The Jodi Arias Trial: Jodi, Insanity and the Death Penalty

Recently, the head prosecutor in Maricopa County said that he was open to negotiating a deal in the Jodi Arias case. He would consider taking the death penalty off the table in exchange for life without parole. Whether or not a deal is struck, depends at least in part, upon how the victims’ family wants to proceed. Clancy Talbott, speaking on behalf of the Alexander family, told Shepard Smith of Fox news that they want to see Jodi Arias on death row. If there is no deal, a new jury will be convened this summer to decide her fate.

Jodi and Jen W

I’ve recently visited a website where they were debating whether or not Jodi Arias should get the death penalty. It was roughly a 60/40 split, the majority being for the death penalty. Those against the death penalty voiced legitimate reasons for their opposition. They included the death penalty being more expensive than life in prison, being uncomfortable with the government imposing death on its citizens, and the fact that the United States is the only industrialized country in the world that still employs the death penalty, among others.

Less defendable arguments were also expressed. Some commenters believed that Jodi had schizophrenia. They reasoned that such a heinous crime could only have been committed by someone who was “crazy.” Another person thought that the media made her look like a psychopath simply to “make more money for their TV shows.” Since Jodi “never showed an ounce of anger throughout the trial” she must have schizophrenia.

People are often confused about schizophrenia. When someone commits a heinous, brutal crime, it is often assumed that they must have done so because they were “crazy” but there’s a big difference between being crazy and committing a crime that people would describe as “crazy.”

Jeffrey Dahmer committed a brutal and heinous crime but was not crazy. He killed his victims and ate their flesh. Dr. Michael Stone, who ranks killers on a scale of evil, considers Jeffrey Dahmer to be the worst of the worst, the most evil. Many people thought Jeffrey was crazy. Jeffrey admitted that his actions were wrong and apologized. Psychiatric evaluations supported his sanity claim, yet many people continued to say Jeffrey Dahmer was crazy. Why? Because in the their minds and the minds of many others anyone who murders and eats the flesh of their victims has to be “crazy” and by extension has schizophrenia. That’s not schizophrenia, folks.

People who commit heinous, brutal crimes can be frighteningly sane. Jeffrey Dahmer is all the proof you need.

People with schizophrenia are mostly nonviolent. When they do engage in violence it’s typically because they are reacting to severe, untreated delusions and hallucinations. They can see imaginary people. They can hear people talking to them who aren’t there. Sometimes they describe these people as being “other worldly beings” or “demons.” Sometimes, Satan himself. They can lay in bed at night and “hear” their mother and sister talking about killing them, even though the plotters are in a house five miles away.

Though they have lost touch with reality, they don’t lose their morality. They don’t even temporarily lose their morality. They know killing is wrong. They believe killing is wrong. They kill only to defend themselves or the ones they love, from death or something even worse, maybe the devil.

Andrea Yates was a schizophrenic woman who drowned her children to save them from Satan. She believed her children were selected by Satan because of her own personal weaknesses. Satan was coming to take the souls of her children to eternal damnation. The only way to save her children was to send them to God before Satan came for them. They would be safe with God.

The prosecution in every case wants a conviction. The prosecution hired a psychiatrist to evaluate Andrea. The prosecution’s psychiatrist diagnosed her as having severe  schizophrenia. Both the prosecution and the defense agreed that Andrea was clearly mentally ill. Beginning with her first pregnancy, she has had a long documented history of hallucinations religious obsessions, intrusive thoughts, self-mutilation, catatonia, psychiatric hospitalizations, and suicide attempts. Immediately after drowning her children she called 911 and confessed. She requested to die by execution because it was the “only way to rescue her from the evil inside her.”

