Was Jodi Really Engaging in Avoidance Behavior?

By | March 26, 2013

Prosecutor Juan Martinez discussed a particular diagnostic criteria of post-traumatic stress disorder at great length: Criterion C: Avoidant/numbing (1): Efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the trauma.Jodi 2

As part of this discussion, he asked Dr. Samuels about all of the various times Jodi seemed to be engaging in “thoughts, feelings, or conversations regarding the trauma” (i.e. killing). Dr. Samuels explained away these behaviors as being her attempt to psychologically distance herself from what she had done. This avoidance, he explained, was a psychological defense mechanism. In a future blog post, I will explain why his defense mechanism explanation isn’t credible or logical.

In the meantime, below is a list of the counterarguments presented in court by the prosecutor to show that she was very much engaged in “thoughts, feelings, or conversations regarding the trauma.” You be the judge as to whether or not her actions meet that criteria.

1. Calling Travis and leaving him a voicemail after killing him

2. Sending an email to Travis after killing him

3. Sending Travis text messages after killing him

4. Voluntarily participating in nationally televised interviews about the killing

5. Sending Travis’s grandmother flowers

6. Sending Travis’s family an 18-page letter

7. Attending Travis’s memorial service (in which she had to travel a great distance to attend)

8. Writing in her journals about Travis

9. Revisiting the crime scene, after the memorial service with a friend named Erin Mortensen

10. Not mentioned in court was the fact that she also left him a message on Legacy.com (obituary website) that said: “Travis, what can I say to you that I haven’t already said? I am so grateful for the endless hours of conversation and amazing experiences we’ve shared. Thank you for having the courage to share the Gospel with me. You’ve had one of the greatest impacts on my life, and have forever altered it’s course for the better. I love you, my friend, and always will.”

Do these actions appear to you as someone who is engaging in avoidance behavior?

It’s also important to note that despite Dr. Samuels’ claims about the aforementioned actions being defense mechanisms, Jodi admitted in her testimony that many of these actions she engaged in were done with the express purpose of avoiding being seen as the perpetrator of the crime. She was attempting to throw the police “off her scent.”

18 thoughts on “Was Jodi Really Engaging in Avoidance Behavior?

  1. McKealty

    Most definitely not.

    And it’s a travesty.

    I also don’t believe Martinez’ claims that he felt something romantic towards Arias…but it sure got him looking impartial! :)

    I don’t believe a thing this defense team says.

    1. SK

      Martinez did NOT say Samuels had romantic feelings for Arias. He said “feelings” which I believe was/is true. Martinez knew about the greeting cards that Samuels sent (allegedly to Nurmi – give me a break!!) but the jury never heard that info. Samuels clearly was sucked into the Jodi haze.

  2. Elaine

    Creating an alternate universe. (Samuels) I don’t buy it. Thinking she’d “done something wrong.” Is that like kicking the dog? Kicking her mother?

    I can’t help but think about Arias wanting to see the photos and Detective Flores leading her with not being sure he should show her, yet when he did show her some of them, letting Arias know he knew it was her, she either had a contrived answer with extraneous information added, but then, silence. It was the silence that made me wonder what she was thinking.

    Taking the pen from Flores to draw her location to the “ninja” people. Pulling the binder to her, looking closely at a photograph. Stretching her arms across the table and, moving her water bottle in front of her. Kind of like when Samuels would grab his pen and hold it when Martinez was striking a nerve. Like needing to control the situation.

    I think Arias was pacing herself for the next statements. She knew why she was there, because she knew everything that she had done. “It might change my memory” lyrics.

    Calling the female friend, I can’t recall her name, but it was around 2:00 AM, the same time Arias claims was her and Alexanders time to talk. Her friend assuming she was upset because she was crying.

    I think everything Arias did directly after the murder was not only used to “throw the police off her scent” as you said Dr. Randle, but I’m thinking too, her actions before the murder seem, if anything, that Arias felt a kind of vengeance that would be justified for a wrong she believed against her. Rejection.

    I’m looking forward to your next entry on the “defense mechanism” and how Samuels could be so far off the target.

  3. Kathy Robertson

    If you were wanting to “avoid” trauma, whether it was your killing of someone after being attacked, or witnessing someone being killed, you wouldn’t go to the FUNERAL where the body of the victim is present, let alone re-visit where the murder happened.

    1. Suzana

      I deeply appreciate your articles, Dr. Randle. From my understanding of her actions post-murder, she attended the Memorial service held in Mesa, & requested that she be driven past the crime scene (TA’s house) on her way to the Memorial. Neither of those acts were “avoidance” behaviors or “defense mechanisms.”
      In fact, attending such a service, in contact with her victim’s friends & family, gave her “duping delight” to the Nth degree. A reward, you might say.
      Apparently the funeral held in San Bernadino County, wasn’t something either she could attend or was invited to attend, I’m not clear on the reason, but she wasn’t present at it.

  4. Opal Bailey

    No, I do not believe that Jodi was engaging in avoidance behavior. Au contraire!

    As for comments here and elsewhere to the effect that Juan Martinez was suggesting by his question about “feelings for Jodi” that Dr. Samuels had romantic feelings or the hots for Jodi, I disagree.

