Where I’ve Been: An Update

As many of you know, the Jodi Arias sentencing trial is in full swing.

I have been carefully following many of the very competent reporters who are live in the courtroom. I have not been writing about the case because I want to be able to watch it for myself after the verdict.

At that time, I plan to dissect and analyze the psychological aspects of the trial just as I had done during the first trial.

Yes, by then it might be “old news” but I believe it is still worth dissecting.

There were many interesting complexities during the first trial and a great deal to learn.

I believe the same will be true of the sentencing trial.

As you are following the trial from the vantage point of the reporters tweeting from the courtroom, let me know if there is anything of particular interest that you would like me to write about. If so, let me know in the comment section, on the discussion board or via Facebook or Twitter.

I will keep track of your comments and/or suggestions for when I review the sentencing tapes after the verdict.

Hopefully that will be sometime before 2015, but with this trial, anything’s possible.

In the meantime, happy trialing.

No Surprise Here: Jodi Arias Prepping to Defend Herself in Upcoming Trial

According to the website “The Trial Diaries,” Jen Wood, who attended the most recent Jodi Arias hearing, learned some interesting, though not entirely surprising news: Jodi Arias is prepping to represent herself at her upcoming sentencing trial.Jodi DP2

Big shocker, I think not. Jodi Arias’ ego demands that she do this. She is, after all, in her view, the smartest person in the room. Smarter than all of those people who studied the law and graduated law school and successfully practiced law for years. Smarter than Juan Martinez, her would-be opponent, who has practiced law for maybe longer than she has been alive.

This is not the first time Jodi chose self-representation. Early on, she fired her attorneys and felt that she, and she alone, could serve as her best legal representative. I would submit to you that individuals who choose to represent themselves in high-profile cases, especially when facing death, have a high degree of belief in themselves. Some might say arrogant, narcissistic or perhaps mentally ill.

The research about self-representation is relatively minimal. J. Decker (1996) argued that “Some defendants may proceed pro se to symbolize their lack of respect for any kind of authority, . . . or because they are unable to get their way and so represent themselves as an act of defiance” (p. 485).

Decker also believed that these defendants “may be cleverly manipulating the criminal justice system for their own secret agenda (p. 486–7).

Even if there is no hidden motive behind wanting to represent oneself in court, Decker thought that these individuals were “…so totally out of touch with reality that they believe they can do it all themselves” (p. 487).

Psychological reasons for self-representation were explored by Cabell (2012). A person might feel self-empowered representing themselves in front of the jury.

Control is another factor. If an individual is controlling their own defense, then they may be able to convey a more realistic picture of the issues than they believe their appointed counsel could convey.

Some defendants may feel as though they have something important to gain by personally arguing their defense. If they can control the communication with the jury, then they can fully explain themselves and ultimately sway the jury to side with them.

In Jodi’s case, she may believe that given an opportunity to tell her version of events, she’ll be able to sway the jury to forgo the death penalty. She’s good at lying and has probably spent every moment spinning a new variation of her self-defense theory.

She may think that she is good with people but by all accounts, she rubs people the wrong way.  She might also rub the jury the wrong way. It is a very big risk.

Thanks to CNN (who successfully argued for her retrial to be televised), we’ll see Jodi’s ego on full display (albeit not until after the verdict has been reached), should she decide to represent herself.

It will be a case to remember.


John F. Decker, The Sixth Amendment Right to Shoot Oneself in the Foot: An Assessment of the Guarantee of Self-Representation Twenty Years After Faretta, 6 SETON HALL CONST. L.J. 483, 522–23 (1996).

Kennedy Cabell. Calculating an alternative route: The difference between a blindfolded ride and a road map in pro se criminal defense. Law and Psychology Review. 36: p259. (2012).

New Jodi Arias Letter to Her Supporters: She Still Has a Voice

I have been writing about the Jodi Arias case since her trial last year. As someone who studies extreme abnormality and mental illness she is a fascinating subject. Her ego and desire to be heard are truly remarkable.

It’s hard to fathom how an individual who nearly decapitated someone and who has been adjudicated as guilty of first-degree, premeditated murder continues to feel so entitled. It is no surprise that despite being incarcerated she still has a voice. She does this all through her supporters.JodiStripes2

Psychopaths are particularly skilled at conning people into doing things for them. This can include obtaining money for them or standing up for them when it is perceived that others are trying to expose them. It’s not a coincidence that Jodi has attracted individuals to fulfill these functions on her behalf.

Her latest letter to her supporters is evidence of this. She’s writing to them about an apparent controversy with regard to her art website and the distributor of “Jodibands.” An excerpt of the letter:

“…This may be old news to most of you, but the negative affects are still quietly rippling through the atmosphere due to the damage caused by a misguided supporter… I don’t tend to hold grudges and I’ve long since forgiven the person who sparked this. The purpose of this message is to repair the remaining damage that was caused. I have no doubt that the haters will get ahold of this message and get their panties all in a bunch like they always so predictably do. (They probably will have already proven me right by the time some of you read this). But dogs don’t bark at a parked car and I should be flattered that they’re still paying so much attention to me…

…Anyway, I love you all and I’m cool if you’re cool with agreeing to disagree if you don’t agree with what I’ve said. I would just ask that, please, before anyone throws SJ or any supporter under the bus, remember first who you’re supporting. I am the LEAST worthy among all of you and still you throw me your love so generously. In the future, if any supporter attacks another supporter’s character, please turn a deaf ear to their slanderous accusations when there is no legitimate proof to back them up.”

