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Jodi Arias is on trial for the 2008 murder of her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander. Arias admits she stabbed her ex-boyfriend 29 times, shot him in the face, and slit his throat from ear to ear in self-defense. This week, a domestic violence expert took the stand to help support claims that Arias was abused.
Defense psychologist Dr. Richard Samuels returned to the witness stand Monday and continued to assert his belief that Arias suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), despite prosecutor Juan Martinez’s suggestion that his diagnosis was flawed.
Samuels agreed that he made some mistakes in reaching his diagnosis after the prosecutor pointed out that Samuels had come up with three different test scores when he was evaluating Arias for PTSD.
In another attempt to poke holes in Samuels’ testimony, Martinez suggested that some of the PTSD symptoms Samuels said Arias demonstrated were already present before the killing.
Samuels testified that he considered Arias’ combative nature with her mother to be a symptom. However, Martinez pointed out that Arias was combative with her mother as a teenager, treating her like “crap,” and kicking her at the dinner table for “no reason” during one altercation.
Martinez also suggested that what Samuels saw as symptoms of PTSD were actually Arias’ attempts to hide her involvement in Travis’ death.
Samuels testified that Arias’ denial of killing Travis was a way of creating an “alternative reality” to avoid dealing with the thoughts and feelings associated with the trauma of the killing.
“Isn’t it true that she discussed thoughts and feelings in the 48 Hours interview?” Martinez asked.
“I don’t see it that way,” Samuels said.
“Because you have feelings for her?” Martinez shouted.
“I beg your pardon sir,” Samuels fired back.
On redirect, Samuels suggested that Arias’ behavior after Travis’ death was her way of avoiding the trauma and therefore was consistent with a symptom of PTSD.
Defense psychotherapist Alyce LaViolette spent the day Tuesday briefing jurors about domestic violence and explaining how abusive relationships develop.
According to LaViolette, bad behavior in abusive relationships includes mutual disrespect, jealousy, stalking, sexual abuse, threats, torturing animals, physical violence and psychological abuse.
LaViolette explained that the shame and humiliation associated with domestic violence often makes it difficult for victims to leave or report the abuse.
LaViolette testified victims also deny the abuse because they hope for change or they feel they somehow deserved to be mistreated.
Judge Sherry Stephens canceled court Wednesday and did not provide a reason why.
However, sources told Nancy Grace producer Alexis Weed that the reason for Wednesday’s trial cancellation was that Arias was suffering a migraine headache.
LaViolette testified Thursday that she saw emails exchanged between Travis and his longtime friends that suggested Travis had a past of emotionally abusing other women.
Travis’ friends Chris and Sky Hughes also warned Arias not to date Travis because of his abusive past, according to LaViolette.
Prosecutor Juan Martinez repeatedly objected to LaViolette’s testimony, but the judge allowed the jury to hear it.
LaViolette also testified that the emails she saw showed Chris and Sky Hughes seemed concerned over the way Travis treated women and thought he should get counseling.
Also on Thursday, LaViolette told the jury that she read Arias’ older brother's claims that Arias was physically abused by both of their parents.
LaViolette also stated she read that Arias’ grandparents reported that Arias’ anger with her mother stemmed from her mother failing to protect her from father, who Arias’ older brother described as “controlling” and “manipulative.”