Finally! The trial of Arizona versus Arias has been turned over to the jury. The clock has been started. They have begun the last, yet most important step for the guilt phase of this trial. I have shared what I would like to happen but we are way past my twenty nine minute mark, it was a nice neat wish. I have found it futile to try to guess how long until a verdict is reached or what the outcome might be. I do know that much like a tornado, it will show up when it wants to and with very little notice. Just like a tornado we will brace ourselves for what it might bring and even scarier, what it will leave behind.
Full disclosure, I fast forward through most of the talking heads since HLN took over for InSession. I have been forced to spend way too much time with Jane, Nancy and Drew. I thought I had seen the worst with HLN Afterdark. When Jane got an al fresco jury box, I was out. HLN stole the trial and ignored some of the best legal analysts on TV. I do push play for Beth Karras or Jean Cassarez. I wonder just how many chins hit the floor when some may have heard for the first time, thanks to Jean and Beth, the back story of the pedophilia allegations. They reported on them when they surfaced (two years after the murder) and the role they could have played if admitted by Judge Stevens. During a pre-trial hearing before settling on self defense, the defense was seeking to admit letters, presented as written by Travis, into evidence to prove his attraction to children. This hearing was very intense and the stakes sky high. The state fought hard to keep them out. The letters were found to be fraudulent and not admitted. The defendant tried to perpetrate a fraud on the court and she jammed her attorney up but good. Mr. Nurmi was the literal definition of being left holding nothing but his dick in his hand. The defendant and her attorney do not get along, that is just one of many reasons. Then Mr. Juan-derful turned around and tried to get them admitted to help prove the lengths the defendant will go to cover her tracks. The Judge had to decide if these now fraudulent letters were more probative or more prejudicial to the defendant (pesky Constitution) and rightfully ruled them inadmissible. I thought it was a brilliant attempt by Martinez to flip the script, but it was a long shot from a legal standpoint. This is why Mr. Nurmi started spitting objections, becoming visibly unglued when the prosecutor alluded to a pretrial hearing during rebuttal when he pulled out the magazine with the secret message written in it. Explaining what the defendant did in anticipation of that hearing but never divulging the fraud. It is why all objections from Nurmi were over ruled. Infinitely more interesting than faux jurors and made up smoking gun scenarios for entertainment. HLN will provide choreographed drama while InSession will provide facts, knowledge and application of the law.
Juan Martinez started his closing and as expected, he did not disappoint. He led the jury through the time line and the law. To watch him deliver an extemporaneous closing was so very impressive. Every word carefully chosen, rolling of his tongue in an effortless manner. Premeditation was his theme and he did not deviate. He was sarcastic when needed, driving home the absurdity of the defendants lies. He pointed out each ridiculous excuse with his anger purposely visible, reminding the jury they have been lied to over and over to elicit their ire. We heard him refer to LaViolette and needing a code book to understand why all the lies weren’t so bad, the disdain dripping from his voice. He got to the gas cans and refuted one was returned. Hitting a nerve an objection was blurted out from the defense citing mischaracterization of the evidence. The judge sustained it. That made me sit up a little straighter. The prosecutor locked the defendant into the gas can being returned at the Salinas Walmart on cross. If the defense refutes the return how were they going to explain it?? Hold that thought, I did for a whole day. He spoke about sympathy having no role in their deliberations. He called the defendant a liar and a murderer with heartfelt intensity. He told the jurors the defense experts lied in their faces with no hesitation. He took command of the courtroom and kept everyone’s full attention. He transitioned between exhibits seamlessly. His path was clear that premeditation was the only option the jury should consider, unless they believe her lies. It was a masterful example of an immensely talented trial attorney.
In stark contrast, Mr. Nurmi gave his closing argument. He came off like a bear just waking up from hibernation. Lethargic in manner and tone from the onset, he did finally gain some momentum as the day went on . He was almost starting to sound like he was advocating for his client. At least until he slipped and referred to the defendants “theory” of events. Whoops, he meant version of events. He kept a straight face as he tried to explain away the state’s evidence and his clients lies. He sifted through exhibits like he was going through old bills that needed to be thrown out. He only raised his voice when desperate to convince the jury of the most implausible justifications. He did stay true to form and replayed the phone sex edited just like at trial to highlight the victims voice. His agenda to portray the victim as a sexual deviant caused his client to openly laugh when he asked the jury who references a twelve year old girl during phone sex. Almost as an after thought, he mentioned the gas cans. He was insistent that the defendant never said it was the Salinas Walmart, implying the return could have happened at any Walmart. Then he moved on, oblivious by design or incompetence to the fact his client did say it was Salinas. I waited for his explanation and upon hearing it knew he just gave Martinez a gift for rebuttal. A-Ha! His breakdown of the murder were impossible to follow. Left hand, right hand, dragging the body, standing over the body, under the body. All of that only to forget his client was ambidextrous. He argued chaos and dysfunction. He asked the jury to believe the defendant was a battered woman who just finally snapped. He didn’t even sound convinced. His client is so smart she would have trashed receipts, shot him instead of using a knife, borrow or just take the gun, use her parents car. All the “why” questions he posed to the jury to debunk the states theory could have been answered with because my client is bat shit crazy. It was an odd approach. Thankfully he started to wrap it up. Still managing to keep a straight face, he said said if his client is guilty of anything, it is manslaughter. He didn’t say out loud never mind the self defense but it hung in the air like the smell from decomposition his client created. Mr. Nurmi did his job. He was competent but unlikeable. He tried to convey his belief in his client, it fell flat.
I would like to highlight one person the legal pundits don’t speak about much. An unsung hero behind the scenes. The person the pursuit of justice started with. The unofficial co-chair to Mr. Martinez, Detective Esteban Flores. Clearly a seasoned detective he was methodical in his interrogation of the defendant. The way he questioned her, we can see in hindsight what he was doing, but because of his delicate style, the defendant never did. That’s a skill and talent that can’t be taught in a class or found in an instruction manual. It is from years of putting together puzzles and trusting that tingle he gets when some one is lying to him. That is what we got to see in action. If the victim were my brother I would be grateful it was his turn to investigate the crime. Job well done sir and thank you for helping the Alexander family through a living nightmare. I hope he knows that some of us realize how important his work was and still is.
Those of us watching have already decided who did a better job, who made their case best and who we believe. The one thing both sides do agree on is State’s Exhibit #159 – the last picture of Travis Alexander still alive. A moment in time indeed.