WHY NOT KILL HER
“A Juror’s Perspective”
Travis Alexander & the Jodi Arias Death Penalty Retrial
by Paul Sanders
“SLIME HIGHWAY REVISITED”
“You know the Code of Ethics in Psychology? You’re familiar with it?” Juan Martinez pointedly asked Dr. Fonseca. He was wearing a dark brown suit with a white shirt and maroon colored tie.
“Yes, Mr. Martinez,” she answered. “I am familiar with the Code of Ethics.”
“Under that Code of Ethics, Ma’am,” he pointed out while standing his ground, “You are required to give tests and make opinions based on full and detailed research? Am I correct?”
“Well,” she started, “there’s a voluminous amount of…”
“Do you feel you’ve been objective, Ma’am?”
Dr. Fonseca looked to the Jury, away from her interrogator. “Well, you see, I use multiple data points, extensive research as well as objective research in the best ways that I can.”
Juan walked up to the witness box, saying, “May I approach, Your Honor?” along the way. He went through the process of having an exhibit entered into evidence by giving a copy to the defense team and the witness on the stand.
Dr. Fonseca looked at the document and appeared to recognize it, nodding her head affirmatively.
Juan Martinez walked a few steps toward the prosecution table and turned around. “You recognize exhibit 741?”
“Yes,” she said as she inspected it.
It is the Gmail chat from May 26, 2008, one of the final conversations that Jodi Arias and Travis Alexander had before the horrific murder.
“You said this was a rant, didn’t you?” Juan asked her.
“Well,” she laughs, “It was a term.”
“It’s not a psychological term is it?” He continued without waiting for an answer. “You said it was a five-Hour rant, didn’t you?
“It was a long time,” she answered.
“I want you to look at the pages in your hand. It says from 2:32 AM until 4:47 AM. That’s not five hours! Is it, Ma’ am?”
Dr. Fonseca hesitated, flipping the pages back and forth. “It’s almost three hours,” she conceded.
“Actually,” Juan pointed out, “it is two hours and fifteen minutes.” He looked down at the carpet while pausing. His eyes looked up until he meets hers. He does not accuse but instead simply states, “You wanted to make Travis Alexander look out of control, did you not?”
“No,” she answered.
“Five hours is not correct. Is it, Ma’am? You chose five hours and it is not five hours, is it?”
“Well, not quite,” she answered quietly.
Juan approached her, as if confused. “Don’t you have an ethical responsibility to be accurate?”
“Yes,” she answered.
Kirk Nurmi, wearing a tan suit, with a light green shirt and green patterned tie approached Dr. Fonseca after Juan Martinez was seated. The jury was used to Kirk Nurmi speaking with his witnesses as if he is working out a problem with them. Whereas Juan takes short, fairly abrupt steps, Kirk Nurmi likes to walk. He changes direction slowly. He holds one arm out like a Sherlock Holmes would hold his pipe while expressing a thought. Where Juan asks pointed and directed questions, Kirk Nurmi likes to give the life history of a question. It’s as if he wants to encourage his witnesses to say as much as possible.
“Are you here to say that Travis Alexander was a horrible, monstrous person?” Nurmi asked with one arm outstretched forward.
“Oh, no,” she answered, smiling at the jurors. “I am here just to look at the dynamics of their relationship. I am not here to say the killing was justified.
“Now, if you were to say, or, let me back up,” Kirk Nurmi started. “You were not there on June 4, 2008. You don’t know what happened, right?”
“Absolutely not,” she responded confidently.
“And you are not saying Travis Alexander was deserving of his death, were you?” Nurmi asked.
“We talked about this Gmail,” Kirk Nurmi started. “We talked about some times that the prosecution seems to think is important. Does the time really matter to you except that it was early in the morning? It is not the length of the call but the substance that is important. Would you agree?”
“The emails between Travis Alexander and Jodi Arias get more aggressive every time,” Fonseca explained warmly to the jury. “Each has their own thing going on. Travis is living a double life having sex with Deanna Reid as well as Jodi Arias. Jodi is unaware of this dichotomy he has.”
“How does this email speak to you as an experienced psychologist?” Kirk Nurmi prodded.
“It’s debasing,” she politely explained to the jury in relationship to the Gmail exchange of May 26, 2008. “It’s insulting and demeaning and really shows their interaction patterns and the dynamics of this sexually charged relationship. This is a written example of his five-hour rant and who knows how many were not in writing? People might rant for an hour or two but six hours is a long time.”
I could bet that there were jurors who picked up on an inconsistency. Was it five hours or six hours?
Kirk Nurmi walked in a semi-circle in front of the eagerly awaiting Dr. Fonseca. It was apparent that she was much more comfortable speaking with him as opposed to Juan Martinez. “We began by talking about, in general terms, why sexual proclivity is important.”