Diana Dial is another example. She shot and killed her roommate because she staunchly believed that he was going to poison her and the rest of her family. She believed that shooting him was necessary to protect her family from being killed. At trial, Diana adamantly denied a schizophrenia diagnosis despite clear evidence that she was very sick. Using schizophrenia as part of her defense could’ve helped her at trial but she refused to believe she was sick and even threatened to fire her lawyer for presenting supporting evidence. She was ultimately sentenced to life in prison.

I am not defending the actions of Andrea Yates or Diana Dial. I’m just telling you what’s going on inside their heads. Jodi, is not and has never been delusional.

I have studied schizophrenia and have worked with people with schizophrenia for many years and there is not a shred of evidence that Jodi Arias has schizophrenia. No mental health professional involved in the case had diagnosed her with schizophrenia. Nor did any media psychologist.

Sane people are capable of horrendous acts of evil. People with antisocial personalities,  kill their victims and go on with their day as though nothing ever happened. That is precisely what Jodi Arias did. She killed Travis and then spent the next day with Ryan Burns, kindling the flames of a budding new romance. Even her own mother wondered how Jodi could kill Travis and simply return to business as usual.

Jodi’s barbaric actions might be “crazy” by society’s standards, but she is quite sane.

The other non-defendable theme among those against the death penalty for Jodi Arias, is that we should spare her life because she is not a serial killer. We heard that logic from William Zervakos, the Jodi Arias jury foreman, who argued that the judicial system is flawed because “this was not a case of Jeffrey Dahmer or Charles Manson.”

In the minds of some, the death penalty is apparently reserved for those who kill multiple people, just one doesn’t count.  However, that’s not what the law says. The law states that killing one person makes you death-penalty eligible (in states that have the death penalty). The law does not state that you have to kill multiple people to be eligible for the death penalty. Anyone who believes that Jodi Arias should be spared the death penalty because she did not kill multiple people is misinterpreting the law. That would also include William Zervakos whose statement about Jeffrey Dahmer and Charles Manson suggests that he was misinterpreting the law.

There are valid arguments for and against the death penalty but there are also invalid arguments that are simply wrong.

Of course we should have empathy for individuals who are mentally ill, especially for those who have schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a devastating, chronic illness and at least half of its’ sufferers can’t recognize they’re ill, due to a neurological condition called anosognosia. People with schizophrenia are not in denial or simply refusing to believe they are ill just to be “difficult.”

Much like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, the cruelty of the disease is that it renders them unaware of their own illness. The 8th amendment of the constitution protects these individuals from facing death.

Jodi Arias does not have schizophrenia. The undeniable truth is that Jodi Arias is sane. She committed a brutal act of murder. She has been convicted of premeditated, first degree murder and that more than qualifiers her for the death penalty.

32 thoughts on “The Jodi Arias Trial: Jodi, Insanity and the Death Penalty

    • It’s true that killing one person can make you death-penalty eligible, but the penalty should depend on the circumstances of the killing AND the killer. The fact is that every person on death row in America today is there for at least one of the following: Murder with prior violent felonies, murder for money, murder by conspiracy (murder for hire, etc.), murder with rape / kidnapping / torture, multiple murders, murder of a law officer, or the murder of children.

      The death penalty is not just for depraved heinous or cruel crimes. It is for depraved, heinous and brutal people. Wendi Andiano, on death row in Arizona and also convicted by Juan Martinez, killed for money. She poisoned, beat and stabbed a terminally ill and defenseless man. Jodi Arias, who is clearly mentally ill, showed no signs of anger or violence throughout her trial and most of her life, both before and after her crime. The death penalty is not warranted under these facts and there is no precedent . Not in Arizona or anywhere in America.

