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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Camille Kimball at the Jodi Arias Trial - Inside the Courtroom

If you have just found me on Twitter because you are following the Jodi Arias trial, I sure want to welcome you.

Today in court (April 24, 2013) I was answering your tweets when Twitter rapped my knuckles with a ruler and cut me off for the day.

Kat Johnson @Torontoblonde kindly tweeted out for me that I had been silenced, since I was unable to.

Many of you were asking if the jury had left at some point. Yes! They had left at 3:22 pm Arizona time when I tweeted "Nurmi closes with a bit of an insult to Flores. Jury leaves"

My next tweet confused a lot of people, "We're done."  Yup, it was a lousy tweet, sorry friends! Sometimes, especially while I'm typing on a laptop while standing, clarity takes a hit in the name of brevity. What I was trying to convey was that as soon as the jury left, the judge called a general recess and summoned the attorneys back into chambers. Jodi herself went, as well as two of Travis's siblings. Then we all waited for a long, long time. Nothing was going on. But, in a tweet time stamped 3:54, I announced Valerie the bailiff came to the railing edge of the gallery and told us all court was done for the day. So the jury did not wait during that long in-chambers session. They had left as of 3:22. Sory for the confusion and very sorry Twitter cut me off from explaining!

Camille Kimball tweeting from Jodi Arias courtroom, Beth Karas and Grace Wong in last row, Alexander family in front row

 This screen grab was provided to me by one of my classic twittles who, at the time, was undoubtedly a new twittle. Got many new followers yesterday, so I'm posting this photo here. There is a lot of curiosity - am I really inside the courtroom? what do I look like? where do I sit? That's me with the purple scarf. Hopefully this photo will help all the newbies and I will be able to do better at staying under the Twitter limit. Also, I encourage all of you to leave some of your questions here in the comment trail below where I can answer freely without the Twitter police breathing down my neck.

Jodi was still in the courtroom as the clock turned 4 pm. Many of you wanted to hear if she looked pleased or upset. But the court staff kicked me out at that moment. We had just been asked to rise (all, um, 2 of us, I think) because Judge Stephens had returned to her bench. But within seconds, nothing happened but the staff telling me I had to leave the room mid-tweet. I had to finish the tweet out in the hall with Jodi still inside with her team.  Grrr!

See you all tomorrow!

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

#JodiArias -- The Trial Continues

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  As of breakfast time in Arizona, Twitter is down. So I'm posting a little message here to let everybody know that I will be back inside the Jodi Arias courtroom this morning as the prosecution's rebuttal case continues. 

I'm sure Twitter will be back up by then, @CamilleKimball. Court starts at 9:30 am Arizona time.   If you are watching on TV or live stream, I sit on the prosecution side in the media section. That's 2 or more rows back from the Alexander family.  

I tweet the little details that you don't see on camera and my insights as an award winning True Crime author as well as the courtroom action.  

In the off-chance that Twitter remains down after court starts, I'll come back and post something new here about the trial's action.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Cleaning the Bathroom - Jodi Arias Murder Trial

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Seated between two criminal defense attorneys on the one side and domestic violence/high conflict divorce attorney on the other side Sunday afternoon during the Jay Lawrence show on KTAR, a question occurred to me. (In case you don't know, I attend the trial in person. Follow my live tweets @CamilleKimball)

Is there a gender issue in the Jodi Arias case that doesn't relate so much to the sexual or dating aspects of the case but to something much more mundane?

Michael Kimmerer is roundly acknowledged in Arizona to be the top of his field, criminal defense. Dwane Cates is well-known to audiences of HLN and Nancy Grace. Both of these men argued in studio that Jodi Arias might get a Second Degree Murder conviction because of the rage displayed in the savage butchering of Travis Alexander. 

If the killing were so pre-meditated with the various steps such as acquiring gas cans, stealing a gun, dyeing her hair and turning the license plate upside down, then why didn't she do an easier job of it, the defense attorneys asked?  Why not shoot her target while he was sleeping or otherwise unawares in bed, leave the house quickly and not risk leaving any further evidence?  Why wait till he was conscious and alert in the shower, they asked, shaking their heads to signify it was a preposterous idea. 
Inside the KTAR studios. Jay, Mike, Dwane and me

 Arias left an actual cavalcade of physical evidence at the scene, including her own blood and prints not to mention the infamous camera.  This bonanza, the two defense attorneys argued, showed that she was in a disordered state of mind, a sudden passion which would disqualify her for First Degree. 

To me, though, it makes perfect sense that a premeditated murder would take place in the shower. We know for a fact that Jodi Arias did attempt to clean up the scene. After incapacitation, Travis's inert body was dragged into the shower. The bed was stripped and the bedclothes placed into the washing machine and the machine turned on. The knife was placed in the dishwasher. Why wouldn't it have been part of the pre-meditated plan all along that she could minimize the disarray by keeping the action confined to the bathroom? This plan would possibly delay discovery of the body as well as give her a chance to remove traces that she had been there. It may even have pleased her sensibilities to leave his home, in which she had served as maid once or twice, as neat as possible. A bit of a final "so there!" to her victim? 

