In The Courts

Arias Murder Trial Tests Battered-Women’s Defense

Monday, April 1, 2013

A psychotherapist resumes testimony April 2 on why Jodi Arias was a victim of domestic violence.

Pheonix courthouse
Phoenix Courthouse

By Sean_Marshall on Flickr under Creative Commons 2.0

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NEW YORK (WOMENSENEWS)--The sensational murder trial in Arizona of Jodi Arias is shining a national spotlight on the battered women's syndrome defense.

Last week, psychotherapist Alyce LaViolette provided expert testimony about previously undisclosed emails from friends of the murder victim, Travis Alexander, that she said indicate he had a history of being abusive, The Huffington Post reported March 29.

"They have basically advised Ms. Arias to move on from the relationship  . . .  that Mr. Alexander has been abusive to women,"  LaViolette testified.

The trial is scheduled to resume April 2, when LaViolette continues her testimony.

Arias faces a possible death sentence if convicted of first-degree murder of the June 2008 killing of Alexander in his suburban Phoenix home. Prosecutors say she planned the attack on her lover in a jealous rage.

Some commentators have objected to Arias' use of the battered women syndrome defense, saying she doesn't meet the criteria.

Arias initially denied involvement, then blamed it on two masked intruders. Two years after her arrest, she said it was self-defense.

Prosecutor Juan Martinez objected to much of the defense expert's testimony, calling it hearsay. However, the judge overruled the majority of the objections.

The jury could view LaViolette's testimony as crucial in determining whether there is merit to Arias' claim that she was a victim of domestic violence.

Arias' lawyers closed out testimony last week by delving into her the defendant's childhood abuse, The Latinos Post reported March 30.

LaViolette testified that she had read "collateral data" from members of Arias' family and had learned that there was discipline in her family that she believed "went over the line." "Jodi's father was controlling and manipulative and made derogatory statements," LaViolette said, according to The Huffington Post.

According to LaViolette's research, Arias' father made "sexually inappropriate comments" to Arias while she lived at home. "He would talk about Jodi's body and her boob's being too small," LaViolette said.

LaViolette added that Arias had frequent altercations with her mother. "She does have issues with her mother," LaViolette said. "She's angry at her mother because her mother did not protect her from her father."

The showcase trial has so far cost Arizona taxpayers more than $1.4 million, ABC News reported last week.


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CA NOW. Org- DV Advocate-Expert on the "traumatic effects of battering"- DV Homicide. Mother Bashing and Victim Blaming is endless for women who commit murder and survive abuse by our Society. We punish more severely than other Countries do. Women do not have equal justice for exercising their Self Defense Rights in America. Melissa Alexander is a prime example. 60 years without a homicide. It really does not matter or not if she did it.....innocent women-mothers get the same verdict across America. The US Justice Department states, "Battered Women cannot win the courtroom." The role of the male privilege Patriarch played out here in Morman Church and in the Courtroom. The cycle of domestic violence and trauma is not understood by the Judge, Prosecutors, Defense Attorney, and Jurors. 

The defense used by Jodi Ann Arias is a dangerous courtroom gambit and should be rejected as legitimate by those who fight against Domestic Violence everyday. She and her 'experts' have made things just that more difficult for true victims of DV who must face a jury and fight for their case and show why they had to kill their abuser. With zero corroboration (I watched the entire trial)it was an abysmal misuse of BWS. Those who know what 'abuse' is and/or are actual experts in the field of DV need to speak out. Fortunately, in her case a jury saw through her navel gazing testimony and that of her so-called experts. Many in the field have already called out the expert witnesses, but more need to.