  1. I agree also. A few thoughts–Although Andrea’s illness was clearly documented and it was documented its existence preceded the crime, she WAS found guilty in her first trial which other readers of this article may not remember. I can’t remember all the details but it had something to do with how TX narrowly defined “insanity.” I think (at the time anyway), TX recognized insanity only as “not knowing right from wrong at the time of the crime” rather than recognizing that someone who is mentally ill may engage in an activity he/she knows is technically wrong but may have “insane” reasons to do it anyway (such as Andrea’s delusional belief she was “saving” her children’s souls by killing them.) Because Andrea waited until her husband left the house to kill the children and because she called the police immediately after killing them, the first jury determined she knew right from wrong. (They were probably also helped along by a prosecution witness who opined Andrea got the idea to claim insanity from a crime show TV episode that was later shown not to have ever existed.) I also recall it took that jury very little time to decide she was guilty. After an appeal, she was granted a second trial and she was found not guilty by reason of insanity. She will likely spend the rest of her life institutionalized.

    So far as the death penalty being reserved for only serial killers, I can understand that perspective. And I think that is a very defensible perspective as is the perspective that the DP is wrong for a variety of reasons (religious, costs, not civilized, possibility of convictions that are in error, etc) I don’t quite understand though how a juror could be seated in the Arias case who thought either of those things (assuming the person was honest about his/her feelings during voir dire.) Since the Arias case was so high profile, clearly prospective jurors were questioned about their knowledge of the case before being seated. So they all KNEW in advance it was not a serial killer case. Yet they all (apparently) said they could consider the DP. So it was disconcerting to hear the foreman’s rationale. Of course, his feelings could have evolved during the trial, but the context of the interviews in which he made those statements seems to suggest that is a long-standing opinion of his.

    • The jury foreperson was a stealth juror .. one who sought to be the foreperson of a high profile trial jury, which is evidenced by written blog statements by his son to that effect, but the foreperson’s livelihood is in broadcasting, & the son wrote that his father had “media camped IN his home all night” the night of the non-verdict verdict, the morning after which he gave an “exclusive” interview to ABC’s Good Morning America show betraying the agreement the jurors made among themselves to wait until the next week to provide media interviews. His goal was celebrity; however, he didn’t care too much for the negative publicity & the backlash from the thinking public, according to whining statements by the son in his blog.

      The jury foreperson not only misinterpreted the law, he misunderstood the jury instructions too .. he thought by being the holdout juror that would lead the judge to immediately impose a life sentence (be it without or with parole), which was erroneous.

  2. Thank you Dr. Randle. Although society has come a long way, “crazy” is most often dumped into the category of schizophrenia, the “split personality” description, whereas it is not. And as you so well described, the majority of those afflicted with schizophrenia know right from wrong. Even if Satan tells them to do it, they know it was wrong. Also, like other mental illnesses, schizophrenia runs on a spectrum, from mild to worse. As for Jodi Arias, during her trial, if she did have schizophrenia, she would have spoken-out, acted-out the severe abnormality during the trial. That being said, she DID present as talking “abnormally,” as well “abnormal” actions. The public yet cannot comprehend sociopathy. How could someone hurt , destroy another so horribly? It is not within the realm of human consciousness. Being so “bad,” what many term evil. It was obvious her lies were calculated, for her benefit & to hurt Travis/ family & friends. Her actions aggressive, arrogant…calculated. She thought she could intimidate Mr. Martinez…Travis’ family & friends…the *jury! As for Arias not being a serial killer, how do we know she hasn’t killed before? I am not accusing here, but we do not know her past. Some do get away with murder. Most likely she has injured, killed animals. And the question remains as to what she was doing with knives & a gun in her car when arrested. If only a “getaway” from arrest & Travis’ killing, why would she need *knives, in addition to a gun? Plus, she did bring a knife, knives, to kill Travis. Just maybe she has experience with knives. Lastly, it is common sense that a serial killer has to begin with the first kill. No, not all who commit the most heinous of crimes are “crazy” schizophrenics. The stigma of schizophrenia remains, but continues to lessen with more information, education. However, that leaves the designation of EVIL. It is not uncommon for mental health professionals to label, “evil.” Actually, there is much debate if there is true evil or not, for it is difficult to understand a human being like Jodi Arias, who appears to many, to defy even a DSM diagnosis.

