WHY NOT KILL HER
#TravisAlexander & the Jodi Arias Retrial: A Juror’s Perspective
“A PIOUS MENAGERIE”
Sixteen reasonable human beings resided in the jury box daily and watched as a great canvas of art was painted stroke by stroke. The artists were the prosecution and the defense team who whisked paint strokes across the canvas and a picture developed piece by piece, somewhat different in each juror’s mind. The jury imagines what this piece of art would look like in the end and it never coincided with what they imagined the final product to be.
There were times that a paint stroke was made but cannot be erased despite what the jury was ordered. Juan Martinez brushed such a stroke, when he told Dr. Geffner a number of days ago that he was a hired gun. It is a simple stroke the jury won’t forget. Another paint stroke was swiped across the canvas when Abe Abdelhadi simply stated out of order, the email written by Arias directed to him, was never received by him. A bold color remained on the canvas when Deanna Reid, the long-time romantic interest of Travis Alexander boldly stated to the courtroom that the only one being misleading was the defense team.
Deanna Reid was on the stand as the jury filed into the jury box to continue her testimony of the prior day, at the mercy of Jennifer Willmott’s questioning. It would have been clear to every juror that the tension of yesterday’s interaction between Deanna and Willmott had dissipated. The questioning was remarkably smooth and without the color of two cats about to fight. I would suspect that all parties involved had been subjects of behind the scenes advice. Tension between attorneys and witness, regardless of side can backfire on both parties. Juries will see the anger and disregard the paint strokes in words.
“Do you hear your own voice on this tape?” Jennifer Willmott asked. She had just played a clip of an interview with the voice of Deanna and some attorneys.
“Yes, that’s my voice,” Deanna answered cordially.
The tape played for the court and the witness to hear, “Would it surprise you to know that Travis Alexander was having sex with women other than Jodi?”
One could hear a pause as she thought about her answer. “Well, I don’t know.”
“If you were asked, is it more disappointing that he was having sex with other women or are you more surprised?” the voice asked.
“Nothing surprises me anymore,” she said matter-of-factly, “I’m disappointed that he didn’t tell me, more than anything. I thought we were closer than that.”
Jennifer Willmott turned off the CD. She was wearing a solid black business suit with knee high skirt and high heels. She marched back to the table next to the small pine podium. She glanced at her legal pad on the table and then directed her attention back to Deanna.
“Miss Reid, you have been having sexual relations years before 2011, haven’t you?”
“Yes,” Deanna answered. She, too, was wearing all black accented with a white blouse. Her hands rested comfortably intertwined in her lap. She would lean slightly forward when she answered a question to compensate for the microphone.
“You did not know there were multiple girls that Travis was having sex with, aside from Jodi, did you?” Willmott asked.
“I was not aware of that. No.”
“You were not married to Travis, were you?”
“I was not.”
“You were having sex with him. Yes?” Jennifer Willmott pointedly asked.
“For a time I was.”
“You never admitted that did you?”
“I wasn’t asked,” she answered in a surprisingly calm manner.
“It took years later to admit it, didn’t it?”
“Does the Mormon religion prohibit having sex before marriage?” Willmott asked insinuatingly.
“There is a Law of Chastity that speaks to this, isn’t there?”
“Yes,” Deanna answered.
“If a bishop learned of this, you could lose your Temple Worthiness, couldn’t you?”
“I could, but the bishop has discretion in those matters and, well, I’m not a bishop.”
Jennifer Willmott stopped, disregarded her response and looked at her legal pad. She looked back at Deanna. “You are familiar with Missions and the LDS Church?”
The ensuing volley of questions painted a picture in a fast clip. The questioning revealed that Deanna Reid had gone on an eighteen-month mission for the Mormon Church in Costa Rica. It was a very structured process and the length of time of a mission was always the same. Both men and women went and, if married, both could go together. Her mission began in June of 2000.
It was learned that she continued a relationship with Travis Alexander despite the difficulties of a long separation. They shared letters and emails but did not see each other throughout that time.
“So you exchanged letters long distance,” Willmott stated. “In those letters, didn’t Travis speak a lot about marriage?”
“And he told you how much he loved you?”
“There was talk of your coming home in November, right?” Willmott prodded.
“You were going to get married, right?”
“Yes,” Deanna answered. She was firm in all her answers despite what must have been painful memories surfacing on the canvas.
“You received a letter from Travis Alexander prior to your coming home. In August or September, you read his letter and learned he was dating someone else?”
“That letter told you he had been dating someone else throughout the summer of 2001, didn’t it?”
