PHOENIX - The prosecutor in Jodi Arias' murder trial spent Monday trying to undermine the credibility of a defense witness who testified the defendant was a victim of domestic abuse at the hands of the victim.
Psychotherapist Alyce LaViolette has spent more than a week on the witness stand testifying about the generalities of abuse victims.
Last week, she focused on Arias' volatile relationship with the victim, portraying the man as a womanizing cheater who courted multiple women simultaneously, using graphic language to entice them into sexual encounters, while berating Arias with derogatory names.
LaViolette said she interviewed Arias for more than 40 hours, while also reviewing thousands of pages of text messages, emails and other communications between Arias and the victim, as well as messages between the victim and other women she says he was courting while also carrying on a sexual relationship with Arias.
The witness said it was clear that Arias suffered not only emotional, but physical abuse at the hands of her lover, though there has been no testimony, other than Arias', and no evidence presented at trial to indicate her one-time boyfriend had ever been physically violent in the past.
Arias faces a possible death sentence if convicted of first-degree murder in the June 2008 killing of Travis Alexander in his suburban Phoenix home.
Authorities say she planned the attack in a jealous rage. Arias initially denied involvement then blamed it on two masked intruders. Two years after her arrest, she said it was self-defense. Testimony has been ongoing for more than three months.
Prosecutor Juan Martinez questioned LaViolette's expertise and ability to come to the conclusion that Arias suffered physical abuse by Alexander based solely on interviews with the defendant and reviews of communication between Arias and the victim.
"Ultimately, what you're saying is you are a human lie detector, right?" Martinez snapped.
LaViolette struggled to answer the question as Martinez repeatedly sought "yes or no" answers.
She explained that she came to her conclusions based on her review of everything, including interviews with Arias.
"It's context," LaViolette said. "It's about patterns and it's about context."
She testified last week how she found in a review of Alexander's electronic communications with other women that he courted them with overt and graphic sexual language, and that some of the women ceased interacting with him, but he continued to press them.
In communications with one woman, Martinez pointed out how Alexander referred to Arias as a stalker.
"Isn't it true that Mr. Alexander was extremely fearful of the defendant based on what was said in that conversation?" Martinez asked.
"I don't get that," LaViolette replied.
"You're taking what's in this instant message and you're picking and choosing what to believe and what not to believe, right? Martinez prodded.
"No," LaViolette said.
The two traded barbs as LaViolette accused the prosecutor of mischaracterizing her work. She explained that while Alexander may have made such comments about Arias being a stalker, his behavior toward her -- continuing to court her and invite her to his home for sex -- painted a different picture.
"He is extremely afraid of her," Martinez said. "You chose not to believe that?"
LaViolette said she did not believe that assessment "based on his behavior toward Ms. Arias."
Earlier in the day, Martinez raised questions about whether LaViolette had fudged her resume in describing her role in a 2010 conference where she notes she was a keynote speaker on domestic violence.
"Isn't it true that you were not the keynote speaker?" Martinez said.
"I'm not trying to misrepresent myself, Mr. Martinez, if that's what you're implying," LaViolette replied.
"You're name's not on there, correct?" Martinez said, displaying a program from the conference listing keynote speakers.
"Correct," LaViolette said, explaining that she was a "breakout keynote speaker."
"You're implying that I am lying about what I do and I don't lie about what I do, Mr. Martinez," she added.
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