Prosecutor Juan Martinez hammered a local psychologist over his evaluation of murder defendant Jodi Arias today, at one point asking him if he had memory problems.
Richard Samuels, who has an office in Scottsdale, evaluated Arias while she was in jail following her 2008 slaying of ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander, spending an estimated 25 to 30 hours with her. He testified last week that Arias had post-traumatic stress disorder that caused the "fog" of memory loss Arias claims prevents her from recalling details of the slaying.
But Martinez, aggressive as ever, nearly had the doc whimpering as he confessed that he should have administered Arias another psych test after he learned she'd lied on the first one. In one embarrassing faux pas, Samuels admitted to the court he'd left a sheet listing the evaluation's questions at home.
Arias is an admitted liar, having given police and the public three different accounts on what went down the night of June 4, 2008, when she stabbed Alexander 27 times, slit his throat from ear to ear and shot him in the head.
First, she said she wasn't in Arizona at the time of the slaying -- which, as we pointed out in this week's feature article on Arias linked above, is the only version of her story that matches with her actions just prior to and after the murder. When confronted with evidence that she was at Alexander's home, including recovered pictures of Alexander taken minutes before and after the murder, Arias pulled out the "masked intruder" defense.
She finally stuck with her current self-defense story. But she claims she can't recall stabbing Alexander or slitting his throat. She says she shot Alexander first -- a version of events that a medical examiner said was unlikely because the gunshot was a fatal wound, and Alexander had numerous defensive wounds on his arm from trying to ward off the knife attack.
When Samuels had Arias fill out a questionnaire, she marked "yes" to a question of whether she'd suffered a traumatic, non-sexual assault by a stranger.
Martinez noted that when Arias answered those questions, she was using her "masked intruder" version. Asked if Arias had lied when she took the test, Samuels stammered, "Uh, uh, well, yes."
Then Martinez made his point: Samuels didn't administer another test even after he learned Arias had lied.
"That was an oversight and I should have done that," the doc said.
It appeared at one point in this afternoon's testimony that Martinez wanted Samuels to admit he had a crush on Arias, or something to that effect. He spent several minutes blasting Samuels for buying Arias a self-help book, arguing that giving Arias a "gift" comprised the doctor's objectivity for the evaluation and may have crossed ethical boundaries.
Martinez didn't waste the opportunity, either, to point out that Samuels had been sanctioned once in New Jersey for what Martinez claimed was a similar ethical breach. In that case, which involved trying to trade his services for dental work, Samuels was ordered to "cease crossing boundaries with clients and entering into relationships which may create conflicts of interest with his clients." Martinez suggested that's exactly what happened with Arias.
Samuels didn't come off as lovestruck for Arias, but Martinez did succeed in making it appear that the doctor has a soft spot for the admitted killer. Asked if he liked Arias, Samuels' Clinton-esque response was, "it depends on what you mean by 'like.'"
The doc downplayed his ordering of the book for Arias, which she never gave back, saying he did it because she was "suicidal."
A few minutes later, when Martinez asked Samuels if that's what he said, Samuels tried to redefine "suicidal," which frustrated Martinez. Jennifer Willmott, one of the defense attorneys, asked Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens if she could have Martinez not yell at the witness.
The prosecutor lowered his voice but pressed his attack: "You don't have any memory problems, do you?" he shouted at Samuels, which is something Martinez had asked Arias several times in the last few weeks.
The point Martinez made was that if he truly thought Arias was suicidal, he should have notified jail staff instead going Internet shopping for her.
As a side point, Martinez asked Samuels notes he'd taken during his evaluation of Arias that, on two occasions, mentioned that Arias told him Alexander had her tied to a bed by her hands and ankles. Arias claims she was tied to the bed by her hands, and that the knife her ex-boyfriend used to cut the rope was the same one she used to stab him. Yet neither the rope nor the knife have been found. The implication by the prosecution is that Arias lied about being tied up -- because she brought the knife upstairs, to where she used with devastating effect.
Samuels, indeed appearing to be covering for Arias, claimed that he might have put the part about "ankles" in his notes even though Arias didn't say "ankles." But Martinez got him to admit there was no good reason why he or anyone else should doubt his notes.
Once again, by day's end, Arias' weak defense only proved weaker.
The trial continues at 10 a.m. Tuesday with Samuels still on the stand.