Wendy Murphy’s Open Letter To Juan Martinez

She anticipates the defense’s strategy:

“…I’m sure you’re aware that defense lawyers in capital cases are known for intentionally refusing to call mitigation witnesses so that if the jury votes for death, they can be assured a reversal of that ruling on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel when the case reaches a federal appellate court. The Ninth Circuit, which covers Arizona, has a long history of overturning death penalty verdicts on the grounds that defense attorneys were “ineffective” when they failed to call sufficient mitigation witnesses during the death penalty hearing. Referred to as “tactical ineffective assistance of counsel,” Arias’ lawyers are apparently using a similar tactic in your case. They know they may well prevail with the sex-talk strategy, but if they fail, they will win at the Ninth Circuit only if they refuse to call sufficient witnesses to testify about mitigation evidence…”

If Wendy is right, it might be a better strategy to try for life without parole.

Wendy also advises Juan to be careful not to let Jodi turn the courtroom proceedings into a “pornified dog and pony show.”

You can read the rest of the letter here.

24 thoughts on “Wendy Murphy’s Open Letter To Juan Martinez

  1. The tactic of not calling mitigation witnesses by the DT was an obvious ploy to provide grounds for ineffective assistance of counsel, as the prosecutor would be well aware.
    By allowing Arias umpteen days on the stand giving us the benefit of her sordid sex life, combined with the frequent airing of the ‘sex tape’ and the ever-willing support of ALV, the trial was some time ago turned into a ‘pornified dog and pony show’ – through no fault of the prosecutor though, it must be said.

  2. Wendy is a lawyer and I’m not, but some of her suggestions seem improper, likely to be objected to and sustained. For example, asking JA, when she and TA were having sex, did she inform him that she was using the sex to ensnare him, etc. I don’t think there is any solid evidence that that’s what she was doing (even if in fact it was). So it would likely backfire and make JM look like he was making things up just to get the DP. As far as calling JA’s mother to the stand, that’s a risky move that also could backfire. There might be a tidbit in Wendy’s letter that JM should consider, but I’m not very impressed with the letter.

    • I’m not very impressed with the letter.
      Nor am I, but she bluntly called attention to a couple of things that I think are noteworthy.

      The first point she made is that the prosecution needs to find a way to refute the defense argument that Travis sexually abused Jodi. I’m skeptical Jodi will take the witness stand in the retrial so Wendy’s suggestions on how to cross examine may be a moot point. If Jodi doesn’t take the stand, what other witness(es) would be used to present that aspect of the relationship — perhaps a new psychoexpert or two?

      The second noteworthy point Wendy made was addressing the trial strategy of setting up the ineffective assistance appeal by not calling mitigation witnesses. Trial strategy or not, if no such witnesses are called the prosecution will have to be prepared to react this time around. Last time, JM just seemed to ignore that elephant in the room (that there were no mitigation witnesses). Maybe the law doesn’t allow the prosecution to expound on the fact, I don’t know.

      One other point, here, if I may. I hesitate to criticize JM for his performance in the previous mitigation phase but I’ve always felt that was the weakest presentation of his entire case. He did argue against the validity of the eight mitigating factors presented by the defense, yes, but his arguments were weak in that that only appealed to the “obvious” without real explanation. This time around, he really needs to go into detail as to why the alleged abuse, in particular, is not a mitigating factor. He needs to point to specific examples of abuse asserted by the defense then methodically rip each one apart.

      • I agree with you Linda, there could be tidbits of Wendy’s recommendations that are noteworthy. I don’t begrudge her for writing the letter, obviously she’s passionate about getting justice here. But I highly regard Juan especially considering he’s a one man show.

        I also agree that Juan’s presentation of the mitigation phase was the weakest part of his case. It almost appeared as though he was getting burned out from the months of trial. He could have been blindsided by the defense failing to call mitigation witnesses at the last minute when they were scheduled to appear.

        Hindsight is 20/20 and now that Juan has the feedback from a few jurors I’m sure he will be fully armed and ready for the next retrial (assuming there is one).

  3. juan seems to be on the ball….
    the judge is supposedly ethical
    & doesn’t suffer nonsense ..
    let’s hope that’s true ..
    unfortunately judge stevens seemed to lose control of the proceedings ..
    whether it was some form of strategy , time will tell ..
    life without parole is no joke either …
    but in the end , the decision should be with the victims family …
    may they soon find peace & justice done ..