You could read the rest of the letter here.

If you are surprised that she has followers, don’t be. There will always be people like this in the world.

Consider the man who recently stole a sign dedicated to a seven-year-old victim of the Newtown school shooting. He then contacted the girl’s mother and claimed that the Newtown shooting was a hoax and her daughter never existed. He is a Newtown “truther,” the latest in a long line of “truthers.” Truthers tend to be conspiracy theorists who have trouble coping with reality.

Jodi “supporters” might appropriately be renamed Jodi “truthers.” Their view of reality is just as skewed as the man who believes that the Newtown shootings were a hoax.

Jodi Arias will probably continue to have a voice for as long as there are gullible people in the world. Once she is sent to prison, she may have less of an opportunity to make these contacts and over time she will likely fade into relative oblivion, but make no mistake, she’ll never stop trying. Her ego won’t let her.

Jodi Arias Claims To Have Been Infected With Hep C In Jail

There are several recent news stories about Jodi Arias. The first is that she is claiming to have contracted hepatitis C through an infected needle when she was given a tuberculosis vaccine in Maricopa County jail.pjodi


According to the CDC, hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease that can range from mild to serious. The disease spreads primarily through the contact with blood of an infected person. People can also become infected by having sexual contact with a person infected with the virus. Cases of hepatitis C are either acute or chronic. The majority of people who have hepatitis C develop chronic infection.


Jodi Arias is also claiming that she was neglected by jail officials after one of her silicone breast implants leaked and caused a fungal growth. It’s unclear what is meant by “neglected.” Did they not treat the fungus? Did she request another implant and it was denied? There are no answers to those questions at this time.


The convicted murderer has filed a lawsuit against Sheriff Joe Arpaio, along with a restraining order against the Sheriff.


When asked for comment, the Sheriff presumes that Jodi’s trying to seek publicity since he has cut off all visits by the media to her in jail.


Jodi Arias is also claiming that the Sheriff makes her say the Pledge of Allegiance every morning to get food. The Sheriff claims that he does play certain songs in the jail but that none of the inmates are forced to sing.


“She’s smart. She knows if she ties me in, she’s going to get some press,” Arpaio said. “She knows probably I won’t just hide, so this is what she wants. I’m probably falling into her trap. On the other hand, I still have to defend my jail system and my dedicated office. I’m not worried about it.”


TMZ is also featuring this and other stories about Jodi Arias. In legal documents TMZ has obtained but not released, Jodi is claiming that the Sheriff has put cameras in her cell and that he has intercepted sexual letters between her and Travis Alexander’s cousin and then leaked them to Nancy Grace. Nancy Grace is apparently now claiming that Jodi and Travis’s cousin are getting married.


Apparently Jodi did not file the papers with the assistance of a lawyer. Reporters are now in the process of attempting to obtain the legal documents for examination. Some are already finding “holes.”


For instance, one Phoenix reporter, William Pitts, tweeted that the court documents have inconsistent information including: the wrong jail and jail address. He also noticed inconsistencies in driver’s license signatures. When Mr. Pitts contacted Arias’ lawyer, Jennifer Wilmott, she said that none of these claims are true. Certainly there will be more to come.

Why Does Jodi Arias’s Defense Team Want to Hear Her Phone Calls?

Jodi Arias’s defense team has been quite busy lately. In the span of just the last few weeks, they have filed multiple motions regarding the next phase of the trial including: attempting to ban cameras in the courtroom, requesting that they be allowed to read the Twitter and related social media accounts of jurors, allowing for the personal involvement of Jodi Arias in the questioning of potential jurors, and asking the judge for a change of venue. 

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Arias’ Attorneys Argue Jurors Can’t Judge If Her Crime Was Especially Cruel

Mr. Nurmi begins his newest motion to spare Jodi Arias from the death penalty, by asking Judge Sherry Stevens to “vacate the jury’s finding the aggravating factor that the murder of Mr. Alexander was “especially cruel…” After Jodi Arias was convicted of premeditated murder, the jury found that the “cruelty aggravator” was proven. 

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Prosecutors Request Judge Deny Defense Request to Delay Retrial

Jodi Arias’ defense attorneys recently filed a motion to push back the penalty phase of her trial until January 2014 due to scheduling conflicts. Mr. Nurmi will be out of the office quite a bit in July. Jennifer Willmott has five different trials set for the summer of 2013.

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Jodi Arias Trial: Dr. Robert Geffner, Defense Witness

Dr. Geffner was a likable but ineffective witness for the defense. He spilled his water twice while on the witness stand, and apologized for burping out loud. He also was a bit disingenuous, which is another way of saying he engaged in deception. I’ll go into that deception later in this article.

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