Writing to Innocence
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Innocence: An Argument For Jodi Arias
by Richard Speights
Can A Woman Defensively Stab A Man In The Back While Standing Face-To-Face With Him?
Have a friend stand to your front and face you. Then have your friend bend at his hips, wrap his arms around your waist like a football tackle, and simulate an attack by pinning you (be gentle) against a wall. Simulate holding a knife in your left hand, and then make a series of nine stabbing motions onto your friend’s back (be gentle). You will be stabbing in the exact spot as Alexander’s back wounds as reported by the autopsy report. The wounds you simulate would be uniformed and concentrated, because your friend’s body is stable in that he has his arms wrapped around your waist while pressing your body against a wall. If you were actually stabbing your friend’s back with a knife, you would be producing wounds identical to those found on Alexander’s back.
In a Three Dimensional World, The Prosecutor and Defense Looked at the Evidence With a Two Dimension View
Is it possible for a woman stab a man in the back while standing face to face defending herself against him? The prosecutor and defense didn’t think so. Nonetheless, it is absolutely possible. Moreover, the above description is the best explanation for the wounds found on Travis Alexander's back.
Can a woman sever a man’s throat while he is alive and animated? Can she do so while he is actively making a frontal attack? The prosecutor and defense didn’t think so,however a woman can absolutely sever a man’s throat defensively during a frontal attack. Most people are not trained in self-defense. I have been trained in hand-to-hand combat and knife fighting. This knowledge allows me to see things in the autopsy report otherwise unseen by the untrained eye. Jodi Arias is not guilty of murder. She killed Alexander defending herself in a desperate and bloody fight to save her life. The evidence is clear. But the common citizen, untrained in such things, won't recognized the nature of the wounds, their position on his body, their depth. Even a coroner isn't qualified to dissect a knife fight. That's not really his field of study.
For a fair trial, justice must be blind and not a respecter of persons. That is, justice must consider the evidence in a case, not the one on trial. Hatred of the person is not a consideration. Love for the person is not a consideration. Evidence is beginning and end of justice.
But if anyone looking at the autopsy report misunderstands the evidence, if he does not understand what he or she is looking at, then the evidence can lead him astray from the truth. In the case against Jodi Arias, the evidence caused everybody, prosecutor and defense alike, to come to the same misguided conclusion concerning the events in Travis Alexander’s house on the day he died. Arias’ jaded defense team could not answer for the multiple stab wounds in Alexander’s back—surely Arias must have been behind him delivering offensive blows, right? Arias’ jaded defense team also could not answer the severed throat—surely this was a coup de grâce, a cruel deathblow delivered only after the man had become incapacitated, right?
But things are not always as they appear. At first glance, the untrained eye can’t get around what seems so obvious. The back wounds and the severed throat caused the defense team a lot of trouble. Facing this seemingly insurmountable problem, the two lawyers conceded defeat in their hearts way too soon. They allowed what they saw to limit their conclusions, and these limited conclusions overwhelmed their faith in the defendant. Kirk Niurmi and Jennifer Willmott’s under-whelming performances reflected their defeatist attitude.
Nonetheless, our understanding of any particular evidence is limited by our general and specific world knowledge. How do things work? Are the results of an action, the aftermath we can see, produced by only one action or can two actions produce similar looking evidence?
Imagine a scenario where a child carries a plastic drinking cup of water out of her two-story brownstone home onto a New York sidewalk. She drops the cup, spilling the water. She goes back into the house to refill her cup. As she leaves, another child walks by with a helium balloon. It pops, and the remains of the popped balloon fall onto the wet spot on the concrete. Then a man walks by and, seeing the wet concrete and balloon remains (the evidence), concludes someone is dropping water balloons from the upstairs window. He hates this, because kids had pelted him too many times with water balloons thrown from second story windows. He, therefore, bangs on the front door and gets into a shouting match with a bewildered homeowner.
Two different actions creating similar looking evidence takes place everyday to everyone everywhere. Sometimes one action can produce a specific result the untrained eye translates as having been produced by another action, when all along only the one action could have produce said result as it exists.
To understand how certain events, specialized people must bring experience and knowledge to testimony. Imagine a man cuts down a tree and it falls across the yard and onto a neighbor’s house. During a trial, to whom would you turn to describe why the tree fell as it did? Would you ask a psychiatrist? No, the psychiatrist sees trees everyday but is not a logger. Would you ask a coroner? No, the coroner sees trees everyday but is not a logger. If you want to know why a cut tree fell one way instead of another, ask a logger, who has trained for and had experience in falling trees.
Two people involved in a physical fight is classified as hand-to-hand combat. Two people in a physical fight involving one or more knives is classified as a knife fight. A knife fight is the best and only description for what transpired between Jodi Arias and Travis Alexander. Unless the coroner is trained in hand-to-hand combat and or knife fighting, how is he expected to know all the moves and nuances of the same? How is he to know all that can and often does transpire during such an event? Even a knife fight between two persons untrained in hand-to-hand combat leave telltale signs. These signs are all over Travis Alexander’s body, and they shout a specific and complete story of the events of that day. But it helps to know how these things happen and why.
I have been trained in hand-to-hand combat, including the art of knife fighting. My training began in my youth under the tutelage of my father, who trained in Special Forces (The Green Beret Teams) in the early sixties. He participated in Operation White Star (Google it) and other operations. He trained in knife fighting at Camp McCall and then used these skills during the military/CIA action in Laos. A number of unfortunate communists learned of his talent too late to survive the encounters.
His style was more straightforward than flashy. He decried the slash and stab method, believing in getting the job done quickly to end the fight sooner than later. When I trained as a Special Forces Medic in the late seventies, I learned the slash and stab method he had so often denounced. I believe there is a use for both styles, depending upon the situation.