“Yes,” Deanna answered while still remaining calm.
“He stated he was dating Linda Ballard. Is that correct?”
I think the jury would have been mildly surprised, as prior references to the incident had not stated the name of whom he was dating. They knew that relationship had caused Deanna and Travis to break up. The picture in their mind had certainly been Arias.
“It is,” she answered.
The jury learned that Travis and Deanna had gotten back together and dated from 2002 through 2004 while living in Riverside, California. They had sex throughout their relationship and ultimately broke up again because Travis had not proposed marriage again. She had felt guilty about having premarital sex and lost her Temple Recommend from the church and Travis lost his in 2005 for similar reasons.
The inflection and tone of Jennifer Willmott painted a picture of promiscuity and a church admonishment that would not have been taken lightly. Even in that drawing, Deanna had remained firm and resolute without ever caving to the whims of Willmott and her path down slime highway, as some in the past have mentioned.
The paintbrush of Juan Martinez could be seen as having coarse bristles and primitive brush strokes that hurried along the face of the canvas. His questions moved quickly like a seasoned artist filling in the details of a landscape. The picture that emerged stood in stark contrast to the visual of Jennifer Willmott’s work.
Juan walked quickly toward the witness while saying, “Move for exhibit number 852 to be admitted.”
Judge Stephens quickly agreed to it as Juan Martinez handed the document to Deanna Reid. “Look at the printed portion,” he directed her.
The same exhibit was displayed on the screens throughout the courtroom. I could see the jury looking at it intently with some taking notes.
The prosecutor read aloud the words on the screen. “And did you and Travis Alexander have a sexual relationship?” The answer reads: “We were dating a long time and we were in love. That’s what happens when you’re in love.” “Are those your words?”
“Yes,” she agreed.
The next series of questions was marked with Juan Martinez moving in short paces parallel to the witness. He would sometimes ask the question as if he were speaking to the wind and other times he would direct his attention toward her. One could feel a method to his direction and a vision in his painting.
“We were discussing you telling the bishop of having premarital sex. What were the sanctions or disciplinary actions?”
“It was one sanction and it was ordered that there be no sex after being sanctioned,” Deanna answered.
“Did you ever have sex again?” Juan asked.
“Travis and I had shared a kiss at one point but we did not have sex,” she answered.
“Did you both have the same bishop?” Juan asked.
“No,” she answered. “We each went to our own bishops.”
“Explain to me what a sanction is again?”
“In the Church, it is a piece of paper issued by a Bishop and it ultimately is meant to coach us how to get the sanction released through meetings and such,” Deanna explained.
Juan stopped pacing and looked at Deanna. “Were you and Travis Alexander friends up until the day he was murdered?”
It was the only moment throughout the day that Deanna paused. It appeared that she was given pause by a memory of a man she once knew, from a life she once dreamed of, with a man who was no longer here. She looked down and then answered, “Yes.”
“I want to determine your closeness to him,” he started, “what was the name of Travis Alexander’s dog?”
“Napoleon,” she answered.
Both Kirk Nurmi and Jennifer Willmott jumped up at the same time voicing their vehement objection. Neither attorney appreciated the relevance of a dog that Deanna now owned. The dog was the only living piece of Travis that she had left, and one would know that she treasured her dog, as much as she had the times with Travis Alexander.
Deanna waited on the witness stand while Judge Stephens inquired of questions from the jury. Randy, the bailiff, marched across the room authoritatively as he gathered the collection of questions lying in the metal basket in front of the jury. It was always an exciting moment to hear from the ones who carry a banner of silence.
The attorneys and judge reviewed the questions at the front while white noise hissed over the speakers in the courtroom. I saw jurors with pens poised and knew they saw the value in this indirect and anonymous communication. It was a window into the minds of the fellow comrades that sat in the box every day, each holding their vow of silence as directed by the court.
I have spent many months in a jury box and I remember the feeling as the judge read the questions to the witness as procedure in Arizona dictates. It is a window into the mind of your fellow jurors and, most of the time, gave me great peace in the realization that I was not too far afield in how my mind was processing what I had seen through witnesses and evidence. The most exciting day of juror questions for our jury was raining the forensic blood spatter expert with questions. We love evidence that we can see, touch and feel. We also loved evidence from witnesses we could trust.
This jury would have trusted Deanna to be a good human being who suffered a loss that no one could quite grasp after a ten-year relationship. It was not sympathy or empathy they would feel. Instead, it would have been one of respect for the attachment to Travis Alexander. It was clear that she loved him while balancing him in her life with her religion.
