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Jodi Arias Has PTSD, Defense Expert Says

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JODI ARIAS
Dr. Richard Samuels (left) and Jodi Arias in court Thursday. (Photo via Pool Camera) | In Session -- Pool Camera

Jodi Arias, the Arizona woman on trial for the brutal murder of her ex-boyfriend, was depressed and in denial after the gruesome slaying, a psychologist told a jury in Phoenix Thursday.

Defense expert Richard Samuels testified at Arias’ trial about her mental state before and after the June 2008 shooting, stabbing and slashing of Travis Alexander. Arias, 32, is charged with first-degree murder and faces the death penalty if convicted.

“She was not able to tell her family about what happened," Samuels said. "She was not able to tell anybody about what happened. And this is a classic symptom of an acute stress disorder.”

Samuels said he met with Arias 12 times after her arrest and reviewed her murder case file and psychological test results. Arias was afflicted with acute stress disorder when she shot Alexander twice, stabbed him almost 30 times and cut his throat from ear to ear, Samuels testified. That disorder developed into post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, he said.

Arias told jurors she killed Alexander in self-defense after he attacked her for dropping his camera. Prosecutors say the murder was premeditated and fuel by jealously.

Arias on Wednesday finished her 18th day on the witness stand. She claimed to have no memories of stabbing Alexander or cutting his throat. She said her mind went into a “fog” after she shot him.

Samuels said individuals suffering from dissociative amnesia may only remember bits and pieces of the trauma. He said they may also feel a sense of detachment, similar to an out-of-body experience.

“Perpetrators of horrible crimes can also develop post-traumatic stress disorder for having acted as the source of the crime,” Samuels said.

Samuels’ testimony comes a day after Maricopa County Prosecutor Juan Martinez told Arias he doubted her ability to remember events leading to Alexander’s slaying. He also pointed out that during her fog, she managed to clean up the crime scene and destroy evidence.

“Everything that we’ve talked about that has anything to do with the crime … you somehow, in this fog of yours, manipulated,” Martinez said.

The judge recessed court until 1:30 p.m. Eastern time on Monday, when the trial will resume.

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The judge has called the evening recess. The trial will resume on Monday.

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Dr. Samuels is still detailing criteria for PTSD.

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C7: Sense of foreshortened future

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C5: Feeling of detachment or estrangement from others

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Dr. Samuels said Arias met the following criteria for PTSD:

A1: The person has experienced, witnessed, or been confronted with an event or events that involve actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of oneself or others.

A2: The person's response involved intense fear,helplessness, or horror.

"When a persons engages in an activity that is opposite of what they stand for ... can creat in ones mind a psychological wall," Samuels said.

B3: Acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring (includes a sense of reliving the experience, illusions, hallucinations, and dissociative flashback episodes,including those that occur upon awakening or when intoxicated.

Dr. Samuels said Arias has had nightmares and intrusive thoughts about her relationship with Travis Alexander.

C3: Inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma

C6: Restricted range of affect (e.g., unable to have loving feelings)

"A persons emotional range becomes very restricted," Samuels said.

D3: Difficulty concentrating D4: Hyper-vigilance

More on PTSD Criteria: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/pages/dsm-iv-tr-ptsd.asp

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The doctor is explaining the criteria for determining PTSD.

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The attorneys are at another sidebar with the judge.

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Court is back in session.

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The judge has called a 15 minute recess.

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Based on the tests, the doctor said he formed the opinion that Arias suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

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The doctor said the second test he administered was the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory test.

More on MCMI: http://psychcentral.com/lib/2011/millon-clinical-multiaxial-inventory-mcmi-iii/

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The doctor said one test he gave Arias was on post traumatic stress disorder.

More on PTSD: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/DS00246

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Dr. Samuels said he met with Arias 12 times and administered two psychological tests to her.

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Dr. Samuels is still explaining acute stress and memory loss.

Further reading on Acute Stress: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress-kinds.aspx

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The attorneys are at another sidebar with the judge.

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The attorneys are at a sidebar with the judge.

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The doctor is showing the jury slides about amnesia and crime.

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Dr. Samuels is explaining what acute stress is.

"Acute stress usually happens in reaction to something in the environment that causes stress for the individual," he said.

More on Acute Stress: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress-kinds.aspx

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In a fight or flight situation, a persons perception of time is not accurate, Dr. Samuels said.

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