When I look at the autopsy report, I see things I recognize according to my training and experience. For instance, Arias is left-handed. She would have held the knife in her left hand. Eight of the nine stab wounds on Alexander’s back are at an angle, from his lower left to his upper right. They are in the upper middle of his back. They are organized and concentrated.
(Print a copy of the Alexander autopsy line drawing, and then line up your copy of the line drawing over your friend's back in the following exercise.)
Have a friend stand to your front facing you. Then have your friend bend at his hips, wrap his arms around your waist like a football tackle, and simulate an attack by pinning you (gently) against a wall. Simulate holding a knife in your left hand, and then make a series of nine stabbing motions onto your friend’s back (be gentle). You would be stabbing in the same exact spot as Alexander’s back wounds. The wounds you simulate would be uniformed and concentrated, because your friend’s body is stable in that he his holding you around your waist while pressing you against a wall. If you were actually stabbing your friend’s back with a knife, you would produce wounds identical to those found on Alexander’s back.
Can a defender stab an attacker in the back without standing behind said attacker? Certainly.
Can a defender cut an attacker’s throat deep enough to nearly take his head off during a fight while the attacker is standing and actively making a frontal attack? Absolutely. That’s exactly what I was trained to do. Moreover, in a knife fight, my opponent’s throat is a primary target.
Line Drawings and Photographs
Look at the front view of the autopsy line drawing of Alexander’s injuries. The right side of Alexander’s body has injuries. The left side of his body has no injuries. This is consistent with a left-handed defender using a knife against an attacker, as they stand face-to-face.
Look at the line drawings of the hands. The left hand has four cuts, two one the palm side of the hand and two on the outside. There is one shallow cut between the two knuckles of the dorsal of the thumb and one deep cut on the fleshy part of the hand below the thumb and above the wrist. (See the photo of Alexander's left hand on photo page.) These two cuts are consistent with a left-handed defender reaching across her front and cutting the top and outside of the left hand of an attacker in an effort to make him let go of her clothes, as they stand face-to-face.
Look at the autopsy line drawings of the right hand. The one and only cut to the thumb is consistent of a left-handed defender curling her left arm and jabbing a knife upward at the attacker’s right hand to make an attacker let go of her clothes with his right hand, as they stand face-to-face.
Possibilities and Impossibilities
Below, I will break down the events between Jodi Arias and Travis Alexander resulting in Alexander’s death on June 4th 2008. I will describe each action that produced each wound and or series of wounds on Alexander’s body.
First, let’s consider some of the evidence for which the prosecutor and defense could not fully or clearly explain. (We must look at everything to bring the puzzle pieces altogether for a full, clear picture.)
(See the photo of the bathroom sink and countertop).
Look at the blood evidence in the bathroom sink. Along with the dribbled blood, there is a blood spray splatter in the bowl of the sink and on the far side of the bowl on the countertop. The prosecutor more or less ignored this, because he could not fully explain it. I don’t know if the defense team mentioned it at all. The only way to produce that kind of spray splatter pattern is by spitting (like a movie spit-take), coughing, and or blowing blood from the nose. The prosecutor claims Arias stabbed Alexander in the shower, and that, somehow, Alexander escaped the shower and made his way to the sink having suffered all the frontal stab wounds. He says Arias stabbed Alexander in the back, neck, and head while he stood at the sink.
However, the prosecutor says Arias delivered the gunshot to Alexander’s head postmortem in the shower and severed his throat down the hallway, many feet away from the bathroom. These are the only two wounds that could have supplied blood to Alexander’s mouth, nose, or throat. There were no injures in or around his mouth. There were no external injuries to Alexander’s nose. The amount of blood in the spray splatter was abundant, so it required a major cut or impact. Without blood in Alexander’s mouth, nose, or throat at the time he stood over the sink, he could not have produced the blood spray splatter that got into the sink bowl and countertop. That’s impossible.
The evidence does not fit the prosecutor’s version of events.
A .25 caliber bullet passing through a human skull will fragment. It is not possible for a .25 caliber lead bullet to smash through a human skull without fragmenting. The autopsy reported no foreign bodies in the brain while also reporting the dura mater intact, page 7 of 8, Autopsy Report on Travis Alexander (autopsy report page). If the bullet passed through the brain, it would have ruptured the dura mater and left fragments in the brain in its wake. Even in a deteriorated state, these fragments would have remained in place. There were no bullet fragments. The .25 caliber bullet did not pass through Alexander’s brain.
The evidence does not support the prosecutor’s version of events.
A word about the .25 caliber pistol:
In the world of weapons and marksmanship, there’s an unwritten rule concerning the .25 caliber pistol -- Never shoot anyone with the .25 caliber pistol; because it will just tick the guy off, and then he will hurt you. The .25 round is tiny, the energy supplied by very small gunpowder charge (A round is the brass casing, lead bullet, and gunpowder charge). The bullet (the lead part of the round that is fired through the barrel to hit the target) is tiny and far too light to carry enough kinetic energy to penetrate deeply or do much damage.
There are only two ways a .25 can effectively kill. The first way is when the .25 is fired with the barrel pressed against someone's temple. The skull bone in the human temple is thin and weak, so the .25 bullet can penetrate the skull and dura mater and enter the brain easily—but only when fired at point-blank-range. The only other way is when the .25 is fired with the barrel pressed against the medulla oblongata (the brain stem). The bullet severs the brain stem and permanently turns off the lights.
At a distance of two feet, if a .25 bullet striking the skull squarely would hardly penetrate. If it does penetrate, it will just barely. However, at an angle, the tiny bullet has absolutely no kinetic energy to break through the skull bone. Striking the skull at an angle, the bullet will deflect, following the path of least resistance. For instance, there are some reports of .25 and .22 caliber bullets striking the human skull and becoming trapped between the skin and the bone, traveling over the top of the victim’s head. The .25 bullet that hit Alexander had been fired far enough away not to leave powder burns. Therefore, fired at a downward angle, a rather dramatic angle, at a distance, the bullet could not and would not penetrate the human skull but would deflect into and through the hollow areas in Alexander’s sinus cavity.
