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Surprise Arrest in Pediatrician`s Murder

Aired January 24, 2013 - 19:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But it`s official. So we`re happy that it is official.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Big day for a lot of people in the military.

And folks, Jane Velez-Mitchell starts right now.

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Tonight, a surprise arrest in the horrific murder of a beautiful young pediatrician in Philadelphia. What led cops to search the suburban home of an exterminator and popular family man? And what secrets was he hiding that could have led to such a vicious, violent act?


VELEZ-MITCHELL (voice-over): Tonight, a stunning arrest in the murder of this beautiful popular pediatrician, who was bound by her hands and feet and set on fire in her own basement. Cops arrest an exterminator described as a good family man. But new reports claim he had a secret addiction. Is that what allegedly pushed him to commit murder?

And Jodi Arias like you`ve never seen her before. We`ll show you the inside of her jail cell, and her fellow inmates will tell us what they really think about her. Plus, is this proof of her ability to seduce? Will she mesmerize these jurors?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She needed an exterminator.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A beautiful young doctor found murdered in her hometown in an affluent section of Philadelphia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had some type of argument. It went terribly wrong.

PAMELA RIMATO-TIRONE, NEIGHBOR: I left the house about 20 after 12:00. And everything was fine. And I came back, this horrible thing happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He struck her while she was in the basement, knocked he down, strangled her to death. And then ultimately set her body on fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A murder mystery unfolding right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Looking for video that will possibly show her killer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He doesn`t seem like that kind of guy.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight complete surprise and horror. Cops arrest a very unlikely suspect in the vicious murder of a beautiful, respected, popular pediatrician.

Good evening. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell coming to you live.

All of Philadelphia was on edge, wondering who was the demonic killer who strangled Dr. Melissa Ketunuti, seen here in photos from Blogspot. Look at this beautiful young woman who did so much good for the world.

She was found in the basement of her home, her hands and feet bound behind her, strangled with a rope. Her body set on fire. An unimaginable crime.

And now the city is shaken to its core after learning a well-liked family man and father who lived in a quiet suburb of Philadelphia 30 miles outside town, he is tonight charged with this horrific murder of this wonderful doctor.

Cops converged on this quiet neighborhood, and the people in this suspect`s community poured out on to their lawns. What was happening? They were absolutely stunned to find out that 36-year-old Jason Smith`s truck was being confiscated and that this man was the suspect in this hideous killing that has all of Philly rattled.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s always outside playing with his children. I mean, he doesn`t seem like that kind of guy. So that`s why I`m really shocked at, like, what`s going on right now, because he does seem like a family man.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: She`s talking about Jason Smith.

People thought Melissa`s killer must have been a sex fiend or a stalker or a secret lover. Some had even suggested calling into our show, was it an honor killing? But tonight we find out, no, cops say it was this exterminator on a service call to her home. A man cops believe she let in voluntarily because of rodents in her basement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Only thing I can tell you is that she needed an exterminator. She called a service. He was subcontracted out. During the course of him servicing her, they got into some type of argument. It went terribly wrong. At that point he struck her while she was in the basement, knocked her down, strangled her to death, and then ultimately set her body on fire.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: But obviously you`re not hearing all sides of the story. The woman who was killed cannot tell her side.

So what drove this alleged murderer, Jason Smith, up until now a well- liked family man, to kill Melissa? Was he living a double life? Did he snap, or was a secret addiction behind this vicious act?

Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to Walt Hunter, reporter with KYW in Philadelphia. Walt, what are you hearing about the exterminator`s claims that this was some argument that got out of control?

WALT HUNTER, REPORTER, KYW: Well, Jane, that`s what`s in his alleged confession. No sooner has Smith been brought out of his home in Levittown, Bucks County, which as you say, is 30 miles outside of Center City, then he began spilling everything he was able to tell to investigating detectives.

In that alleged confession, he claims that, when he went into the house as an exterminator, they went down to the basement. He claims he was basically being told that he would be belittled. He was being made fun of. He was not doing his job properly.

