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The jurors in the Jodi Arias trial got their first crack at questioning defense expert Richard Samuels Thursday.
The forensic psychologist testified that Arias suffers from post-traumatic disorder (PTSD) and said that's why she can't remember details about killing her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander. Arias said she killed Alexander in self-defense after he attacked her.
Many of the jurors' questions for Samuels smacked of sarcasm.
One juror asked: "Is Ms. Arias taking medication to treat this terrible PTSD disorder?"
"At various times she was on a tranquilizer, was on an anti-depressant, sometimes medication is suggested for PTSD, depending upon the nature of the symptoms. For example, some people experience intense anxiety, so one form of medication might be prescribed, some others might be experiencing depression, so another type of medication might be prescribed…but I was not involved with the treatment. That was left to the jail psychiatrist and therapist to provide her with that medication. The reason that I know she was on this medication is because she told me… and medical records reflected that," said Samuels.
HLN is live-blogging the Jodi Arias trial. Read about Samuel's testimony from Wednesday here, Day 1 of his testimony here, Day 2 here and Day 3 here. Read below for minute-by-minute updates from Thursday's proceedings (best read from the bottom):
7:37 p.m. ET: Judge Stephens has recessed court until Monday. HLN's producer in the courtroom says the jurors have put additional questions for Samuels in their basket.
7:28 p.m. ET: The attorneys are at a sidebar with the judge.
7:24 p.m. ET: Samuels said he does not know if he has the Arias original answer sheet from when she took the PDS.
7:23 p.m. ET: The attorneys are at a sidebar with the judge.
7:21 p.m. ET: Martinez accused Samuels of being biased towards Arias. Samuels said he was not biased.
7:20 p.m. ET: Martinez wants know how Arias PTSD test results could be accurate if she lied.
“In both of her stories, someone was killed, her life was threatened and she feared for her life. So those similarities made me feel that the redo of the test was not critical to my hypothesis of post-traumatic stress disorder particularly because this was only a confirmation of my diagnosis,” said Samuels.
7:16 p.m. ET: Samuels said he formed his hypothesis that Arias suffered from PTSD a few months into the evaluation.
7:14 p.m. ET: Martinez asked whether Samuels feelings of sympathy continued for Arias after his first meeting with Arias.
Samuels said he did not feel sympathy for her, and discharged his duty to help her when he gave her the self-help book.
“Sympathy for me means more like feeling sorry for someone,” said Samuels.
“Okay so you felt sorry for the defendant after the first meeting then,” said Martinez.
“No I didn’t, I felt a sense of compassion,” said Samuels.
“A sense of compassion means that you felt sorry for her, doesn’t it?” asked Martinez.
“I saw a person who was having a great deal of difficulty, I felt that it would help my evaluation if I sent her this book and that was the full extent of my interaction with her that in any way could be considered therapeutic,” said Samuels.
7:12 p.m. ET: The attorneys are at a sidebar with the judge.
7:11 p.m. ET: Martinez asked Samuels if Arias changed her story after she read her book. Samuels said he has no idea if the book played any role in whether she changed her stories from two intruders killing Alexander to a self-defense story.
“We are trained extensively to deal with our own personal feelings and to disregard them and put them aside in order to conduct an objection evaluation, which is precisely what I did and I have no further feelings of compassion once I ordered the book for her because I felt I discharged the duty that I felt I needed to do for this particular person. And that was it,” said Samuels.
7:10 p.m. ET:
So when you said you had compassion, you told us that you had sympathy for the defendant, didn’t you?” asked Martinez.
“Well that’s Webster’s definition, I used the word compassionate,” said Samuels.
“Are you saying that you have a different definition of compassion than Webster’s?” asked Martinez.
“I’ll go by Webster’s definition,” said Samuels.
“So Webster’s talks about sympathy for the distress of another?” asked Martinez.
“That’s correct,” said Samuels.
7:08 p.m. ET: Martinez is grilling defense Samuels about his compassion and sympathy for Arias. Samuels said he gave Arias a self-help book to help deal with reality. Martinez even read the definition of compassion from the Webster's dictionary.
7:06 p.m. ET: Samuels is explaining again why he made typos in his report, and he admits that he should have made sure it was complete and accurate.
