Amid much curiosity and anticipation, the defense put its first expert of this retrial on the stand Wednesday in the State v. Jodi Arias.
By her words, Dr. L.C. Miccio-Fonseca works with, and focuses in the areas of, sex offenders and those with unusual sexual proclivities.
The majority of the day involved Miccio-Fonseca reading to the jury a lengthy email exchange between Chris and Sky Hughes and Travis Alexander. The Hughes were longtime friends of Alexander and Chris appeared on several national shows voicing his opinions about Alexander and the case during the first trial.
Miccio-Fonseca’s testimony was not centered on “victim bashing.” In fact, she made several positive comments about Alexander.
Instead, her testimony focused on the words and phrases used between the friends in the emails. She pointed out that there appeared to be two sides to Alexander and that the two sides were in conflict. (No, not a multiple personality situation.)
One part of Alexander was religious and strived to follow the tenants of his church. Yet, the other side had strong sexual desires that were in conflict with the rules of his church — the “Travis” side and the “T-dogg” side. This conflict was referred to in court as the Dr. Jekyll (Travis Alexander) and Mr. Hyde (T-dogg) conflict. The phase “rough around the edges” was also vocalized many times to describe Alexander.
Miccio-Fonseca explained, in so many words, that T-dogg treated Arias like a prostitute. You have sex with a prostitute but you do not have feelings for her or show her in public. Yet she also explained that Travis loved Jodi and she loved him.
This expert is presumably being used to show there was more to the relationship and lives of Alexander and Arias than that one fateful night. Each had challenges, problems, history and baggage.
Both the emails and Miccio-Fonseca discussed and explained what the Hugheses saw in Alexander and how he treated Arias and other women. It is really the Hugheses who have negative things to say about him, as evidenced in the email string.
So much so. in fact, that the defense could argue, “Don’t take our word for how he treated Arias, take the words of his close friends.”
The defense is also using this email string and testimony to show the jury the background as to why Arias’ self- esteem and self-worth disintegrated in the relationship. In other words, to explain the entire story.
There is no doubt in my mind Juan Martinez, the prosecutor, will attempt to destroy (discredit is not a strong enough verb for what he will try to do) Miccio-Fonseca’s conclusions and qualifications. Yet, perhaps he should focus on discrediting Alexander’s friends as well.
This phase is not supposed to be about justification — the time for that is legally over. However, regardless of instructions, the reality is that the jury could still end up thinking about justification.
No one will admit out loud that it is part of what is done during mitigation, to get the jury to rethink or “retry” the defendant, but it happens.
In my mind, these email communications from Alexander’s friends are some of the most damaging evidence to the State. That being said, the million dollar question is whether it will be damaging enough to give Arias life.