“Did you tell your bishop about all your sexual contacts with Travis Alexander?” Judge Stephens read carefully over the bench to Deanna on the witness stand.
The question had a second part that Stephens read aloud. “Did you also tell him with whom?”
“Was there any sexual contact after you lost your Temple Recommend?” an anonymous juror asked through the voice of Stephens.
“Did Travis Alexander tell you anything about being sexually abused as a child?”
Deanna did not pause when she answered, “No.”
This question was probably one of the most important of the day to a juror. They had heard that Travis Alexander had been sexually molested at age twelve. If anyone on the face of the earth had known about it, it would have been Deanna. Suddenly, the age of twelve rings a bell of coincidence.
A couple questions pursued the process of church procedure and sanctions. This tended to make me believe there was certainly at least one juror who came from a Mormon culture background.
“Who confessed to the Bishop first?” the question read.
Deanna thought about it. “I really can’t be sure,” she answered.
The prosecution was followed by the defense in post juror question query. This is standard after questions answered by the witness.
I do not think the jury learned much additional information. They will, however, consider all of Deanna Reid’s testimony one day in the deliberation room. She stood as one of the strongest witnesses in the retrial by painting a picture of Travis Alexander, as a human being who loved people and loved life. He was a gentleman and strong in character. Most importantly, he was a human being and his loss was a scar that many would nurture the rest of their lives.
The latter half of the afternoon was spent with Juan Martinez gracefully drafting a picture of a Bishop, a religion and the fine strokes of a lie and manipulation. The jury would find this exchange powerful on a number of levels. One could sense a rise of good in the face of evil, with paint strokes as words weaving themselves into the picture.
Bishop Parker took the witness stand dressed in a conservative navy blue suit with a white shirt and matching blue tie. He wore wire rim glasses, had graying hair and the top of his head was free of hair. His presence, by nature of his title, commanded importance and attention by the jury. He settled comfortably into his seat.
It did not take long for the systematic questioning by the prosecutor to reveal that the witness had become a Bishop for the Mormon Church in 1999. He had a house in Riverside, California. He had a variety of duties and responsibilities including managing church activities such as teaching, church outings, spiritual meetings and even sports activities. He had helped create a singles ward in 1999, which is where Travis Alexander and Deanna Reid originally met.
“Are you in charge of problems?” Juan Martinez asked him. He had one hand resting in his pocket.
“You could say that is one of my responsibilities. Yes,” the Bishop answered.
“Are you in charge of sanctions?”
“In extreme cases.”
“What is a sanction?” Juan Martinez asked.
“A sanction is something that is done as a disciplinary action. It is a piece of paper signed by a bishop and the goal is to get to get the person back to a Temple Recommend state. Throughout the year, we have multiple interviews,” Bishop Parker explained.
“What is a Temple Recommend?”
“It is also a piece of paper signed by a bishop after a person goes through a number of steps.”
“Does one have to be a Temple Recommend to do baptisms?” Juan asked.
“No,” the Bishop stated. “Anyone can go to baptisms and anyone can baptize as long as they are a member of the church.”
Juan stepped back to the prosecution table and looked at his legal pad. He took a sip of water and returned to his stance in front of the table, ready to complete his picture. He crossed his arms across his chest. He rocked on his heels very imperceptibly and then looked at the Bishop.
“Did you know Travis Alexander?”
The Bishop nodded. “I did. We met in March of 1999.”
“You met in Riverside, California shortly after you became a bishop?”
“Yes,” he answered. “I was in charge of a singles club that he participated in.”
“You had a house, as well?”
“I did. I lived with my wife, a son named David and had a room that I would help those who needed it with.”
“So, a variety a people went through your home. Where did Travis Alexander live when he came back from his mission in June or July of 2000?
“He lived with us for about six weeks and I believe he moved out at the beginning of August,” the Bishop answered.
“Did someone move in after Travis Alexander left?”
“We had a person there by the name of Jake.”
“Very good,” Juan responded. “Do you, or did you have a computer in the house during that time.”
“I believe Travis was already gone but I had a computer there in September of 2000,” he said pensively but confidently.
“Did you ever know Travis Alexander to use that computer?” Juan asked.
“Not that I recall.”
“Did Jake have access to the computer?”
“Yes, he did.”
Juan walked over to the projector and he put exhibit number 438 back on the screen for everyone to see. It was the affidavit statement from Witness #1, who chose to testify by hiding under a sheet of paper. He held the contents of an interview with the attorneys. We remembered this as the exhibit that was submitted twice for a date change from January of 2000 to November or December of 2000. The letter detailed Witness #1 seeing a violent attack upon Deanna, and further stated Travis Alexander had admitted to owning child pornography files that caused the computer to crash, because of an attached virus that computer pornography files are known for.
