Arias was found guilty May 8 in the gruesome premeditated first-degree murder of her ex-boyfriend, 30-year-old Travis Alexander, in June 2008. (Photo : MySpace: Jodi Arias)
For anyone bored by the redundant questioning of the expert witness for Jodi Arias' defense team, prosecutor Juan Martinez provided a thundering wake-up call Thursday, attacking the psychotherapist's ability to diagnose domestic abuse by saying she classified Snow White as a battered woman in the past, while almost seething with anger.
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(Video of psychotherapist's "Snow White was a battered woman" presentation below)
A 32-year-old photographer from California, Arias is charged with the grisly first-degree murder of her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, in June 2008, when she stabbed the 30-year-old man 27 times, primarily in the back, shot him in the face, slit his throat from ear to ear with so much force it almost decapitated him, and left his bloodied corpse crumpled over in the bathroom shower of his home - all in the course of 106 seconds. Arias' guilt is not up for debate - but her mental state at the time of the killing is. Arias' future depends on whether the jury believes she killed Alexander in self-defense, as she contends, or was actually a jilted lover exacting jealous revenge, as the prosecution argues.
Arias' lawyers are trying to establish her inherent need for self-defense against Alexander through a paid expert witnesses on domestic abuse, psychotherapist Alyce LaViolette. Alexander and LaViolette never met, but you wouldn't gather that from hearing her testimony. She's read through numerous text messages, emails and listened to phone conversations Arias recorded between the two. As Martinez took over on cross examination Thursday, LaViolette continued to offer her interpretations of the relationship based on her readings of the case files, 40 hours of interviews with Arias, and journal entries written by Arias, but she mostly just ended up defending herself.
Martinez drew particular attention to a presentation that LaViolette gave in 2012, where she said that Snow White was a battered woman. The prosecutor said the presentation proved that the psychotherapist can find evidence of abuse even in stories she doesn't know much about, "including myths."
"What this shows us is that even if it's a myth -- all made up -- you can come up with the opinion that the person is a victim of domestic violence," Martinez said.
LaViolette's assertion that Arias is a victim of domestic abuse is the crux of the defense's argument at this point in the trial. If they can convince the jury she was physically and mentally abused, she could beat the murder charge against her. Meanwhile, prosecuting attorney Martinez is determined to prove Arias' premeditation in Alexander's killing.
Thursday featured another day of rapid-fire, often heated questioning from Martinez.
"Basically, a clinical interview is you sitting across from the person that may or may not be a victim of battering and ... you interview them?" Martinez asked of LaViolette's typical diagnosis routine.
"You ask questions you do an assessment," LaViolette said.
"So when you're interviewing then you're not talking, right?" asked Martinez.
"Mr. Martinez," said LaViolette as she was cut off by Martinez.
"Yes or no? My question is are you talking -- yes or no?" Martinez prodded.
"Mr. Martinez are you angry at me?" LaViolette snapped, eliciting laughter throughout the court room.
"Is that relevant to you ... is that important to you whether or not the prosecutor is angry ... does that make any difference to your evaluation whether or not the prosecutor is angry -- yes or no?" Martinez hammered.
"It makes a difference to me the way I am spoken to and I would like you to speak to me the way I speak to you," LaViolette responded.
"Just because the prosecutor is angry at you, is that going to make you change your answer with regard to whether or not this is a battering situation?" asked Martinez.
"No, certainly not," LaViolette answered.
Martinez and LaViolette continued to nip at each other's throats for the remainder of court Thursday, getting especially tense when the prosecutor continually instructed her to answer "yes or no" to his questions.
Earlier in court Thursday, Arias' attorney Jennifer Willmott concluded her questioning of LaViolette by discussingAlexander's alleged physical and emotional abuse.
LaViolette testified that prior to Alexander, Arias' boyfriends had characterized her as "generally happy, sweet, creative -- lots of positive things."
However, when she was in a relationship with Alexander, Arias fell into depression and removed herself from her other relationships, LaViolette claimed.
"So there was a lot of change in who she was," she added.
Arias faces the death penalty if convicted. The trial resumes Monday at 12:30 p.m. EST when Martinez will continue his cross examination of LaViolette.