    • Dawn, you know that letter from Jodi to Ryan Burns posted in one of Dr Randle’s posts is interesting. Jodi says she read the transcript of Ryan’s interview with Detective Flores and that Flores told Ryan she’s probably a serial killer. She denies it to Ryan. But she knew all along that she fits the profile and in her interrogation with Flores, for no good reason, brought up from no where, “I love, love, love animals…” Then the story of how bad she feels that one time in her teens she kicked doggie boy. Purely calculated story, unrelated to anything he was asking her, to make sure he rules out “kills animals” and any suspicion of her real sadistic nature. There’s more to Jodi than we know, and Flores knew it early on.

      • Than you, Maria. I did not know Jodi’s letter to Ryan Burns & Detective Flores saying she was probably a serial killer. I will look it up here on Dr. Randle’s posts. Very interesting! You know, the more time that goes by, more things stand out to make one question, to wonder. For example, it is known that sociopaths tend to put true facts into their lying spiels. And jodi Arias for sure does this. In her interrogation with Flores, she said she would wear gloves if murdering. The blood. And not cause suffering! So it stands to reason she wore gloves killing Travis & hurting, killing other living beings. Not causing suffering? I think this means he DID want to cause suffering. It is obvious she wanted Travis to suffer in the killing. As we know, sociopaths/psychopaths do tend to torture, kill animals, usually beginning in childhood. I did read of her describing how she kicked the family dog & it ran away. I think not. Dog is dead. And when she said ” I love, love, love animals,” I shuddered. Right then I knew she hurt animals. Who would offer this information in an interrogation? Maybe to show how she is not a killer? No. The fact that she brought this up says to me she hurt animals, the memory was brought up talking of not killing Travis. She equated the denial, the lie, Travis : Animals. Then she described her childhood as being “idyllic.” Her family had pets. But when she elaborated on how she loved her younger brother’s (Joey) pet frogs, I felt sick. For one, the babysitter said she was always at Joey, she could not be left alone with him. And she did hit him over the head with a baseball bat when she was @ 6 years old. Frogs are a commonly hurt by kids with problems. In addition, it stands to reason, if frogs were Joey’s pets, Jodi would go after them. Anyway, it seems Jodi had a thing with knives. And lifelong, unpredictable rages. Her mother said she was not surprised Jodi killed Travis!! This is very “telling.” Most likely her mother had lots to deal with, Jodi growing up. “Dirty Little Secrets?” Right on….family secrets.

        • I so agree with you Dawn. Another interesting manipulation in that interrogation where she brought up animals for no reason…she told Det Flores that she loves animals and that they have souls.

          Few people would understand what she meant outside a Mormon perspective. Det. Flores is Mormon, and she was playing on their shared spirituality (I just vomited in my mouth a little). In the Mormon religion, there’s a doctrine that animals have souls and also have an afterlife like human souls. It was another example of pretending she feels such compassion for animals and views them so tenderly.

          • Arias claims she wouldn’t hurt a spider…yet, she did brutally, heinously, slaughter a human being with coldblooded premeditation. She, as a 27 yr old, kicked her own mother who came to her assistance to move from Mesa. It doesn’t matter what she says about souls or anything living being like an animal .. “we”, including Det Flores, have seen what she does, & actions speak louder than words.

  3. Maricopa county attorney Bill Montgomery said that his office is getting prepared for a retrial of this case. He also said that prosecutors always have an ethical obligation to take into consideration anything that might be proposed by a defendant or their counsel. I believe they also have the legal obligation to look at it. He never left me thinking that he was open to negotiating anything. He has not yet said if any such offer has been made.
    http://www.azfamily.com/news/Co-attorney-preparing-to-retry-Arias-penalty-phase-209610801.html

  4. “The other non-defendable theme among those against the death penalty for Jodi Arias, is that we should spare her life because she is not a serial killer. We heard that logic from William Zervakos, the Jodi Arias jury foreman, who argued that the judicial system is flawed because “this was not a case of Jeffrey Dahmer or Charles Manson.”