Consider this scenario: Arias shoots Alexander when he first attacks her. The bullet passes through the sinus cavity, a wound that would not have incapacitated Alexander. Alexander moves to the sink and looks at himself in the mirror to see how bad he is wounded. This wound supplies the blood flow that trickles down the back of Alexander’s throat, causing him to cough and produce the blood splatter spray in the sink and on the countertop (or Alexander blows it out his nose to facilitate breathing). Blood flows freely out his nose, which dribbles onto the sink and countertop space. The gunshot blurs his vision, so he must move close to the mirror to see, leaving dribbled blood on the far side of the sink and counter space (see photo of bathroom sink and blood evidence).
This is the only explanation for all the blood evidence in and around the sink and countertop. It is the only wound on Alexander’s body that could have possibly produced both the dribbling blood pattern and the spray splatter blood pattern--all things considered.
The prosecutor could not describe a viable story according to all the evidence. Arias’ defense team couldn’t either.
In the following, let’s step through the events according to the evidence in the autopsy report, the trial testimony, and photographs of the scene and body. I will account for each wound, when it happened, how it happened, and why it happened. At the end of this detail of events, you will have only one conclusion. Jodi Arias defended herself against Travis Alexander in a fight to save her life.
A breakdown of the defensive knife fight by Jodi Arias Against Travis Alexander using the autopsy report, photographs, and testimony.
Arias spends twelve hours with Alexander, a willing sex partner, a man who the prosecutor claims she was stalking, a man the prosecutor claims was “very afraid” of her.
Personally, I don’t think I would have sexual relations with a woman I thought was trying to do me harm.
Alexander takes a shower, and Arias, using his camera, takes pictures of him.
She is using his camera.
He would not want these kinds of pictures getting out; he presents himself to the public as a moral, righteous Mormon, even pronouncing himself a virgin on at least one occasion according to testimony.
He is highly motivated to keep his sex life private.
In the pictures of Alexander in the shower, he does not look entirely happy.
He may be unhappy about being photographed nude in the shower.
She may have insisted.
This could be the beginning of his anger.
She drops his camera, and he bursts out of the shower.
Enraged he shouts, “You f***ing idiot,” and body slams her on the bathroom floor.
“F***ing idiot” is not a common Mormon term.
She scrambles to her feet and runs down the hallway, makes two rights, and runs through the walk-in closet with Travis in pursuit.
Travis is wet.
Being wet on a wet bathroom floor is a distinct disadvantage in a physical confrontation.
Jodi is wearing shoes.
She could more easily grain traction to make her escape and gain a little distance.
She collects the pistol and continues back into the bathroom.
If Alexander is pursuing, this shows his actions are more than an angry outburst.
That she felt she had to grab a weapon shows the extreme of Alexander’s anger.
At this point, Travis may have tripped over something in the walk-in.
(See drawing of bathroom/hall/walk-in closet schematic the prosecutor presented in court.)
He has bruises on his right shin, and there are abrasion cuts on his left foot, anterior and posterior. (I’m not sure if it is clear there are also bruises on his left lower leg and shin.)
The building schematic of Alexander’s bathroom/hall/walk-in closet show the walk-in closet is designed to allow for a dressing chair, which may or may not have been present during the chase.
Nonetheless, the bruises and cuts on his lower extremities, of which the autopsy reported as abraded, show his left foot and lower legs came into hard contact with an object or objects.
The abraded cuts on his left foot were not necessarily inflicted with a knife.
Running into things is the most common cause of cuts and bruises on the shins, feet, and lower extremities.
Alexander emerges from the closet, bends at the hips, arms out, and attempts to tackle Arias football style.
Arias points the weapon at Alexander in hopes it will cause him to stop his attack.
Arias inadvertently discharges the weapon, the bullet striking Alexander above his right eye at a downward angle.
Seeing the weapon, he would have turned his head aside.
I have seen someone react this very way when a pistol was pointed at his head.
Alexander’s football stance would place his head in a good position for the bullet to strike his forehead in a downward angle.
Turning his head aside would put his head in the right position for the bullet would pass through the sinus cavity, right to left.
Accidental discharges by untrained people are about as common as houseflies.
This is why shooters are taught keep their fingers off the trigger until they are ready to shoot.
Alexander’s forward momentum causes him to collide with Arias, and they go to the ground.
Arias testifies she then tries to push him off and gain some distance.
The shot to his head shocks Alexander and he desists attacking Arias.
Alexander moves to the sink to look at his wound in the mirror.
The bullet having traveled through and damaging his sinus cavity produces a lot of blood.
The blood flows out his nose.
(See the two autopsy photographs of Alexander’s face, the dried nose in his nose and the blood under his nose.)
The impact of the bullet would have blurred his vision and watered his eyes; the same as getting punched hard in the nose.
The photo of the blood in the sink shows dribbling at the far side of bowl, on the counter near the mirror, showing he brought his face close to the mirror to better see his head wound.
Blood trickles down the back of Alexander's throat via the injured sinus cavity, which causes him to cough spasmodically.
(See photo of bathroom sink.)
This produces the blood spray splatter into the sink bowl and the back side of the countertop.
Or he blows it out his nose to facilitate breathing.
Both methods would have produced the same result.
Spitting blood out of one’s mouth (spit-take like) could but would not necessarily have produced the type of pattern seen in the photograph.
Nonetheless, blood must be present in Alexander’s mouth, throat, or nose for him to have produced the blood spray splatter as seen in the photograph.
This is the only wound Alexander experience that could produce the spray splatter blood pattern in the sink.
The severed neck might produce a spray, but I doubt it would produce the concentrated pattern as seen in the photograph.
A severed vein or artery would have sprayed blood all over the counter.
Coughing or blowing air out one’s nose with a severed throat is not really possible.
