|Jodi Arias Prosecutor Like a 'Rabid Dog,' Legal Critic Says|
|By COLLEEN CURRY||Feb 27, 2013, 5:11 PM|
He has barked, yelled, been sarcastic and demanded answers from accused murderer Jodi Arias this week.
And in doing so, prosecutor Juan Martinez and his aggressive antics may be turning off the jury he is hoping to convince that Arias killed her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander in June 2008, experts told ABCNews.com today.
"Martinez is his own worst enemy," Mel McDonald, a prominent Phoenix defense attorney and former judge, told ABC News. "He takes it to the point where it's ad nauseam. You have difficulty recognizing when he's driving the point home because he's always angry and pushy and pacing around the courtroom. He loses the effectiveness, rather than build it up."
"He's like a rabid dog and believes you've got to go to everybody's throat," he said.
"If they convict her and give her death, they do it in spite of Juan, not because of him," McDonald added.
Martinez's needling style was on display again today as he pestered Arias to admit that she willingly participated in kinky sex with Alexander, though she previously testified that she only succumbed to his erotic fantasies to please him.
Arias, now 32, and Alexander, who was 27 at the time of his death, dated for a year and continued to sleep together for another year following their break-up.
Arias drove to his house in Mesa, Ariz., in June 2008, had sex with him, they took nude photos together and she killed him in his shower. She claims it was in self-defense. If convicted, Arias could face the death penalty.
Martinez also attempted to point out inconsistencies in her story of the killing, bickering with her over details about her journey from Yreka, Calif., to Mesa, Ariz., including why she borrowed gas cans from an ex-boyfriend, when she allegedly took naps and got lost while driving, and why she spontaneously decided to visit Alexander at his home in Mesa for a sexual liaison.
"I want to know what you're talking about," Arias said to Martinez at one point.
"No, I'm asking you," he yelled.
Later, he bellowed, "Am I asking you if you're telling the truth?"
"I don't know," Arias said, firing back at him. "Are you?"
During three days of cross examining Arias this week, Martinez has spent hours going back and forth with the defendant over word choice, her memory, and her answers to his questions.
"Everyone who takes witness stand for defense is an enemy," McDonald said. "He prides himself on being able to work by rarely referring to his notes, but what he's giving up in that is that there's so much time he wastes on stupid comments. A lot of what I've heard is utterly objectionable."
Martinez's behavior has spurred frequent objections of "witness badgering" from Arias' attorney Kirk Nurmi, who at one point Tuesday stood up in court and appealed to the judge to have a conference with all of the attorneys before questioning continued. Judge Sherry Stephens at one point admonished Martinez and Arias for speaking over one another.
Andy Hill, a former spokesperson for the Phoenix police department, and Steven Pitt, a forensic psychiatrist who has testified as an expert witness at many trials in the Phoenix area, both said that despite his aggressive style, Martinez would likely succeed in obtaining a guilty verdict.
"When it comes to cross examination, one size does not fit all," said Pitt. "But if you set aside the incessant sparring, what the prosecutor I believe is effectively doing is pointing out the various inconsistencies in the defendant's version of events."
Jodi Arias and Prosecutor Spar
"One thing I can assure you with absolute certainty is that the prosecutor's closing statement will be one for the ages. He will weave together every single one of her inconsistencies, connect the dots, but leave it to the jury to make this decision," Pitt said.
"All this drama and sparring is going to fall off," Pitt said.
Hill, who has watched Martinez prosecute cases before, agreed,
"He has a careful plan that he will put it all together at the end. There are so many statements to sort through. I'm not defending the prosecutor, I've known him for a long time and this is his particular style. But he has been very effective. But every case is different," Hill said.
Arias, in responding to Martinez's questions, has grown bolder in standing up to him when he seems angry.
"Are you having trouble understanding me?" Martinez yelled during court on Tuesday.
"Yes because sometimes you go in circles," Arias answered.
"You said you were offended by Mr. Alexander's behavior, do you remember that? This just happened. How is that you are not remembering?" Martinez asked.
"Because you are making my brain scramble,"she said. "I think I'm more focused on your posture, your tone, and your anger," Arias said
Though Arias seems confident and competent on the stand, her ability to talk back to Martinez could actually reflect poorly on her, according to Pitt.
"You're seeing another facet of Jodi Arias, a very real facet," Pitt said. "Where I think the problem for her comes is she tried to paint herself as this innocent little waif in direct examination, and now the jury is seeing... when she has to dig in and fight she is more than capable of standing her ground."
"In the big picture context that will present big problems. The jury is acutely aware of these differences. They are seeing the content as well as the process," he said.