The case of the State of Arizona versus Jodi Arias, trial for the murder of Travis Alexander that occurred in 2008 is one that has captivated international attention. One of the reasons for this rests on the notion that this is a gruesome crime and the tragic and untimely loss of life of a man who was clearly an inspiring individual. But that is only one reason this case has garnered international attention. A large reason this case has captivated audiences world wide rests in the fact that every day this case goes on, offers public audiences another day of drama in some form. It doesn’t seem to matter what Jodi Arias is arguing for or against on any given day, there is always drama. What was supposed to be an ordinary day of testimony on day two of the retrial of the penalty phase of the Jodi Arias trial was no exception. Yesterday’s drama included juror misconduct, testimony presented by a court journalist, an admonishment to the prosecutor, a speculated motion to mistrial in judge’s chambers, and the great return of the great Dr. Horn. As the Arizona Republic reported yesterday after the trial dramas of Oct. 22, it may not be long before the frequently speculated mistrial actually occurs.
Laurie Roberts for the Arizona Republic wrote yesterday that she has,
“Long wondered how Judge Sherry Stephens could find 18 people who are impartial enough to decide Jodi Arias’ fate. Now we know the answer. She didn’t.”
These comments stemmed from an incident that occurred outside the courtroom yesterday when the court was in recess. On Day One of jury selection for this trial, potential jurors were admonished about refraining from media and even the news in general while court was in session. They weren’t to be even reading or watching any kind of news at all, and were required to agree to this admonishment in order to make it on the jury panel for the Jodi Arias trial.
Juror number 9 was one potential juror who was raising eyebrows from the court of public opinion at the onset of jury selection. While the jury was being impaneled it was revealed that juror number 9 was speculated to be “personally close” with the defendant Jodi Arias. In most cases this would definitely preclude her from being on the jury, but it was eventually discovered that her connection was not as close as it seemed. This jurors connection to Jodi Arias was more personal to her sister, than to the potential juror herself.
In other words, her connection was not considered serious enough to preclude her from making it on the jury. And while she did manage to squeak past this technicality, her stay on the Jodi Arias jury would not be long. She did not even make it past the morning recess of Day Two, when she witnessed renowned courtroom reporter Beth Karas outside the court having a media interview.
When Beth Karas, who is a former Assistant DA and still a licensed attorney, was approached by an individual after her interview upon her return to court, she reportedly didn’t think anything of it. The individual asked her if she was Nancy Grace, to which Beth Karas replied no, and corrected her. It was then that Beth Karas realized that the individual asking her this question was Juror No. 9.
It would be the legal requirement for anyone in Beth’s position to report this to the court, but as a licensed attorney even more so. Upon Beth’s reporting of this incident, the usual flurry that occurs when Jodi Arias trial drama erupts was put into motion. Beth Karas was called to testify, a meeting happened in chambers, and the Jodi Arias jury was down one just hours into day two.
This will be the second juror excused from this jury, by day two. At the opening of Tuesday’s court session Juror No. 115 was excused due to an “ongoing family emergency” according to USA Today yesterday. But even all of this drama could not negate the fact that the great and ever so charming Dr. Horn made his appearance on Day Two of the Jodi Arias trial.
Dr. Horn is a favorite of the court of public opinion, he is easy on the eyes and the audiences just love him. Dr. Horn is the Medical Examiner who testified in the guilt phase of the Jodi Arias trial, as he was the ME that performed the autopsy on Travis Alexander. Before the drama with Juror No. 9 started, Dr. Horn was on the stand to testify to the order of events that happened in the death of Travis Alexander.
There has been a lot of speculation about how Travis died. We know that he suffered more than 20 wounds, a fatal wound to the heart, his throat was slit in what would also have been fatal, and he also suffered a gunshot to the head that most medical experts have alleged would have also been fatal. The order of events in the death of Travis Alexander however has had conflicting theories.
The big question is, did the gunshot come first, or last? It’s an important question because if it happened first, and if it was indeed fatal, then Travis would have been dead when Jodi Arias stabbed him over and over again, and slit his throat. This is something the defense wants to come out in testimony as this may suggest to the jury that Travis did not suffer as much during his murder than if he was alive all the way through it.
It’s precarious for the defense to take this approach, as there is a lot of blood evidence that they will still have to explain. Once the heart stops beating, blood stops flowing. And the amount of blood evidence found at the home of Travis Alexander after his 2008 murder does suggest that he bled out as a leading cause of death.
This is what has led prosecutor Juan Martinez to change his theory on the order of wounds. When the bullet casing that traveled through Travis’s brain landed on the bathroom floor, it did so without having any blood already on it. This would suggest that Travis was already dead, that his heart had already stopped pumping, at the time that he was shot.
As Jeff Gold tweeted from the courtroom testimony, this is important to establish to the jury either way. Juries like facts and evidence, and forensics helps them to establish a theory, beyond a reasonable doubt. Prosecutor Juan Martinez was first up to bat with Dr. Horn, where he efficiently chronicled the tale of horror that was succumbed by Travis Alexander on the day that he died.
Martinez was able to establish with Dr. Horn that there were four stab wounds to the chest alone, and that one had been more than five inches deep. Martinez also established where locations of other wounds were, on the hands and feet of Travis Alexander. There were also wounds to his scalp even from where a knife or an object had been hitting him.
