Jodi Arias: Hell Hath No Fury

Arias defense works to restore expert credibility

PHOENIX (AP) – Jodi Arias’ defense attorney worked Wednesday to undo any damage to the credibility of an expert witness who diagnosed the defendant with post-traumatic stress disorder and amnesia after a withering cross-examination that called into question his techniques and testing procedures.

Psychologist Richard Samuels testified for a fourth day Wednesday after telling jurors he diagnosed Arias with PTSD and dissociative amnesia, which explains why she can’t remember much from the day she killed her lover. Samuels said he met with Arias a dozen times for more than 30 hours over three years while she was jailed.

Prosecutor Juan Martinez previously seized on multiple lies Arias told Samuels throughout the process of his evaluation, at one point getting the psychologist to acknowledge that he should have re-administered at least one test he used to come to his PTSD diagnosis. Martinez questioned how Samuels could have come to any definitive conclusion for a diagnosis based upon Arias’ lies.

Samuels insisted his diagnosis was accurate.

“The process of forming a diagnosis is not a simple process,” Samuels testified Wednesday. “The fact is that it’s necessary to obtain information from as many different sources as you can.”

Arias faces a possible death sentence if convicted of first-degree murder in the June 2008 killing of Travis Alexander in his suburban Phoenix home. Authorities say she planned the attack in a jealous rage. Arias initially told authorities she had nothing to do with it then blamed it on masked intruders. Two years after her arrest, she said it was self-defense.

Defense attorney Jennifer Willmott spent much of Wednesday questioning Samuels about his testing procedures. When Samuels initially began his evaluation of Arias, she was sticking to the intruder story.

Willmott went over each question and Arias’ answers with Samuels.

“Did she think her life was in danger?” Willmott asked.

“Yes,” Samuels replied.

“Did she feel helpless?” Willmott asked.

“Yes,” Samuels said, explaining later that his diagnosis would have remained unchanged whether Arias was responding to the questions still telling the intruder story or claiming self-defense.

“If the answers remained yes before and yes after, would it have changed the score at all?” Willmott asked.

“No,” Samuels said.

He said Arias also answered “no” to a question about whether she was having nightmares.

“This is a score where you could exaggerate if your intent was to skew the score in your favor,” Samuels said.

He said the PTSD test was merely one tool used to come to his diagnosis.

“I based the information primarily on my interviews, the crime scene photographs and descriptions, interviews with family members, police reports, emails, text messages and the psychological tests,” Samuels said.

Martinez had also questioned Samuels’ credibility, accusing him of blurring the line between objective observer and therapist when he bought Arias a self-help book about building self-esteem.

Samuels denied the accusation.

“Is there ever blurring of the lines between evaluator and therapist?” Willmott asked Wednesday.

“There should not be,” Samuels replied, explaining that sending Arias the book is not considered therapy.

Trial adjourned early on Wednesday after a woman in the gallery vomited.

Samuels was set to return to the witness stand Thursday to answer questions from jurors that will be read aloud by the judge. Arizona is one of a few states where jurors have the right to query witnesses. In most other states, it’s up to the judge to determine whether to allow it.

Alexander suffered nearly 30 knife wounds, was shot in the head and had his throat slit before Arias dragged his body into his shower.

Arias spent 18 days on the witness stand during which she described an abusive childhood, cheating boyfriends, dead-end jobs, a shocking sexual relationship with Alexander, and her contention that he had grown physically abusive in the months leading to his death.

She said she recalls Alexander attacking her in a fury. Arias 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 has acknowledged trying to clean the scene of the killing, dumping the gun in the desert and working on an alibi in an attempt to avoid suspicion. She said she was too scared and ashamed to tell the truth.

None of Arias’ allegations of Alexander’s violence, that he owned a gun and had sexual desires for boys, has been corroborated by witnesses or evidence. She has acknowledged lying repeatedly but insists she is telling the truth now.


Follow Brian Skoloff at

Source: AP

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Name says:

Monday Court is Coming, I can’t wait! Lets stay in touch.

Name says:

Bye Bye, we understand and Love.u!!!!!!!!

Name says:

So ominous.

Name says:

This trial seems so untrue! Yet it is Not!

Jus_tiz says:

Dr. Samuel’s method: “If you can’t convince them, dazzle them with BS”

funnyhaha71 says:

As a psychologist, watching Dr. Samuels has been horrifying. The more he says, the more I cringe. (I’m not a clinical psych; my area is in non-clinical research and academia).

Samuels’ decisions in this case and his abilities as a witness make me question his fitness to be a forensic evaluator in any civil or criminal case. IMO, he needs to retire. Samuels isn’t able to follow the content of questions, even those asked by the defense lawyers. He is easily confused and sidetracked. He can’t organize or keep his notes organized. In addition, Samuels shouldn’t need to refer to his notes so often; he should be able to review his notes each day and then testify while occasionally referring to his notes. He spends enormous amounts of time trying to sort through his notes every few questions. Samuels uses his notes as a security blanket.

Because of his confusion and embarrassment, Samuels has become hostile and uncooperative every day. There is absolutely no reason for him to behave this way if he were confident in his abilities. Frankly, I question Samuels’ cognitive abilities to perform as a forensic evaluator and as an expert witness. I’m not saying that he has dementia or any other cognitive illness. I am saying that he isn’t keeping up as he should be and that he has made some inexcusable mistakes/decisions in this case. This explains his hostility when questioned about his evaluation choices and egregious evaluation mistakes.