Dr. Fonseca began her thoughts motioning with her hands to the jury. “It speaks to the dynamic of these two people. It suddenly exploded. Mr. Travis Alexander spoke to Jodi like the way Juan Martinez speaks to me.”
“How does he speak to you?” Mr. Nurmi queries.
“Objection! Relevance.” Juan Martinez said, while standing up. It had been his tenth objection in as many minutes.
The attorneys held a ten minute bench conference. Kirk Nurmi returned to his position across from Dr. Fonseca while holding a legal pad in one hand. “We were talking about, or let me back up, you mentioned that Travis Alexander had another side commonly known as, T-Dogg. You said his other side was secretive and causative. What’s the distinction on how T-Dogg handled this side?” he asked.
The Doctor turned in her chair toward the jury. “You see, people were unaware that he was seeing Jodi Arias. Most people knew he was seeing Deanna Reid. Very few people saw his dichotomy. He was very different with Miss Arias than Miss Reid or Miss Andrews. She was his secret.”
“Maybe she was the mistress of deception,” Nurmi offered sarcastically.
“I don’t believe that,” Dr. Fonseca responded. “This was a closeted relationship to Travis but Miss Arias wanted it to be an open relationship to please him. It does not matter when they were boyfriend and girlfriend and it doesn’t matter how low a Gmail chat is. What’s important is the dynamic of this sexually charged relationship. Even though she was living in Yreka, California while he was in Arizona, she was not trying to hide their relationship. We heard that on the sex phone call.”
“You were asked about suffering in silence,” Kirk Nurmi stated. “Define the parameters of what you mean when you say that for us. Will you?”
“Oh, certainly,” the Doctor responded casually. “They both suffered in silence because of their abusive background. I paid special attention to the background of Jodi and remember her father was abusive. She left home at a young age because of it. There was abuse in her family and I see this in incestuous relationships. I am not saying it is in this case but it was an abusive household and they both came from abusive homes. Travis kept their relationship closeted and she became his whore at midnight, as it were.”
I looked at the jury and although their faces revealed nothing, it spoke volumes that not one juror was taking notes.
Kirk Nurmi finally sat down and I watched Juan Martinez as he walked up to interrogate Dr. Fonseca.
A number of months ago, I was a juror for the murder of Dale Harrell in the trial of Marissa DeVault. The trial of Arias and DeVault are not only similar in structure but also in the cruelness of the premeditated murder. We also dealt with days and days of psychological testimony. We furiously took notes and we cared passionately about what we did in our service just as these jurors do.
I remember sitting in the Jury box, (I talk about this in my book “Brain Damage: A Juror’s Tale”), and I was positioned out of my normal seating. Instead of sitting on the inside end of the front row, I was on the outside of the top row. Dr. Karp, a psychologist, was on the stand and she spoke for days much like Dr. Fonseca had. I happened to look in the Gallery, where the public and media sit, and there was Juan Martinez.
Juan Martinez was sitting in the back row alone. He had no notepad and no cellphone. I had never seen him in person but recognized him from Arias’ televised first trial. He was wearing a white shirt with a pink tie enveloped by a dark suit. He sat alone with his hands in his lap and watched as Dr. Karp peered above her books and volumes of reports on Marissa DeVault. He was there on two afternoons. I wondered why he was there.
Today, I realized the reason why Juan Martinez was in my courtroom this past spring. He was sizing up his adversary. It may not have been the same psychologist but it was all based on the same general ideas. He was looking for weaknesses and reactions. He was getting ready for the retrial of Arias, and it was hard for me to believe we were finally here. It had been a long time coming.
His homework paid off as he went in for the kill on Dr. Fonseca. She fought like a two hundred pound marlin, never giving Juan any slack. She deflected and stuttered. At one point, she stopped looking at Juan and only looked at the jury, her lips pursed.
“What does it say on the second page?” Juan asked her, pointing at the document in front of her. “Why don’t you read it for us?”
Dr. Fonseca maneuvered her glasses and read aloud the words written by Travis Alexander. “You couldn’t get off your lazy butt to read it, could you? That’s the sociopath I know so well. It freakin’ figures,” she finished, as she put the exhibit down.
Juan pointed at her, as if to say that she wasn’t finished yet, motioning her to pick the papers back up. “You see that there? The next one down, Ma’am. What does it say, Ma’am?”
She read aloud again with little effort in her voice. “I don’t want your apology. I want you to understand what I think of you. I want you to understand how evil you are. You are the worst thing that ever happened to me.”
The Court was silent for a moment while Juan Martinez let it sink in for the jurors. Travis Alexander was able to make a significant appearance in that moment of silence. Juan made a half turn and looked at her. He had a habit of shifting topics with little notice.