7:03 p.m. ET: The attorneys are at a sidebar with the judge.
7:01 p.m. ET: Martinez is getting testy. He just asked Samuels if had a memory problem. Samuels shot back no he does not have a memory problem just like the prosecution. Martinez then asked Samuels if he performed a diagnostic test on him to determine if the prosecution has a memory problem. Willmott objected, and the judge sustained it.
Martinez asks Samuels if he remembers one of the answers he gave to a juror’s question.
“I don’t remember,” said Samuels.
“Do you have problems with your memory then?” asked Martinez.
“No, sir, no more problems than you do,” said Samuels.
“Sir, with regard to this issue, have you conducted a diagnostic test on the prosecutor?” asked Martinez.
“No, I have not,” said Samuels.
“How would you know about his memory problems?” asked Martinez
6:58 p.m. ET: Martinez is walking Samuels through how he scored PTSD test PDS. He accused Samuels of changing things on the test to make Arias get a higher score on the test. Samuels said he calculated it twice, and when he scored it again it was higher, but it doesn't change the result. Samuels said he missed placed the original test Arias took.
“Sir, that’s a change, yes or no,” asked Martinez.
“I rescored it twice,” said Samuels.
“That’s a change right?” asked Martinez.
“That’s a change,” said Samuels.
6:53 p.m. ET: The attorneys are at a sidebar with the judge.
6:51 p.m. ET: Willmott has finished her follow questions for Samuels, and now prosecutor Martinez is asking the pyschologist questions.
6:49 p.m. ET: Willmott is listing all the sexually pejorative names Alexander called Arias in text messages and emails. Samuels said Arias never wrote about sexually pejorative names in her journal, because she was hopeful he would change.
“Absolutely nothing like it whatsoever, she was always writing in her journal to make Travis look good,” said Samuels.
“Did she ever talk to you about why she did that?” asked Willmott.
“She respected him, she loved him, she hoped that she could be part of his life and she was hopeful that he would eventually change,” said Samuels.
6:47 p.m. ET:
Willmott asked how Samuels knows if someone is lying to him.
“I look at the consistency of the reporting. I look at the ancillary reporting, whatever that may be. In some cases it might be a spouse or other family members, it might be a diary, it might be text messages or e-mails, discussions with significant people in their lives – and you try to form a pattern. And if the things you’re being told are consistent with that which was told to you by others, then you have to attribute a higher level of likelihood that what they’re telling you is true,” said Samuels
6:44 p.m. ET: Willmott is asking what materials Samuels reviewed to determine Alexander and Arias relationship was tumultuous. Samuels said he reviewed text messages and emails. She is now reading a text message Alexander sent to Arias threatening her with his wrath.
6:42 p.m. ET: Samuels said he was confident other psychologists would make the same PTSD diagnosis in the Arias case
6:40 p.m. ET: From HLN's producer in the courtroom:
Apparently one observer said to her companion, "I wish Jodi were dead." She happened to be sitting behind Jodi's mother. While Sandy Arias did not complain about it--her cousin did, and security asked the two women were asked to leave.
It's not the first time that unruly trial observers have been tossed from the courtroom, but this is the first time I have observed trial watchers being expulsed for anti-Jodi comments.
6:37 p.m. ET: In Session producer's say there was an outburst in court during the afternoon break a few minutes ago.
6:36 p.m. ET: The attorneys are at a sidebar with the judge.
6:34 p.m. ET: Willmott asked Samuels whether hypnosis is effective for evaluative purposes. He said it doesn't stand up in court well, but it is effective for therapy. He also said he never hypnotized Arias.
“It’s value is limited and the information that you get from hypnosis is generally not considered reliable. It is subject to cross-examination and it doesn’t stand up. It’s a pretty good therapeutic tool, by the way. Hypnosis can be very effective in controlling anxiety, depression, habit control and so on. But as a forensic technique it has its limits,” said Samuels.
6:33 p.m. ET:
“If they’re planning to kill someone then the initial reaction is theirs. They don’t have the element of surprise. There’s more planning involved. And while it may very well be that their reaction to what they just did could be very negative, the likelihood of developing an acute stress reaction and experiencing those severe autonomic changes is lower,” said Samuels.
