PHOENIX (AP) — Jodi Arias' defense attorney worked Wednesday to undo any damage to the credibility of an expert witness who diagnosed the defendant with post-traumatic stress disorder and amnesia after a withering cross-examination that called into question his techniques and testing procedures.
Psychologist Richard Samuels testified for a fourth day Wednesday after telling jurors he diagnosed Arias with PTSD and dissociative amnesia, which explains why she can't remember much from the day she killed her lover. Samuels said he met with Arias a dozen times for more than 30 hours over three years while she was jailed.
Prosecutor Juan Martinez previously seized on multiple lies Arias told Samuels throughout the process of his evaluation, at one point getting the psychologist to acknowledge that he should have re-administered at least one test he used to come to his PTSD diagnosis. Martinez questioned how Samuels could have come to any definitive conclusion for a diagnosis based upon Arias' lies.
Samuels insisted his diagnosis was accurate.
"The process of forming a diagnosis is not a simple process," Samuels testified Wednesday. "The fact is that it's necessary to obtain information from as many different sources as you can."
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 told authorities she had nothing to do with it then blamed it on masked intruders. Two years after her arrest, she said it was self-defense.
Defense attorney Jennifer Willmott spent much of Wednesday questioning Samuels about his testing procedures. When Samuels initially began his evaluation of Arias, she was sticking to the intruder story.
Willmott went over each question and Arias' answers with Samuels.
"Did she think her life was in danger?" Willmott asked.
"Yes," Samuels replied.
"Did she feel helpless?" Willmott asked.
"Yes," Samuels said, explaining later that his diagnosis would have remained unchanged whether Arias was responding to the questions still telling the intruder story or claiming self-defense.
"If the answers remained yes before and yes after, would it have changed the score at all?" Willmott asked.
"No," Samuels said.
He said Arias also answered "no" to a question about whether she was having nightmares.