Jodi Arias is charged with the grisly first-degree murder of her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, in June 2008. (Photo : Reuters)
Is Jodi Arias' domestic abuse defense unraveling before our eyes? While an expert witness for the defendant had claimed she was a victim of low self-esteem, the psychotherapist admitted Arias wrote a manifesto in jail and signed copies in preparation for becoming famous.
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 series of paid expert witnesses, trying to prove he fractured her mental state so badly that she now has post traumatic stress disorder, and currently questioning an expert on domestic abuse, psychotherapist Alyce LaViolette. The defense's assertion that Arias is a victim of domestic abuse is the crux of its 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 Juan Martinez is determined to prove Arias' premeditation to sustain a first-degree murder charge in Alexander's killing.
Martinez introduced Arias' manifesto for the first time Monday, shocking the court room.
"Do you remember when the defendant was in jail up in Yreka, [California] and the defendant's manifesto ... Do you remember that was in your notes?" Martinez asked.
"I remember hearing about it [but] I've never seen it," LaViolette said.
"Isn't it true that the defendant was signing or autographing copies of the manifesto?" asked Martinez.
"I believe those were my notes," LaViolette said.
Martinez argued that Arias' manifesto ran counter to everything LaViolette had claimed about her alleged low self-esteem issues. The psychotherapist insisted this was a misconception.
"No, I don't think it does at all ... She may think she's a good writer ... but it doesn't mean [she has] high self-esteem," LaViolette claimed.
Martinez then said that Arias had asked someone to print copies of her manifesto because she wanted to autograph them "in case ... she became famous," which he said was corroborated by LaViolette's notes.
The manifesto has not yet been entered into evidence in court and the exact content of the work has not been released.
Martinez returned to his machine-gun questioning Monday as he prodded LaViolette about her techniques for diagnosing domestic violence. He said it was interesting that Arias could have poor self-esteem but still think she's as smart as Albert Einstein.
"So the fact that the defendant was happy to have her IQ tested because she believed she's on the level of Einstein, doesn't indicate to you this individual does not suffer from a low self-esteem issue?" Martinez asked.
"Most people who talk about how smart they are don't feel that they are that smart.... So, there could be a number of reasons why she was excited about that. I don't know, I wasn't there," LaViolette responded.
"The bottom line is you had it in your notes ... and, you're saying that, well, all these other people have these reasons why they want to know what their IQ is, you don't know why that's why the defendant wanted to know about her IQ right?" Martinez asked.
"No I don't," said LaViolette.
Arias faces the death penalty if convicted. The trial resumes Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. EST when Martinez will continue his cross examination of LaViolette.