6:32 p.m. ET:
6:31 p.m. ET: Samuels is explaining how if someone is planing to kill someone, there is no element of supervise so it is unlikely someone will react as if killing someone is a traumatic experience.
6:27 p.m. ET: The judge is on the bench, and testimony should resume any moment.
5:58 p.m. ET: Judge Stephens has recessed court for the afternoon break. Testimony will resume at 6:15 p.m. ET.
5:56 p.m. ET: Willmott asked Samuels was ever concerned he was providing therapy to Arias. Samuels said no he was never concerned about him crossing the line from evaluator to therapist.
5:54 p.m. ET:
“These are memories that are painful to an individual; they try not to think about it. Some people are basically able to block them off somehow and they would have a form of amnesia, some sort of transient amnesia, and these memories however still exist, coded in the memory. In those cases, use of sodium pentothal (truth serum) or hypnosis may be effective in restoring and pulling through some of those memories. And sometimes they appear spontaneously,” said Samuels.
He said in the case of dissociated amnesia, no memories are recorded.
5:51 p.m. ET: Willmott is asking Samuels to explain a suppressed memory. Samuels said the suppressed memory is recorded in the brain, but emotionally someone can't handle it so they will block it. In the case of disassociative amnesia the brian never recorded the memory. Samuels compared it to an empty hard drive in a compute.
5:49 p.m. ET:
“With regard to the relevancy of the anal intercourse, the importance of it, to you, was what?” asked Willmott.
“The importance was that it was a pattern that was on-going. It was something that she accommodated Mr. Alexander in order to maintain the relationship. While she didn’t object, it was not always pleasant to her, according to what she told me. It wasn’t something she was getting pleasure from. The fact that it may have happened a couple of times with some other boyfriends, but only a couple of times, suggested that she had more power, more control, more assertiveness in those relationships or the men respected her more than Mr. Alexander did,” said Samuels.
5:47 p.m. ET: Samuels is explaining a typo in his report on Arias, where he omitted some the symptoms of PTSD Arias displayed. He said he mentioned all of her symptoms in the report, but in one paragraph he accidently left some of them out.
5:44 p.m. ET:
5:43 p.m. ET:
“If she did ever stand up to him, did she talk to you about what his response would be?” Willmott asked.
“She reported several times that she would be punished for speaking up to him by him not calling her for several days. And because of her low self-esteem, she began to fear that he was going to abandon her. She would wind up almost in a panic after him not calling for several days. Now that can happen once, that can happen twice but from what I understand, from what we talked about, from what I read and saw and so forth, this was a fairly common and ongoing practice at least early on in their relationship. It was a form of control,” said Samuels.
5:40 p.m. ET: Samuels said Alexander controlled Arias by withholding his love. Arias had low esteem, because she allowed him to take advantage of her over and over again.
“Part of that control is the withholding of love. Somehow he’s able to figure out that if I withhold my love, I’ll get her to do what he wants. And this seemed to be the dynamic of the relationship… I didn’t see it, obviously, but that’s sure what it sounded like to me,” said Samuels.
5:37 p.m. ET:
“A lot of women wouldn’t put up with the continued and ongoing pattern of interaction that was reported to me in the conversations and reflected in the e-mails and text messages and so forth,” said Samuels.
5:34 p.m. ET:
5:33 p.m. ET: Samuels is explaining the difference between aggressive or assertive behavior. He said assertive behavior is mature and constructive, but aggressive behavior can have negative outcomes.
5:30 p.m. ET: Willmott is asking Samuels how the PTSD tests has questions in that test whether the test taker is lying. Samuels said a test taker is also scored on validity, and it indicated that Arias did not lie on the tests.
5:26 p.m. ET:
5:24 p.m. ET: Samuels is now explaining the complicated process of how the MCMI is scored, and how it ensures an accurate outcome.
5:22 p.m. ET: Willmott is now asking Samuels about the PTSD test named MCMI. Samuels said it was created in the 1970's and it is updated regularly.
5:20 p.m ET: Willmott asked Samuels if Arias would have been able to make a phone call while in the fight or flight response.