Then he claims he became enraged. He, first of all, hit the doctor, then got on top of her, strangled her and then set her body on fire, then tied her hands and legs behind her. He is claiming it was an act of rage provoked by her.

Homicide detectives, who have fielded their share of confessions here in Philadelphia over the years, are a little bit, behind the scenes, skeptical of that confession. They suspect perhaps while they were inside the house, that the suspect may have been up to something else.

Was it perhaps a rejected advance, although there are no signs of sexual assault at all in this case? Or perhaps did the victim catch him trying to steal or even take something from her, called him on it, and that prompted the argument?

There is what the suspect allegedly says in his confession and, of course, the victim is not here to tell us anything. And that`s all we know at this point.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you`re absolutely right. She is not here to give her side of the story. If you can stand by, Walt. Thank you for all the information.

We may have some other questions. Melissa, so respected for her work at the famous Children`s Hospital of Philadelphia, beloved by patients and staff; and the neighbors are singing her praises saying she loved her dog, she was a busy, active woman. Listen to this.


RIMATO-TIRONE: I only knew her a little bit as a neighbor. I knew that she exercised all the time. I used to see her out running in the morning sometimes. She was very busy, I know that. Sometimes I used to see her jumping into a taxi.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that lovely neighbor is caring for this poor murdered woman`s dog now. Given -- his name is Pooch, by the way. And she was devoted to her dog, devoted to the children she helped.

Given her stellar reputation as a kind and gracious professional, in fact everything we`ve heard about Melissa is all positive. I`ve got to ask Florida prosecutor Stacey Honowitz, do you -- do you buy this story, reportedly from the suspect, that she began arguing and belittling this man, Jason Smith, and that he snapped and went into a rage?

I mean listen, he tied, allegedly -- if this is the person who did this -- and that`s her beautiful dog, by the way -- he tied her hands and her feet and her legs behind her back. All right? And then there`s a noose around her neck, and he sets her on fire? All because of an argument over an extermination job?

STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Well, the way you`re questioning it, it`s probably the way most people are thinking. Why would a man go into a rage and go to the extent that he did to kill her if it was just over the fact that she made fun of the fact that he was an exterminator?

I mean, we are so early into the investigation, and you`re correct. That`s the side of the story that he`s giving. That he felt like he broke into a rage and he killed her based on what she had to say.

Based on everything we know about her thus far, it seems highly unlikely that that was her personality. And so we`re going to have to wait and see what comes out. We`re going to have to know about his background, we`re going to have to know about his psychological background and we`re going to wait and see what the investigation rules out.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, when I heard what I`m about to tell you, I said, "This makes sense."

A reporter with "The Philadelphia Enquirer" told HLN just a few minutes ago that investigators may not be buying Jason`s story about an argument, and here`s what else this reporter said, according to his sources. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via phone): The investigators that I`ve been speaking to aren`t necessarily buying that. They feel that this Smith had told them that he battles a drug addiction. And they feel -- they theorized that maybe this was a doctor`s home he was in. Perhaps maybe he tried to steal medicine or prescription pads. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) description. Maybe he stuck his hand into her purse, and she caught him.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, we cannot independently confirm that suspect Jason Smith has a drug addiction.

But Howard Samuels, you`re an addiction specialist joining us tonight. We sent you his mug shot. Look at his eyes. What do these eyes tell you? And if we can, as you talk, go back into that zoom. Howard?

HOWARD SAMUELS, ADDICTION SPECIALIST (via phone): Yes, Jane. Well, first of all, he definitely looks like he`s high on drugs. But the eyes are pinned. And when the pupils are pinned, that usually points to opiate use. When you use opiates, your eyes get -- your pupils get very, very small.

Now, normally when you`re on opiates, you become very passive. But the issue is, when you get off of opiates or when you start to get dope sick, so to speak, and you need another fix, you become very irritable. You become prone to losing control. You have no impulse control. So -- and you can go into rages when you get, you know, emotionally triggered.

