PHOENIX >> Jodi Arias’ murder trial concluded for the week today with yet another bizarre episode as reporters chased after an ousted juror as she left the courthouse in a case that has dragged on for months with one peculiar event after another.
The chase came minutes after the prosecutor invoked the tale of Snow White as he cross-examined a California psychotherapist on the witness stand who claims the defendant was a victim of domestic abuse.
Juror No. 5 was removed from the case this week for misconduct, but then stunned spectators in the courtroom by showing up Thursday to watch the trial.
She previously issued a statement that she would not comment until after the verdict, but that didn’t stop reporters who covered the courthouse exits only to lose her as she was escorted away by a deputy. A reporter with CBS 5 News of Phoenix managed to catch the juror at her car. In the station’s interview, the juror said she is “looking forward” to giving her “side of the story.”
The frantic scene outside trumped even the strange line of questioning by Juan Martinez, who spent nearly a half hour questioning psychotherapist Alyce LaViolette over her expertise and the techniques she used to determine Arias suffered violence at the hands of the lover she is accused of killing.
Martinez noted that LaViolette had given seminar presentations titled, “Was Snow White a Battered Woman?”
He then questioned her loudly about how she came to the conclusion that Snow White was abused, to which the defense witness replied that he was mischaracterizing her presentation.
Martinez explained how Snow White was banished to the forest to live in horrible conditions.
“She lived with the seven dwarves and according to the Disney version, she was pretty happy,” LaViolette said.
“She lived in a shack, right?” Martinez snapped loudly.
“I thought it was a cute little cabin, Mr. Martinez,” LaViolette replied.
“Objection, relevance, going this far into the Snow White story?” defense attorney Jennifer Willmott interjected.
“Mr. Martinez, are you angry at me?” LaViolette asked softly at one point. Portions of the gallery erupted in laughter, and the judge admonished spectators to keep quiet.
“Do you want to spar with me?” Martinez yelled.
He continued to question her about whether Snow White was a domestic abuse victim.
“I have no information about the relationship between Prince Charming and Snow White,” LaViolette said as the judge called it day.
LaViolette has spent the past week testifying about the generalities of abuse victims, then focused Thursday on Arias’ volatile relationship with the victim, portraying the man as a womanizing cheater who courted multiple women simultaneously, using graphic language to entice them into sexual encounters, while berating Arias with derogatory names. LaViolette will return to the stand Monday when testimony resumes.
Arias faces a possible death sentence if convicted of first-degree murder in the June 2008 killing of Travis Alexander in his suburban Phoenix home.
Authorities say she planned the attack in a jealous rage. Arias initially denied involvement then blamed it on two masked intruders. Two years after her arrest, she said it was self-defense. Testimony has been ongoing for three months.
Thursday’s session began with Judge Sherry Stephens denying a defense motion for a mistrial and to order jurors sequestered for the remainder of the trial.
Defense attorney Kirk Nurmi sought sequestration after noting the release of parts of Arias’ journal to the media and video footage of police questioning Arias’ parents after her arrest, explaining it could bias the jury.
“This case must be tried in the courtroom not in the media,” Nurmi told the judge.
He said that despite daily admonitions to the jury not to follow media coverage of the trial, some on the panel are likely doing it anyway.
Thursday’s developments were just additional bizarre twists in the murder trial that has captivated the nation with tales of lurid sex, lies and a bloody killing, playing out for the public via an unedited web feed from inside the courtroom.
Arias says Alexander was physically abusive and attacked her on the day of the killing, forcing her to fight for her life, yet no other evidence at trial has shown the victim was ever violent.
In other developments outside court, authorities released videos of investigators questioning Arias’ parents after her arrest in 2008.
Both of her parents told police they believed Arias has mental problems.
“Jodi has mental problems, Jodi would freak out all the time,” Sandra Arias says on the tape. “I had quite a few of her friends call and tell me I needed to get her some help.”
On the tape, William Arias says he had suggested that she might be bipolar.
The videos have not been admitted into evidence at the trial, and Arias’ parents have not been called as witnesses.