Arizona prosecutor Juan Martinez challenged domestic violence expert Alyce LaViolette’s opinion that Arias was a victim of domestic violence at the hands of her former boyfriend, slaying victim Travis Alexander, 30. LaViolette gave a presentation in 2012 that found Snow White was a battered woman, which the prosecutor said shows the expert can find abuse in situations she knows very little about, including "myths."I am not sure about prosecutor Martinez's strategy, but LaViolette is someone who sees domestic violence in any man, and leaps to abuse conclusions without regard to facts or scientific knowledge. He seemed content to just ridicule her.
"What this shows us is that even if it’s a myth -- all made up -- you can come up with the opinion that the person is a victim of domestic violence," Martinez said.
LaViolette testified that Jodi was a "battered woman" in an "abusive relationship".
The evidence was very weak. I did not hear any actual quotes that were abusive. There are no police reports, medical treatments, corroborating evidence, or anything like that. There are hundreds of pages of emails, diaries, text messages, and voicemails. LaViolette just argued that her impression was that there was abuse.
LaViolette claimed that Travis once called Jodi a "sociopath", he said she "can't get off lazy butt", he "doesn't want her apology", and he understands how evil she is. These are quotes from LaViolette, not Travis, and no context for these remarks was given. She described the abuse as "character assassination, not name-calling", and therefore a higher level of abuse. She also accepted Jodi's stories that Travis choked, slapped, and broke her finger.
There was also testimony that Jodi and Travis had many good times together, and enjoyed fun trips.
LaViolette also complained that Travis flirted with women, and made sexualized suggestions to them. He even implied that was less sexually experienced that he was, and he had violated Mormon teachings about abstaining from sexual relations before marriage.
LaViolette told one story about how Travis and Jodi had broken up, they were still communicating, Travis told Jodi he did not want to hear about her other dates, Jodi accidentally forwarded a message to him from messages with another boyfriend, Travis was "upset" with this and asks her not to do that, and Jodi was apologetic. LaViolette says this shows that Travis is jealous, controlling, angry, fearful, overreactive, threatening, and critical. In other words, abusive.
Travis also once said that he was "merciful" to her, and LaViolette said that is an example of how abusers perceive things different from others.
I still don't see much relevance to the expert testimony. If Jodi committed premeditated murder against Travis, then she had some motivation. If Martinez is right, then it was a jealous rage. If LaViolette is right, then Jodi was not jealous at all, but was unhappy about the relationship because Travis occasionally called her a skank or some other negative term. Does that make it better?
Usually the battered woman defense is given when the woman is supposedly trapped in a marriage, and feels that she cannot leave because of financial dependency, care for the kids, social pressure, emotional dependency, or loyalty. But none of applies here, as Jodi was living in another state and occasionally dating other men.
I just learned that the DSM-5 creates the relational disorder. This means a cuople might have no individual disorrders, but there relationship is disordered. I didn't know that psychologists ever diagnosed anything but individual problems. So perhaps Travis and Jodi had a relational disorder, but there was nothing wrong with Travis individually.
If I were the prosecutor, I would have directly attacked the scientific basis of the defense expert testimony, because there is none. However, I don't know whether that would be more effective with the jury. Maybe that would be taking LaViolette too seriously, and she does not deserve it.