Arias defense tries to discredit state witness
PHOENIX (AP) – Jodi Arias’ defense attorney on Thursday attacked the credibility and findings of a prosecution witness who said the defendant wasn’t a battered woman and doesn’t suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or amnesia.
Clinical psychologist Janeen DeMarte testified as a prosecution rebuttal witness after the defense rested its case earlier this week. Throughout about 2 1/2 months of defense witness testimony, Arias’ attorneys worked to portray her as a domestic violence victim who killed her one-time boyfriend in self-defense.
DeMarte was called by the prosecution to discredit defense experts who diagnosed Arias with PTSD, amnesia and battered woman’s syndrome, which they said explains why Arias can’t recall much from the day of the killing. DeMarte said Arias suffers from none of the conditions, but instead had borderline personality disorder.
Arias faces a potential death sentence if convicted of first-degree murder in Travis Alexander’s June 2008 killing at his suburban Phoenix home. Authorities say she planned the attack in a jealous rage. Arias initially denied involvement then blamed it on masked intruders. Two years after her arrest, she said it was self-defense.
Alexander suffered nearly 30 knife wounds, was shot in the head and had his throat slit. Arias’ palm print was found in blood at the scene, along with nude photos of her and the victim from the day of the killing.
Arias said she recalls Alexander attacking her in a fury. She said she ran into his closet to retrieve a gun he kept on a shelf and fired in self-defense but has no memory of stabbing him.
She acknowledged trying to clean the scene, dumping the gun in the desert and working on an alibi, even attending a memorial service for Alexander and sending his family flowers before her arrest. Arias said she was too scared to tell the truth then but insists she isn’t lying now.
The case at this point has devolved into dueling expert witnesses, with the defense side explaining away Arias’ lies after the killing, and the prosecution working to portray Arias showed premeditation and organization, not the actions of someone fighting for her life.
Defense attorney Jennifer Willmott questioned DeMarte’s conclusions about Arias after spending part of the previous day picking apart the witness’s credentials and education.
Among the points Willmott addressed Thursday was DeMarte’s contention that it was odd, given Arias’ gaps in memory from the day of the killing, that the moment she realized she had blood on her hands after driving far away from the scene, she believed she had killed Alexander.
DeMarte called that an “illogical” response.
“Given all the things that she does remember up to that point, it’s not a huge leap … to assume that something bad happened when she sees blood on her hands?” Willmott asked.
“As I stated before, that is a huge leap,” DeMarte replied.
Willmott also repeatedly reminded jurors of the roughly 12 hours DeMarte spent with Arias before coming to her conclusions, compared to the more than 40 hours the defense witness who said Arias had battered woman’s syndrome spent with the defendant.
She is trying to portray DeMarte’s work as incomplete, while the psychologist criticized the defense expert’s extensive time with Arias as extreme, leading to a biased opinion.
“Oh, you didn’t know that?” Willmott said several times after asking DeMarte questions about Arias’ life that the witness couldn’t answer.
DeMarte explained that she had spent enough time with Arias to come to her conclusions.
Testimony resumes Tuesday as prosecutor Juan Martinez continues calling rebuttal witnesses ahead of closing arguments. Deliberations are likely still several weeks away.
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