    William Zervakos probably should be in an insane asylum somewhere. Jodi isn’t a serial killer because she didn’t get away with killing Travis. She was ready for some new victims when she planned on going camping with guys she didn’t know and already had a gun and knife to take with her. I think she enjoyed killing. Further, this certainly was not a case of Jeffrey Dahmer or Charles Manson. So far as I know, Jodi never cannibalized Travis and Charles Manson never actually killed anyone himself, his idiot followers did.

    And one of the jurors (or someone) quoted Zervakos as saying that “this is a human being we are talking about here.” What was Travis for goodness sakes?!?! As I said, Zerrvakos needs to spend some quality time in a home where they can look after him and check his meds regularly.

  5. The reality is that it is a personal decision for the jurors to decide if they can live with themselves after rendering a verdict of death. It’s about feeling guilty. It’s all based on your life experience and perceptions about good and evil. Is the person confident in making such an important decision? What type of crime or criminal to they believe deserves the death penalty? I believe the majority that wants death for Jodi is because they want her to be locked up 23 hrs. a day alone in her cell with few privileges. As we have seen
    over the past 5 years in jail this has not brought her any closer to showing any remorse and she continues to be passive-agressive towards the victims family. She is crazy like a Fox. Protecting her image
    no matter how crazy it appears.

  6. I like this discussion Dr. Randle. But stepping aside from the mental illness issues, I think the death penalty issue is more complex than the conclusions reached here about Jodi’s conviction and the foreman William Zervakos.

    I may be mistaken, but I think you’re making an understandable error in assuming the death penalty is more cut and dry than it actually is.

    This last sentence, “[Jodi Arias] has been convicted of premeditated first degree murder and that more than qualifies her for the death penalty” is inaccurate.

    A conviction of premeditated first-degree murder is not enough for the death penalty. Plenty of convictions for premeditated first-degree murder do not qualify for the death penalty. Jodi Arias qualifies ONLY because this particular murder met one of the aggravating factors in Arizona’s statute making it CAPITAL murder. Quoting the statute:

    The following aggravating circumstances constitute capital murder in the state of Arizona:[1]
    1. prior conviction for which a sentence of life imprisonment or death was imposable;
    2. prior serious offense involving the use or threat of violence;
    3. grave risk of death to others;
    4. procurement of murder by payment or promise of payment;
    5. commission of murder for pecuniary gain;
    6. murder committed in an especially heinous, cruel, or depraved manner;
    7. murder committed while in custody;
    8. multiple homicides;
    9. murder of a victim under 15 years of age or of a victim 70 years of age or older; and
    10. murder of a law enforcement officer.

    Jodi Arias qualifies because the manner of death was especially cruel. If she had simply premeditated to shot Travis through the famous doggie door as he walked by, she would still be convicted of premeditated first-degree murder but not qualify for the death penalty. If she had paid a hit man to shot him through the doggie door, they would both qualify. If she had a life insurance policy on him she would qualify. If she had killed a police officer on impulse while evading arrest on a traffic ticket on the way to Mesa, she would qualify. If Travis had been 14 and a half when she shot him through the doggie door, it would qualify. If he was 15, it would not.

    We can see from the list that some of the aggravating factors relate directly to the amount of suffering an accused causes. But others are there for public policy reasons. And many more premeditated murders do not qualify than the ones that do.

    I’m disappointed Zervakos did not vote for the death penalty. But I don’t see how his statement that the system is “flawed” in what qualifies for the death penalty—and she’s not Dahmer—could only be reached by misinterpreting the law. Zervakos never said he voted against death because Jodi’s not a serial killer. It seems to me that he was actually interpreting the law correctly because he made three separate analyses—one on the guilt evidence to find her guilty; one on the specific mitigating factors to vote for life; and one in criticizing the inconsistencies of a flawed system.