We also learned again about the cluster of wounds on the back of Travis Alexander. These would be wounds, along with the wounds on his hands and his feet, that many have considered to be “defensive wounds” as Travis tried to flee his assailant. Jodi is alleging she was abused by Travis Alexander, but abusers generally don’t have wounds on their feet as a result of their attacks against victims.
We did hear the defense strenuously object to the term “defensive wounds” yesterday in court. Dr. Horn also testified that the wounds on Travis’s scalp were severe enough to cause what he called “divots” on the skull of Travis Alexander. These he testified would have occurred when the point of the knife hit the bone.
Dr. Horn also testified that the passage of a bullet that went through Travis’s brain first entered his skull, before going through the nasal cavity and then finally lodging in his cheek. Dr. Horn further testified to the throat wound, and reported that the throat wound that nearly decapitated Travis Alexander severed his windpipe, carotid artery, and his jugular.
Dr. Horn testified that Alexander would have experienced pain, but that once his throat was slit he would lose consciousness within seconds, and would not survive beyond a few minutes. Dr. Horn also testified that the chest wound that went 5 inches deep would have been fatal as would the gunshot have been. When Martinez was through establishing these factors, defense attorney Jennifer Willmott was up to bat.
She did not miss a beat, despite the fact that she was observed to be on the “squeaky” side of things when she started questioning Dr. Horn. As Jeff Gold tweeted from the courtroom today,
“Jen’s voice always squeaky when she gets to critical point and she starts out with the fact Dr. Horn said gunshot first to [Detective] Flores.”
Willmott definitely did everything she could to get Dr. Horn to admit that his story had changed somewhere along the way, but he did not budge, causing the women in the court of public opinion to swoon everywhere. Willmott then turned the court’s attention to the infamous bloody sink, and attempted to get Dr. Horn to acknowledge that the blood in that sink was from the throat wound Travis sustained. Dr. Horn did not concur with this theory.
Before resting her cross-examination Jennifer Willmott then showed research to the court of previous cases where some people had survived the same gunshot wounds that Travis had suffered. It was an ingenious move that may be enough to cast reasonable doubt, when a witness as credible as Dr. Horn will not budge. As Kelly from Really Big Mean Dog wrote on these court moments,
“Jenny from the cell block got up and took a pretty good run at Dr. Horn. She couldn’t shake him, but she did win the talent portion of the competition. Dr. Horn was firm on his wound infliction timeline. He was stabbed a billion times (at least that’s what it felt like), she slit his throat and then just for the *bleep* of it she shot him in the head.”
All of this drama occurred before the morning recess, and that’s when the real drama for the day was about to ensue. During the morning recess the Juror No. 9 misconduct occurred, after which Beth Karas was called to testify. Tweets about the order of events on that topic can be seen by reporters in the courtroom in the slideshow here.
After Beth Karas testified and the juror disappeared, one might think that was the only drama for the day. But it’s the Jodi Arias trial and lunch hadn’t even transpired yet. Martinez got a second go at the bat with the great Dr. Horn, and this would ultimately lead to an admonishment, a private meeting in Judge’s chambers, and many speculating that Kirk Nurmi was filing his 11 millionth motion for a mistrial.
The move that Martinez made involved him making a “fake stab” gesture at Dr. Horn, asking, “Am I shorter than you?” and also asking, “How quick was that?” in his efforts to show how much Travis suffered. As Jeff Gold tweeted, “#JodiArias team unhappy.”
Then everyone disappeared for a little while into Judge chambers. Jodi Arias was seen speaking to her attorney. Yes, this is news. According to Troy Hayden of Fox 10 that hasn’t happened in two months, so that she would…actually speak to Nurmi during these events was interesting to note to say the least.
What isn’t in this case it seems?
As parties were in chambers, court was in recess again, the family of Travis Alexander was taken into a back room, and everyone waited to see what would be the next drama for the day. When court resumed, testimony picked up where it left off. Though many reporters were openly speculating that a request for mistrial had been made. Again.
As court resumed, Detective Mendez from Siskyou, California, took the stand in the afternoon to testify about the arrest of Jodi Arias on July 15, 2008. Travis Alexander died on June 4, 2008. Mendez stated that he had been asked by Arizona to put surveillance on Jodi Arias prior to her arrest, which he did.
When he noticed she was packing her car with boxes on July 15, he thought she might be thinking of skipping town and arrested her on that day. Court wrapped for the day after Detective Mendez was questioned about the peculiarity surrounding Jodi Arias booking on the day of her arrest. She reportedly asked if she could fix herself before her booking photo. As Mary Ellen Resendez from ABC 15 tweeted,
“Pros. JuanMartinez asks Mendez what Jodi Arias said to mug shot photographers. Mendez: She looked up and asked if her hair was ok. #ABC15”
Mary Ellen Resendez from ABC 15 also reported that Mendez testified the whole thing was “odd” and the “comment stuck out.” And that is how Day Two wrapped for the Jodi Arias trial.
Juan Martinez continued laying out his case with the infamous gas cans, the receipt that doesn’t exist or that nobody can find to establish the level of premeditation in the murder of Travis Alexander. Will it be enough to secure the death penalty?
Juan Martinez will continue his case tomorrow, as many are expecting it will be very similar to how he laid out his case the first time around. Not too many surprises are expected for today’s court session, but alas, it is the Jodi Arias trial and the public should expect the unexpected.
Will there be any juror misconduct today? How many motions for mistrial will occur today? What do you think is the craziest thing that you know about this case so far?