“When you’re under threat, you’re under threat and milliseconds count. So to interrupt what you’re doing, pull out a phone and dial someone, or 911 or whatever, it is not, in itself, possible under those circumstances,” said Samuels.
5:18 p.m. ET: Samuels said did not have push Arias to tell him that she allegedly killed Alexander in self-defense. Arias eventually told Samuels on her own about how she allegedly had to defend herself.
“The most I would do is say, ‘Are you sure that’s what happened?’ But I didn’t want to push it because I was taking the view that this was likely a psychological defense mechanism and I didn’t want to push her into having to confront the very stimuli that I hypothesized would have caused this new alternative reality. However, on her own, she finally changed her story,” said Samuels.
5:15 p.m. ET: Willmott asked Samuels if has had a situation where a client refused to tell him the truth. He said he has had that happen with adolescents, but most of the time it has been resolved.
5:13 p.m. ET:
The decision making [during the fight or flight response] is basically occurring on the instinctual survival level. It’s typically not associated with higher level processing,” said Samuels.
5:11 p.m. ET: Willmott asked if Arias putting Alexander's camera in washing machine was rational. Martinez objected to questio n, and now the attorneys are at a sidebar with the judge.
“Is it rational for a person who is at a crime scene to leave evidence behind that they were at the crime scene? Is that a rational thing to do?” asked Willmott.
“No,” said Samuels.
“Is that something that would be considered irrational?” asked Willmott.
“Yes, I would consider it irrational,” said Samuels.
“And if they’re leaving information at the scene that leads detectives right up to them… is that something that is well thought out?” asked Willmott.
“No,” said Samuels.
5:08 p.m. ET: Arias told Samuels she tried to put distance between her and Alexander during the alleged attack.
5:06 p.m. ET: Samuels comparing a human in fight or flight mode to a corned animal. The instinct is to run, but when cornered they will fight back. He said it is hard to predict, because it is not rational.
5:03 p.m. ET:
5:02 p.m. ET: The attorneys are at a sidebar with the judge.
5:01 p.m. ET: Samuels said he could have diagnosed Arias with PTSD without testing.
4:59 p.m. ET : Willmott is asking Samuels if Arias was already cultivating a relationship with another man around the time of Alexander's death. Samuel's said he was aware she was beginning a relationship with Ryan Burns. He also said Arias had moved hundreds miles away from Alexander months before his death. He said these things are not indicative of jealousy.
4:56 p.m. ET: Samuels said he did not think Arias was jealous Alexander was taking another woman to Cancun around the time of his death.
4:54 p.m. ET: Defense attorney Jennifer Willmott is now asking Samuels follow up questions. Willmott asked Samuels about how Arias would shake when Alexander scared her. Samuels said they first started when Alexander choked her.
4:52 p.m. ET: The attorneys are at a sidebar with the judge to discuss what seems to be the last question from the jurors.
4:49 p.m. ET: Juror question: You said you should have retested Arias for PTSD after she changed her story. You just said that you didn't need to retest her, because her score would not change. What is correct?
Samuels said he didn't need to test her to begin with, and wasn't required to retest her. He also said her score would not have changed.
4:48 p.m. ET:
“Is it possible that a person can plan and carry out a murder and still suffer memory loss, acute stress disorder or post traumatic stress disorder?”
“Possible, but less probable,” said Samuels.
4:47 p.m. ET: Juror question: Isn't it possible that Arias didn't write anything negative about Alexander, is because there was nothing negative to write?
“While possible, that would be inconsistent with what I learned after about the nature of their relationship. And, seeing some of the text messages and listening to some of the telephone calls between the two of them, there was an indication there that it was a rather tumultuous relationship. And so, therefore, while she didn’t write about these things in her journal, that was consistent in her style of glossing over difficult times with Travis that were supported by other information that was made available to me,” said Samuels
4:43 p.m. ET: Juror question: Wouldn't someone in fight or flight mode want to get away from the danger?
Samuels said that usually the first option, but if someone can't get away they will fight back.
4:42 p.m. ET: Juror question: “Regarding the fight/flight response by Jodi on June 4, was there ever any discussion between you and Jodi regarding her response and why she did not flee from the bedroom?”