Arias either drops or discards the .25 caliber pistol.
She may have dropped the pistol when Alexander tackled her.
She may have discarded the pistol from the shock of having shot another human being, someone for whom she has fond feelings.
She could have tossed it into the bathtub, tossed it aside in the bathroom, or just set it down somewhere.
Alexander bleeding into and around the sink shows that for a moment he desisted attacking Arias.
Arias, no longer under attack and seeing someone for whom she loves bleeding, would not have run away but would have looked to assist Alexander thinking the danger over.
Alexander realizes he is not dying form the gunshot wound and turns and grabs Arias with either his left or right hand.
I believe Travis grabbed her first with his left hand and later with his right.
Grabbing Arias’s clothes with his left hand places his left hand on the right side of her torso.
Arias testified Alexander grabbed her by her clothes, either her shirt or sweater.
Alexander’s anger goes through the roof.
She had insisted on letting her photograph him nude in the shower.
She had dropped his camera.
She had shot him in the head.
The combination of all these drives his anger to fury.
The kitchen knife is in the bathroom, most likely on the countertop.
Arias testified Alexander used a decorative rope to tie her hands during sex.
Arias testified Alexander had cut a decorative rope with one of his kitchen knives.
Decorative rope is often made of nylon.
Nylon rope frays badly when cut.
The solution to fraying nylon rope is melting the cut ends with a small flame, like a lighter or match.
Melting the ends of rope this way is a common event.
Melting nylon can drip to the ground.
Alexander would not have wanted to melt the ends of nylon rope over carpet.
Melting the ends of the nylon rope in the bathroom makes perfect sense.
Therefore cutting the rope in the bathroom and then leaving the knife in the bathroom on the counter is perfectly logical.
In addition, decorative rope can shed pieces of itself when cut.
The bathroom is again the natural place to cut the rope to keep the pieces from shedding into the carpet.
The bathroom is the easiest place to clean melted nylon or shedding pieces of rope.
Arias collects the kitchen knife from the counter, probably with her right hand, the hand nearest the counter, and transfers the kitchen knife to her left hand.
Her intent is to use the knife to stop the ongoing attack.
The initial cuts on Alexander's body are superficial, none of which could kill.
Arias backs away down the hallway as Alexander pursues, holding her with his left hand and attacking her with his right (They eventually end up at the end of the hallway).
His vision is blurred by the gunshot, so if he is punching at Arias, he’s missing.
He could have been attempting to choke her with his free hand.
Hand prints on the countertop show Alexander’s hands came into contact with blood. This would make his right hand slippery and possibly unable to get a good grip on her throat.
His bloody left hand can still hold her clothes.
She would be jumping around, struggling, and pushing against him with her right hand.
His effectiveness is not the issue. His attempt to hurt is the action that produces the defensive response from Arias.
(See autopsy line drawings of Alexander, full body and head and neck.)
Print a copy of the autopsy line drawings of the front view of Alexander’s body.
Draw a line down the middle of the front view of Alexander’s body, dividing the line drawing of the body into two halves, right and left.
All wounds (excluding the severed neck and the stab wound on the left front of Alexander’s neck) are centerline of the body and or on the right side of Alexander’s body. They are no wounds on the left side of his body at all.
All the following wounds were produced as Arias held the knife like a flashlight making thrusting stabs and slashes.
There is 1 small cut on the front of his head in his hairline, slightly left of centerline.
There is 1 small stab in the right side of his neck.
There is 1 larger slashing stab in the right side of his neck.
There are 2 slashing stabs in his right shoulder.
Three is 1 lateral slashing incision under his right nipple.
There is 1 abrasive small stab like wound on the inside of his right arm, between the elbow and wrist, closer to the elbow (That this is an abrasive wound, it may not have been caused by the knife).
There is 1 slashing stab wound slightly left of centerline on his abdomen.
There is 1 stab wound in the ribs, centerline of his body between his nipples.
There is 1 stab wound slightly higher just left of centerline.
(I will address the slash in his throat and the stab in the left front of his neck in a moment. These injuries came after all other wounds listed above.)
Only one of the wounds listed above is deep enough to kill.
All the other wounds are superficial.
Small shallow cut in the hairline is not life threatening.
Small, shallow stab in the right side of neck is not life threatening.
The larger shallow slashing stab in the right side of the neck is not life threatening.
Shallow incisive wound on his right front shoulder is not life threatening.
Second shallow incisive wound (parallel to #4) on his right front shoulder is not life threatening.
One small shallow abrasive wound on his right forearm is not life threatening.
One slashing shallow cut under his right nipple is not life threatening.
The wounds listed above, 1-7, combined would not have killed Alexander. They are all shallow and superficial, produced without using much effort.
These wounds (1-7) are consistent with a left-handed person holding a knife in the left hand in opposition to another person face-to-face in a standing position.
They are consistent with a left-handed person being held so she is unable to maneuver so she stabs/cuts/slashes only the places she can reach.
This is consistent with Alexander holding her with one of his hands.
They are consistent with the one holding the knife trying to fend off an attack by the other party.
If she were the aggressor, the wounds would have been deeper and more deadly.
They are shallow, because she is simply attempting to get Alexander to back off with uncoordinated, disorganized, weaker strikes.
Now look at the line drawings of Alexander’s hands.
There are four total wounds on Alexander’s left hand.
1 incision on top of the thumb, between the two knuckles.
1 deep incision in the fleshy part of the hand between the thumb and the wrist.
1 deep incised defensive wound in the webbing between the thumb and index finger.
1 shallow incised defensive wound on the palm near the index finger.
If someone were to grab my clothes in an attempt to control my actions during a knife fight, I would cut his hand(s) to make him let go. The following description of the wounds on Alexander's hands specifically reveal Alexander was holding onto Arias' clothes, and that she cut his hands to make him let her go.
Stand in front of a friend and have him reach out and hold your shirt or sweater with his left hand.