  4. I could not get the rest of Wendy’s letter but what I did read was interesting.
    I agree that this trial is already a ‘pornified dog and pony show’. and unfortunately, when a new trial gets underway, it most likely will continue.
    I still do not underestimate JM and feel he is fully aware of all tactics the DT is using. I also believe that JM will prevail – he is honest, knowledgeable and wants truth and justice to win.

  5. An open letter to Wendy Murphy:

    Juan Martinez has tried over 300 cases in 25 years including death penalty cases. He has even re-tried death penalty cases and got the death penalty. He doesn’t need you or any other legal analyst telling him what to do.

    It is insulting when these big mouth legal analysts always think they can do it better than the prosecutor or other attorneys.

    • Well, it is quite the letter now that I have read it all.

      I agree that other prosecutors have their take on how they would handle a case like this but to be so arrogant in your opinion to tell a well-seasoned, efficient, honest and diligent prosecutor what he should do now is, for me, outrageous.

      Juan Martinez, with his expertise and fight for justice, got the correct conviction he was seeking on behalf of the family and the state. This cannot be disputed in any form by anyone, other prosecutors included. Even the judge did her duty in the trial.

      The death penalty is a controversial issue, that goes without saying. Although the jury foreman bought into ALV’s theory and was an ass, he was not the only one who could not change what they felt having heard the evidence and thus there was no sentence. In essence, I believe they all felt they could impose DP if they felt it was warranted when they began their civic duty. We were not on the jury, hearing only what they heard. We had far more information than they did thanks to the media coverage. To chastise the jury for not making the obvious decision (to us) is our own arrogance as well that we are right. And…..I still believe we are right even though I personally have issues with the DP.

      ALV, in her misguided, unethical way, gave evidence on the stand that was seemingly plausible to some members of the jury. They may have disagreed, and rightly so, with the way she conducted herself on the stand, but her information gave doubt to them. Fortunate for Arias, very unfortunate for the state and the Alexander family.

      But that was the result and now sentencing has to be determined. I believe that the family’s wishes should be honoured by the state. I also believe that if a plea deal is reached, it could cause future problems as often these deals seem to backfire. (Karla Holmoka for example)

      To do as Wendy suggests and make this new phase all about “sex” again but in an even larger scope is outrageous as it will become a raunchy mess and the details of Arias’ horrible slaughter of Travis will get lost in the mire.
      She has been convicted of a heinous, terrible crime – CONVICTED! – and that is what the sentencing phase is all about, not the sex that we have heard over and over again. It is about the crime she committed and has been convicted of.
      I believe that that is what Juan must ONCE AGAIN hit home to a new jury.

      Mitigation witnesses – if there aren’t any – THERE AREN’T ANY! And this speaks to Arias’ character (or lack thereof). She can get up there and rant and rave about herself and why she deserves to live till the cows come home but it in no way negates her crime – again, of which she has been convicted.

      Juan Martinez is an ethical man. He wants justice and I believe he continues to know exactly what he is doing and he will get justice for Travis and his family. Whatever that may be.

  6. Excellent post, Nern. I agree that it was outrageous that Murphy was arrogant in her opinion to tell a well-seasoned, efficient, honest and diligent prosecutor what he should do now. I also agree that Juan Martinez is an ethical man who wants justice, knows exactly what he is doing and will get justice for Travis and his family without Murphy’s advice.

    I didn’t read the letter because I don’t care what Wendy Murphy thinks. I lost all respect for Wendy Murphy and quit watching HLN after the Casey Anthony trial. I believe Murphy may have even contributed to Baez coming up with the strategy of accusing George Anthony of molesting Casey Anthony and getting rid of Caylee Anthony’s body, which led to the acquittal.

    Before the trial, Murphy kept saying on the Jane Velez Mitchell Show that she thought Casey Anthony would be acquitted because she was innocent and didn’t even have the Pontiac the night Caylee was killed and that Caylee’s murder was a sex crime even though there was no evidence to prove it.