    Many people expect the death penalty to be consistent. I think that even your statement that Jodi’s premeditated murder conviction MORE THAN QUALIFIES HER, which is an error, expresses the reasonable expectation that the death penalty is more uniform than it actually is.

    Ironically, there’s an article in the American Bar Journal today about a death penalty case making its way through the appellate courts where its alleged that the judge who sentenced the defendant to death had Alzheimer’s dementia. The 9th Circuit just said, no problem, too bad, too sad. (Well, not in those words.) The dissenting opinion by Judge William Fletcher says, “The majority holds that a judge sentencing from dementia may sentence a man to death. I disagree.” Coming soon to the US Supreme Court near you.

    • @Maria—Interesting post. I don’t have legal training but in the case of the “senile” judge, was a jury required to recommend the DP before that judge could impose it? And even though the judge was later determined to be senile (somehow by somebody), he/she did not commit any identifiable reversible errors during the guilt phase of that particular trial? As strange as that case sounds on its face, as a layperson I can sort of see why the 9th Circuit Ct decided what it did. Also, while this may stem from lack of knowledge on my part, it SEEMS judges have a lot more “leeway” to determine sentencing in non-capital crimes (at least they did before the advent of structured sentencing.) So in some ways, if he really was impaired, I’d be more worried about the fairness of sentences he imposed in jury trials for lesser crimes or in bench trials.

      • Its a long decision Lizzie, so I only skimmed it. But it appears the defendant plead guilty and did not present mitigating evidence and was sentenced directly by the judge in 1985. He sentenced him to death. The California Supt Ct reversed the case and instructed the judge he must require mitigating evidence. The defense attorney again presented none, and he sentenced the guy to death a second time. For some reason, the judge put on a new hearing with another defense attorney to put on mitigating evidence and sentenced him to death a third time. So all the reversible error is limited to the sentencing because of the guilty plea. Eventually, the defendant was granted habeas corpus on grounds of the judge’s incompetency based on the record showing he did not adequately grasp legal concepts and evidence he later was known to have dementia. But the 9th Circuit just overturned the habeas corpus and upheld the sentence of death.

        • Thanks, Maria. Sounds the judge wasn’t the only one in la-la land during a few of those trials. An attorney allowing a client to plead guilty to a capital crime and making no attempt at any mitigation?

        • It doesn’t really matter I guess but according to DSM (at least according to DSM-IV and earlier editions) Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia. There are other types such as vascular dementia (hardening of the arteries) but Alzheimers IS dementia. I don’t think “senility” appears in DSM any more than other commonly used terms like “alcoholism” do. Interesting, “dementia praecox” was an early term for schizophrenia so the meaning of ‘dementia” CAN vary!

    • Well I just heard the news that Jodi’s defense team is saying that if the Prosecution’s witness is correct about Jodi having Borderline Personality Disorder, then she is mentally ill and cannot be sentenced to death.

      Help me out here. It’s already been shown in trial that she knows what she did is wrong–and she knows right from wrong. That means she DOES qualify even if she is Borderline, right?

      • @Uppity–I expect KR will respond in full to your question but I can say absolutely for sure Personality Disorders are NOT mental illnesses per se. So that sounds like more BS from the defense. (BS a member of a new jury might buy so the defense may be trying to taint the jury pool before the next phase–and JW did try that a bit with the last jury in her closing) It is possible though if she can be found to be **currently** “incompetent” (highly unlikely as a State’s psychiatrist/psychologist would have to agree– it wouldn’t be based only on the word of some fool like Samuels) then the penalty phase could be halted until she becomes competent to aid in her defense. Then I think (although KR and Maria would know better than I do about this part) if she gets the death penalty, supposedly (a big supposedly) an execution cannot be carried out if she develops a psychotic mental illness. (In that case, execution is supposed to be delayed–not cancelled– until the prsioner is able to appreciate why he/she is being punished that way–otherwise it is considered a cruel and inhumane punishment) Undoubtably though, some executions are carried out when the prisoner is quite mentally ill and some mentally retarded prisoners are executed even though the Supreme Ct says that can’t happen. (IQ tests aren’t perfect)

        • A string of appellate court cases from Arizona have already held that personality disorders are not mental illness for mitigation in DP cases. Much less to avoid execution.

