A Weak Defense: Reaction to the Jodi Arias Trial

Whether you are deeply immersed into the Jodi Arias trial or you have been scoffing to yourself about its mass media appeal, I wanted to express a few opinions about the trial’s most recent turn in defense.

Just in case this is your first time hearing about the trial, Jodi Arias was arrested in 2008 after allegedly committing first-degree murder. She is being tried for the heinous murder of her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, who died from a shot in the head, a slit-throat, and 29 additional knife wounds.

Although Arias first denied having any connection to the murder, her original alibi has since changed twice. After being tied to the crime scene with DNA samples, Arias admitted that she was at the crime scene during an alleged “home-invasion,” which resulted in the death of Alexander.

However, Arias has since claimed that she acted in self-defense against Alexander when the two fought after having sexual intercourse. The only problem is that Arias cannot “remember a thing.”

This brings us up to most recent allegations made in the Jodi Arias trial. According to psychologist Richard Samuels, the defense team’s first expert witness, Arias meets certain criteria to be diagnosed with both post-traumatic stress disorder and amnesia based on psychological testing.

If Samuels’s allegations of Arias’s psychological state are true, the prosecuting team should fear the worst, right? As we know, certain types of diagnosable pleas can open up a smorgasbord of contingencies. Factors that were previously unconsidered must now be heavily reconsidered and cross-examined.

Well, unfortunately for Arias, Samuels’s diagnoses and defense are just as messy and fluid as Arias’s ever-changing story.

For example, Maricopa County Prosecutor Juan Martinez, the head litigator of the prosecuting team, has extracted and highlighted the many flaws of Samuels’s and Arias’s arguments on center-stage.

Firstly, Martinez questioned the accuracy and timeliness of Samuels’s administered testing. In the prosecuting rebuttal, Martinez pointed out that not only did Arias not meet all criteria necessary for a clinical diagnosis of PTSD but also tests were not re-administered after the knowledge that Arias had lied primarily.

In a weak and failed attempt to defend himself, Samuels insisted that Arias did not fall short of meeting all criteria but that he had accidentally made a typographical or “arithmetic” error. Desperate for professional redemption, Samuels reassured Martinez that a clumsy error in “arithmetic” would not alter the overall “utility” of the test. Doubting the defense team yet? It gets worse.

After implying that Samuels’s commitment to defending the charge is based on his “personal” ties with Arias, Martinez goes on to question Samuels’s very profession by equating “psychological probability” with absolute uncertainty, essentially.

Poor Samuels was left grappling for a cue after the brutal cross-examination.

Ultimately, I believe that the verdict is painfully obvious—no pun intended. Arias’s constantly changing alibi is as untrustworthy and sloppy as her first expert witness’s best defense. Arias must accept the capital felony that awaits her in this no-contest case. Her porous defense is only further weakened by the knowledge that she attempted to clean the crime scene and dump the gun after the murder.

Ironically, Arias’s alleged diagnoses of PTSD and amnesia are nothing more than a weak defense and a stab in the dark. That time, the pun was intended.

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