CRIME
04/11/2013 09:13 pm ET

Jodi Arias Jury Questions Show Skepticism About Domestic Violence Defense

Jurors in Jodi Arias' murder trial Thursday asked dozens of questions showing they're skeptical of a defense expert's diagnosis that Arias had been abused by the man she's accused of killing.

The jury's questions, put to domestic violence expert Alyce LaViolette, asked about LaViolette's assessment that Arias was a victim of domestic violence and whether LaViolette has affection for Arias. One juror wanted to know why LaViolette often looked at Arias in the courtroom and smiled.

"I have done that on occasion just to acknowledge her, but no other reason," said LaViolette, a psychologist. "I've actually tried to avoid looking at Ms. Arias."

The jury's questions were read by Judge Sherry Stephens. Arizona is one of three states that allow jurors to pose questions to witnesses after prosecution and defense lawyers have finished.

Arias, 32, is accused of the June 4, 2008, slaying of her ex-lover Travis Alexander, 30, inside his Mesa, Ariz., home. The prosecution contends Arias stabbed Alexander nearly 30 times, shot him in the head and slashed his throat in a jealous rage. Arias has testified she killed Alexander in self-defense during an argument over a dropped camera that followed his escalating sexual demands.

The jury's questions, paraphrased below, included:

Is there any reason to believe Arias has not manipulated you, as she has others?

"I didn't use Jodi as my evidence. I didn't. I used so many other things to look at, so I don't believe that Jodi manipulated me because the areas I looked at were corroborated by other people," LaViolette said.

How confident are you that Arias did not lie to you?

"I don't believe she lied to me about significant things. I don't have reason to believe that she lied to me," LaViolette said.

Do you think Arias exaggerated when she spoke to you about the abuse she claims to have suffered?
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"She could have exaggerated ... [but] she tended to minimize more than exaggerate," LaViolette said.

Hypothetically, if you determined Arias had exaggerated, would that change your opinion?

"I would certainly re-look at things because that would be important," LaViolette said.

Do you have personal feelings for Arias?

"I have liked Jodi in terms of working with her ... but we have not had a relationship other than the [time] we spent in jail" for the interviews, LaViolette said.

Could Arias be guilty of psychological abuse toward Alexander?

"I just don't have any evidence of it," LaViolette said.

Is it possible for the survivor to be the perpetrator?

"Its very possible for somebody to lash back. ... When someone has been a victim of domestic violence, they sometimes hit back," LaViolette said.

Could the reason Alexander said negative things to Arias be because he was afraid of her stalking him?

"No, I do not believe that," LaViolette said.

Is the level of violence, "which was extreme and way beyond neutralizing a threat," consistent with what a victim of abuse would do?

"When they are afraid for their lives they would not know when to stop," LaViolette said.

LaViolette's opinion that Arias was a victim of domestic violence was the subject of several juror questions. The panel asked if she had proof Alexander physically abused Arias and whether she was concerned that she was only getting one side of the story.

"The only thing I saw was a broken finger," LaViolette said of the alleged abuse. "I wish I could get a complete story from Travis, but I can't."
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Jurors wanted to know if a female could "abuse, batter or terrorize a man" to the point of killing him.

"Yes, women can be perpetrators," LaViolette said.

The trial is scheduled to resume at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time on Friday, when additional juror questions will be presented to LaViolette.

Arias faces the death penalty if convicted.

THURSDAY'S LIVE BLOG:

04/11/2013 7:31 PM EDT

Recess

The judge has called the evening recess. The trial will resume Friday at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time.

04/11/2013 7:29 PM EDT

Juror Question

LaViolette was asked of the 18 forensic cases she has worked how many involved the male being the victim of abuse.

"At least two," LaViolette said.

04/11/2013 7:23 PM EDT

Juror Question

LaViolette was asked hypothetically if she determined Arias had exaggerated would that change her opinion.

"I would certainly re-look at things because that would be important," LaViolette said.

04/11/2013 7:22 PM EDT

Juror Question

LaViolette was again about smiling at Arias and one one occasion looking at her and shrugging her shoulders when she was asked a question.

"Wow ... I don't even remember doing that," LaViolette said.

04/11/2013 7:20 PM EDT

Juror Question

LaViolette was asked if she has personal feelings for Arias.

"I have liked Jodi in terms of working with her ... but we have not had a relationship other than the 44 hours we spent in jail," LaViolette said.

04/11/2013 7:19 PM EDT

Juror Question

LaViolette was asked why she smiles at Arias during sidebars.

"I have done that on occasion just to acknowledge her, but no other reason," LaViolette said. "I've actually tried to avoid looking at Ms. Arias."

04/11/2013 7:18 PM EDT

Juror Question

LaViolette was asked the same question again about manipulation.

"I didn't use Jodi as my evidence. I didn't. I used so many other things to look at, so I don't believe that Jodi manipulated me because the areas I looked at were corroborated by other people," LaViolette said.

04/11/2013 7:17 PM EDT

Juror Question

LaViolette was asked if there is any reason to believe Arias has not manipulated her as she has others.

LaViolette was answering the question when Martinez objected. The attorneys are now at a sidebar with the judge.

04/11/2013 7:15 PM EDT

Juror Question

LaViolette was asked about Arias' school friend saying she was manipulative and liked playing the victim. The jury wanted to know if those traits could have stayed with her.

"I don't have evidence of that," LaViolette said.

04/11/2013 7:13 PM EDT

Juror Question

LaViolette was asked if Alexander said negative things to Arias because he was afraid of her stalking him.

"No, I do not believe that," LaViolette said.

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