I felt my existing articles / pages had become a bit messy, and now the trial is finally over, it was time to go back to basics.
I went to see the Magic Flute in Bristol recently.
In the second act, Tamino is tutored in how to overcome the fear of death, and faces trials, of silence, fire and water.
Jodi has learned to overcome the fear of death. It was recently revealed that she declined a plea bargain in which she was offered a life sentence to avoid the possibility of a death sentence. She declined.
But this post is more about Jodi’s trials. The never-ending tests of the veracity of her testimony, that she killed Travis in self-defense after he attacked her, which the State has tested at extraordinary length.
Wise observers have said “it’s better not to testify”. Unfortunately, Jodi, like Tamino, was not so good at enduring the trial of silence after killing Travis, and spoke to the police and public at length, with an account of events that was often the opposite of the truth.
- She claimed Travis did not own a gun [ since if he did, how come it was missing if she didn’t take it ]
- She claimed she never went to Mesa. Photographs recovered at the scene showed this to be false.
- She later claimed intruders appeared just after she was taking pictures of Travis in the shower.
Perhaps these lies created the need for her to testify, and testify she did, for 18 days, through many days of cross-examination by both prosecutor Juan Martinez and the jury, who were able to ask their own questions.
The prosecution had any number of reasons to suspect Jodi of premeditated murder.
Jodi’s Hair Color
Prosecutor Juan Martinez claimed that Jodi had blonde hair when she hired a car ( the car rental guy testified to this ), but changed her hair to brown to go to Mesa, in an attempt at disguise. The defense however introduced photographs showing that Jodi dyed her hair brown many weeks before.
Perhaps the car rental guy remembered Jodi’s driving license:
Not to be deterred, the prosecution claimed in closing arguments that Jodi had “blonde locks” before the trip, not detectable in poorly lit photographs of her in Travis’ bedroom on the day of the killing. Did the jury buy it? Nobody knows.
But Jodi’s trials were not over, not by a long chalk.
Jodi testified that she jumped up to get the gun from a high shelf, momentarily stepping on some shelving. The prosecution suggested the shelf would have tipped, disturbing items on the shelving, which appeared neat and tidy, after despatching lead detective Flores to the scene, nearly five years later. Flores testified that he was able to tip a shelf using just his finger, although no items were on the shelf, and Jodi may have stepped near the point where the shelf was supported. Was the jury convinced? Nobody knows.
Jodi testified that she caught Travis masturbating to a picture of a young boy clothed in underwear. Moreover she suggested looking at Travis’ laptop, for signs of pornography use. Jodi also testified there was a virus on the laptop, and this had caused Travis to be angry earlier in the day. The State called witnesses to expose these lies – State witness Melendez testified he found no virus or pornography on the laptop, and a defense witness found nothing either. In closing Juan Martinez claimed Jodi lied about this as well. Another nail Jodi’s coffin.
The Magic Bullet
Just before trial, apparently to prove Jodi lied about having shot Travis first, the prosecution changed it’s theory, asserting that Jodi shot Travis after he was dead. The Medical Examiner testified that the bullet travelled through Travis’ brain, without leaving any trace, even though he was able to examine slices of the brain. He further asserted his own autopsy report must be erroneous, as it stated the Dura Mater was intact.
The Gas Cans
The culmination of Juan Martinez’ demonstration of guilt was Jodi’s use of gas cans. He theorized that Jodi decided to avoid using her credit card to buy gas while in Arizona, and calculated that she needed three gas cans to achieve this. Two cans were borrowed from her ex, Darryl Brewer, and a third was purchased from Wal-Mart. Jodi had kept the receipt:
Juan surely had his prey cornered, this seemed the decisive proof of guilt he was searching for, and now Jodi apparently panicked, and declared that she returned her purchase to Wal-Mart. Now Juan pounced, he called Amanda Webb, a Wal-Mart employee, who declared that she could find no record of the return. Jodi’s fate was sealed. Her diabolical secret murder mission was exposed.
Defense counsel Kirk Nurmi had no explanation. He feebly claimed Jodi didn’t say she returned the gas can to the same store, but the jury were not fooled. Some trial observers noted that Walmart Salinas relocated in 2010, but the witness and counsel seemed blissfully unaware of this circumstance.
