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Jodi Arias PTSD Diagnosis Based On Lies, Prosecutor Says

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RICHARD SAMUELS
Richard Samuels in court Tuesday. (Photo via Pool Camera) | In Session -- Pool Camera

The Arizona attorney prosecuting Jodi Arias in her first-degree murder trial attacked the credibility of test results that a psychologist claims show Arias suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Maricopa County Prosecutor Juan Martinez was cross-examining psychologist Richard Samuels, the defense's first expert witness, Tuesday when he brought into question Samuels opinion that Arias has PTSD and dissociative amnesia.

How, Martinez wanted to know, could the diagnosis be accurate when Arias later admitted she had lied about her role in the killing of her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander.

"They can lie to about 10, 15, 20, 30, 50 things that you consider irrelevant ... and that still would not affect your opinion in this case, right?" Martinez asked.

"If there were 50, 60 points, yes, of course, it would raise an alarm to me," Samuels replied.

During Monday's cross-examination, Martinez pointed out Arias was given the test for PTSD before she admitted killing her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander. At the time the test was given, in January 2010, Arias was claiming two unknown intruders had killed Alexander.

Arias at first vehemently denied any involvement in killing Alexander. His body was discovered June 8, 2008, in his Mesa, Ariz., apartment. An autopsy revealed he had been shot in the head, stabbed 27 times, his throat cut from ear to ear.

After DNA pinned Arias to the crime scene, she changed her story, claiming there had been a home invasion by two unknown killers. She later admitted to killing Alexander, but claimed it was in self-defense. The prosecution contends she murdered Alexander in a jealous rage over his new love interest.

Arias' lies, according to Samuels, were not relevant to his diagnosis because her answers to the post-traumatic stress test reflected how she was feeling at the time she took it.

"The results of the [test] do not reflect whether someone is telling one story or another. What it does reflect is the internal state of the individual. She experienced the trauma even though she was telling a story that was different from what actually happened. So this test reflects her internal struggle, her internal emotional state and, in my opinion, is perfectly valid," Samuels said.

The expert added, "It's not critical to the outcome of the test."

When Martinez pointed out that Samuels could only speculate about how Arias' lies would impact her diagnosis, the defense expert admitted that was what he was doing.

"I'm speculating," Samuels said.

The response sparked an immediate and pointed response by Martinez.

"Right, made it up right now. Speculating," Martinez shouted.

"No, clinical judgment, sir," Samuels snapped back.

Later, Martinez pointed out that Samuels' report on Arias only mentions that she met two of the criteria for PTSD, when the guidelines require three criteria for a diagnosis. Samuels said there was a typographical error in the report.

"Isn't it true that – it's a counting kind of thing – three are required to be found in order for there to be PTSD, correct?" asked Martinez.

"That’s correct," Samuels replied.

"You only listed two, right?" asked Martinez.

"That was a typographical issue," Samuels said.

"Is that yes or no?" asked Martinez.

"Yes, it is," responded Samuels.

"Sir, with regard to this, you're getting paid. How much are you getting paid per hour?" asked Martinez.

"I get paid per hour, $250," Samuels said.

"And for $250 an hour you're saying that you weren't paying enough attention to put whatever else was needed?" asked Martinez.

"I reviewed the report numerous times and I must admit I missed it," Samuels said.

Martinez then ended his cross-examination of the witness, prompting the defense to again go over the PTSD results with their expert witness.

During redirect, Samuels said Arias scored very high on the test. Her answers, his interviews with her and the evidence he has reviewed all support his diagnosis for PTSD, he said.

The defense is expected to continue their redirect of Samuels on Wednesday, when the trial resumes at 4 p.m. ET.

TUESDAY'S LIVE BLOG:

live blog

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

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Samuels said Arias told him she was not sure if the gun was loaded and indicated she had not fired a gun before.

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The attorneys are at another sidebar with the judge.

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Samuels said during a subsequent meeting with Arias on June 9, 2010 she told him about grabbing the gun and running out of the closet.

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The attorneys are at another sidebar with the judge.

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"She let out a scream ... He kept coming toward her [and] they fell on the ground ... they wrestled and she was finally able to get up and flee," Samuels said of what Arias told him.

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The attorneys are at another sidebar with the judge. Martinez objected to the line of questioning regarding what Arias told Samuels occurred on June 4, 2008.

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Samuels said Arias told him she ran out of the closet and held the gun up.

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Samuels said Arias told him about what happened in the closet and the bathroom on June 4, 2008.

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The attorneys are at a sidebar with the judge.

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Samuels is reviewing his notes.

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Samuels said he rarely tape records meetings with clients.

"The presence of a recording apparatus often inhibits what people will say to you ... They might be reluctant to tell you something," Samuels said.

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"It was apparent to me that she had very low self-esteem," Samuels said of his first meeting with Arias.

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Samuels said he has no idea how many computers Alexander owned. This in reference to earlier testimony that she said Alexander had many photos of breasts on his computer. The prosecutor had said no such images were found.

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Samuels said Arias had a relatively high score regarding her anxiety level.

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Samuels is talking about his experience giving psychological tests.

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Samuels is talking about amnesia again.

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The trial is back in session following recess.

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Judge Sherry Stephens has called recess. The live blog will continue when the trial resumes at 6:15 p.m. Eastern time.

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Samuels said Arias never told him she was able to stand up to Alexander.

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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.

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.

C3: Inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma.

C5: Feeling of detachment or estrangement from others.

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

C7: Sense of foreshortened future.

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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Samuels is talking about the criteria Arias met for his PTSD diagnosis.

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Samuels said he is being paid 0 an hour to testify for the defense. Martinez has finished his cross-examination. The defense is now redirecting the witness.

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