Alyce LaViolette, a psychotherapist and domestic violence expert, testified in the Arias trial on Tuesday. Arias faces murder charges and a possible death sentence for the killing of Travis Alexander in Phoenix, June, 2008. While Arias initially denied involvement, she now admits to committing the crime, including cleaning the scene and disposing of the murder weapon. What was initially a plea of "not guilty" has changed to self defense, and for 18 days Arias testified that the murder of Alexander was a response to repeated physical abuse.
Though no evidence or witnesses were presented in support of Arias' defense, LaViolette testified Tuesday that most victims of domestic violence don't report their abuse because of overriding feelings of shame or humiliation. The witness explained that many abused women will not share stories of abuse. "They want people to like their partner. They don't want anybody to think they have lousy taste," she said.
Arias' attorney also compared Alexander's upbringing to that of a potential abuser. Alexander was raised by drug addicted parents and later his grandmother. Arias' attorney questioned LaViolette asking, "A child who grows up in an environment like that... would you consider that abusive?" LaViolette answered in the affirmative.
Another psychologist, who testified that Arias suffered post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of her abuse, was accused by the prosecution of having developed a relationship with the defendant that biased his diagnosis and testimony. He denied the accusations.
Alexander was found shot once with multiple knife wounds. Though Arias admits to retrieving the gun from Alexander's closet and shooting him in self defense, she says she has no memory of stabbing the victim.