Hold out the index finger of your left hand to simulate a knife, and then lay it on top of the thumb, between the two knuckles, of his left hand.
This is exactly where's Alexander's thumb was cut with a shallow incision. If you were to cut your friend's thumb, you would exactly reproduce Alexander's wound.
Move your finger (knife) down to the fleshy part of the edge of the hand about midway between the last knuckle of your friend’s left hand and his wrist.
This is exactly where Arias cut a deep incision into Alexander's hand. If you were to make a deep cut into your friends hand at this angle, you would exactly reproduce Alexander's wound.
Arias reached the knife across the front of her body and made these two cuts, one weak and one strong, the first on top of his thumb and the second in the fleshy part of the hand between the thumb and wrist to make him let go, knife blade pointing up toward the ceiling.
Alexander releases with his left hand and grabs hold of Arias’ clothes with his right hand and then grabs at the knife with his left hand as she tries to keep it away from him.
This produces the two defensive like wounds in Alexander’s left hand (inside his hand, the area of the palm).
Hold a stick, point it upward, like holding a flag on a stick at a parade, in your left hand and have your friend grab at it with his left hand like accepting an ice cream cone. Pull the stick down out of his hand (gently).
The stick will pass over the places Alexander had suffered his two cuts.
These two wounds cause Alexander to desist attempting to grab the knife with his left hand.
Arias stab/slashes up across the front of her body with the knife by curling her arm and thrusting upward in the direction of her left shoulder, attempting to stab/cut his right hand to make Alexander let her go.
(Have your friend hold your clothes with his right hand, hold a simulated knife in your left hand, and then simulate a stab upward at your friend’s right hand on your left side. (Do this slowly and gently.))
This motion cut Alexander’s right thumb, from the pad up to the cuticle and continuing on into the thumbnail. (See autopsy picture on photo page of Alexander's right hand.)
Alexander lets go with his right hand but does not attempt to grab the knife with the right hand or grab Arias with his injured left hand.
(I believe by this time they have reached the end of the hall, and that Alexander has pinned her against either of the hallway walls. The trap causes her to get aggressive and cut his hands.)
Taking his hands off Arias leaves Alexander’s stomach and chest open for a counter attack.
She makes three quick harder stabs into the centerline of Alexander’s torso.
One shallow incisive stab off midline to his abdomen.
One shallow stab midline high on his chest.
One deep stab midline between his nipples.
The deep stab was the last of the three stabs.
This last deep stab cut the vena cava superior, the major vein lying between the heart and right lung.
This stab that incised the vena cava superior was the last stab, because this stab would have caused the knife to become stuck momentarily in the chest, stopping Arias' counter attack to the centerline of his body.
All this is happening very quickly.
Arias’ counter attack is more aggressive than her initial defensive knife thrusts, because, despite the multiple knife wounds to the right side of his body, Alexander has not stopped attacking.
During a defensive knife fight, one must look for an opportunity to counter attack and then exploit that opportunity to the fullest.
Self-preservation demands an aggressive counter attack.
Alexander has already body-slammed Arias into the bathroom floor after she dropped his camera.
He tackled her in the bathroom.
He grabbed her and continued his attack until she cut his hands to make him release her.
Her only defense at this point it an aggressive offense.
The last stab was the most aggressive; it was the only wound in which the knife entered the body cavity.
Alexander’s hands move to cover the most painful of these three wounds, the one that had penetrated his chest cavity and incised the superior vena cava.
A knife penetrating the body cavity in the chest area must pass through or between bones.
It is difficult to pull out a knife stabbed into bone(s).
She would have had to reposition her hand from holding the knife like a flashlight for thrusting motions to holding the knife like a ski pole, as when making downward stabbing motions (Kitchen knife handles are designed to keep the hand from slipping down over the blade. They are not necessarily designed to keep a bloody hand from slipping off the knife when pulling to remove it from bone.)
She would have had to put her right hand on his chest and push him away as she pulled back on the knife to free it from his chest.
Pulling the stuck knife would pull Alexander closer to Arias.
For every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction, so when Arias pushes with her right and pulls the knife with her left, the knife leaves the chest, and Alexander would be pushed backward against the far wall in the effort.
This would put a little distance between Arias and Alexander.
Alexander’s hands are down, covering the hurt, leaving his throat exposed.
Holding the knife now in a point down position (like one holds a ski pole) and blade out, the most natural position for the hand on the kitchen knife handle (try holding a common kitchen knife both ways and see for yourself), Arias makes one slashing sweep at Alexander’s neck, slashing deep into his throat, and then makes a quick backward stab into the left front of Alexander’s neck. This would all have happened very quickly.
A backward stab, a reverse stab, or a reversed stab is when one reverses the swing of the slash to stab into the opponent.
(See picture of a hand holding a knife in a slash and stab position at the bottom of photo page.)
Hold a knife point down and blade out in your dominant hand, left or right (imitate the picture on the photo page). Stand like a boxer. Make a hooking punch with the knife hand (Be careful. Do this slowly). The knife blade trails your fist. If you twist your wrist as you simulate a punch, the point of the knife blade will extend outward, which cuts deeper and causes more damage.
My father taught me to hold the knife like a flashlight, so that a cut to the unprotected throat requires a thrust and sweep, leaving a deep cut to the neck that severs the arteries, veins, neck strap muscles, and esophagus.
The objective in cutting an opponents throat while defending against a frontal attack it to cut as deeply and effectively as possible.
Scratching your opponent's throat does not stop an attack.
The slash and reverse stab method will create an equally deep cut into the neck and allow for a quick backward stab into the neck.
Arias is left-handed, so the knife blade’s initial impact is on the right front of Alexander’s neck.
The autopsy report reveals Alexander’s right cardiac artery, right jugular vein, and esophagus were cut, consistent with Arias’ left-handed defensive slash at Alexander’s throat.