          Jodi can try to fake a sudden bought of incompetence and psychosis but it didn’t even work for David Brian Mitchell in the Elizabeth Smart case despite singing hymns, pronouncing curses and prophesy in court.

      • While reserving the right to be wrong, I would have to say that BPD would not qualify as criteria for any legal definition of insanity. We wouldn’t exempt someone with, say, a phobia — pick one — because even though they possess a defined mental illness, they remain capable of discerning right from wrong and of consciousness of guilt. Jodi Arias has demonstrated an ability for both so I would not expect the courts to rule in favor of an insanity defense which would prevent execution.

        • We’re not talking insanity here. We are talking mitigation – something that diminishes a person’s responsibility such that the maximum penalty should not be imposed. People under 18 are not mature enough, and that means they cannot get death. People with mental retardation cannot be sentenced to death (though the definition of mentally retarded changes from state to state – what exempts you from the DP in one state would not be enough to disqualify you in another state). Mental illness is a ripe issue for SCOTUS, and may be the next limit placed on the death penalty.

          Note, this is not the same as insanity – a successful insanity defense means the person is not in any way culpable for a crime. Mental illness as a mitigator just takes death off the table, meaning the most a person can be sentenced to would be LWOP (life without possibility of parole).

          Now, as to what would constitute a mental illness – that’s for the courts to decide. I highly doubt a personality disorder would qualify, though Nurmi et al did a decent job of setting up BPD as a possible defense to mitigate against death (BPDs can get briefly psychotic, and the distortion of a BPD’s perception can cause a sufferer to be more likely to act in a certain way, usually to harm themselves). I do think it would be case by case with a necessary showing that the mental illness interfered with the defendants ability to fully process what they were doing, or to misread social cues or something. So, if somebody who had a spider phobia believed fully that his roommate was coming home with a dozen spiders, and decided to lie in wait to kill that person before he entered the home, then maybe a phobia could be mitigation.

          Listen, there’s no such thing as a slam dunk diagnosis that qualifies a defendant for NGRI or possible mitigation away from a death sentence. There’s no such thing as a diagnosis that automatically makes a person incompetent to stand trial. The legal standards have to be applied case by case, which is good; one schizophrenic is not like another. While personality disorders in general may never qualify, it still has to be assessed case by case. And, with BPD anyway, it will be an issue for appeal provided SCOTUS decides that it’s cruel and unusual punishment to execute the mentally ill.

          Oh, and for the record for those who say we’re the only industrialized country practicing execution; Japan still has the death penalty. The most recent execution was a double hanging in April of this year. Last I heard, Japan was industrialized and considered a first world country. The US is still in remarkably uncomfortable company – barring Japan, it’s most practiced in China, Iran, and other not so pleasant places.

          • Stacey, I see now that I did totally misuse the phrase “legal definition of insanity” in my above reply. Thanks for taking the time to clarify the basic concept I so hastily and ineptly attempted to convey.

            [s] Notta Lawyer

  7. Another great article! Jodi is cunning and thinks things through so thoroughly…you can tell with the underhanded verbal digs she enjoys taking that she knows full well what she’s doing. And I agree with the commenter above, that the main reason the majority would like to see her get the death penalty is not due to the fact that they think she’ll actually be put to death but because she’ll be locked up and unable to continue her shenanigans of further torturing Travis’ family.

    This is totally off topic but I’d love to know your opinion on Amanda Bynes. I’ve heard many people say they suspect she’s schizophrenic whereas others believe it’s drug addiction.