    Murphy is obsessed with sex and after the Casey Anthony trial Murphy wrote a book: “Casey Anthony What REALLY Happened to Caylee and Why Truth Matters.” In her ads to sell the book, she claims she answers the following questions: Is there evidence that someone other than Casey killed Caylee? Is there a real Zanny the Nanny? Is there something suspicious about Casey’s friends? Is there evidence that Casey was pimping Caylee for sexual purposes? The answer to all these questions is no. Murphy is just trying to sell her book.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if she wrote a book about the Jodi Arias case too and focused on the sex angle.

    • Observer, I had no idea about Wendy’s background on the Caylee Anthony case, her book, etc. Thanks for that info, very enlightening and blatantly obvious as to her motive here.

      I very much agree Juan doesn’t need anyone giving him advice on this case or any of his cases. There’s a reason he works alone.

  7. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=599906283399863&set=a.490373611019798.110789.485866588137167&type=1&theater

    If this link doesn’t work, it is a picture of Travis with a giant thumb down and large letters NO DEAL over the picture. Below are comments from Tanisha Sorenson (Travis’ sister) and Steven Alexander (Travis’ brother.)

    Tanisha: “Travis didn’t get any deal, he got death for no reason but jealously, she deserves no deal and she deserves to be on death row.”

    Tanisha: “We will stand by what we are seeking. Ultimate justice. We are going to court to seek the death penalty.”

    Steven: “We are not bluffing. We are ready to see this through. If we have to go through hell, bring it on.”

  8. Wendy Murphy has also claimed that John Ramsey molested and killed Jon Benet although investigators never revealed any evidence to prove that. She and some of the other legal analysts make outrageous claims on national TV to get clients to hire them to represent them or to sell books.

    I think Wendy Murphy originally came up with the Caylee Anthony was a sex crime and Casey didn’t even have the Pontiac the night she was murdered and put in the car to rot because she wanted Casey Anthony to hire her to represent her after she was found guilty. Just like she is trying to tell Martinez how to get the death penalty, she was trying to tell Baez how to defend Casey. When Baez came up with the accidental drowning, she said he should be disbarred because it was a sex murder. When Anthony was acquitted, Wendy Murphy paid to get her book published because no publisher would publish it.

    I don’t watch HLN anymore because legal analysts are always making up outrageous lies just to get attention for themselves.

  9. I guess I’m the only one who finds value in Wendy Murphy’s letter. I agree fully that Juan Martinez is fully capable on his own and that he did a wonderful job in gaining Arias’ conviction. However, I do agree with Wendy Murphy’s points that if the defense start with the “Jodi-and-Travis-had-wild-sex, blah blah blah” tactic again, that the prosecution needs to make it clear that Jodi was using sex to manipulate and control Travis, and that he had no idea that it would lead to his brutal murder. Look at what happened the day he was killed–the pictures, to say the least. There was so much time wasted on Arias’ going on and on about sex with Alexander on the stand—and I do believe, to some degree, it effected some of the jurors.

    Martinez did an excellent job with his witnesses. My only thoughts is that he might want to consider getting another expert witness to described psychopathy/sociopathy–which Arias shows ALL the behaviors. Some of those very behaviors managed to fool the jury–especially the jury foreman. Arias wore the “mask of normalcy”, used pity play when she claimed her mother and Travis abused her, and engaged in a smear campaign against Travis (he abused me, he looks at child porn, etc.) Someone like Robert Hare who is expert on the subject would be very helpful in explaining to jurors that the defendant’s meek appearance is really a mask for the vicious beast underneath. Janeen DeMarte was very good and knowledgeable…but Jodi Arias has more anti-social personality. I know this thread isn’t about this particular topic, but if Martinez ends up having to call an expert witness to again convince jurors to give Arias the death penalty, then I think it would be helpful to get an expert who can further affirm the true character of Arias.

    • Stephanie, I agree with you, in theory, for your thoughts.
      However, the true nature of Arias should have been obvious in the trial. I do not agree that the “sex” angle should be belaboured again in any future trial. I believe the nature of her crime, her viciousness in her crime of which she has been convicted is the issue – to me. Her sentencing, I hope, is based on WHAT she did, how she planned and executed Travis. She is not insane, nor is she mentally ill – she knew exactly what she was doing as evident in her premeditation. For me….that is the issue before the court and sentencing, not rehashing all the sordid details.