Why then, the defense attorneys asked me, did she leave so much evidence there? 

I argued that she became overwhelmed. 

The attorneys joined by host Jay Lawrence all said in unison, that's second degree murder right there. 

But what I want to highlight is that couldn't she have become overwhelmed at the sheer mess not at the crime? 

While these highly experienced and educated fellows seemed to find it not credible that a person would commit a pre-meditated murder in the most dramatic fashion possible as opposed to the most efficient, the thought that the victim could be lured into the shower for ease of cleanup came to me instantly, years ago when the the murder first happened. 

Not all men, not even most men are oblivious to housework issues. And far from all women are tidy. But deep in our cultural DNA, can we admit there's a reason the spokesperson for Pine Sol is a woman and the models using the Swiffers are women, too?  Something in the smell of ammonia and bleach makes our XX chromosomes quiver just a bit the way Tim Allen tried to tell us a hardware store did for the Ys. 

I have no trouble picturing a mess so colossal that, even with so much at stake, a female killer would start with the easy stuff--strip the bed--then lose heart. We know she lingered at the scene for some time as it is. Doing the laundry, using Travis' phone to check his messages (and to call herself).  At some moment, she would have at last stood there looking at blood spatter on the walls and carpet, realizing she could only do a smeary job at best. She would have decided Plan B, abandon the scene with the door shut, would be a better use of her time. 

To me, a killer could easily want to Make Someone Pay. Simply taking the life efficiently would not be nearly as satisfying as making sure the target knew exactly who was killing him and why. Especially if, as defense witness Alyce LaViolette claimed, Jodi Arias felt Travis in the power position in their relationship. The scenario of a woman scorned who kills in revenge becomes much more satisfying to the killer if the target can see for himself for at least a few minutes just who is in the power position now. Each stab wound would have come with statements from the killer, letting the victim know how he had "earned" his fate. "This is for the time you x! And this one is for the time you y!"  Seeing the astonishment and fear in his eyes would be part of the pre-murder planning and relishing. Planning the statements would, too. Underestimating the amount of mess that would be left could easily have been part of that planning stage, too.

To the right of me in studio was domestic violence/high conflict divorce attorney Kaine Fischer. He described his clients as timid, frightened women with downcast eyes not the confident, smiling Jodi Arias we have all come to know. While not a criminal defense attorney, he seemed to me have a bit better grasp of female behavior and did not support Kimerer's and Cates' analysis of the bloody crime scene.
Leaning into my seat while I take the photo, Kaine Fischer surrounded by the same crew

Which leads me to the question, is it possible men in general may view the bathroom as an entirely different piece of evidence than women do? Or perhaps women watching the trial, who are themselves not killers, see more in the bathroom than is there? 

We are all guilty of viewing the evidence through our own mindsets. I just wonder if in this case there's a gender fault line that, at it's core, is about housekeeping?  Am I way out of bounds? Let me know your thoughts!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Why Isn't Jodi Arias Cuffed in Court? (I'm inside her courtroom)

