Evaluating competing theories

The key where you have inconclusive circumstantial evidence, and competing theories of guilt and innocence, is to consider whether it all adds up and makes sense.

Is there a credible motive, for example?

Does it fit a common pattern of behaviour, such as domestic violence? What is the likely explanation?

And does all of the evidence fit, or are there puzzling problems that are unexplained.

Notes on the May 26 Gmail chat

Some notes on the Gmail Chat on May 26. It is the last recorded conversation between Jodi and Travis prior to his death, so potentially an important piece of circumstantial evidence in the case. Being “hearsay”, as far as I know, it did not come in as evidence in the guilt phase of the trial, instead domestic violence expert Alyce LaViolette referenced it in her testimony, however I think it is still interesting to look at the original chat.

Travis’ initial complaint is that Jodi called him, presumably when they had agreed not to have further contact. He says he is addicted to her. Jodi admits it, and confirms they are addicted.

Jodi: “Honestly, aside from what I wanted to say, it was me that wanted to hear your voice just once. It’s like a little fix. You’re not the only one addicted.”

Travis expresses anger, says Jodi is “not sorry”, and pressures Jodi to admit it:

Travis: “You are not sorry. I’m okay with that if you’ll admit it. It should be liberating to you. So tell me the truth. Tell me that you are not sorry.”

After complaining that Jodi has lied to him, Travis asks whether she has other partners:

Travis: So have messed around with anyone else?

Jodi is somewhat evasive, and Travis is suspicious:

Jodi: You’re the last person I’ve ever been intimate with.
Travis: But you’d like to with someone else wouldn’t you?
Jodi: My sex drive is gone.
Travis: I doubt that.

Jodi deflects, talking about sex, praising Travis extravagantly, which appears to mollify him – bear in mind that Jodi has started an online relationship with Ryan Burns, which accounts for her being evasive.

Jodi: I haven’t dittled myself once since I moved here except for the times when we were on the phone and we did it together.
Travis: Well it didn’t seem to be a problem on the phone.
Jodi: Of course not. That’s the effect you have. Nobody else can do that. Absolute kryptonite. I don’t want to be a whore. I could joke that if being a whore for Travis is wrong then I don’t wanna be right. But this isn’t the time for jokes. I’ve been a bad influence.
Travis: Like I said I’m not mad about that.
Jodi: I know Travis.

Next Travis complains Jodi logged into his Facebook, Jodi admits it:

Travis: Why did you get in my facebook after all of these times I have forgiven you?
Jodi: Because I suck.

Next Jodi talks about their sexual relationship:

Jodi: .. when we made love, I was able to actually convince myself, yes lie to myself. It really felt for that space of time that it was something bigger and better. But that’s the intoxication felt from sex. And you made it so good. You became another person. It’s like you nearly worshipped me. I felt sooo so so loved when we did that. It became absolutely addicting.

Up to here, the chat seems fairly rational. Travis has made some complaints, which seem to have at least some foundation ( Jodi called him, she logged into his Facebook ). However, from this point, Travis starts to get quite irrational, angry and abusive, claiming Jodi never loved him, never cared for him, and she is not sorry about it:

Travis: You are not sorry for invading my privacy either. But at least I know what my value to you is and it’s not much more than that. I was a source of pleasure. That’s it, nothing else. At the core I don’t think you care if I live or die, I really don’t. The pain you have caused is worse than death. At times I thought you were something that you were not. You scammed me and you knew you were scamming me. I think you would choose a dollar bill over my life. It’s the other stuff that is blatant lies that I have a problem with. You are not sorry. You know you are not. So why say it. You know you are not sorry. If I was there you’d prove how not sorry you are. So let’s just leave it at that.

He repeatedly demands she say she is not sorry, Jodi won’t be tied down on that:

Travis: Say you are not sorry for it.
Jodi: Part of me is glad that we did that. Is it wrong to feel that way? Don’t answer.
Travis: I don’t know.
Jodi: It is.
Travis: But you are not sorry. I know you are not.
Jodi: It is a struggle inside of me. I want to take the high road, but the selfish part of me wants to take you and if you were here and the opportunity presented itself then I most likely would.
Travis: I think you are just demented and somehow thought taking from me somehow benefit you.

Objectively this is quite unreasonable and irrational. Jodi is apparently being honest, and has mixed feelings about their past relationship. Travis ascribes ulterior motives, and becomes agitated, says she “hates him” and asks “why did you try to ruin me”.

Travis: I think I was little more than a dildo with a heartbeat to you.
Jodi: ..I would have been content just cuddling, but I wasn’t strong enough.
Jodi: Again I am so sorry for that. I was way overcome.
Travis: No you’re not.
Jodi: It was wrong.
Travis: I know your not. I ask that you not lie. You are not sorry, you’re not. I don’t ask that you be sorry, I ask that you don’t lie. You’re not sorry and I don’t care. I’m okay with you not being sorry about that. It’s me too.
Jodi: Yeah, but it was more me. I should’ve been better.
Travis: Then why. Why did you try to ruin me. Why. Just tell me why. You aren’t who you say you are. So tell me why. Even now you only talk but your actions show that you hate me. Even right now.