The questioning of Juan Martinez of the Bishop revealed that Witness #1 had an online relationship with a lady overseas. She had moved into the Bishop’s house shortly after her arrival on American soil. Witness #1 did not live there, but his romantic interest in the girl placed him in the Bishop’s house between December and March of 2001.
“Being that Witness #1 had a relationship with a lady who lived in your house, would you say he was there often between December and the beginning of March?” Juan Martinez asked.
“He was there every day during that time.”
“Your son was living there, as well?”
“David was there. Yes.”
“Had Jake moved out?”
“He moved out in late December,” the Bishop answered.
“Was there a time when Pop-Ups showed up on your computer?”
“Did Witness #1 have permission to use the computer?”
“What field was he in?” Juan Martinez asked.
“I believe he was familiar with both cars and computers.”
“Can you describe these Pop-Ups for me?” Juan queried.
“I learned they were from a virus but they were, uh, pictures of scantily clad ladies,” he answered with just a hint of discomfort in his voice.
“What did you do when you found out?”
The Bishop answered as a reasonable man might. “I brought it to a shop and they had the virus removed.”
“Did you sanction anyone?” Juan Martinez asked.
“Oh, no,” the Bishop answered.
“Who reported the Pop-Ups to you?”
“The man you call Witness Number one.”
“Did he mention seeing any files or folders with child pornography?” Juan asked.
“No, he did not.”
“Did the shop who repaired your computer report any child pornography on the computer?”
“No, they did not.”
“Who is responsible for the Pop-Ups?”
“My son David learned that Jake picked up the virus on the computer and could not erase the issue before he left,” the Bishop answered. He was calm and his answers felt genuine.
“Drawing your attention back to exhibit number 438, Witness #1 states that he came to you and admitted to being dishonest with you about the origins of the pornography. He states that this was of great concern as he would have been disciplined by a sanction and that would have disrupted marriage plans to the woman residing in your house. Did anyone come to you when the computer crashed and did they discuss being dishonest?”
The Bishop simply stated, “No.”
“Did you discipline anyone at this time or think of disciplining anyone if there was child pornography on that computer?”
“No, I did not.”
Juan walked forward a couple steps to the Bishop. “Let us assume you had seen child pornography on the computer. Would you have disciplined Witness #1 for that and would it have affected his marriage plans?”
“No,” the Bishop answered.
Juan took two more steps forward and outstretched a hand to welcome his final piece of questioning for the day. “At any time, Bishop Parker, did Witness #1 say he found child pornography anywhere in your household, computer or otherwise?”
“No,” the Bishop answered.
Juan Martinez walked back to the prosecution table and sat down while Kirk Nurmi asked to approach the judge and managed to sidebar his way out of beginning the questioning of the Bishop. Judge Stephens summarily dismissed the jury after telling them to return on Monday. Super Bowl activities added some logistical challenges for the court.
Normal people would be enjoying the activities of the big game for the weekend. Murderers would be left in their cells trapped in their own thoughts while the world moved outside. Most would never see a big game or even a grocery store the rest of their lives.
Each of these jurors would enjoy the weekend while trying not to think about the evil that was beginning to surface in the trial. Many would wonder why it was acceptable to lie to a court of law behind the mask of an affidavit. Still other jurors would go beyond the piousness of two witnesses and begin to see the picture painted by Juan Martinez of a killer who was a master at manipulation. She had somehow gotten a witness to lie for her and plant ideas that never existed about the victim.
The one thing that juries cannot stand is being lied to. There is a penalty for lies and a reward for the surfacing of truths.
I have every confidence in the world that the appeal to the Supreme Court of Arizona will see its’ ruling this next week. The door will be opened one more time prior to allocution and it will quickly become apparent to the jury that as the witnesses dried up, there would be only one left that needed to appear.
Travis Alexander had made his appearance in the painting that Juan Martinez had drawn. Travis was heard in the honest words of a pious man and in the survival of sorrow of a woman he had loved for a third of his short life. These two witnesses represented a truth while a picture of evil was sketched in the defendant’s chair…
The momentum was changing in the favor of the victim and the painting of the picture of justice will continue on Monday…
“Every good relationship that has developed as a result of this trial is the manifestation of the Spirit of Travis Alexander.”
Justice 4 Travis Alexander…
Justice for Dale Harrell…
Paul A. Sanders, Jr.
The 13th Juror @The13thJurorMD (Twitter)