So I can definitely see some drug involvement occurring here because of the rage issue.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, again, "Philadelphia Enquirer" reporter says his sources are telling him that the suspect in this case, a well-liked family man up until now, had a drug problem and admitted that to authorities. We can`t independently confirm that.

His attorneys are invited on our show any time.

On the other side of the break, we`re going to tell what you the suspect was doing when he was arrested. You won`t believe that.

And also, coming in just a little bit, a look inside Jodi Arias` secret life in jail. You will not want to miss that. That`s later.

Next, the shocking arrest in the murder of this Philadelphia pediatrician. We`ve got more.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s always outside playing with his children. I mean, he doesn`t seem like that kind of guy. So that`s why I`m really shocked at, like, what`s going on right now, because he does seem like a family man.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thirty-four-year-old female. Her hands and feet had been bound behind her with some type of rope. There was some type of rope around her neck, which right now appears to be the cause of death, strangulation. And her body was set on fire.

Checking videos, talking to neighbors, following on several tips and leads in from the homicide unit, we developed a suspect, Jason Smith.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Police say this 36-year-old exterminator, Jason Smith, basically had up until now, a very clean record except for a couple of traffic offenses. Check this out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing major. He had some, like, minor traffic offenses. He`s really not known to police for anything serious. Until now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: reports Jason`s neighbors said he was always helpful, that he always seen walking his dog. He lived in a two- story home with a white-picket fence with his girlfriend of six years, her daughter, and her parents.

When cops got to his home to arrest him, they found him and his family watching "American Idol."

Mike Brooks, HLN law enforcement analyst, that`s like a Norman Rockwell painting, Mike Brooks. I mean, the picture of normalcy. Could he have been living a double life?

MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Absolutely. And that`s what it sounds like, Jane. In fact, I`d go back to some of his other customers that -- where he`s done work in the houses to see if maybe anything else had been missing that they may not have noticed yet.

But you know, law enforcement think this happened within an hour`s window between 10:15 and 11:15 in the morning, Jane. And apparently, the surveillance video that they got from a coffee shop, a Walgreen`s drugstore and a -- and a hospital nearby, that`s what basically led them to this guy and then from the exterminating -- exterminating company, where she had made an appointment.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you`re absolutely right. And at their news conference just a couple of hours ago, police disclosed that that`s how they cracked this case. Surveillance video the key. Check this out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They went through hours of surveillance. Like I said, detectives did an unbelievable job of finding every bit of footage that was in that area. And what we saw was the eventual suspect actually following about 30 seconds behind the decedent down 18th Street and then onto Naudain Street. Which led us to him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he let himself in?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, she let him in. She was expecting him. They had an appointment. She had an appointment for an exterminator.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Do you see all these surveillance cameras in the area? They`re all over the area. Those helped cops catch the accused killer. Cops say they show Jason going inside Melissa`s home for the appointment, leave about 50 minutes later. And then he got in his truck and circled the house, which -- this is the truck they now have in their possession, authorities do.

I want to go out to the phone lines. George, Virginia, your question or thought? George, Virginia.

CALLER: Hey, thanks. Good evening, Jane. Thank you for having me on.

I`m an I.T. professional. And there`s two things -- three things that stand out. First off, the family man maybe, but I don`t make -- see him being a family man (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Although the method of killing is very heinous, a lot of intent and energy went into the style or style that he used.

Additionally, I believe, based on the background of this wonderful woman who is a doctor -- I have a sister who`s a doctor, and most doctors I know are very loving, open people. That`s why they`re doctors. Anyway, I believe that she would not have resulted to snide comments. And I believe that she was probably intelligent enough that she would have avoided a level of confrontation with more dignity and class.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So you don`t buy the story, basically?