The jury duly found Jodi guilty of 1st degree murder, in May 2013, but there was a hitch – they could not all agree that she should be executed. In Arizona, this meant a retrial. Jodi was offered a life sentence, but as mentioned above, overcame any fear of death, and declined ( acceptance would have meant giving up all hopes of appeal ).
The Penalty Retrial
After a lengthy interval, Act 2, the Penalty retrial began in September 2014. Instead of backing down on the assault on Travis’ character, the defense persisted, and with some success. After many bitterly disputed hearings, it was established that there were indeed pornographic videos on Travis’ laptop – they had been deleted, but could be recovered from the disk free space. And there was a signed affidavit from a witness who claimed Travis downloaded child pornography on a shared computer around January 2001. An attempt by the State to blame someone else ended in disaster – “Did you know he was married in 1999?“.
Moreover, Amanda Webb testified again, and this time she was forced to admit she did not know if the records moved intact to the new store when Wal-Mart Salinas relocated in 2010.
The jury again could not agree that Jodi should be executed, with a single holdout being subjected to threats as a result. Jodi was therefore sentenced to be sent to prison and not to be released for any reason for the remainder of her natural life.
And that is the where we are. Jodi has been convicted based on very uncertain evidence, of a crime that makes no sense. She had nothing to gain from Travis’ premeditated murder, and everything to lose. Jodi needs to appeal. The State’s case has already been undermined, if she can prove she only used two gas cans, Juan’s main argument for guilt is destroyed.
Jodi needs money to fight her wrongful conviction. Please donate to the appeal fund if you can afford it. The forces of evil, symbolised by the Queen of the Night and the traitorous Monostatos in the Magic Flute need to be overcome!
and a quotation from the English Libretto :
Ladies: Listen, Tamino, you are lost! Think of the Queen! There are many rumours concerning the wicked ways of these priests!
Tamino (aside): A wise man seeks proof and disregards what the common rabble say.
See Who is Jodi to learn more about who Jodi really is.
MK: Jennifer, you’ve been on the Jodi Arias defense team since 2012 after several other attorneys dropped off for various reasons. Did you ever imagine the furore and the fallout the trial has generated?
JW: No, I mean I had no idea when I first came onto the case I had never heard of Jodi’s name before and I didn’t even know the any of the facts of the case, I had no idea it would turn into something like this.
MK: How much has it affected your life?
JW: Quite a bit. I mean for the first year that when I was just preparing for trial, it was just like any other case. Once we started trial in January 2013, I went through death threats, my family, they threatened my children, having deputies walk up across the street with hands on their guns, things like that I have never experienced before and I really didn’t think this would be this type of case to have that.
MK: Do you think this is an example of how cases are going to be in the future?
JW: I hope not. I don’t see the attraction to this case, I don’t know why there were followers, why people would show up every day. I really hope that as a State, as a Country, as a world, people wouldn’t be that fascinated with someone’s murder. I think it’s a sad commentary.
MK: At sentencing, Jodi admitted for the first time that she remembers slitting Travis Alexander’s throat, and she claimed she did it in self defense, now, during her first trial she claimed that she didn’t remember detail, all she remembered was shooting him. How did she recover that memory, or did she remember it all along?
JW: The memories were always there, it’s just that her ability to deal with it, she wasn’t able to handle them, so as a protection she was dissociating from them, she wasn’t remembering them, so all along I can tell you she did not remember anything, everything that she testified to was what she remembered.
Shortly after the trial, the first trial, after having to go through all the facts, is when she started to remember more, and that’s when she remembered actually cutting his throat.
MK: Or was she lying? She did lie several times at the beginning of this trial… or at the beginning of this case.
JW: At the beginning of the case. I know the prosecution wanted to label her a liar, and she did, she lied when she was first arrested, she lied about some of the things that she knew about Mr. Alexander, she didn’t want all of his skeletons coming out of the closet, as she told us yesterday, but when she testified, no I don’t believe she lied.
MK: You and Kirk Nurmi made a pretty thorough record of your allegations of misconduct by prosecutor Juan Martinez. What’s the process for appeals, and who will do it?
JW: Within 20 days we have to file what’s called a notice of appeal, and that’s something I will do, that’s something that trial attorneys do. And from there, it gets assigned.
MK: What will grounds for appeal be?
JW: That’s for the appellate attorney to decide. I imagine prosecutorial misconduct will be one.
