Jodi Arias – Evidence Assessment

This page records my overall assessment of the evidence in the case. The likelihood ratio column is how the evidence modifies my estimate of Jodi Arias’s guilt. In common sense terms, ratios from 2 to 3 are “weak”, 3 to 10 is “substantial”, 10 to 30 is “strong”, 30 to 100 is “very strong”, more than 100 is “decisive”. Multiplying the likelihoods and then dividing gives an overall likelihood. Below the table I explain my reasoning for the likelihoods given.
For each element in the table below, I give an outline of my reasoning further down the page. See also further thoughts 28 April 2013.

Evidence Prosecution
General likelihood 2 Weak evidence of innocence
Jealousy as the motive 100 Very strong evidence of innocence
The theft of a handgun from her grandmother’s house 5 Substantial evidence of guilt
Why did she not shoot him while he was sleeping 2 Weak evidence of innocence
Arias testimony 2 Weak evidence of innocence
No leakage 10 Strong evidence of innocence
Transformation from terrible to brilliant liar 10 Strong evidence of innocence
Overall Likelihood Ratio 80000/5 = 16000 5 80000 Decisive evidence of innocence

First I will state basic facts that I consider as proven beyond all doubt. Since I consider these facts are beyond dispute, I don’t discuss the evidence that establishes these facts.
(1) Jodi Arias killed Travis Alexander on June 4th 2008, using a knife and a 0.25mm handgun.
(2) Her relationship with him was abusive, Arias was subjected to abuse that made her suicidal at times. ( Note: this has been challenged, see Abuse )
(3) Jodi attempted to cover up her involvement in the killing

Note: Discounted Evidence is for evidence or arguments that I have seen, and discounted as having little or no value, with an explanation for why I think the evidence has no value and should be excluded from consideration.

General likelihood

This is the consideration of the likely explanation when somebody is killed where there is an abusive relationship.
There are two common scenarios : the first is where the abuser ( usually a man ) kills the abused/controlled person (usually a woman) during a fight.
The second, less common, scenario is where the abused person defends themselves, killing the abuser.
I would expect almost all homicides in the context of an abusive relationship to fit roughly into these two scenarios.
Note: in this case, according to the defence, there was an accidental element, where Jodi accidentally fires the gun as Travis advanced on her, escalating the fight.
I need to do some research to see how well this idea of mine is supported, and how often the abused person murders their abuser in cold blood ( as opposed to killing them in self defence ).

Jealousy as the motive

I need to look at this more closely, but jealousy does not seem a plausible motive for such a cold-blooded, planned murder.
It seems that Jodi had similar experiences before, both with Alexander and previous boyfriends.
That is instances where her partner was unfaithful, although at this stage, Alexander is not even being unfaithful, because they have already broken up a year before (albeit they were continuing the sexual relationship).
Given this, why would Arias feel any jealousy at all, let alone extreme jealousy? She has a date with Ryan Burns, and is looking for new partners.
In the previous instances, while she was naturally upset, her reaction was simply to seek to end the relationship, and move on, or to forgive and carry on the relationship after a few days.
In at least two instances she remained friendly with an ex-partner after breaking up.
There is no evidence of her seeking retribution against partners, even at a low level, let alone cold-blooded murder.
So this is not a credible motive.
Also note: Jodi asserted that she did not even know that Mimi was going to Cancun until after June 4 2008, and the state did not prove otherwise.
So the state did not even prove that this was a possible motive.
See also Women do not commit heinous murder for no good reason

The theft of a handgun from her grandmother’s house

There is no denying that this does seem very suspicious, especially as the calibre matches ( although 0,25mm is not a rare calibre ).
There is a difficulty here though, which is that although the probability of this event might only be 1 in 40 ( suppose we say the event needs to be within 3 months of the murder, and the gun would be stolen once every ten years on average ), there are a huge number of similar, potentially suspicious, events, for example theft of a gun but from the house next door.
Therefore, given that there is no proof that Jodi stole the gun, we should only give this moderate weight.

Note: the report on the gun stolen shows it had a magazine with seven hollow point bullets ( JodiAriasGunTheftReport ).
However the bullet recovered appears not to have been hollow point. I am not sure about this, so I am disregarding it for the moment, but if this is right, the last surviving piece of prosecution evidence is gone.