A swinging slash to the throat, done as I described above, can leave a wound exactly like what you see in the photos of Alexander's throat.
A quick backward stab would leave a stab wound on the left front of the neck.
The autopsy shows this exact wound on the left front of Alexander’s neck.
This Just In: I was double checking the autopsy report, and found something I had previously missed. The report states the severed neck wound is lower on Alexander's right side and higher on the left. This confirms what I've described above. Arias is shorter than Alexander, and the swing of her left-handed slash would angle upward, making a cut on Alexander's neck lower right to upper left, rather than straight across. (Autopsy Report, page 3 of 8, subtitle: Examination of the neck reveals the following sharp force injuries. (first bullet))
Alexander is now mortally wounded. Unrelenting, he has grown more furious with each cut and slash. However...
Alexander is not trained in hand-to-hand combat.
Alexander is not trained in knife fighting.
The pain of the wounds inflicted upon Alexander would make him do one of two things. He would either:
Leave the area (if he desired to desist the attack) or…
Continue the attack while protecting the front of his body.
It seems unreasonable for a man suffering a mortal wound to continue an attack, but mortally wounded men are known to continue attacking in combat and on the street.
When enraged, men often do things they ordinarily would not while in a reasonable state of mind.
During the shock of the mortal neck wound, Alexander’s subconscious would have fled to original programming to find a solution to the problem at hand.
Alexander’s original programming, his previous experience, would have been fights in high school or middle school.
In school, when one boy is getting his face beaten, he either runs away or bends at his hips, charges, and wraps his arms around his opponent’s waist.
This move is often used in wrestling.
To protect his front while continuing to attack, Alexander would bend at his hips, charge, and wrap his arms Arias around her waist, slamming her against the wall opposite him in the narrow hallway.
He is trying to knock the knife out of her hand.
He is trying to protect his front from the knife.
This technique exposes his back to the Arias.
Having one’s back pounded with fists does not cause much damage or pain.
Exposing one's back this way, however, is counterproductive in a knife fight.
This bend and grab method, the football tackle style attack, is the same technique Alexander used against Arias in the bathroom when she inadvertently shot him.
This leaves Alexander’s back exposed to Arias.
He is still actively attacking but stabilizing both himself and Arias by holding himself against her with his arms.
The knife is positioned in Arias’ left hand.
The knife is point down, the same position as during the neck slash.
The nine stab wounds in Alexander’s back are superficial, produced rapidly.
They are shallow.
They cut only to the bone.
They do not penetrate the body cavity.
They were produced rapidly.
They are intended to drive off her attacker.
All but one of the incisions of the nine stab wound cuts line up lower left to upper right, consistent with a knife in Arias’ left hand as Alexander holds her around her waist. (Reference the autopsy line drawing).
One stab wound is at a different angle than the others.
Blood is slippery, and the rapidness of the stabbings in the back can easily allow the knife to slip around in one’s hand.
The nine shallow stab wounds are contained in one small area of the back.
Alexander holding Arias against the wall stabilizes both bodies, necessary to produce the organized pattern of these nine stab wounds.
Although Alexander is being stabbed in his back, he is still attacking Arias by holding her pinned against the wall.
Arias stabs his back only to make him let her go.
This is why the stabs wounds were produced rapidly.
This is why the stab wounds are so shallow.
Now, consider the action of a sewing machine stitching a piece of cloth: the nettle goes up and down in one spot, and the cloth travels so the nettle penetrates the cloth not in the same spot but in line.
After the nine quick stab wounds:
Alexander fades through the loss of blood and falls away backward, or…
Alexander pushes himself off to escape the nine stab wounds, or…
Arias is finally able to push Alexander away.
As Alexander moves away from Arias, she is still stabbing to get him to let her go.
His neck moves under the knife and receives two stabs.
His head moves under the knife and receives two stabs.
The coroner testified the lacerations in Alexander’s head were due to a stabbing motion, that there were triangulated shaped chipping in the skull caused by the impact of the point of a knife blade.
This is wholly consistent with what I have described.
Alexander falls to the ground at the end of the hallway and bleeds out.
The above answers all the blood evidence, stabs, abrasive wounds, and incisions in a reasonable version of events, wherein all the pieces of this puzzle fit together perfectly, naturally, and consistently. The evidence shows Arias did not attack Alexander; he attacked her. Her actions, according to the evidence, were in self-defense—justifiable homicide. This is the only reasonable conclusion to Travis Alexander’s death.
Arias testified she could not remember the knife fight. If she could have remembered and explained all I have described above, there would have been no trial. Note: Arias' testimony, the part she remembered, fits the part she can’t remember, the part described above.
Nonetheless, why can’t she remember the knife fight?
There is nothing more awful, more horrifying than the aftermath of a knife fight. A number of people have commented that the autopsy photos are the most horrible they have ever seen in all their years as lawyers and police officers. No doubt.
Nonetheless, the horrible nature of defensive knife wounds and the horrible nature of offensive knife wounds are identical (Don’t misread this: the horror is identical. The nature of the wounds on Alexander’s body, their placement and depth, clearly show Alexander attacked Arias).
Fighting for one’s life causes great anxiety and fear—real terror. Seconds turn into hours, and minutes into lifetimes. How one deals with the aftermath of this kind of alarm varies with the kind of person one is at the beginning of the fight. If you are stable, you fair better. If you are not that stable, you don’t fair well. Arias has no criminal history, no history of violence, however her life has been something like a butterfly in a field of flowers, floating from here to there, always looking, never finding. She’s still floating from flower to flower, although the flora are now all dried, black, and lifeless. How does one overcome the horrific aftermath of a knife fight? It helps not to be charged for first-degree murder. Nonetheless, a young woman acting strangely after suffering the aftermath of a knife fight is not so strange at all.
