Watch Nancy Grace Mysteries every Friday night for a full recap of this week’s court testimony. “Nancy Grace Mysteries: Jodi Arias Trial Notes Week 16” airs tonight at 8 & 11 p.m. on HLN.
Jodi Arias is on trial for the 2008 murder of her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander. Arias testified she stabbed Alexander multiple times, shot him in the face and slit his throat from ear to ear in self-defense.
Was Jodi Arias holding a knife or camera?
Defense witness Bryan Neumeister, a forensic video and sound expert, was called to testify Monday, outside of the jury’s presence, about a close-up photo Arias took of Alexander in the shower just before his death.
Neumeister enhanced the photo and said he was able to recover an image reflected in Alexander’s left cornea.
Defense attorney Kirk Nurmi argued that the image shows Arias, standing feet away, holding the camera with both hands.
Nurmi also pointed out that Arias did not appear to be holding a gun or knife, which supports her version of events.
Prosecutor Juan Martinez fought back, arguing that the evidence was unreliable, stating that the image in Alexander’s eye looked more like a dog than a person.
For the first few minutes of Neumeister’s testimony, Judge Sherry Stephens made a surprising decision to put Arias and Alexander’s family in the jury box, sitting just a few feet away from each other.
After the hearing, Judge Stephens ruled it wasn’t necessary that Neumeister testify before the jury. She then summoned the jurors to the courtroom and read them the following stipulation:
“Parties have reached an agreement. It is as follows. Ms. Arias was not holding a knife or gun when exhibit #159 was taken,” she said, referring to the enhanced photo of Alexander’s eye.
Borderline Personality Disorder, not PTSD?
After the defense rested its case Tuesday, prosecutor Martinez called his first rebuttal witness, a clinical psychologist who diagnosed Arias with Borderline Personality Disorder.
Dr. Janeen DeMarte kicked off her testimony by comparing Arias' behavior to an immature teenager, prone to angry outbursts and blaming others for her aggression.
DeMarte testified she interviewed Arias for about 12 hours and noted that Arias demonstrated an “above average intelligence” in her IQ test.
The State’s witness testified Arias exhibited the following seven out of nine symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder:
- A sense of emptiness
- A fear of abandonment
- A lack of identity
- A tendency toward unstable relationships
- Quickly shifting emotions
- Inappropriate and intense anger
DeMarte challenged defense psychologist Dr. Richard Samuels’ opinion that Arias suffered from PTSD, claiming that the diagnosis was inaccurate because at the time of the test, Arias was claiming two intruders broke into Alexander’s home and killed him.
“PTSD cannot be based on a made-up event,” DeMarte told the jury.
Furthermore, DeMarte testified that Arias’ behavior after Alexander’s death suggested she did not meet the criteria for PTSD, pointing out that a sufferer experiences psychological distress when exposed to cues of the trauma.
DeMarte noted that Arias attended Alexander’s memorial service, sent his grandmother flowers and frequently talked about Alexander after his death.
According to DeMarte, these actions showed Arias appeared to be coping with the trauma, rather than avoiding it.
Later in the day, DeMarte testified she did not believe Arias suffered any significant abuse at the hands of Alexander.
Defense attorney Jennifer Willmott fired back on cross-examination, pointing out that DeMarte did not have extensive experience in the area of domestic violence.
Another migraine puts brakes on trial?
During cross-examination of DeMarte Wednesday, the witness gave in to Willmott, stating she did not consider herself an expert in domestic violence.
DeMarte also agreed with the defense that in one of the tests she administered, Arias’ elevated scores could be consistent with PTSD.
“Based on these test scores, we’re seeing elevated anxiety, elevated depression, and elevated defensive avoidance. Don’t those items also speak to PTSD?” Willmott asked DeMarte.
“Those symptoms can be seen in PTSD and personality disorders,” DeMarte said.
Willmott suggested that DeMarte’s diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder did not match up with Arias’ test scores, noting that in one test, Arias scored below the threshold for anger and irritability.
Later in the day, Judge Stephens abruptly canceled court, saying “an issue has risen that will prevent us from going forward for the day.”
While the judge didn’t give the jury a reason for the early dismissal, a source told HLN Arias was feeling ill after suffering from a migraine.
Arias' attorney, expert battle in court
During the heated cross-examination between Willmott and DeMarte on Thursday, the expert witness agreed that Alexander called Arias derogatory names, but she explained she did not consider his behavior abusive because it was usually in response to him feeling betrayed or wronged by Arias.
Willmott also pointed out that the scores from DeMarte’s evaluation of Arias appeared to be consistent with characteristics of a battered woman and a sufferer of PTSD.
“When we look at these scales, high level of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem, they are symptomatic of PTSD?” Willmott pressed DeMarte.
“Not all of them, no,” DeMarte responded.
On redirect, in her final attempt to convince the jury Arias suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder and not PTSD as the defense claims, DeMarte highlighted more examples of the symptoms that led to her diagnosis:
- Arias’ inability to move on after her relationship with Alexander ended
- Arias’ frequent, unannounced visits to Alexander’s home
- Arias stole Alexander’s ring
After answering 19 questions from the jury on Thursday afternoon, DeMarte concluded her testimony.