“Carlton Allen then informed me that a .25 calibre automatic pistol was missing from a dresser in his bedroom. Carlton Allen described the pistol as being approximately 3″ to 4″ long and 3″ to 4″ tall, black with a black grip. He stated it also had a fully loaded magazine, with seven rounds of jacketed hollow points, that was also taken with the pistol, Carlton Allen did not know the serial number of the gun or the brand of the gun. He did stated that the gun was originally owned by his cousin Norman Bowers. When Bowers died, the gun was given to Carlton Allen. The gun was not registered and Carlton Allen stated that it was quite old.”

Another point is this: the mass of the bullet is too high to be a hollow point. For .25 auto hollow points have a mass of 35 grains. Non hollow points have a mass of 50 grains. Hollow points have a lower mass because they are partially hollowed out in the front. Thus the name. The mass reported in the trial was 44.8 grains which makes it to heavy to be a hollow point. The difference between 50 and 44.8 can be accounted due to fragmentation. ( Needs references to back this up ).

Unless we hypothesise that Jodi bought a different magazine.
I have also heard that a detective testified to a string of burglaries in the area, but I have not yet checked that out, so this is not factored in.
Another problem is that this theft is a very poor plan – it would be much better to buy an illegal gun, for example.
See also : A post on this at JoII

Why did she not shoot him while he was sleeping
If Jodi planned the attack, why did she not attack when he was most vulnerable, say when he is in deep sleep?
Other aspects seem very strange – it’s hard to imagine a woman having sex with a man who she is planning to murder.
Even more with the gunshot last : why risk a suspicious gun theft a week before, and then attack with a knife?

Arias testimony

Jodi doggedly stuck to her account of the killing, and could not be shaken from it under cross examination.
Lying is not easy, so I am somewhat impressed that she could not be tripped up and caught out if she was lying throughout her testimony.
Note: I am not claiming that we can be sure she has not lied about some details.
Samuels, the psychologist asked to assess Arias, testified how she gave accounts of the lead-up to the fight with small variations each time, indicating that the story is not made up.
Her previous attempts at making up a story were not credible at all.

No leakage

If Jodi were a psychopath, you would expect to find some history of violence, and evidence of unusual and dark thoughts in her diary.
You would expect a psychologist to be able to discern such an unusual psyche.
Extreme violent crime is generally committed by people with a history of criminal activity, with a progression of increasing violence.
Jodi Arias has no such record, which suggests the violence was not premeditated by her. See also Steve Moore on “leakage”.

Transformation from terrible to brilliant liar

This appears to be a major difficulty for the prosecution. For two years, Jodi tells lies that are not remotely credible.
How does she then come up with a brilliant self-defence strategy that is so subtle that very few people can comprehend it.
And why does she not tell it for two years.

Overall, the main reason I cannot believe the prosecution case is that it seems impossible to turn it into a consistent narrative that I can understand.

By contrast, I have no problem accepting the defence version of events, apart from the gun theft, which I take as an unrelated coincidence.

Final disclaimer: the trial is very long. Although I have seen a fair proportion of the testimony, I have not viewed every day, the account here is therefore only tentative.
However I have seen enough to be very confident that Jodi Arias is innocent, and the jury will shortly find her so ( 20 March 2012).
Update: 9th May 2013. well I was wrong there. I have doubts as to whether she received a fair trial, due to the extensive coverage against her on HLN, which was I believe selectively edited to show only one side of the case. I believe that, in combination with an unsequestered jury, may have compromised the trial.

My further thoughts 28 April 2013

The crime scene pretty much proves the self-defence case. There are at least 4 strong reasons:
(1) The photo of the bathroom ceiling.
(2) The back wounds are not stab wounds.
(3) The blood evidence in the sink.
(4) The blood evidence in the hallway ( this is the strongest of them all ).
I say it’s impossible to reconcile this evidence with Arias attacking Alexander.
It has to be a fight where he is attacking her. You cannot turn this into a realistic fight where she attacks him.

After the gunshot, he comes down the hallway, falls over, then goes back up the hallway. This is very clear.
I don’t see any other plausible account for the blood in the hallway. The fact he turns around proves that he does not want to escape.
This is a serious domestic violence fight.

Finally, when you look at this from the proper perspective, it is obvious that this was simply a 21st century witch-hunt.

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