Pheonix courthouse
Phoenix Courthouse

By Sean_Marshall on Flickr under Creative Commons 2.0

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.

Would you like to Comment but not sure how? Visit our help page at

Would you like to Send Along a Link of This Story?