    “Feelings” are most decidedly not limited to romantic or sexual feelings. While I can understand that people would “go there,” given the sexual underpinnings of this case, and while Dr. Samuels may, in fact, have had subconscious feelings like that, I doubt that is the case, and I doubt that Juan Martinez thinks that. I think it is much more likely that he thought that Dr. Samuels felt sympathy and empathy for Jodi. Those are feelings, too, and the doctor’s testimony suggested that he did, in fact, have feelings for Jodi along those lines…probably more like those of a father or older mentor than those of a lecher, although anything is possible, especially when it comes to subconscious feelings!

    1. McKealty

      I don’t think Mr. Martinez believes it either.

      But all he has to do is suggest it, and there it sits in the jury’s minds.

    2. Suzana

      I agree, Opal.

      I didn’t intrepret Martinez’s statement that Samuels had “feelings” for the defendant as anything but “interpersonal” yet unromantic…although Arias’ arsenal of manipulative behaviors is to “come on” to any male in contact with her (as she did with Det. Flores, as seen in those police interviews he conducted). Samuels crossed the line, & became impartial by sending cards & book(s). As far as I’m concerned, LaViolette has done the same thing with Arias; however, my understanding is that she was not sent to impartially evaluate her, as Samuels was, she was sent in with the purpose of mitigation, until the defense changed their strategy & brought her on the stand for their case-in-chief in the guilt phase of trial rather than in the penalty phase.

  5. SK

    Slightly OT about Arias’s alleged suicide attempt at the Siskiyou jail – when she said took a lot of Tylenol and tried to kill herself but when she first knicked herself w/ a razor she took apart, she said it hurt, so she stopped.

    REALLY? Do jails give inmates razors? I find that really, really hard to believe. Thoughts?

    1. admin Post author

      I too find that hard to believe. I would be surprised if she ever came close to attempting suicide.

      1. admin Post author

        Good point. He never said romantic. He said feelings in general, that he cared for her, had sympathy.

        1. Suzana

          Yes, it’s the media, HLN’s legal analysts in particular, who turned Martinez’s words around to be interpreted as “romantic” feelings, when he meant “feelings” as “sympathy.” The media took Martinez’s statement out of context.

          Samuels had used the word “compassion” & made the statement that he could turn his compassion “off” once he paid for & shipped an Amazon book order to Arias (as if he were superhuman & his feelings had an “on/off switch” that other humans don’t have apparently…or, maybe Samuels is suggesting Amazon.com book orders are capable of switching human compassion on/off?). Martinez then admitted into evidence the Webster Dictionary definition of “compassion,” which includes the feeling of “sympathy.” That’s the “feelings” Martinez meant, which by anyone’s definition means that the human being is no longer “impartial” but “partial” thus Samuels was not an “impartial evaluator,” in Martinez’s view.

          1. JCM1953

            I think if Samuels was looking for anything, it was Celebrity Redeemer status. “The Psychologist Who Cured Jodi Arias” or some such thing.

            Either that or he just wanted the fee and was willing to look like a fool on the stand to collect it.

    2. Suzana

      Jails work very hard at preventing common hygiene items to become weapons in the hands of inmates. In fact, the Atlantic states have gotten materials scientists from NIST involved in creating new materials that can’t be made into “shivs,” for instance. Toothbrush sizes are shortened so as to be useless as “shivs” & razors are designed to break apart if they’re removed from their plastic handles. In fact, logs of razor distribution are kept so that inmates have to sign in & out for them, & used in front of correctional officers, so the inmates are never left alone with them !
      Considering she was in a rural county jail, under murder 1 charge, being processed for extradition out of state with Det Flores at hand, conducting interviews, I think this is just one more lie by Jodi Arias, something she could say that would make the jailers look incompetent while trying to elicit sympathy for herself & in her mind at least, bolstering her tales..erm, “story.” Just like her “fauxgraine” this week in court – migraines she never had during the 18 days she was on the stand; just like her family objected to Travis’ family & their supporters wearing in court the navy colored ribbons with Travis’ face on buttons in the center that memorialized Travis, & forced their removal while in court on Monday & Tuesday, then Arias’ defense objected to Martinez taking photos with his admirers outside the courthouse this week & the same day family showed up in court wearing purple “domestic violence” ribbons on Thursday.

  6. Therese pope

    Another excellent post, Dr. Randle. I’m your new biggest fan. :) Spot on again!

    I thought I was up to speed but her comment on Legacy.com was news to me. That’s absolutely disgusting and what a mockery she makes of Travis’ death. I knew she sent a letter to the family but had no idea that it was 18 pages. That’s just NOT right!

    Avoidance behavior? Hardly. She knew exactly what she was doing. I laughed when Dr. Samuels mentioned the self-defense mechanism. IF she was avoiding, she never, ever would have sent the grandma flowers, do a drive-by of Travis’ house, etc. Also, she gave flimsy excuses to the jury and she also repeated herself a few times when she talked about why she sent Travis’ grandma flowers. Sounds like she was trying to “extra” convince the jury to believe her. All a ploy!

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