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Excellent question this morning from twitter follower @Tracecowgirl. Is Jodi Arias cuffed? If not, why not? 
Jodi Arias is not cuffed nor shackled inside this courtroom. Makes it look like she could just jump up and race through the 20 feet that separates her from me and grab this laptop right out of my hands, doesn't it? 
@CamilleKimball tweets from inside the Jodi Arias courtroom
Or at least grab her petite defense attorney Jennifer Wilmott and hold her hostage, right?
The issue of how much security to put on a defendant while appearing with civilians in trial is different for each one. Some, the Hannibal Lecter type, have to be tightly secured to the point of mummy swaddling. Actually, I personally have never seen that level of security on a real defendant. I suppose it happens somewhere. 
Defense attorneys have argued to courts that forcing a defendant to appear in front of juries wearing their jail garb fundamentally denies them Due Process by making them appear guilty.  The sight of shackles and jail uniforms may even strike fear into jurors, making them not judge the case with an open mind.  
Therefore many defense attorneys fight for the right to have their clients appear in street wear with as subtle security measures as possible.  Jodi is able to wear street clothes to this trial. 
Many have asked about the clothes that she wears. First of all, she does not have a wardrobe in our famous Maricopa County Jail. There's a massive store of black and white striped jumpsuits and two-pieces. They are unisex. They are all laundered at the same place. A couple times a week inmates are given a fresh one. It may have been worn the day before by a man or a woman, doesn't matter, it's all the same jail laundry. 
To dress out for court, Jodi needs someone to bring her clothes. Since Jodi's mother is here every day, I suspect she is the one providing the wardrobe daily. According to Maricopa County Courthouse custom, Miss Wilmott would probably be the one to see to it that these outfits were handed over to Jodi. It could be Mr. Nurmi, too, but I'm guessing Miss Wilmott.
Jodi would have been taken out of her jail cell around 4 in the morning to go through all the steps to get transported  here to the courthouse. She would have been cuffed and shackled during the transportation. There are cells built into the courthouse for inmates appearing before a judge. Somewhere in the process, Jodi would have been provided the clothes and been allowed to change into them under Jail Staff supervision. 
Before she put on her demure blouses and black slacks, though, she would be fitted with an electric security shock belt around her waist. And on one of her legs, a brace would be placed that is designed to hinder her mobility. The uniformed guard who you may sometimes see on camera can activate the shock belt if Jodi becomes a threat inside the courtroom. If the shock belt failed, she couldn't get very far  very fast because of the brace buckling up on her leg. 
Jodi is so slim that it is difficult to spot these safety features under her clothes. The blouses and pants she wears are usually loose. On women inmates who have heftier figures than Jodi it is often easier to spot the bulky security belt under the clothes. Even so, I can definitely see Jodi's belt at times.
Some inmates do not have families who can bring them clothes for the day. And I don't know for sure that Mrs. Arias is doing so. In the absence of a friend on the outside providing clothes, there is a charity closet for the inmates who have won the right to "dress out" in court. 
I hope this helps you understand Jodi's fashion and security issues as she physically appears in court.  And thanks so much to @Tracecowgirl for the question! 


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Juan Martinez's Other Big Case

Crime writer Camille Kimball on the courthouse steps of the Jodi Arias trial

I've been inside the #JodiArias courtroom all day tweeting about the war of wills between defense witness Alyce LaViolette, a psychotherapist, and prosecutor Juan Martinez, incipient rock star. This trial contains many references to religious beliefs because the Mormon church played a prominent role in defendant Jodi and murder victim Travis' relationship. He baptized her into the Mormon church shortly after meeting her, they tended to define their relationship with each other in terms of how their interaction fit into Mormon ideals, Jodi was absorbed into Travis' Mormon social life when she moved to Mesa, Arizona to be near him. So we are hearing an awful lot about Mormon practices, beliefs, and social norms in the wide and spacious courtroom on the fifth floor.

At the end of the day, I mentioned to my followers on Twitter that Juan Martinez had been the  prosecutor  in the last big Mormon case we had here which was husband Doug Grant on trial for the murder of his wife, Faylene. I tweeted a link to a newspaper story done by the charming Michael Kiefer at the time for the Arizona Republic. Some twittles are asking me how the verdict turned out?

Well, here's a picture of Doug Grant now. Does the bright orange shirt signal to you that his current address is Guest of the State of Arizona?

Inmate 242456 D GRANT Image

Doug Grant was convicted of Manslaughter and sentenced to five years.  Juan Martinez had hoped for a  Murder One conviction and some jurors wanted that, too, but compromised on the Manslaughter to make sure Doug Grant didn't walk out the front door.

Juan Martinez had a much tougher hill to climb in the Doug Grant case than he does in the Jodi Arias case. Faylene drowned in her own bathtub and Doug Grant did make attempts to save her and call for help.

Faylene also left a rich trove of journal entries and letters describing her premonition of pending death, though she was not ill. In these writings, she seems cheerful enough about exiting life. She goes to pains to set up her children with a new mother -- her husband's ongoing affair partner.

This woman, Hilary, was kind enough to oblige the morbidly inclined Faylene 3 weeks after the drowning by marrying the freshly bereaved widower. 

The defense had substantial material to argue that Faylene committed suicide by climbing into the tub with her stomach full of Ambien sleeping pills. But the dose was far from lethal, although heavy - 5 pills.

Faylene also had a real reason to take the pills, she was in pain from a dramatic fall down a mountain just days before. Bumps and bruises everywhere. So the defense also had substantial room to argue that the drowning was a tragic accident of pain and sleepiness.

Doug's own role was a mastery of vagueness and mystery.  He claimed he helped Faylene climb into the tub...but returned to bed and fell back asleep.

He called for help when he found her in the morning...but he called a friend who was in the medical field (not a doctor) not 9-1-1.

Who was with her on that hike where she tumbled dangerously down the side of a mountain? Doug alone.

Faylene was obssessed with death and with Hilary's "joining" their family, but was Faylene highly suggestible? Did her husband, a charismatic man, exploit their shared religious beliefs to plant convenient ideas in her head? Juan Martinez hammered home during trial that Doug had a Svengali-like hold over his wife, capitalizing on the patriarchal authority structure of their religion. Suicide, the prosecutor emphasized through testimony and argument, would have been utterly against Faylene's so strongly held religious beliefs and would have kept her out of the heaven she cherished.