”Do you know what Greenwich Median time is?”
Thus began the verbal dual with her. The time discussed was only two hours and fifteen minutes of a “rant” and not five or six hours. Being this was covered the other day, it showed her resistance to facts. It will ring as “sloppy” to some jurors.
Her memory got very foggy again. She kept fighting off his blows by saying vehemently, “That mischaracterizes my testimony!”
“Yes or no, Ma’am” Juan Martinez would bark at her.
She quibbled over testimony she had given twenty minutes prior and Juan did not let up. He kept pulling at the line. She argued about items she testified about days before. She looked to the judge and asked for her help.
Judge Stephens responded, “Please continue…”
The two went in circles for another fifteen minutes before Juan Martinez sat down.
“I see we have some questions from the jury,” Judge Stephens stated. Randy, the Bailiff, hustled across the courtroom to the mesh wire box in front of the jurors and gave the questions to the judge. A fifteen minute sidebar ensued with white noise emanating from the speakers throughout the courtroom.
Quite unexpectedly, the Jury spoke in more ways than one. They submitted a healthy batch of questions at the completion of her testimony. Arizona is one of few states that allow questioning of a witness via an official juror questionnaire form. They do not discuss each other’s questions and no one knows from whom the questions come from. They are independent jurors similar to saying “I, the Jury”. They submit their question and the attorneys and judge review them, before acceptance by the court. Not all questions are accepted and some are not read to the witness.
One juror asked about Travis’ sexual proclivity with Deanna Reid and if it was the same as with Arias. Dr. Fonseca responded that there were similarities but it was more pronounced with Arias. Someone inquired whether it was his sexual habits being hidden or whether it was women being hidden. Another juror wanted to know if the conversations of death and suicide were a form of manipulation. A juror asked if experience and events such as pornography could change the dynamics of a relationship.
There was a question about the “trigger” in the Gmail. This juror wanted to know what made Travis so upset. Why was he angry with her? What had she done? They were not satisfied with any answer because Dr. Fonseca didn’t have any answers. It was a great question by a juror who was rewarded with a nonresponsive answer from the witness.
Still, another juror asked if Travis Alexander showed off anyone else on social media and another asked if there were any other pictures of girls on his Facebook account. The experienced psychologist responded negatively to both questions. One particular juror asked why her exhibit was marked as starting at 9:30 PM while the record said 2:30 AM. Someone else asked where she had gotten her information from on the Internet?
She answered most questions as she gave her testimony. There was nothing particularly stunning about any answer she gave because she liked to talk.
I was glad to hear the Jury asking questions. It’s far too early to tell if they are leaning one way or another because they are still individual jurors. It tells me they are engaged. It tells me they are doing what they are supposed to do. They have to listen to the completion of both sides before they can lean in one direction or another. They must withhold judgment until they are released to the deliberation room.
The court was dismissed for a ten minute break.
Kirk Nurmi an hour and a half with the Doctor covering aspects of the juror questions after the break. I saw a few jurors taking notes but not many. It was a journey down rehash highway and little knowledge was gleaned from the testimony that had been covered repeatedly. I am sure many jurors were grateful to be released for lunch when the time finally came.
Judge Stephens spoke in the direction of the jury after the court had returned from lunch. “Ladies and Gentlemen, Juror Number Three has been dismissed and will no longer be with us.”
There was no applause and there was no reason given as to why. The State has alternates for a purpose. It is pointless to speculate, as the reason will remain a secret.
There is a dynamic in the background of a Jury that few speak of. No juror ever wants to be dismissed, it is heart-breaking. There is a worse fate the juror thinks of, though. Some might think it better to be dismissed than to become an alternate or an “on-call” juror. The longer a trial, the more each individual juror vests in time and sacrifice. The serious note-takers will feel a tension lurking a little more than everyone else. The thicker the notebook, the less one desires to be selected as an alternate. The alternates are picked the day the jury goes into deliberation. By losing one juror, each remaining one has just increased their odds of being on the final twelve. They will be sad to see one go but the sadness is short lived. The trial will go on without her and God speed to her. They would thank her for her service in their thoughts.
“Did you ever speak with Deanna Reid?” Juan Martinez asked when court resumed.
“I drew from her testimony and there was not a real reason to speak with her as I was…” Fonseca rambled.
“Yes or no!” Juan Martinez barked at her, interrupting her soliloquy.
“Mr. Martinez, you are trying to change my words,” she answered defiantly.
“You testified about an interview with Miss Reid. You stated that Travis Alexander was having sex with her, am I right?” he asked aggressively.
The Doctor repositioned herself in her chair. “Um, Mr. Martinez, would you repeat the question?”
