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MC&A Newsletter
Volume XXVIII  :: March 2013

 

Mdiwin Charles

 

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Better Than Casey Anthony: The Jodi Arias Trial

Jodi AriasJanuary 2, 2013 marked day one of Jodi Arias' trial for the murder of her boyfriend, Travis Alexander. Alexander's body was found on June 4, 2008 in his Mesa, Arizona home. He had been shot in the head, stabbed 27 times, and his throat was slashed from ear to ear. Arias admits that she killed her boyfriend, but claims it was in self defense. If convicted, she faces the death penalty, which would make her the fourth woman in Arizona to be on death row.

Arias was indicted on July 9, 2008 by a grand jury in California. Since her arrest, she has provided a series of different versions of the events that took place the day of Alexander's death. She first denied even being in Alexander's home on June 4, 2008. However, two weeks later she told "Inside Edition" in an interview that she was in his home, stating, "I witnessed Travis being attacked by two other individuals." Her story now is that she killed him after he attacked her when she dropped his new camera.

Arias claims that she had traveled to Alexander's home on June 4, 2008 where the two had sex and took nude photos. She then started to photograph him in the shower and when she dropped the camera, he exploded into a rage and came after her. She ran into a closet where she grabbed a gun that he had and when he charged into her, the gun fired. Beyond that, Arias claims she has no memory of the incident.

According to trial testimony, Arias and Alexander met in 2006 at a work-related conference in Las Vegas. Arias claims that the two fell quickly in love, with Arias even converting to Alexander's religion. The two broke up in June of 2007, but Arias claims that Alexander forced her to continue to have a sexual relationship with him. She stated that Alexander became sexually abusive and physically violent when she found out he was sexually attracted to young boys.

While Arias paints Alexander as a sex-crazed, violent man, his friends provide a very different view. Alexander's friend, David Hall, says that Alexander tried early on to break it off with Arias because he did not see her as "wife material." He claims that Arias went into a jealous rage when they finally did break up, slashing Alexander's tires and stalking him when he was on dates with other women. Marie Hall, a friend of Alexander's from church, testified that Alexander confided that Arias snuck through his doggie door to sleep on his couch at night.

As of March 9, 2013, Arias had spent 17 days on the stand testifying. Two of those days were spent answering over 100 questions from the jury. Arizona is one of only three states that allows jurors to pose questions to a witness. The majority of the questions ask Arias why they should believe her now when her story has changed multiple times since her arrest. Arias responded by telling the jury that she lied to protect both Alexander's and her reputations. The questions provide a glimpse into where the jury may be leaning with a verdict. Arias has not clarified much for them, as she repeatedly says that while she has a good memory, she does not remember what happened on that fateful night. It may be fair to say that Arias' future does not look good.

 

Sources: "Jodi Arias Trial: 'Why Should We Believe You Now?'" by David Lohr, March 7, 2013, The Huffington Post; "Jodi Arias Trial's Focus Is Graphic Sex, Not Killing," by Colleen Curry, March 5, 2013, ABC News; "Meet The 32-Year-Old At The Center of The Incredibly Salacious Mormon Murder Trial," by Erin Fuchs, March 9, 2013, Business Insider; "Jodi Arias Makes Final Plea to Jury to Believe Her in Murder Trial," by Colleen Curry, March 7, 2013, ABC News

 

Oscar Pistorious' Lawyers Fight Back

PistoriusOn February 14, 2013, famed South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius was arrested for murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. The double amputee - best known as "Blade Runner" for his running prosthetics - claims he shot his girlfriend by mistake, thinking she was an intruder in his home. Steenkamp was found shot to death in a locked bathroom in Pistorius' home on Valentine's Day.

Pistorius and Steenkamp were known for having domestic issues in the past. Neighbors told reporters that they could sometimes hear the two arguing, and there are reports that during the hours leading to Steenkamp's death, neighbors heard "things", though what those things are they won't say. Prosecutors theorize that Pistorius shot Steenkamp during an argument.

Pistorius was released on bail on February 22nd with conditions that Pistorius' attorneys are calling unwarranted. The court ordered that as a condition of his bail, Pistorius had to surrender all passports and travel documents and refrain from applying for any such documents until his case is over. Officials will also visit him at least four times a month at his uncle's house in Pretoria, where he has been staying since his release. Pistorius is also to refrain from any alcohol use.