Jodi now apparently misunderstands him, thinking he means financially:

Jodi: I don’t know what you mean by ruin you? I would never deliberately set out to do that. I was bitter, yes, but I tried to be a big girl in other ways: by lending you my few hundred dollars when your re-fi depended on it, by giving you a membership that would have taken me out of chargebacks, by devoting time to pushing through those last few counters at the last hours of the month so you would qualify. It was an endless struggle. I was resentful for other things, but I’ve always wanted you to succeed. I haven’t deliberately set out to try and ruin you. I am so sorry for what I’ve done. Those nice things listed above don’t even begin to add up to counter balance the horrible things I’ve done. It should have all been different. It’s my fault. I am 100% responsible for this.

Travis now says this was to “reel him in”, accuses her of being selfish, says she hates him. Travis is now becoming quite unreasonable and abusive:

Travis: You did those things to reel me in. It was about you. Why did you manipulate me into loving you? Why me? I was a good guy. Why did you have to do it to me. Why do you hate me? What was your objective?

Travis now repeatedly says Jodi hates him:

Travis: I know that. I want you to admit it. Your actions prove you hate me. Tell me the truth I hate you, say it. I want the truth just once and then tell me why you hate me and desire to ruin my life. Why do you only try to harm me. I have sacrificed so much for you. I have taken so much heat for you and defended you, defended the lies you told others with the lies you told me.
Jodi: I’m sorry Travis.

Travis apparently becomes more and more agitated, and his language becomes increasingly abusive, then he accuses Jodi of slashing his tires:

Travis: You can tell the truth. Tell it. Once. You slashed the F’ing tires. You did. I know you did. You are a liar. You don’t care either. Don’t you see your lies is why your life is worthless. It will always be until you tell the truth. You have got to learn. Can you learn. If not you are taking up people air. You are freaking pathetic.

Jodi denies slashing Travis’ tires ( note: there may be some sequencing issue, as Jodi appears to deny the allegation before Travis raises it )

Jodi: I may be a liar, I may be whore, I may be evil, I may be a coward, I may not be worth the air that I breathe, I am most like the most horrible person you’ve ever had the misfortune of knowing, but one thing I am NOT, is violent. I did not and would not and would never slash your tires.

Jodi repeatedly says how sorry she is, Travis refuses to accept any apology:

Jodi: I don’t know what to do. I really am sorry for everything. I know you don’t want apologies. I don’t what to say.
Travis: You are not sorry. What I want is for you to quit blatantly lying. We both know by your actions that view me as pure shit.

Travis attacks Jodi’s character and new job:

Jodi: I’m a full-time bartender now a Mexican restaurant.
Travis: You think I care about your sob story after what you have done to me.
Travis: A bartender. Perfect.
Jodi: It’s not a sob story.
Travis: A slut’s job. Maybe you can’t get tips for BJ’s. Oh I’m sure you can. You are good at that.

Finally, Travis comes up with this abusive tirade:

Travis: Do realize that. I hate you so much. You have been more cause of pain than the death of my father. You are relentless in your torture of people that have loved you and protected and served you and what do you do. You try to destroy them. You are a the lowest of low. You are sick and evil and knowing you makes me want to kill myself in punishment. I’m so stupid. I don’t even know if you are human. Hitler had more of conscience than you.

The chat ends with Travis saying Jodi flirted with Danny Jones, she denies it.

Overall, Travis is always dominant, extravagantly aggressive and abusive and complains bitterly, in spite of Jodi saying she is sorry. He refuses to accept her apologies, but doesn’t break off the relationship. Jodi by contrast gives way at every turn, apologising, says she did love him, and did not slash his tires.

Travis also shows signs of sexual jealousy, even though he is in relationships with other women, and they do not have any agreement to be faithful to one another. On the basis of Jodi being evasive about other partners,  Jodi telling Travis (in the sex tape) that she was going to Utah on her trip, and non-verbal communication on June 4, it’s likely Travis would have suspected she was in a relationship with another man, Ryan Burns. This could easily trigger abusive controlling behaviour.

Summary: Travis shows anger and abuse issues, and also sexual jealousy. Jodi should have kept away, but instead continued the relationship, and apparently failed to respect his privacy. It supports the hypothesis that Travis lost his temper on June 4, starting a fight that eventually led to his death.

Footnotes:

(1) It is unknown who slashed Travis’ tires. There was an anonymous email sent to Lisa Andrews on December 12, 2007, around the time of the incident, which advised Lisa in religious language to break off the relationship.

(2) It is unknown who took Travis’ journals ( or if they were just lost accidentally ).

(3) Travis accuses Jodi of deleting an email. She denies it. There is no evidence regarding the accusation.