“Well, what she did tell me is that she did try to flee and at some point she felt that she needed to protect herself. So I think that she did engage first in flight and then only when threatened further, in fight,” said Samuels.
4:40 p.m. ET:
Juror question: “Do you feel comfortable with diagnosing a person with a condition if they continually lie to you, hypothetically speaking?”
“Well if I knew someone was lying and what they were telling me was unsubstantiated by anything else and somehow I knew they were lying, I would not make a diagnosis. That would be inappropriate,” said Samuels.
4:38 p.m. ET:
4:36 p.m. ET: One juror asked: Can an initial hypothesis affect a later diagnosis?
Samuels said no as long as you don't get attached to your initial ideas.
4:34 p.m. ET: One juror asked: Is there an assumption that people in the general population do not lie on tests?
Samuels said yes.
4:31 p.m. ET: One juror asked: Isn't low self esteem normal?
Samuels said it is common, but it isn't normal.
3:00 p.m. ET: Judge Stephens has recessed court for lunch. The live blog will pick back up when testimony resumes at 4:30 p.m. ET.
2:59 p.m. ET: One juror asked: Why do you think Arias had low self esteem during her relationship with Alexander?
Samuels said he based this opinion on things she told him and her journals.
2:57 p.m. ET: Samuels said he initially diagnosis for Arias included multiple personality disorder, but after he explored the case more it took him in another direction.
2:54 p.m. ET:
2:53 p.m. ET: One juror asked: When a client lies does it raise a red flag?
Samuels said yes, but he believes Arias story that two intruders killed Alexander was a mental defense mechanism not really lie.
2:50 p.m. ET: One juror asked: Can medication cause amnesia?
Samuels said yes it can, but what Arias suffers from is a different kind of amnesia.
2:49 p.m. ET: One juror asked: Do you think you stepped over an ethical line when giving Arias a self-help book?
Samuels said there is no ethical rule preventing him from giving Arias a book.
2:47 p.m. ET: One juror asked: Do you consider yourself impartial?
Samuels said he he always tries to remain impartial.
2:45 p.m. ET: One juror asked: Can acute stress occur during a planned murder?
Samuels said possible but not probable.
2:43 p.m. ET: One juror asked: Do you think the errors you made on your report about Arias were bad mistakes?
Samuels said he did make mistakes, but they don't change his diagnosis.
2:41 p.m. ET: One juror asked: Don't you agree you did not spend enough time with Arias to diagnosis her?
Samuels said no not all, because after spending about 30 hours with a client the relationship changes, and it harder to make an accurate evaluation.
2:38 p.m. ET: One juror asked: Wouldn't adrenaline output increase in someone who was committing premeditated murder.
Samuels said yes it is possible, but it is not probable. He said its really impossible to know, because everyone reacts differently.
2:36 p.m. ET: The attorneys are at a sidebar with the judge.
2:34 p.m. ET: One juror asked: During trauma, can a pacifist become violent?
Samuels said it is not a choice, the brain is almost on autopilot and person reacts using just instincts
2:30 p.m. ET:
"At various times she was on a tranquilizer, was on an anti-depressant, sometimes medication is suggested for PTSD, depending upon the nature of the symptoms. For example, some people experience intense anxiety, so one form of medication might be prescribed, some others might be experiencing depression, so another type of medication might be prescribed…but I was not involved with the treatment. That was left to the jail psychiatrist and therapist to provide her with that medication. The reason that I know she was on this medication is because she told me…and medical records reflected that," said Samuels.
2:26 p.m. ET: Some of the juror questions for Samuels seem to show some sarcasm:
"You said transient global amnesia can be caused by sexual intercourse, immersion in hot or cold water, and a number of other things. Is the list you presented all-inclusive or could it also be caused by something such as the trauma associated with getting a bad haircut, for example?"
"I would say that’s unlikely, because the traumas that cause this are typically physiologically connected situations – sudden change in body temperature, sudden convulsions associated with intercourse. The list is extensive and inclusive of the 119 articles that were reviewed in order to get that data, but there are probably some other types of situations that could bring about global transient amnesia," said Samuels.