Juan Martinez directed Mike, the Court Reporter, to read the question from the ticker tape from his machine.
“There were inconsistencies in her interview,” Fonseca finally answered. “I can’t answer that.”
“You didn’t have any trouble twenty minutes ago,” Juan reminded her. “You don’t remember saying that Mr. Alexander was having sex with Miss Reid?”
“No, I don’t,” she answered.
“What do you remember?” Juan asked. His voice was raised and adamant.
“I already answered that,” she evaded.
“Let me ask it this way, Ma’am,” Juan said as he took a couple steps forward and lowered his voice. “How many times did Travis Alexander have sex with Miss Reid?”
“That mischaracterizes my testimony. This is not a question that…”
Juan interrupted her again. “Ma’am, how many times did Miss Reid say his penis was in her vagina?”
I was pretty sure I heard subtle gasps in the gallery as well as in the media area.
“I don’t know,” she answered. She was clearly irritated as she looked at the jury. “You see, he has to go down slime highway. I can’t be expected to remember everything.”
“How many times?!”
“Maybe once,” she relented cautiously. “There was a period that she was not having sex and something changed and I can’t remember what it was so it might have been only one time. I don’t know”
Juan Martinez walked to the prosecution table, took a sip of water, glanced at his notes, turned around and resumed his tirade.
“You testified earlier about Daniel Freeman. Wasn’t Daniel Freeman traveling with Travis Alexander as a chaperone because Travis did not want to be alone with the defendant. Isn’t that true?” Juan Martinez asked Dr. Fonseca.
One could see that Dr. Fonseca was tired. She had darkened circles under her eyes and her fight seemed limp. Her aggressiveness had turned to sarcasm.
“Mr. Martinez, the audio on the recording wasn’t very good,” she answered.
“I need the Court Reporter to read the question again?” Juan asked.
Mike, the Court Reporter, looked at his machine and then read his ticker tape, “He didn’t want to be alone with the defendant, isn’t that true?”
“I don’t know. It mischaracterizes what I was saying. Daniel Freeman just went along…” Dr. Fonseca tried to respond.
“Are you saying Travis was surprised Arias came along? He was there”, Juan said, pointing to an imaginary passenger seat. “Because Travis Alexander asked that he come along because he was afraid of Jodi Arias! Am I right?”
“I have a problem with my hearing,” she said offhandedly.
“So you have hearing problems?” Juan questioned sarcastically with a slap of the back of his hand on the other.
Suddenly, she went off on the prosecutor, turning toward the jury. “You see? Mr. Martinez has memory problems. This is an example of the badgering and the slime highway that I have to go down with him.”
The jury stares straight ahead without showing any reaction or offering even a hint of moral support.
Juan stares at her. “So, Ma’am, you didn’t hear it so it must not have been said.” he stated. He turned and walked to the prosecution table. “Finished with this witness,” he said, sitting down.
I think the Jury heard exactly what the psychologist didn’t hear…
Through Juan Martinez, the Jury watched the irreverent and punishing interrogation of the defense team’s witness and somewhere out of the rubble, they heard from Travis Alexander.
Some jurors may be impacted by Juan Martinez’ aggressiveness. They might even feel sorry for the doctor with so many years of experience. They may not even like the attorney all that much. But this was not about Juan Martinez and it was not about Kirk Nurmi. Jurors know inherently know that.
It is about a man who brutally lost his life at the hands of another. It is about the voice that speaks for him because he no longer can. It is about Travis Alexander and those who have survived his death. It is about a family of a victim who sits in the front row everyday showing strength and fortitude throughout the most difficult of circumstances. It is about a path to justice and Juan Martinez paved with it with passion and a relentless pursuit of truth.
It is about holding Jodi Arias accountable for her actions.
The day ended in a bittersweet fashion for the jurors. It was clear that Dr. Fonseca had completed her testimony and most would have been happy about her disappearance from the witness stand. Unfortunately, the jurors were also told by Judge Stephens that their services would not be needed for the next two court days. They were told to return on Monday, five days later. Jurors would inevitably start becoming irritated at the pace of the trial. It was not looking like they would finish in a month’s time at the rate the proceedings were moving.
All jurors knew they had made a sacrifice when they had been selected as a juror. I do not think any of them understood at the time of selection how big this sacrifice would be in not only time but in the emotional weight that this murder carried in their minds. The delays were frustrating.
The images in their mind of the death of Travis Alexander would only have more time to ferment in their thoughts. He was with them when they went to sleep at night and he was with them when they woke in the morning, only countered by the thought of a defendant in a fuzzy sweater who seemed not to have a care in the world…
Justice 4 Travis Alexander!
Justice for Dale!
Paul A. Sanders, Jr.
The 13th Juror MD @The13thJurorMD (Twitter)
“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…