Faylene had no stab wounds, no bullet wounds, no slit throat. She had a well documented history of strange beliefs about her own death and her husband's relationship with another woman and that woman's destiny with Faylene's own children. So it is not a complete surprise that one or more jurors had trouble fully embracing the murder theory. 

Nevertheless, Juan Martinez did put his man behind bars. Doug Grant looks like he has a fairly decent record in prison and is currently working as an aide to the prison chaplain. He will be released next year. 

By the way, if you thought Juan Martinez was playing for the camera in the Jodi Arias trial, well, his M.O. in trials you've never seen on TV, such as the Doug Grant case, is no different. You are getting the Real Juan Martinez in the Jodi Arias case. 

So this is a good opportunity to let all my twittles know that I can't always see all of your questions at @CamilleKimball  If you haven't heard back from me, please feel free to leave a question or comment on Jodi Arias below.  And I'd like to emphasize to all the newcomers, I am inside the courtroom, not following on video.

Look for this truck across the street behind me in the photo at top
I'd also like to hear what you think about Juan Martinez below? Is he an ineffective bully? Or a rock star strategist?

Knowing what you just read about the Doug Grant case, did Juan haul a heavy load to the top of the hill? Or did he let it slip out of his hands? Or did he put an innocent widower in jail? 

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Sunday, April 7, 2013

British TV Spotlight on Serial Killer Story

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Villains skulking in the night, a deadly firearm snuggled down for ready access, leave mayhem and death across a 600 square mile metro area. Some 47 targets later (human, animal, property), the story ends in handcuffs and shackles and the revealed faces of serial killers. 

How did these faces, the dejected, brooding face of Sam Dieteman and the impertinent, scheming one of Dale Hausner, 47 times contorted in the glee of secret destruction, how did these faces develop out of what was once the innocence of childhood? 

The British TV show, Born to Kill? came to the desert this week to delve into the eternal question of Nature vs. Nurture in the formation of serial killers.  The show airs as Twisted in the U.S. The British producers based this episode on my book, A SUDDEN SHOT: THE PHOENIX SERIAL SHOOTER. 
TwoFour producer Greg shows off my book while Paul shows off  his lipstick mark!

It was certainly a pleasure to me to see Greg from England clutching his own dog-eared copy of my book. When the show first contacted me, the lovely English accents coming down the phone line spoke reverentially of the character they had gotten to know through my pages, serial killer survivor Paul Patrick. Would it be possible to meet him, they asked? Knowing how much Paul gets out of each opportunity to tell his story and radiate the spirit of triumph, I was glad to pass along the invitation.

TwoFour Studios producers Tom and Greg set up a nice lighting effect for Paul's interview .

Tom, seen behind Paul's bed in this photo, and Greg were awed by meeting Paul. They shook his hand and told him how grateful they were to hear him speak. 

Regular visitors to this blog or to the A SUDDEN SHOT FB page know that this has been a very difficult year for Paul. He has never regained his former stamina after yet another major surgery and brush with death in January of 2012. Paul screwed up all his concentration, fighting through his many medical debilities, to give Greg and Tom the best account he could of his ordeal. The Brits found it amazing that Paul could be so open but by the end of the interview understood that, finding purpose in catastrophe, Paul considers it his mission to tell the story.  

And then they got a great giggle when Paul's face lit up as he spotted me drawing out my tube of red lipstick after their camera finally stopped running.  In our tradition of several years, I gave myself a fresh coat and then performed the Ritual of Planting the Forehead Lipstick Kiss.  This is most often performed with just Paul and me in attendance. It was fun to see the reaction of this international audience of 2 as they witnessed Paul's vividly happy anticipation.

I had my own time in front of the camera a bit earlier than Paul did.  
This is why I missed attending the Jodi Arias trial a couple days last week

The House of Broadcasting, Inc. on 5th Avenue in Old Town Scottsdale was invaluable. So much thanks to Mary Morrison for her help. It was a pleasure to have her on set. She was even kind enough to remember that I was one of the first to give the museum publicity back when she first created it and I was a columnist for the Arizona Republic.  Hey, I see a KOY sticker on the wall behind Tom. I used to work there, too!

This is the first time one of these TV shows that I have done has focused on the question of Nature vs. Nurture. It was interesting to contemplate. Is there something essential simply broken inside the soul or brain of a serial killer that no intervention could affect? Or do situations in early childhood or at other points in life "create" an irredeemable villain? In Dale Hausner's case, there's a particular incident in his early adulthood that the producers wanted to talk about. 

I'll let you know as soon as I know myself when and where the show will air. It will be in both the UK and US, so chances are many of you will get a chance to see it. 

In the meantime, which side of the question do you come down on?  Nature? or Nurture? I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments below.