On March 8th, Pistorius' attorneys filed an appeal against the bail restrictions with the court in Pretoria. They argue that Pistorius is not a flight risk and that he should be able to travel outside of the country if given official permission to do so. The lawyers wrote in the appeal that there is "no basis in fact or law" to justify the terms of Pistorius' bail, including that he must be supervised by a probation and correctional officer. The bail restrictions also prevent Pistorius from entering his home where Steenkamp was killed and imposed a blanket restriction on speaking to residents. Pistorius' attorneys argue that he should be allowed access to his property once the state completes its investigation and speaking with neighbors is necessary for preparation of his defense for trial. No court date has been set at this time.

 

Sources: "Oscar Pistorius' Lawyers Appeal Bail Conditions In Murder Case," by Christopher Torchia, March 11, 2013, The Huffington Post; "Pistorius' once-heartening tale now interlaced with murder, violence," by David Epstein, February 14, 2013, Sports Illustrated; "Oscar Pistorius is not suicidal, says his family," by the Associated Press, USA Today; "Lawyers for Oscar Pistorius file appeal against bail conditions in South African court," by Associated Press, March 11, 2013, Fox News

 

Nursing Home Refuses to Provide CPR

GlenwoodOn February 26, 2013, 87-year-old Lorraine Bayless died in her nursing home after a staff member refused to provide CPR after Bayless collapsed on the dining room floor. The staff member, who was apparently a nurse at Glenwood Gardens, stated that it was against the facility's policy to administer CPR. Despite pleas from the 911 dispatcher to provide CPR, the nurse stood by and waited for the ambulance to arrive - when it did, Bayless had already stopped breathing and had no pulse.

Dispatcher Tracy Halvorson received the nurse's 911 call and begged repeatedly for someone to provide the potentially life-saving resuscitation to Bayless. On the tape released by the Bakersfield Fire Department, Halvorson is heard asking the nurse if there is anybody else that is willing to help Bayless. The nurse responded, "Um, not at this time." When asked if she was going to let Bayless die, the nurse told Halvorson, "That's why we called 911."

Bayless lived in the independent living community of Glenwood Gardens in Bakersfield, California. As an independent living facility, Glendwood Gardens says is not licensed to provide medical care to its residents. The facility's executive director, Jeffrey Toomer, said, "In the event of a health emergency at this independent living community, our practice is to immediately call emergency personnel for assistance and to wait with the individual needing attention until such personnel arrives." The nurse who refused to provide CPR followed that policy.

The incident has left many wondering how an institution could have such a policy and how the nurse could simply stand by and watch someone die without being held liable in some way. The policy is likely in place to evade being sued, but California has a Good Samaritan law that is supposed to protect people from legal liability when they provide emergency assistance to another. California's Good Samaritan law states in part, "No person who in good faith, and not for compensation, renders emergency medical or nonmedical care at the scene of an emergency shall be liable for any civil damages resulting from any act or omission." Based upon this law, one would think that both Glenwood and the nurse would be protected from a lawsuit. However, many people are unaware of Good Samaritan laws and exactly what acts they are protected in performing. Not only that, but California has found those rendering assistance to fall outside the purview of the law. For example, a California woman was found liable when she pulled a motorist from a wrecked vehicle. The court stated that she pulled the person too hard from the vehicle, thereby exacerbating his injuries.

The Bakersfield Police Department launched a formal investigation into the incident. Specifically, they were looking to determine whether there were any elder abuse issues, as well as possible negligence. So far, no criminal charges have been brought against the facility. The family of now deceased Bayless did not file any complaints with the police; in fact, the family supports Glenwood Gardens and the actions of its staff. "We understand that the 911 tape of this event has caused concern, but our family knows that mom had full knowledge of the limitations of Glenwood Gardens and is at peace," read a statement from the family. Bayless did not have any formal instructions with Glenwood not to be resuscitated, but her family stated that she would not have wished to be given CPR.

 

Sources: "Glenwood Gardens CPR Case: Family Satisfied With Care Woman Received," by Tracie Cone, March 6, 2013, The Huffington Post; "Family: Woman at care centere did not want life-prolonging measures," by Hailey Branson-Potts, March 5, 2013, The LA Times; "Retirement Home's 'No CPR Policy' Makes No Legal Sense," by Erin Fuchs, March 4, 2013, Business Insider; "To perform CPR or not? Woman's death raises questions," by Ashley Fantz, March 6, 2013, CNN

 

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For more information about how we can be of service to you, call us at 212.551.3617 or send an email to info@charleslawfirm.com.

Midwin Charles & Associates LLC
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New York, New York 10169
212.551.3617
www.charleslawfirm.com

© 2010 Midwin Charles & Associates LLC

MC&A is a law firm offering services in criminal defense and civil and commercial litigation.

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Midwin Charles was a panelist at The Haitian Times Step Into Your Power Women's Brunch on March 16, 2013 
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April 25, 2013 in New York
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