MK: Now County Attorney Bill Montgomery said in a press conference last week that Jodi or her team might have been responsible for revealing the identity of the hold-out juror #17, and other jurors. How do you respond to that?
JW: That would be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. Juror #17 is the one who saved Jodi’s life, whether she realises it or not, but by hanging in there, and by literally hanging the trial, she saved her life, so there is no way that we would ever disclose her name. The fact that all of the defense team has been subject to so many threats and different types of harassment, knowing that that’s what happens when someones name leaks out, I could never imagine any one of us doing something like that. There would be no point, because we got life, we were very happy and content.
MK: Thank you Jennifer Willmott.
JW: Thank you very much.
Jodi Arias has now been sentenced to life in prison after a ridiculous and unjust circus trial, and the appeal process can at last commence.
( Sandy speaks at 51:30, Jodi speaks at 56 minutes, the judge speaks at 1:17:50 )
That so many people can be so easily fooled is not unusual either.
All we can do is shake our heads at such folly.
“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.” — Charles Mackay
The prosecution tampered with Travis’ laptop to conceal pornography, and then argued that Jodi lied using this tampered evidence. The charges must be dismissed.
During Arias’ 2013 guilt-or-innocence trial, and during the present sentencing retrial, Mesa police officers testified under oath that the computer was free of pornography and computer viruses. Prosecutor Juan Martinez used that testimony to refute Arias’ assertions that Alexander was sexually attracted to young boys and he branded her a liar for saying the porn and viruses were there.
Mesa police have since admitted that the computer did have significant amounts of pornography and viruses despite the earlier testimony by the trial’s case agent and a police forensic expert.
The case of Jodi Arias drags on. It is a classic case of misleading circumstantial evidence. In some ways it is simple, but in others it is complex.
It is true, that there are perplexing facts:
- The large number of knife wounds – can that be self-defense?
- Jodi fled the scene and lied about her involvement in a stunning show of denial
- A gun was stolen a week before Travis Alexander died in a fight with Jodi
But there is a complex mystery here : a fundamental problem : WHY would Jodi want to murder Travis Alexander? There is no motive for premeditated murder.
On 18 December 2014, there was further evidence that confirms what we have known since the original trial in 2013 : Jodi was not in the least bit jealous of Travis’ new girlfriends, she had all but escaped from this toxic relationship and was looking for a new man in her life.
Jodi and Travis had tried to break up, and they were both looking for new partners. There was no commitment by either side, even though a turbulent long distance sexual relationship continued.
On 27th March 2008, Jodi says it is hard to say no to Travis, and she wants him to be happy.
On 4th April 2008, in an email with Subject line “Goodbye”, Jodi says she is making the right decision.
So this relationship was going nowhere. Jodi was not jealous of Travis’ new women friends, and she wanted him to be happy. This is not the setting for premeditated murder ( even supposing such a weak motive would ever be realistic ).
So the truth has to be different. There is no question that Jodi lied when she told police first that she didn’t go to Mesa, and then that two intruders killed Travis. But what about her testimony at trial?
It turns out that there is no proof that Jodi lied on the stand.
- Jodi is said to have lied about Travis’ computer having pornography on it
We now know after evidentiary hearings in late 2014 that Travis’ computer DID have pornography on it.
- Jodi is said to have lied about Travis Alexander being shot before a later knife fight
This is not the case, a careful review of the physical evidence shows the gun shot must have been first, and in fact it was the lead detective that lied.
- Jodi is said to have lied about returning a gas can to Walmart
We now know that the Walmart witness does not know if records moved intact when the store relocated.
The only logical conclusion is that Jodi’s lies to the police in 2008 were due to overwhelming feelings of shame and depression, and that her testimony at trial is the truth.
Finally, evidence has emerged of prosecution misconduct. This has been a steady accumulation, from lead detective Flores’ perjury concerning the gunshot, to gross misconduct in concealing the pornography on Travis’ computer.
Paul Huebl, veteran private investigator and former journalist, recently remarked: “Both Arias and Milke cases are finished but for the last breath of stale air”.
Let’s hope that is true: in the name of justice, it’s time to Free Jodi Ann Arias.
See also Horn, Corn and a Truck Load of Porn for an in-depth review of the retrial so far.