CALLER: No. I don`t buy the story. I see this guy`s picture. I see his eyes, and I see, wow, this could be somebody that is potentially very disturbed. But I don`t draw any correlation between him being a family man. People murder...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, of course not. Listen, yes, let me just say this, George. Yes, look, the BTK serial killer was not only a family man, but he was, like, active in his church, and he was a prominent member of the community. His own wife had no idea that he was a serial killer going around torturing and killing people. That means absolutely nothing.

Sarah Hoye, you`re a CNN reporter. You`ve been talking to neighbors in the area where this happened and also you have gone to this suspect`s neighborhood, as well? What have you learned?

SARAH HOYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good evening, Jane. So today I did spend the afternoon outside the home of Jason Smith. Neighbors there either did not want to talk or were not home. But the one thing that was common among those who did talk was how surprised they were.

Last night there was police descending upon the neighborhood, helicopters. There was a lot of commotion going on at that house. Completely caught the neighbors off-guard.

Today, they`re behind closed doors. They don`t want to talk. This thing has really shocked people.

The other thing that`s interesting about this neighborhood was this house has now become an attraction. You have people, not who live on that block but who live in the neighborhood, who are now passing by the home, checking it out. They want to know what`s going on. They`re yelling things at the house. So this...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What are they yelling?

HOYE: ... residential. There was a couple cars going by who were yelling "murderer, murderer" and just speeding on past, or they were just slowing up and just in shock, and they want information.

A lot of people were talking about this at the local gym. They`re talking about this at the grocery store. They`re talking about it at McDonald`s. Everybody was completely shocked by this.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, on the other side of the break, I`m going to relate to an experience I had once, which gave me an alarm, that I was alone with a service person who I really believe was high on drugs. We`ll talk about that and what women can do to protect themselves.

There`s wonderful service people. They come, and they save us when we`re having floods and fires and things aren`t working. So we applaud all those service people who do such a great job. Plumbers and the electricians and all that. But I think women do have to be careful and also find ways to protect themselves in situations like this.

More on the other side.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Only thing I can tell you is that she needed an exterminator. She called a certain service. He was subcontracted out. During the course of him servicing her, they got into some type of argument. It went terribly wrong. At that point he struck her while she was in the basement, knocked her down, strangled her to death, and then ultimately set her body on fire.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via phone): Investigators that I`ve been speaking to aren`t necessarily buying that. They feel that -- this Smith had told them that he battles a drug addiction, and they feel, they theorize that maybe he -- this was a doctor`s home he was in. Perhaps he tried to steal medicine or prescription pads. She was a surgeon; she could write prescriptions. Maybe he just stuck his hand into her purse and she caught him.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Drew Findling, our addiction specialist says his eyes, his pupils seem very pinpoint and that -- I wonder, should cops give him, have given him a test to see if there were drugs in his system at the time of his arrest?

DREW FINDLING, ATTORNEY: Well, I think if they didn`t, they should. And remember what the doctor told us. His analysis is he supported the allegation of rage.

And when we think about the allegation of rage, to me, all I can fathom is his defense attorneys are going to go after not his statement but really, what he made is a confession. I mean, rage is not a defense. It`s something that can get you a life imprisonment when you go to trial. So I don`t see why that is so offensive. I see that`s problematic to whoever his defense attorneys are going to be.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mike Brooks, HLN law enforcement analyst, my hat`s off. I have been helped by so many service people over the years...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... when I have a flood or something doesn`t work. So I`m not putting anybody down. I mean, addiction comes in all sizes, shapes and colors. Gosh, do I know that. I`m almost 18 years sober. Knock on wood. In April it will be 18.

But I did have a weird experience once where I had a plumber, and I can tell he was high, because he was telling me to do things like, "Oh, you have to go buy this," and there`s water pouring out. He wasn`t making any sense. He was telling me to buy two knobs when obviously on my shower there`s only one knob. So why would I be replacing it with two knobs? It didn`t make any sense. And I`m saying to myself, I`m alone, and this guy is high.

How can women protect themselves in these kinds of situations?