A large quantity of blood has a musty, sickly sweet, awful smell. My father told me he also has smelt fear on his opponents during knife fights. He said he couldn’t quite define the smell of fear, what produces it, or what it smells like. He said it was not pleasant. Men killed in violent action often pass gas, defecate, and urinate. All these smells in the aftermath of a knife fight are, at best, gruesome.
Seeing a man you love covered in blood, especially if you were the one who caused him to bleed, is horrifying. Cutting and stabbing another living human is gut wrenching (Dad told me he, a trained and confident Green Beret killer, vomited the first time and didn’t know anyone who hadn’t done the same).
She didn’t drag Alexander to the shower to wash away DNA. She dragged him to the shower to wash away the horror. She doesn’t remember the stabbing, because the subconscious is expert at putting horrible things away in a locked room in the outermost resources of the mind and then throwing away the key. She can’t remember, because it is too horrible to remember. She lied to the cops, because she was still, in her mind, washing away the horror. She could not, and still cannot, see herself in connection to this living nightmare. “I wasn’t there,” she said. “Ninjas killed him as I watched.” These comments are classic for a person distancing him or herself from a terrifying event. She has a sense she defended herself against Alexander—but look at all the blood; look at all the horror; how can she be connected to all that blood and gore? How could she have done all that? If she had caused all this blood, if she had cause Travis’ death, she would feel guilty and worthy of death. Lying isn’t always a sign of guilt. Sometimes it’s a cry for help.
When a man or woman fights for his or her life, she can do things you wouldn’t predict possible. The mind is a wonderfully powerful tool and can pull solutions out of our memory banks when necessary, and the body can perform seemingly miraculous feats.
I used to work with a survey team in the Colorado/Utah canyon lands. One day, I had to descend a small cliff. There was a very narrow ledge, and I walked it to reach a gentler slope off to the right. As I moved along the ledge, more than forty feet in the air, I passed a tree. I thought, “If I should start to fall, I could leap into that tree” like Charles Bronson character in the movie Death Hunt, who leapt from a huge cliff into a tall tree to escape Lee Marvin’s character.”
At that very moment, the ledge gave way under my trailing left foot. My weight shifted backward as I began to fall. In that second, I pivoted my body to face the tree and, using my right foot on the ledge, jumped and threw my arms out wide. Up to that point in my life, I had never before leapt from a cliff and then shimmied down a tree.
Once on the ground, I looked up into the tree and marveled I was okay, no broken bones; no bleeding lacerations; just bumps and scraps. “Well,” I thought. “That wasn’t too bad.” I started to walk away; but my legs turned to rubber, so I sat and contemplated life for a while.
A crazy stunt I had seen on television as a young man is the very thing that saved my life years later. I had never practiced that move. I wouldn’t dare. Yet, in that moment of immense danger to my life, I was able to replicate that stunt and save myself from damage and or death.
Jodi Arias was fighting for her life, so if she does something incredible, like splitting Alexander’s throat open with a sweeping slash, then she has performed in a manner consistent with so many other people as they experienced life-threatening situations.
Maybe she heard about this kind of thing or a something similar on television or in a movie. Maybe she watched Steven Seagal and Tommy Lee Jones in the movie Under Siege as they used this very style of knife fighting in their fight scene on the Battleship Missouri. She doesn’t have to consciously remember. The subconscious will find such things in the memory banks to help solve the problem at hand. The subconscious works independent of our conscious to find all sorts of unique solutions to pending problems. Besides, somebody somewhere was the first to cut someone’s throat with a slash and backward stab without ever seeing it done. Even if she’d never heard of such a thing, her inventive, creative mind could have thought it up in a pinch. She is creative, and she was definitely in a pinch.
We are all born with a desire to live, that hyper-powerful motivation existing in all human beings that makes us fight like the wildest wildcats when our lives are in danger. Yes, the autopsy photos are horrible. But all knife wounds are horrible, even ones created during self-defense.
It is clear Jodi Arias defended herself against a rampaging Travis Alexander. The autopsy report is clear only when you understand the meaning of each cut, stab, and wound and how they fit with the blood evidence. The prosecutor and the defense team couldn’t give a complete and creditable account for all the evidence at the scene. The prosecutor and defense answered the evidence with more than one scenario each. This essay contains the only story that accounts for all the cuts, stab wounds, and blood evidence, and the evidences shouts, "Jodi Arias did not commit murder. Travis Alexander’s death is justifiable homicide."
No doubt, Arias displayed odd behavior during her interrogations, news interviews, and at other times. HLN repeatedly points to her behavior as signs of her guilt (Outrageously, HLN recently interviewed people about her eyes, the interviewees saying she has no soul—no kidding, HLN really insinuated these people could tell Arias was guilty by looking into her eyes.).
Which sounds more reasonable: a person witnessing the horrific aftermath of a knife fight will act normally, or a person witnessing these things will act abnormally? Arias obviously acted differently than other people before the death of Alexander. We know this from her mother and father’s police interviews and from trial testimony. However, being different is not against the law. If being different were a capital offense, nobody would be around to notice.
Nonetheless, Jodi Arias is her own worst enemy. It’s easy to see she does not quite have a grip on how the world really works. She talks way too much when she should be quiet, and she doesn’t say enough when she should speak out loud. She should not have spoken to the press at all. She should have exercised her Fifth Amendment rights with the police and asked for a lawyer. That day in Alexander's house, she should have stayed put and called for the police after Alexander’s death. But if she can't remember what happened, what is she supposed to tell them?
But then again, consider what she faced. We’ve all heard the sex tapes and know Alexander fully participated in perverted sexual relationships and fantasies with women outside of marriage. This is common in the nonreligious world but wholly uncommon for members of the Mormon Church. As far as his family, friends, colleagues, and fellow members of his church knew, he was a moral, upstanding, righteous, virgin. A sex-life outside marriage and Mormonism do not mix, so he was presenting himself as one thing in public and another in private. A good man cannot pretend to do bad things, but a man doing bad can pretend to be good. Jodi Arias knew both men. She knew the man pretending to be a moral Mormon in public, and she knew the man who made the beast with two backs with her in private. The public Alexander did not attack Arias. The beast maker did.