[ This article also published at Ground Report ]
( Note: there is an earlier more introductory article here. This article is intended for an audience with a good existing knowledge of the case )
Jodi is innocent. I don’t believe the State’s main case, it doesn’t make any sense. I don’t believe Jodi (no criminal record or acts of violence since childhood – see Note 3) would premeditate murder by a week, for no discernible reason. In addition, there are numerous contradictions in Jodi’s behaviour in her trip to Yreka that confirm she was not intent on murder : she called Ryan Burns, and told him to expect her the next morning. She did not conceal the receipt for a gas can that was supposedly part of a plan to conceal her trip to Mesa. She used her mobile phone after leaving Mesa, but before reaching the Arizona border.
I believe the gun theft in Yreka was a random burglary, not connected with the case.
In addition, looking at the alleged crime scene, it is a scene of chaos.
The physical evidence suggests:
(1) The gun shot was first.
(2) Travis then bled near the entrance to the toilet.
(3) Travis then went and stood at the sink for some seconds.
(4) After which it is hard to say precisely what happened.
However there is other physical evidence that needs to be accounted for:
(i) A pool of blood on the carpet, near the North end of the hallway
(ii) Two pools of blood outside the linen cupboard
(iii) Trails of blood on both sides of the hallway
(iv) Signs of rotation just outside the linen cupboard
(v) A pattern of 9 wounds on Travis’ back
(vi) Photographs taken by Travis camera
Any theory needs to account for ALL of this physical evidence, and also the time frame established by the photographs, and the location and orientation of the camera.
My theory follows Jodi’s testimony, which I believe to be the truth. However, I will give an account from when Travis was shot, since around then Jodi’s memory is poor to non-existent.
Travis was shot by Jodi as he came towards her out of the closet. The gunshot wound to his head caused heavy bleeding from his nose and/or mouth, forming the pool of blood near the toilet entrance. At some point he coughed or sneezed, causing the spatter seen on the toilet.
He then got up and went over to the sink, where he coughed/sneezed and dripped blood into the sink.
We see a picture of the Travis outside the linen cupboard 62 seconds after the picture of the shower ceiling. I believe he has been shot, but the fight in which Jodi killed him with a knife has likely not started. Some time after this Travis came down the corridor, and bled on the carpet there. He then moved back towards the bathroom.
After moving back towards the bathroom, there was then a fight between Travis and Jodi, in which Jodi used the knife to defend herself. This ended when Travis’ throat was cut. I think this likely occurred just outside the linen cupboard, where there is a large pool of blood.
Jodi then rotated his body and dragged it to the shower, where she subequently washed it. Possibly she left the shower running, accounting for the flood.
- Jodi testified to screaming and dropping the knife onto the bathroom tiles. (Day 30 Part 1)
- After Travis was shot, until the fight started in which Jodi used the knife, although Travis threatend her, there was no definite reason for Jodi to leave, since he was injured in a gun accident, a strong motive for her to stay and help him, see what happened, confer on what to do next (in domestic violence the parties usually like to establish a cover story to keep it secret), etc.
- Other than kicking her mother once aged about 20.
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 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
Jodi 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.
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.
There were several issues that were disputed at trial :
- Whether the gunshot was first or last.
- Whether Jodi used two or three gas cans on her trip to Mesa.
- 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 ( 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.
- Why would a woman who has been subject to violent physical abuse voluntarily travel hundreds of miles to visit her abuser?
- Why would a man violently attack a woman simply because she dropped his camera?
- 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.
[ Update : see Jodi Arias – the gas cans revisited, 26 October, 2014 – Webb conceded in court that she doesn’t know if the computer records moved intact when the store moved ]
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?
Nurmi: And you answered “He said it would possibly have rendered the victim unconscious but definitely could have been conscious”, correct?
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?
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.
Nurmi: You put this “misunderstanding” first in your police report, right?
Nurmi: And second time, under oath, and giving sworn testimony, you perpetrated the same “misunderstanding”, correct?
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.
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 hard to account for “accidental” photographs other than by Jodi’s testimony that she “juggled” the camera, unless the camera had a “secret” strap. But a “secret” strap introduces more logical contradictions.
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 https://www.facebook.com/FreeJodi where more details can be found.
- Jodi Arias Brief – a brief summary of my beliefs, for people who already have a good understanding of the case.
- Jodi Arias – another argument for innocence – October 16, 2014
- The infamous trial of Candy Crush by Lise LaSalle
- Jodi vs. The World by Brenda Clubine
- Jodi Arias Trial Index
- Retrial Summary – the latest developments