  8. Whoever said that jodi didn’t show anger during the trial should watch this (especially @ 7:16) –> http://youtu.be/oJgKBMmEwy0

    Whoever wants to laugh at all the birds she threw in the courtroom should watch this –>
    http://youtu.be/5uiNGoGlt_U

    As for Dahmer, he wasn’t crazy. He was lonely, confused and sad.
    Dahmer was a monster no doubt about that, but not a crazy monster… just a sad, lonely monster.
    Thanks for the great read!
    :)

  9. In today’s society, political correctness is a major driver in public sentiment against the death penalty. “Two wrongs don’t make a right,” many say. They question the rationale of a civilized society which uses the law to put a citizen to death. They argue there is never sufficient justification for doing so.

    At the opposite end of the death penalty debate are those who stand on the “an eye for an eye” principal. This is a rather foolish argument because, at face value, it begs for punishment equal to the cruelty of the crime. What punishment, then, would they suggest for, say, Timothy McVey. Would they want to blow him up? Would they want to eat Jeffery Dahmer?

    Somewhere in the middle are people like me who believe there are appropriate circumstances for imposing the death penalty but that the circumstances are limited and the method of execution must be swift and humane.

    Maria Santana listed, above, the Arizona standard for application of the death penalty. While I’m not certain I agree with all the listed criteria, there is one in particular I stand strongly in favor of — “6. murder committed in an especially heinous, cruel, or depraved manner.” Persons capable of this type of crime are, imo, almost always possessed of a level of psychopathy which society regards as Evil.

    One need only view the crime scene and autopsy photos of Travis Alexander to conclude Jodi Arias is capable of great Evil. I think most mental health professionals would concede the first kill is always the hardest. If this is what Jodi is capable of on her first kill… or was it her first kill?

    Arias, in her 15 July 2008 interview with Det. Flores, describes an incident where she kicked the family dog in anger and it ran away, never to be seen again. I’m highly suspicious of this “story” because dogs tend to be ridiculously loyal. For one to run away after a single instance of abuse seems absurdly unnatural to me. Did she actually kill the dog and dispose of it? I don’t know, of course, but I think it’s something she is absolutely capable of.

  10. I cannot do other than totally agree with you, Dr K that Arias qualifies for the death penalty. The magnitude of her crime is great enough, and when you add her total lack of any remorse or contrition to her further slaughter of her victim – aided and abetted by her counsel – to her continuing harassment of his family, she more than qualifies.

  11. I cannot do other than totally agree with you, Dr K that Arias qualifies for the death penalty. The magnitude of her crime is great enough, and when you add her total lack of any remorse or contrition to her further slaughter of her victim in court – aided and abetted by her counsel – and throw in her continuing harassment of his family, she more than qualifies.

  12. Two things Jodi is involved in any deal, she wanted 2nd degree and 22 24 years. To drop the DP needs concession. and mutual agreement . All options must get play,not actual consideration. DP sentence is original charges in continuation.
    Among other mental defaults Jodi is a SOPIST and Jury sentenced pre-mediation that overpowers insanity. and allowes crazy. Meaning deranged and deranged can be or Jodi is unfit to walk the face of the earth. Jury only reported unable to decide once and Judge ended trial. All previous statements stated precisely that in terminology. Any related costs befall early Jury Dismissal.

  13. It’s amazing how many in the public confuse schizophrenia with multiple personality (dissociative identity) disorder, have you noticed ? People will comment on how strikingly different a person behaves in various situations, so they must have multiple personalities & be schizophrenics. Not just in this case, but in other legal cases in which the defendant shows signs of psychopathy.
    My opinion is that the general public is very confused about mental illnesses, unless they’re exposed to someone who they personally know who has a diagnosed condition.

  14. Pingback: Can Borderline Personality Disorder Spare Jodi Arias From The Death Penalty?

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