How would one tell the world he or she has had to kill Mother Teresa in self-defense? Nobody is going to believe you. How then does Jodi Arias tell the world she had to kill a Mormon version of Mother Teresa in self-defense? She would have a strong motivation to tell the police she wasn’t there or that Ninjas did it.
Look at the current news coverage lead by HLN. According to HLN, Arias is the devil incarnate and Travis is the sweet angle she butchered in cold blood. Travis could do no wrong. Arias could do no right. The talking heads on HLN have sparked and then fanned the flames of hate against Arias most prodigiously. There are reports during this past week that attorney Jennifer Willmott and witness Alyce LaViolette have received death threats for representing and testifying in behalf of Arias. Arias’ friend can’t even testify in person for fear of reprisals. Thousands of people crowded the courthouse steps for the verdict. Who are these people who shouted, cheered, and screamed for the guilty verdict? Only a handful of people there had any connection with Arias, Alexander, or the case.
HLN had shined (and is still shinning) a spotlight of hatred for Arias on Phoenix, Arizona, so bright it can be seen international. Daily, Jane Velez-Mitchell and Nancy Grace spew venomous words out over the airwaves, denouncing, castigating, and vilifying Arias with every breath. The other talking heads on HLN were not far behind, excitedly pointing out every “evil” gesture, every “evil” detail in her life. HLN has crossed the line from reporter to advocate. For the entire trial, they delivered the news with unhealthy helpings of anti Arias editorials and negative speculation. Nobody could avoid the hate. It spread like a virus throughout the entire planet.
The jury was not sequestered for the trial. They may have sworn they didn’t watch television news, listen to the radio, or read the newspapers, but, honestly, how could they have escaped the poison of seething hatred for Jodi Arias. It filled the air. It tainted the water. It changed the taste of everyone’s food. It crept into the lives of the jurors, who were free to move about the murmuring mob, living among the horde that later howled for Arias’ blood. Arias did not have a fair trial. The spotlight of hate was too bright. The flood of hatred had completely drowned all common sense and fairness.
I have no connection to Arias, her friends, anyone she knows, or her family. I have not have any contact with her, have not sent her books or gifts, and do not plan on doing so. If this essay helps her, I have no expectation our paths will ever cross. If I were standing on a beach and saw a man, woman, or child drowning, it would be my duty as a human being to risk my life and save that person. Jodi Arias is indeed drowning in a sea of misrepresented evidence and public hatred. Someone has to act. Someone has to put it on the line for justice.
It is my duty to say something. Everybody got the evidence wrong. I just happen to know something about a subject that allows me to see the truth.
Soldiers, like my father and I, are trained for the nightmarish aftermath of a knife fight. Nonetheless, I know killing communist in Laos changed the old man. He and other men I’ve known who have killed with a knife deal with that horror for the rest of their lives.
Seeing Travis Alexander’s dead in that shower will haunt Arias for the rest of her life. No amount of water could wash away the horror. She couldn’t clean away the nightmare. But like my father and others who have had to kill, Arias is not guilty of murder. She fought to stay alive. She fought, as any of us would, to take her next breath, to see another tomorrow. Her actions that terrible day are, as they should be, justified.
Consider the oddest evidence in this case, that the police found Alexander’s camera in the washing machine. Arias had run it though a wash cycle. She is a photographer. She knows all you need to do is pull the flash card, that deleted images are recoverable. She knows destroying the camera does not destroy the data. However, there was a picture of a blood covered Travis Alexander on the flash drive. She deleted the picture, but deleting the image could not fully take away what she saw. Just like washing Alexander’s body in the shower, Arias put the camera into the washing machine, not to destroy evidence, but to wash the horror away.
Gas cans: I bought a gas can at Wal-Mart the other day. I thought about the Arias case, if my purchase could be used against me in a murder trial. As a photographer, I try to bring extra gas on trips so my mobility is not limited. An award-winning picture might be at the end of a mountain road or down a country lane. It has been my experience there are not many gas stations down those roads.
When I was sixteen, my friends and I went crazy one summer. We would knock on doors in the middle of the night and run, we turned a young woman’s VW around in her driveway (we all liked her a lot), and we terrorized our little town. If we had thought of turning license plates over, we would have done it. It’s not stealing or breaking; to a sixteen year-old mind, it’s the perfect stunt.
Therefore, when a group of boys, skateboarders, see a beautiful girl with long flowing hair go into Starbucks, what would they do but turn her licenses plates upside down for a lark? I would have done the same during my crazy summer. This is not a mystery. Sixteen year-old boys think differently than other human beings.
Someone stole Arias’ grandparent’s .25 along with other things in the house. Did the police find the other articles in Arias’ possession? Did they charge her with this crime? Remember, Arias has no criminal record, so theft is not her problem. There are so many .25s in the world if they suddenly disappeared, the loss of weight would pitch this planet out of orbit. If Arias’ grandparents owned a Ford Fiesta and Alexander owned a Ford Fiesta, nobody would think anything about the coincidence. There are far more .25s in this country than Ford Fiestas.
The lack of additional ammunition in Alexander’s house is meaningless. I carried a .38 for months that was loaded with six rounds. I possessed no other ammo but these six rounds. I never fired the weapon and never bought more ammunition.
All the “evidence” the prosecutor presented to prove premeditation is meaningless. He saw the remains of a balloon in a puddle of water, so he charged a young woman with murder.
I image if people were to dissect my last trip, they could find enough “evidence” to convict me of shooting Abraham Lincoln. Circumstantial evidence is no substitution for hard evidence. The wounds on Alexander’s body are hard evidence, and they emphatically say Arias acted in self-defense.
- End -
Copy edited, July 23, 2014