    • Stephanie, I don’t believe that anything Martinez did or didn’t do or DeMarte’s diagnosis had anything to do with the four jurors voting against the death penalty .

      The foreman said he voted against the death penalty because he did not believe Martinez when he said 27 was not young to commit a murder and that he believed LaViolette when she said Travis Alexander abused Jodi Arias. He also said he believed Wilmot’s closing statement when she said Arias changed after she met Alexander.

      The foreman said Jodi was not a threat to society because she was not a serial killer like Dahmer or Manson. The other three jurors didn’t speak but other jurors who did said the jurors voting against the death penalty also believed that Arias was verbally and physically abused.

      Martinez made it very clear that Jodi Arias used sex to manipulate Travis Alexander. Martinez is not a psychologist or a psychiatrist so he cannot diagnose Jodi Arias as having an anti social personality disorder and then hire a psychologist/psychiatrist to confirm that diagnosis. The state hires expert witnesses from an approved list to go in and evaluate and test the defendant to determine the diagnosis.

      The state does not have time to send in a new psychologist to evaluate her. I doubt if the diagnosis would make any difference to jurors who feel sorry for a defendant or think she is not a threat to society because she is a young female and never committed a crime before.

      The key to get a death sentence is finding jurors who believe strongly in the death penalty and will look at the cruel nature of the crime and not be swayed by the fact that the convicted murderer is a young attractive sexy woman who never killed before.

      • Observer – good points.
        This jury convicted Arias of premeditated, felony, first degree murder with extreme cruelty. They believed she was NOT in imminent danger for her life when she did the horrendous deed. They did not buy into the PTSD.
        For me, being young, having never done this before (thank God), or believing she was abused by Travis does not negate the fact that they convicted her. In convicting her, they believed the state’s case.
        In not giving the DP as a sentence – I do not understand except maybe when it came right down to it, some just could not bring themselves to do it.
        In any case, I reiterate my stance – this is about the crime committed – the sentencing is about the crime they convicted her for. No amount of psychoanalyzing in a second trial will change that.
        I personally think she will never get the DP – so the big question is how will the judge sentence her? LWOP, “natural life” with severe restrictions, severe, is what she should get and then be just plain forgotten.

  10. Nern, I absolutely agree with you that it is the nature and viciousness of the crime that should be at the forefront. Jodi Arias is on trial because she planned with premeditated and brutally murdered Travis Alexander. The only time–and I do mean *only* time anything should be said about Jodi Arias’ sexual involvement with Travis Alexander is if the defense starts with it again. So that it would only be to counter whatever foolishness the defense states about Jodi’s/Travis’s sexuality/sex life prior to the murder. It shouldn’t be brought up again or rehashed again at all. What really needs to be brought to the new jury is how cruel and disgusting Jodi Arias is–and how she has no remorse, continues to blame the victim, constantly lies–put her on full blast.

    Observer, good points all around. I didn’t mean to imply that Juan Martinez or his expert witnesses failed. I believe they all did a tremendous job. I just believe to some degree that the fact that they brought into her lies of abuse means that they were duped by a sociopath–and dare I say sociopath(s) to include the defense team and Alyce LaViolette. It disturbs that anyone on the jury (both the foreman and the 3 who have remained silent) would actually buy into her tall tales of abuse after it was proven many times over by Martinez that Arias is a pathological liar. I think a new diagnosis might help, as well as information about psychopathy/sociopathy. The foreman’s statements demonstrated his ignorance in that area. I agree fully that the jury needs to be aware fully of the crime and focus on that–and not whether or not Arias was too young or too pretty or too sexy (she’s none of those 3 things IMO) to commit the crime that she did.

  11. That there were jurors in the last trial that found that Arias was guilty of premeditated first degree murder committed in an exceptionally cruel fashion yet could not hand down the appropriate penalty for it defies logic. Like you Nern, I am becoming increasingly doubtful that such a sentence will eventuate.
    If they ever get to forming another jury, it will be key that they get a full count of jurors that are prepared to honor the undertaking to bring down the death penalty, if appropriate, without duck-shoving that responsibility and clutching at any straw to justify doing so.
    They did not have such a panel last time – let’s hope they can find one this time.

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