm Jodi, out of fear that she would kill him. I suggest that both decided that “attack is the best means of defence”, resulting in tragedy.


I have no doubt whatsoever that Jodi was wrongly convicted. Many support sites exist, including a facebook page where more details can be found.

See also

Is the Jodi Arias Legal Defense Fund Legit?

George Barwood:

Of course the Defence Fund is Legitimate.

Originally posted on Elizabeth Ann Schilling:

LawAs the penalty phase of the State of Arizona vs. Jodi Ann Arias trial approaches, scheduled to begin this fall, recurring questions arise regarding the legal defense fund in place for the defendant. Why was a defense fund set up when the trial is not complete? Why does she need a defense fund when the State will pay for appeals? Is the money in jeopardy of lawsuits or confiscation by the State? Is the fund legit? Even her own supporters question the legitimacy, so if her own supporters refuse to contribute or promote the fund, how would anyone outside those circles consider a contribution?

The JAA Appellate Fund ( was arranged by the family of Arias soon after the verdict and the first sentencing phase that ended in mistrial last May.

Why was the fund set up when the trial has not ended?

Simple. It is true, the penalty…

View original 1,256 more words

My venture onto HLN

I have been observing the system of online criminal justice now for some time: News organisations, journalists, anchors, pundits, PR companies, judges, attorneys, cops, jailors, investigators, expert witnesses, defendants, criminals, convicts and victims, their relations and supporters, trial watchers, fans of “True crime”, trolls, conmen and of course people may be many of these at the same time. Distinguishing who is which can be a non-trivial exercise.

Recently I received an invitation to appear on Time Warner’s US television channel “HLN”. The subject was Jodi Arias, an innocent woman convicted of first degree murder, currently facing a retrial on the question of whether she should be executed.

As in any intrigue, motives are not easily ascertained. What drives an individual or an organisation to make decisions? I am often unsure of my own motives, let alone those of others, but I said I was interested, and after some consideration, and contrary to the urging of some including Jodi herself, I decided to accept the invitation.

The technology employed was Skype, however the integration was slightly cumbersome, and somewhat to my surprise, remote participants are not visually connected to those in the TV studio. After some anxiety caused by the rapidly evolving schedule and a producer being caught in a meeting, around 4pm GMT (12am Eastern time) on 19th March, I was connected, listening to discussion of the Oscar Pistorius murder trial in South Africa and then the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

The host was ex-attorney Vinnie Politan, six years my junior, the Stanford educated son of a judge, and now an experienced anchor-man. The discussion panel was Judge Glenda Hatchett and  Attorneys Ebonik Williams and Loni Coombs.

Nerves rather got the better of me, I spoke too fast, and managed to say  ‘physician’, corrected to ‘physics person’, instead of ‘physicist’, doubtless  a sign of approaching senility. Still, I feel I made some solid points, albeit they were not as clearly stated as I would like.

Rough transcript.

Vinnie: Jodi Arias has been convicted of murder, right now the only thing to be determined is what is her sentence is it going to be life in prison or will it be the death penalty. September 8th the is the new date for that, we will be keeping an eye on that, but any of you who have been on social media know that not everyone in the world agrees with that verdict and everyones entitled to their opinions, but … people kindof get, you know, excited about this stuff and really let their opinions be know so we found a facebook page jodi arias is innocent and we said ok, someone thinks she’s innocent, we’ve got to talk to these guys, let’s bring him in, his name is George Barwood he’s joining us all the way from the UK, George nice to see you , let me just say from the outset that I don’t agree with your assessment of Jodi Arias, (me right) but I will be civilised her and we’ll have a vigourous talk about the facts of this case, let me start right here: why did you start the Facebook page “Jodi Arias is Innocent”?

George: Well, that’s not my page, but I made a page, Why Jodi is innocent, a Facebook page, it’s to allow anyone with a smart phone to read about the key physical evidence in Jodi’s case which proves her story is true.

Vinnie: Tell me one reason why Jodi Arias is innocent.

George: Well, the prosecution kept changing it’s theory. It’s a sign they don’t have a good case isn’t it. I mean, the medical examiner is claiming a “typo” in the autopsy report, you know, that’s not credible, have a look at that, there’s lots of things in the autopsy report, there wasn’t any damage to the brain. So, there’s another explanation for that.