Extracts from Kirk Nurmi’s book

Some extracts from Kirk Nurmi’s book:
 
She would call her mother stupid and/ or guilt her into sending her money because she was starving. Ms. Arias would get angry with her mother for not sending her money or a book in a timely fashion.
 
Nurmi, Kirk. Trapped with Ms. Arias: Part 1 of 3 From Getting the File to Being Ready for Trial (p. 102). . Kindle Edition.
 
Beyond that Ms. Arias had the unmitigated gall to give some canteen items to other inmates and thus ask her mother for more money. It was pretty repulsive to listen to, I must admit.
 
Nurmi, Kirk. Trapped with Ms. Arias: Part 1 of 3 From Getting the File to Being Ready for Trial (p. 102). . Kindle Edition.
 
I am amazed that the State never used these calls during the third phase of the trial. I may never know why the State did not use these calls. If I was trying the case for the State I certainly would have. I would have used them because there was never a time when I thought Ms. Arias was deserving of the death penalty more than when I listened to her on these calls.
 
Nurmi, Kirk. Trapped with Ms. Arias: Part 1 of 3 From Getting the File to Being Ready for Trial (p. 105). . Kindle Edition.
 
If I was the prosecutor on the case, I would have had Dr. DeMarte speak about Ms. Arias’ behavior during these calls. I would have had Dr. DeMarte refer to these calls as examples that supported her diagnosis as doing so would have been a way to illustrate to the jury, perhaps without saying so, that Ms. Arias was a monster whose life needed to end.
 
Nurmi, Kirk. Trapped with Ms. Arias: Part 1 of 3 From Getting the File to Being Ready for Trial (p. 105). . Kindle Edition.

State Bar admonishes Juan Martinez

On Thursday September 29, 2016, the  Attorney Discipline Probable Cause Committee of the Arizona Supreme Court ordered that Martinez be placed on probation for a year.

The order states that Martinez violated three Supreme Court rules governing the conduct of attorneys:

1. Engaging in unprofessional conduct.

2. Using means that have no substantial purpose other than to embarrass, delay, or burden any other person, or using methods of obtaining evidence that violate the legal rights of such a person by, among other things, improperly attacking the defendant.

3. Engaging in professional misconduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.

Martinez has 10 days to appeal the admonition. If he does, the matter will go to a formal hearing. Neither Martinez nor the County Attorney’s Office have indicated whether he will appeal*.

Via the Arizona Republic

The initial charges filed by Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice, an association of criminal defense attorneys, are available here or here.

One charge concludes:

“Not only did Martinez’ statements relate to the foundation of whether the state could proceed with a capital case, in incorrectly contradicted Arias’ testimony that the shot came first and later the stabbings as Alexander was attacking her.”

* Update Oct 3, 2016: “Prosecutor Juan Martinez files appeal of his admonishment for unprofessional conduct by the State Bar of AZ and opts for a formal hearing.”

Note: See here for Arizona Court Rules on proceedings.

The prosecution case

According to Juan Martinez

Dr Phil:

There were things that you knew, that you kinda kept closer to the vest.

For example, Jodi had borrowed two gas cans a month before the trip, to Mesa, Arizona.

So was she planning this that far in advance?

Juan Martinez:

She was, and with that information, I started to look at some of the receipts that were taken during an execution of a search warrant at her house, and I saw that there was a receipt for a 5 gallon gas can. So now I knew that I had three five gallon gas cans, fifteen gallons.

And I also knew that in an interview of the police with her mother with the police her mother said “well Jodi told me that she wasn’t anywhere in Mesa, and she had the receipts to prove it”.

So it’s clear she was planning to keep certain receipts, but she was also planning not to stop in Arizona for gas, because the fifteen gallons allowed her to go through the state of Arizona without stopping for gas, and there are no receipts to prove that she actually did it.

Even in opening statement, the defense attorney indicated that this was a trip that she hadn’t planned, this was a trip that resulted after she spoke to Mr Alexander, so it was a spur of the moment kind of thing. But the gas cans spoke otherwise.

Dr Phil:

So what is the untold story? Is it that this was not even an impulse thing that she did?

Is it this long premeditation, what is the untold story?

Juan Martinez:

That is the untold story, a lot of things that she did in advance. She rented a car to drive out to Mesa, she didn’t rent it in her home town which is very small. She rented it 90 miles away. When she rented the car she was initially given a red one. ‘I don’t want one of those, because that one stands out”. So she was given a white one. And when she showed up she was blonde-haired. That’s the person who helped her remembers that specifically. But when she killed him, and in the photographs that we see in the camera, she’s dark-haired. So in-between then she changed her hair color.
Another thing that she did is that when she parked the car outside of the house, she took both license plates off so that nobody would be able to identify the car. So she went to great lengths to make sure that no-one could tell she was there. And by-and-large she was successful except for that one mistake, she probably would have gotten away with it.

Wrongful Convictions around the World