I looked at Samuels’ CV; he hasn’t kept as current with his training as he wishes us to believe. I can’t tell if he has kept up with his continuing education requirements; it is likely that he has done so. However, on his CV, under “Most Recent Specialized Training”, the most recent date is 2005. Samuels lists seminars and conferences as “specialized training”. They are not training events unless specifically noted as such. Seminars and conferences allow professionals to keep current in their field. Learning certainly occurs, but training does not. It has been 8 years since Sam has attended an event; I can’t tell if it was a conference, seminar or a training event. My guess is that it is a seminar.

Samuels has made it painfully evident that he didn’t give the MMPI-II because, IMO, he hasn’t kept current on its administration and scoring. (I also suspect that he is too cheap to pay for the test copies and to have them scored.) In a death penalty case, there is no excuse for not using the MMPI-II. While I am not a clinician, I do know that the MMPI-II is the gold standard. The MMPI has a much better lie scale built into it. Samuels’ decision not to use the MMPI-II with a death penalty defendant truly surprises me. His failure to administer more than 2 psychometric tests surprises me as well.

I agree with Mr. Martinez (JM). regarding Samuels’ boundary issues. Samuels has crossed boundaries with Arias. I know that many may think that sending someone a book isn’t a big deal. But that is a treatment decision, not an examination decision. The sending of the book demonstrates that Samuels lost his objectivity about Arias a long time ago. Samuels is acting as a therapist, not as a forensic evaluator. He allowed himself to become biased; the book is an indicator of that. He used the book to reach out to Arias. That isn’t his job. I think that Samuels meant well when he mailed that book to Arias; but he allowed himself to think like a therapist rather than an objective and neutral evaluator. Based on Samuels’ testimony, he is anything but objective and neutral in this case.

Samuels’ failure to administer the PDS correctly is a major ethical lapse. A forensic evaluator never “fills in the answers” for a defendant. That is essentially tampering with evidence.

I missed much of today’s trial (day 34), and will catch up on that soon. But what I have seen from the past 3 days, there is absolutely no way for Samuels’ expert testimony to be redeemed. I believe Willmott, Nurmi and Arias know this. Willmott is very nervous with Samuels; Arias was even caught rolling her eyes at him. Willmott and Nurmi should have known that Samuels was not up for this job.

The best thing the defense could do right now is to get Samuels off the stand. Unfortunately for him and them, there are many, many juror questions to answer and then possible redirect and recross..

jackie freitas says:

Everything you wrote is exactly,dead on right. Hope the jurors are that smart

CJ says:

My experience is as a crime victim in the court processes. I remember the rapist being evaluated due to some court motions he had made in Family Court re his kids. The evaluator did the MMPI on him, and I was shocked it actually showed his sociopathy, etc. I thought he would be such a “good” sociopath” that he’d be able to make the test look good, but it caught him. I can see if he had the ch

funnyhaha71 says:

The lie scale on the MMPI is very good. No test is full-proof, but the MMPI is much harder to trick. The Millon has a lie scale, but I doubt it is as good as the MMPI.

ralphael says:

Well said!

freebie214 says:

They need to start giving out barf bags to the people in the gallery.

Name says:

Oh Yes they do! Funny!

freebie214 says:

The defense did such a good job of restoring “Dr.” Samuels reputation, people were barfing in court! What’s next?

Only thing that worries me, is if there is an appeal in this case, it may actual be valid.

funnyhaha71 says:

I’ve wondered about that to, but I don’t think Samuels’ testimony can overturn the conviction.

If Samuels was a state expert, the state would be screwed. But Samuels is a defense expert examiner. The defense could have had a different examiner or hired a second examiner. There’s no evidence that Samuels has lied. He is simply a disaster. But he’s a disaster that the defense has worked with for 4 years and had the opportunity to replace or to bring on another evaluator.

Jodi’s right to due process hasn’t been hindered in any way. Her lawyers should have fired Samuels and hired someone else, but I seriously doubt that they knew that Samuels was this big of a mess until very recently. Based on Nurmi’s and Samuels’ expertise, I believe they have worked together and that Nurmi thought Samuels was a fit expert witness. There is no indication that Jodi’s lawyers made a negligent choice; I think they just made a poor choice and didn’t notice Samuels’ decline. I suspect that Samuels has done a good job hiding his cognitive decline but the stress of testifying makes this decline quite evident.

That’s not enough to overturn a conviction.

Twbookmiss says:

This was so concise. Juan truely did a great job debunking the “expert” witness. He looks and sounded like some pompass psycho that got his diploma from an on line school. How he made it this far in the field of expert witnesses I have no idea. This is the most un”expert” I have ever seen except on the movies. I don’t believe the jury finds him credible no matter what Willmott says. Her questions are so far out in the field I don’t get what she is trying to prove. Juan was simple. She lied when she took the test. Your testimony in based on those lies. You didn’t re-evalutate her in the new story she changed to. Therefore all your analysis is not applicable to what is being considered here for the DP.
Willlmott trying to jump through all kinds of verbiage to confuse the jury and hope the big words are impressive. Her and her cute giggle and perky suit. Good Luck lady.


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