BROOKS: You know, Jane, one of the things is before you get a contractor, do your homework. Does this contractor drug test their people? Do they have background checks? Because there`s many plumbers, many other service people -- I know here in the Atlanta area that they advertise that "our people are drug tested. Our people go through background checks." You want to make sure that that company that you hire, that person is going to be coming out there, is recommended by the Better Business Bureau. These kind of things, to do your homework before you hire somebody.

But the other thing, no matter if you -- what company you get, don`t be there alone. Try to have someone there with you.

I would tell men also, if you`re there, have someone there with you also. Because, you know, safety. There`s usually safety in numbers. But do your background before you hire a contractor.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree with you. Have somebody there with you when it`s a stranger, not somebody you`ve ever had any interaction with before coming to your house.

Let`s go to the phone lines. Suzanne, Canada, your thoughts or question? Suzanne, Canada.

CALLER: Hi, Jane. I`d like to say that I love you and your show and how you set up for the animals.

My question is -- I think when this is going to end up being in court, that they`re going to find that he was either insane or has he had a history of mental illness? Has he a criminal record that he had any drug offenses or anything along those lines?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Suzanne, he has a relatively clean record. There is no record except for a couple of tickets.

But Stacey Honowitz, now he`s admitted this drug addiction to prescription pills, which of course, is overtaking illegal drugs as the crisis of our times in terms of addiction. Could he suddenly turn around and try to say not guilty by reason of insanity?

HONOWITZ: Oh, sure, Jane. You know, when you`re accused of a crime, you can try whatever defense you want. The problem is whether or not it`s going to work in court. That`s what we`re going to have to see.

And what happens is he has to be evaluated. I`m sure, in a heinous crime like this, where all of us are sitting here saying, "You know what? It just sounds so unbelievable that he broke into a rage because she belittled him for being an exterminator after she called an exterminator to come do her house," that certainly his lawyers will try to have him evaluated to see if there is any kind of mental disability or defect.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, what a tragedy. And again, our condolences to the family of this wonderful doctor. They`re flying in from around the world. I think her mom is from Belgium and her father is from the Philippines, and they`re flying in.

What a sad, sad thing. What a promising, promising future wiped out. It is a tragedy and a crime.

And we`re talking Jodi Arias. Some new information on the other side. Her jail cell mates speak out.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s dead. He`s in his bedroom in the shower.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It appeared to be dried blood on his neck, appeared to be a neck wound from ear to ear. His face was dark purple, almost black.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Has he been threatened by anyone recently?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, he has. He has an ex-girlfriend that has been bothering him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jody Arias killed Travis Alexander. The million dollar question is what would have forced her to do it?

JODI ARIAS, ON TRIAL FOR MURDER OF TRAVIS ALEXANDER: I didn`t commit a murder. I didn`t hurt Travis. I would never hurt Travis. I would never harm him physically.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or was this self-defense?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What would have forced Jodi? It was Travis` continual abuse. And on June 4th of 2008, it had reached a point of no return.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, as the defense ramps up to try to save Jodi Arias from a death penalty conviction, we are getting an inside peek into Jodi`s secret life behind bars in jail and the preview of the seductive nature of this so-called cold-blooded killer. The beautiful 32-year-old photographer admits she stabbed her ex-boyfriend 29 times, slit Travis Alexander`s throat from ear to ear, practically decapitating him and also shot him in the face. But she claims it was all in self-defense.

Jodi has been in jail for four long years now waiting for her trial. Arizona`s KSAZ went inside Jodi`s actual cell, her cell and got a glimpse of what those years have been like. Look and listen to this.