2:24 p.m. ET: One juror asked: Is Arias taking medication for her terrible PTSD disorder?
Samuels said Arias did take a tranquilizer and was on a anti-depressant, but he was not involved with her treatment.
2:21 p.m. ET:
"I re-interviewed her several times to get the story in several different ways, and it is my feeling that once the story changed, she was telling the story the way it essentially happened. We were also able to confirm the presence of trauma-related symptoms through the testing. The testing is sensitive to the presence of trauma. Now again, is this a 100% accurate situation? Like taking someone’s temperature and it’s 102.7 and we pretty much know that that’s the temperature…not it isn’t, these are probabilistic techniques. Much of it is based upon our experience and a review of other people’s work in the field. I’m pretty confident she does suffer from amnesia and PTSD," said Samuels.
2:20 p.m. ET:
2:18 p.m. ET:
"In fact, 30% of people convicted of homicide report amnesia, and it depends upon the nature of the killing. So I’m pretty confident that we can be fairly certain that she does suffer from amnesia for that period of time of the acute stress," said Samuels.
2:17 p.m. ET: One juror asked: Is it possible for someone to foul psychologists in to believing they have PTSD?
Samuels said there is no way to know 100%, but considering all the information he reviewed he is confident she has PTSD.
2:15 p.m. ET:
2:14 p.m. ET: One juror asked: When did Arias take the PTSD tests?
"The tests were given in December of 2009 and the beginning of January 2010," said Samuels
2:12 p.m. ET: One juror asked: Can you be certain that Arias is telling you the truth about the day Alexander died?
"Not with 100% certainty. I can’t say that. However, when you look at the repeated stories, several different times asked the same question, the story was not 100% the same, but the basic aspects of the story were sufficient. And it seemed to at least with certain elements be consistent with the description of the crime scene. So I would say that there’s a very strong probability that once she finally told the right story, the second story, that she was being truthful at that time," said Samuels.
2:06 p.m. ET: One juror asked: Are you only allowed to testify about a client’s conversations with their consent?
"Yes, and just to clarify for the jury. A consent form is signed by the client and they are instructed and informed that they do not have the same degree of confidentiality that they would have if they were being treated as a patient and that anything that is said in the interview could be used in a report which will be handed into the court," said Arias.
2:05 p.m. ET: One juror asked: How do you know if diagnosis of PTSD is based on Arias lies?
"The diagnosis of PTSD is a function of an evaluation based upon, in my case 35 years of experience in working with individuals with PTSD…look at the fact pattern, you look at the circumstances that occurred at the time of the trauma, you look to see from the diagnostic list, which of these characteristics are presented by the client and it is on that, that you make your diagnosis. And I can say that within all reasonable psychological probability that she does meet the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder, said Samuels."
2:03 p.m. ET: One juror asked: Does the body chose to flee or fight when in trauma?
Samuels said usually the instinct is to flee, but when that's not possible people will fight.
2:02 p.m. ET: Samuels is on the stand, and the jury is being seated. Arias is wearing a red shirt today.
1:59 p.m. ET: The attorneys are at a sidebar with Judge Sherry Stephens.
1:55 p.m. ET: Arias attorneys are back in the courtroom. Testimony should begin any minute.
1:41 p.m. ET: From our producer in the courtroom: Still a few minutes away from starting - defense attorneys have gone into chambers.
1:24 p.m ET: Testimony should begin at 1:30 p.m. ET.
Forensic psychologist Richard Samuel’s testimony in the Jodi Arias trial has been chock-full of surprises, and more may be on the way when the jury gets to ask him questions Thursday.
Samuels shocked the court Wednesday when he disclosed to the jury that, according to Arias’ brother, Arias was accosted at knife point at age 13. This is the first time this assault has been mentioned during the trial. Arias did not mention it, despite spending 18 days on the witness stand testifying about everything from her childhood and past romantic relationships to her romance with her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander.
The jurors’ questions could give insight into whether they believe Samuels is a credible witness.
Samuels' testimony was intended to bolster Arias’ claim that she can’t remember the details of killing Alexander, which she said she did in self-defense. But Samuels' testimony has been plagued with snafus and misstatements, to which he has admitted.