Gruesome autopsy details, a tearful defendant, a bomb sniffing dog and yet another dismissed juror contributed to the highlights of the trial that has become a national curiosity.
After testifying earlier in the trial in January, Medical Examiner Dr. Kevin Horn returned to the stand to reiterate his opinion that Travis Alexander was not shot first, as his killer claimed, before he was stabbed 29 times.
It’s a crucial point because Arias has maintained she shot her ex-boyfriend first, and did it in self defense after he flew into a rage. But shooting him in the head AFTER stabbing him 29 times and slitting his throat would not be consistent with her self defense claim. Arias faces the death penalty if convicted and premeditation — necessary for a first-degree murder conviction — will be easier for the jury to believe if the defendant’s self-defense claim is disproven.
The shot to Alexander’s head would “probably” have caused him to lose consciousness within seconds and take only a step or two before collapsing, Horn testified, while debating whether he was “incapacitated” or not after being hit with a .25 caliber bullet.
“Would Mr. Alexander have had the capacity after the first two or three seconds to get on all fours and begin to crawl away?” asked prosecutor Juan Martinez.
“No, I don’t think so,” replied Dr. Horn, explaining: “That is a purposeful action that requires normal brain function to be able to do that.”
“If he was on his back, would he then be able to turn himself so he could be on his face, or the front portion of his body?” inquired Martinez.
“Not as a purposeful action but if he was having convulsions he may have ended up in that position, explaining that the stab wounds to his torso and neck could only have happened after the gun shot if he was in the midst of convulsions.
“Would he be able to get up and walk approximately five feet and stand at a sink and hover over it?” asked Martinez, as Travis’ sister, Tanisha Sorenson hid her face in horror while hearing the extent of her brother’s injuries.
“I don’t believe so, no. It requires coordination of multiple muscles to be able to stand and walk. With a head injury and a brain injury, I don’t think he is going to be able to do that.”
As Tanisha couldn’t even watch what unfolded in the Phoenix courtroom, 32-year-old Jodi again cried as details spilled regarding the horrific injuries that she inflicted on her former boyfriend on June 4, 2008.
Alexander also had defensive stab wounds, also an important point for the prosecution in knocking down the self-defense claim from Arias.
Under cross examination from defense attorney Jennifer Willmott, Dr. Horn admitted that he misspoke in his earlier testimony when he said the incapacitation may not have been immediate, according to Arizona Republic reporter Michael Kiefer, and explained that he was hindered in assessing damage to Alexander’s brain because of decomposition.
He went on to reveal that Travis was still alive when his throat was cut because of blood loss that would have required a “beating heart,” but told Willmott that he would not be able to hold his head up after receiving the deep gash.
Once Dr. Horn’s testimony was concluded, the Maricopa County Courtroom had a surprise visit from a bomb-sniffing dog as a “routine” procedure that is speculated to be in response to the death threats recently made against Willmott, which included a voicemail promising that if Jodi gets off, “We will find you, we will kill you.”
Thursday also saw the departure of Juror 8, a man known as “The Note Taker” for his contestant scribbling, who was dismissed by Judge Sherry Stephens, leaving a pool of nine men and six women out of which 12 will decide Jodi’s fate.
The defense will call one additional witness next week, and closing arguments are expected on Thursday and Friday. The case will then finally go to the jury after four grueling months.