TROY HAYDEN, FOX 10, PHOENIX: This is Jodi`s room here, her cell. You can see it is just a small cell. There is a little tiny window up at the top. Three bunks. Only two of them are occupied. This is Jodi`s right here in the middle and her roommate`s is down here. There is a small writing desk and some lotions and then over here you got a toilet and a basin. She`s locked down in here with her cell mate from 10:00 p.m. at night until 6:00 in the morning.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. That`s where she`s doing all those sketches she is selling on eBay. Look at the autopsy photos. Night after night in that cell, Jodi is left to think about how she killed Travis Alexander during her time behind bars, along with sketching and selling those through somebody anonymous on eBay, she`s made plenty of friends. Oh, boy is she popular. Just listen to what one of her fellow jail mates told KSAZ.


JENNA BOUNDS, FRIEND OF JODI ARIAS: She comes in here with a smile on her face. But anybody who knows her like I would knows she`s hurting inside. But she can`t show it to us because if she comes in here hurting, we`re going to be like what`s wrong? Then she`ll have to talk about it.

I`ll tell you what, if I was on trial for two weeks, I wouldn`t want to talk about it. I`d put on a fake smile and make everybody think that I`m absolutely fine. But she`s not. She`s hurting inside. There is nothing she can do about that.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, my gosh. All her jail mates are holding signs that say "Free Jodi". Did Jodi use her magnetic personality to seduce her jail mates? I want to hear from you. What does this say about her ability to mesmerize people? Call me, 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

All right, let`s debate it if Jodi is just charming and seducing her tough female jail mates, that was a piece of cake apparently. Will that also -- that charm work on this predominantly male jury? Ok.

Let`s start with Anahita Sedaghatfar, criminal defense attorney out of Los Angeles.

ANAHITA SEDAGHATFAR, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes. Clearly, Jane, I would not be surprised if this was orchestrated by the defense team to finally put a perception of Jodi Arias the way they want her to be perceived. They want her to be humanized. They want to show she has friends. She`s likeable. She`s sympathetic.

Because so far all we`ve seen are these bloody, gruesome photos. We`ve seen salacious naked pictures of her and she`s been portrayed as nothing less than a cold-blooded murderer. So I think this is in line with the defense`s strategy to try to humanize her and put out a different perception of Jodi Arias in hopes of garnering sympathy for her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Stacey Honowitz, I have so many problems with that. First of all, the jury is not supposed to be watching television. I want everybody to watch, obviously, except the jurors in the Jodi Arias case if you`re a juror, turn off your TV right now.

Ok, so the idea that the defense would orchestrate fellow jail mates holding up signs that say "Free Jodi"? It blows my mind, Stacey.


STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Right. Jane, I don`t know how you make a comment like that. That the defense orchestrated an investigative reporter going in to look at her jail cell is ridiculous. The fact of the matter is that --



HONOWITZ: -- the jury is never going to see that she has friends. And winning over your jail mates is a little bit different than winning over a jury. They`re all in there for committing crimes. She could be the nicest person in the world and charming and a cold-blooded killer.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me give Anahita a chance to respond and then we`ll get to the rest of the team.

SEDAGHATFAR: Well, I clearly -- no defense attorney in their right mind would allow their client to speak with anybody much less the media without them having a part in that situation. And I agree with you that jurors are admonished by the judge to not watch TV, to not read newspapers. And I do believe jurors take that admonition seriously.

But jurors are human beings. And they don`t live in a bubble. And quite frankly, the truth of the matter is that they are exposed to what`s out there. And I think that the defense is doing --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Drew Findling?

DREW FINDLING, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, let me just say because I`m going to agree with Stacey -- shocking as it is -- but on a different reason. It is ridiculous. There is a zero chance that this is orchestrated by the defense.

It is a statement about this young lady though. Because I`ll tell you something -- and I know Stacey will agree with me on this -- prisoners are always looking to bash other prisoners so they can testify and get credit in their own cases. So what is so shocking about this, maybe you think she`s manipulative or maybe she is just a nice person to these other prisoners, is that they`re saying something good about this -- about her. You never hear this.

