On Feb. 20, KirkNurmi, Arias defense attorney, raised his concern that members of Alexander’s family were rolling their eyes and shaking their heads at testimony. (An e-mail to Stephens a few days later claimed that one of the jurors was trying to coach Arias with head gestures as she was in the witness box.)
And exchanges on April 2 and 4 show the lengths of discourtesy sometimes reached at Judge Stephens’ bench.
One argument began as Willmott was explaining what she expected to elicit from defense witness Alyce LaViollette, a domestic violence expert who raised so much controversy both in and out of court that she became a target of death threats. Specifically, Willmott was discussing whether Alexander at one point told Arias that he would kill himself.
“There’s a lack of trustworthiness there,” Martinez said. “She’s a liar. So I’m just having a difficult time seeing how she can say that Mr. Alexander attempted suicide.”
Willmott and Martinez bandied back and fortth. then Martinez said, “But the thing is that if Ms. Willmott and I were married, I certainly would say I F’g want to kill myself. That doesn’t mean I want to kill myself. It just means there’s a bad relationship and I want you to leave me alone.”
Willmott protested. “Judge, just for the record, I think that that was an insult because he’s trying to say that if he and I were married ...”
Martinez cut her off: “That was a compliment, bad joke.”
Willmott: “I don’t see it as either.”
Stephens did not reprimand Martinez. Instead she said, “All right. Let’s move past that.”
Two days later, the subject came up again at another bench conference, when Martinez said to Willmott, “Well, then maybe you ought to go back to law school.”
Judge Sherry K. Stephens did not step in.