Vinnie: Let me jump in, you say the prosecution changed their stories, why did Jodi change her story three times?

George: Well, Jodi got off to a very bad start didn’t she? She lied and lied, she didn’t want to admit to what had happened. She was afraid, frightened ( Vinnie: of what ) frightened she’d committed murder I think. She didn’t know what happened did she.

But, I mean, let’s consider it on the physical evidence, that’s all fluffy stuff isn’t it, you can’t prove anything from that, you know Juan Martinez had a theory didn’t he, it was a different theory, originally the gunshot they said the gunshot was first.

Vinnie: You strike me as a very normal, reasonable guy, you married, you got kids, give me a thumbnail sketch of who you are?

George: Yeah, well I’m a pretty bright guy, I went to Cambridge University in the UK, I had a scholarship to do physics and maths, I’m a physician [oops!] a physics person, a mathematician, a scientist.

Vinnie: Someone tweeted us, they wanted to know if George had a crush on Jodi Arias.

George: (laughs) I support a lot of different people you know Vinnie, and more than half of them are men.

Vinnie: Give us another reason why you believe Jodi Arias is innocent.

George: Well, the motive’s not credible. I mean, Jodi was on a trip to see a new boyfriend, why would she be jealous of Travis, crimes of passion are not premeditated by a week are they, you know? This is all wrong. This doesn’t make sense.

Eboni: He’s clearly not a woman Vinnie, he doesn’t understand how methodical some of us could be. A week is absolutely not unreasonable if you really want to get that element of surprise going, sorry George…

Glenda: You didn’t address the fact that she was jilted, I mean he was on his way, on a trip out of the country, with another woman. Let’s remember that, he changed the ticket from Jodi to the new woman.

George: Jodi was going to see her new boyfriend?

Glenda: That was a fake.

Vinnie: The boyfriend was an alibi. Right Ronnie?

Loni: That was a cover, that was a set-up.

Loni: But George, let me ask you, just to get it straight, do you buy Jodi Arias’s story that she went into a fog, the moment that she started stabbing and shooting Travis.

George: Sure, that’s a proven fact, if the stress levels rise beyond a certain amount, you can’t remember anything. That’s a medically proven fact.

Loni: Why would she never call the police at any time after that?

George: She was terrified.

Loni: If she was totally innocent, and it was in self-defence, why would she not call the police.

George: She was putting it off, she didn’t know what to do, did she, she put it off and put if off, and, you know, would you hand yourself in?

George: Another thing, you know they say Jodi lied about returning this gas can to Walmart, what’s that got to do with anything? I found out Amanda Webb didn’t work at the physical store Jodi shopped at. That’s nonsense that evidence.

Vinnie: the significance of the lying about the gas cans is that she lied in front of the jury. She was explaining…

George: (breaking in) but she didn’t lie! She didn’t lie.

Vinnie: you should send an email over to Kirk Nurmi then.

George: well they know about that, that’ll come out in the appeal, Jodi’s going to appeal.

Vinnie: everyone appeals in this country. How much time do we have left? How much?

Vinnie: We gotta wrap. George, it’s great meeting you, and I’d like to speak with you in the future as we get closer to the new trial.

George: you’re welcome.

Vinnie: he was at Cambridge, he’s got credibility to a certain extent.

George: I’ve had two successes this year, David Camm’s trial I followed that, I represented him, he was exonerated on his third trial, I followed Debra Milke very closely, she’s out of

Vinnie: We’re out of time George! Thank you…

On 24 April, 2014, I received a letter from Jodi, thanking me for going on HLN and standing up for her, when everyone was telling me not to. Jodi’s objection was simply that she did not want to benefit HLN.

Jodi’s letter to me was hacked and leaked after I scanned it and sent it to another supporter, so here is the text ( I regret this happened as Jodi asked that her letters be kept private ) :