What you do you see is prisoners trying to cut deals -- this is unheard of. Either she`s manipulative or she has a great personality.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me say a couple of things. I`m joining the debate right now. Let me say a couple things. I`m not accusing this defense team of anything, I don`t know them but I could never say never. We know that in the O.J. Simpson case when there was a tour of his Rockingham estate the defense team completely redecorated it and put up a whole bunch of paintings that they thought would sway the jury in their direction.

So I never would say that no defense team would ever do anything after that case.

But I want to go to Beth Karas. To me, the point is her ability to charm people. There`s a report that one guy talked to her for an hour and a half and wanted to leave his family and follow her. She has some kind of magnetism. You`re there in the courtroom. Do you sense it at all?

BETH KARAS, CORRESPONDENT, IN SESSION: Well, she hasn`t had the opportunity to really show that to the jury. She sits about as far away from the jury as she can on the far side of the defense table. While she stands and faces the jury and looks at them as they file into court every day, she hasn`t connected with them except through her interrogation video.

If she gets on the stand, you know, she`s a little seductress. I mean she may make an impression on them. But an hour, five hours on the stand is very different from inmates who are with her day and night.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And I think that what you said is true. But a seductress can seduce without speaking, too. And I was told by somebody that she stares at the jurors as they come in. And if she makes eye contact with one, it starts developing an eye contact relationship because Beth we`ve seen that in the past where defendants will try to kind of develop a kind of relationship that you would develop in church with a choir sitting over there and you`re in the pew and you`re kind looking at somebody in the choir. You don`t have to be talking to them very much.

KARAS: You know, she`s wearing glasses now. And that`s one could interpret as a little bit of a barrier between her eyes and the jury. She started wearing glasses from I think the third or fourth day of the trial. So I haven`t noticed her looking at the jury beyond what you describe, you know, when she stands and stares at them as their coming in.

But she is still far away from them. It`s a large courtroom. It`s not like she`s 15 feet away. I mean she`s probably 30 feet away from them.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, we`ll see. We`re going to talk to Selin Darkalstanian. She`s also in the courtroom. Let`s see. It`s like Rashomon, everybody has a different perception of the same events going on in court.

We`re just getting started looking inside Jodi Arias` jail cell. All of her jail mates are holding up signs saying "Free Jodi". What does that mean?

And at the top of the hour, will Jodi take the stand to save her life? Nancy Grace at 8:00 Eastern right here on HLN.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At 5:29 p.m., Arias takes a picture of Alexander alive in the shower. Moments later, she stabs him in the chest. Prosecutors believe he was still alive and Arias followed him down the hall to the bedroom where she slashed his throat.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jodi Arias the seductress? We`re analyzing that. We`ve studied her interrogation tapes with the lead detective. Was she trying to seduce him, too? We`ll show you some of those clips and you can decide for yourself. Remember, 90 percent of communication is nonverbal.



ESTEBAN FLORES, DETECTIVE: You keep saying that you knew that it wasn`t healthy and you knew it was contributing to something that wasn`t good. And yet you guys continued to do it.


ARIAS: Yes. Part of that -- part of my perspective now has to do with the fact that I`m going through a repentance process that I worked with my bishop.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jodi has been in jail for four long years now waiting for this trial to start. Arizona`s KSAZ went inside the jail and the women who have been living with Jodi behind bars, turns out they`re her biggest champions, even holding up signs that say "Free Jodi". Check this out.


BOUNDS: She comes in here with a smile on her face. But anybody who knows her like I would knows that she`s hurting inside. But she can`t show it to us because if she comes in here hurting, we`re going to be like what`s wrong and then she`s going to have to talk about it.

I`ll tell you what; if I was on trial for two weeks, I wouldn`t want to talk about it. I`d put on a fake smile and make everybody think that I`m absolutely fine. But she`s not. She`s hurting inside but there is nothing she can do about that.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is absolutely wild. Selin Darkalstanian, senior producer who was there and you`ve been in the courtroom. As Drew Findling mentioned, usually your fellow jail cell mates are almost your enemies because they`re trying to get something on you they can use to leverage their own case.