Dear George,Hello there my dear friend & supporter. I just want to say thank you for bravely standing up for me. I know you were heavily criticized by both friend and foe. I didn’t agree with it only because I dislike the idea of enhancing any of ‘Hateline News’ programs, but I’m definitely not your boss and anyway I heard you did very well. Maria De La Rosa said the Facebook hate group was quite vocal about it so that is an indication you did well. So hurray! I just wanted to make sure you knew I wasn’t mad at you in case anyone indicated I was. I feel blessed to have someone so level-headed in my corner. Of course, you were asked if you had a crush on me! Stupid show host. If you were a woman, you probably still would have been asked that. Also I was told that my drawing (your drawing) was hanging up behind you during the interview. Is that true? If so I’m very flattered. Someone said it was “Legacy”, but I thought you owned “Wistful”. Please don’t listen to your retractors try to tell you that b/c you are a Briton you couldn’t possibly make meaningful commentary on the American (in)justice system. That is a small minded thing to say and simply untrue. That’s like saying a marine biologist knows nothing about dolphins because he doesn’t live in the ocean, or the UCLA professor of anthropology knows nothing about the Dogan tribe b/c he’s not African or the world history major with a focus on 20th century Europe knows nothing about the Nazi occupation b/c he’s American. Nonsense. You know more about the U.S. criminal justice system than most Americans. So tune out the garbage and pat yourself on the back. You did well. Be proud of yourself. I’m grateful. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you are doing on my behalf and others! Please take care and write me soon through Deep & Sincere Gratitude – Jodi Arias

Happy Birthday Paul Huebl

external image 1525546_10203173084832950_567047162_n.jpg

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 is Paul Huebl’s 66th birthday.

Paul shares his birthday with Wyatt Earp, another law enforcer born 100 years earlier to the day, who also came from Illinois to settle in Arizona. Earp is famous for having participated in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral on October 26, 1881 in Tombstone, Pima County. Following which, Wyatt, his brothers and Doc Holliday were exonerated of murder charges.

Not unlike Earp, Paul had to unwillingly take part in an O.K. Corral of his own on October 18, 1987. In fact, he shot and wounded James Robert Lyne Jr. while serving him with an eviction notice at his home in Paradise Valley, Maricopa County. Paul claimed self-defense after Lyne hit him with a pistol.

Lyne and a crooked cop called Brian J. McFarland conspired against Paul and he was subsequently charged with aggravated assault. After Paul refused to accept a misdemeanor plea deal, they brought special prosecutor Kenneth Peasley from  Pima County to close the deal.

Peasley was a crook, named prosecutor of the year twice. He was disbarred in 2004 for allowing Tucson police detective Joe Godoy to lie while testifying in two capital murder trials. Peasley bragged about having sent more men to death row in Arizona than any other prosecutor. He died in 2011 aged 64, with very little lament.

Lyne and several of his relatives testified at trial that he had sold his guns to a man named “Tom”. Then Lyne’s 12-year old son David testified that one of the guns had  been given to his sister Kathleen. Following this revelation, Lyne promptly cashed a cheque the judge had approved as an emergency payment of tax funds, and went to buy a Beretta from a gun dealer. When Kathleen was called to testify, she claimed a “misunderstanding”, and that the gun she had been given by her father a year earlier was the Beretta her father had just purchased.

Paul was facing 15 years in prison.

Two days later, just minutes after the defense rested, Paul found out where the Beretta was purchased. A subpoena was served on the gun dealer and the next morning, inside the judge’s chambers and outside the presence of the jury and spectators, judge Rebecca Albrecht was asked to allow the defense to re-open the case.

The judge first refused, then Paul’s lawyer Richard Gierloff protested and the judge became angry. Paul told his lawyer to sit down loudly exclaiming:

“Richard don’t you see it’s a conspiracy, that miserable fucking cunt wants to put me in prison. She knows I’m innocent!”

This unusual tactic succeeded because the judge suddenly reversed her ruling. The jury were recalled, the gun dealer testified, and the perjury was fully exposed. After closing arguments, the jury returned in just a few minutes, with a verdict and a question: “Could they find Lyne guilty of perjury?”

The judge advised them they couldn’t and the verdict was read “Not Guilty”, at which point one juror requested that Lyne be prosecuted.

The prosecutor was immune, but Lyne, the government’s star witness, was arrested in Texas. A fact you can google at james robert lyne paul huebl ( The Prescott Courier – May 2, 1990 “State’s star witness arrested on tampering charge in Texas” )

Of course prosecutorial misconduct is still rife in Arizona, just a month ago Deputy Pinal County Attorney Richard Wintory agreed to a 90-day suspension because of his conduct during a capital murder case in 2011. But we are lucky to have an honest man like Paul doing his best to make up for it.

Happy Birthday Paul!