That is extraordinary. Anybody who knows how people awaiting trial or people behind bars operate, that`s extraordinary to have that level -- it`s almost like they`re running a campaign for her. What have you seen in terms of Jodi`s behavior in the courtroom and any interaction whatsoever with jurors?

SELIN DARKALSTANIAN, HLN SENIOR PRODUCER: She stands up and she faces the jury as they walk in every morning and she stares at each and every one of them as they are coming in. It`s as if she`s trying to make eye contact with one of them as they`re walking in, you can presume.

But she is very alert. She`s looking at them. She`s aware of them. She`s tuned into them. Once the trial starts, the days that there have been embarrassing moments, photos shown of her or if there have been autopsy photos, she looks down as we`ve seen. She covers her face with her hair. She doesn`t want anyone to see her. She doesn`t even stare at the jury. She doesn`t even look their direction.

But the days where people are saying nice things about her on the stand like remember one of the last witnesses on the stand said she is a kind and gentle person and Jodi was very tuned into that testimony. She was glancing over at the jury and looking at the testimony. So it just depends on what`s going on in the courtroom. That`s what her reaction is. But she`s definitely aware of the jury. She`s very tuned into them.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, we -- we also get a lot from these interrogation tapes. Now we have seen Jodi on these tapes use multiple seduction techniques. Just on the police interrogation tape itself, remember her sobbing and breaking down? Is there something manipulative to that?


FLORES: This is absolutely some of the best evidence I`ve ever had in a case. And I`ve convicted a few people on less than this.

ARIAS: Well, so I`m as good as done.

FLORES: That`s not for me to say. But eventually those photos will come out. Jodi?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mike Brooks, HLN law enforcement analyst, given her other behavior, I don`t buy those tears nor do I buy this stretch, this yoga stretch that she does behind bars when the guys go out to get coffee. But she knows they`re watching her. It looks very seductive to me. What do you make of it?

MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: You know, Jane, right from the very beginning when we first heard the telephone conversations, when she was calling up to help out Detective Flores to help out in the case when she heard that Travis was dead, I heard some flirtatious -- I just thought she was flirtatious, a little coquettish.

And then we see her here with the jailbird stretch on July 15th. And then we see her the next day in her on July 16th in her orange jump suit after she was placed under arrest on the 15th when she changed her story. And she was just oh, you know, kind of so as matter of fact. But, no, I think, you know, she thinks that she can get to any man. I tell what you, Jane, there are seven men on the jury. All it takes is one.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, again, the subconscious, how the subconscious perceives all this is not necessarily -- it shouldn`t be ignored because the words are something. The physical evidence is something. That is all very, very important. But sometimes these subconscious messages are just as important. I think it`s a fair question. It`s a fair issue to look at.

Let`s go out to the phone lines. Christine, North Carolina, your question or thought -- Christine?

CHRISTINE, NORTH CAROLINA (via telephone): Hey, Jane. I want to say I love you and I love Rico.


CHRISTINE: And if your mom`s watching, I want to say hi to her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you so much. I appreciate that.

CHRISTINE: I`ve got a question and a comment and then I have a question about one of the pictures and I`d like you to give me your advice on it.


CHRISTINE: My biggest concern right now is the jury because the questions they`re asking, it`s like they`re watching L.A. Law and CSI. They don`t realize this is a real human being that was butchered in a bathroom.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree with you. I agree with you.

The questions that the jury asked are -- have some people alarmed. We`re going to discuss that on the other side.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: More on the Jodi Arias case in just a second. Monday right here on this show, 7:00 p.m. Eastern Monday, do not miss a very special guest. A former co-worker of Jodi Arias and boy, does she have a lot to say about this woman accused of this horrific murder. That`s Monday, 7:00 p.m. Eastern. And we`ll have more right on the other side.



ARIAS: It`s not that I didn`t love Travis. And it`s not that I don`t still love him. But I really needed to move on, and the last --

FLORES: What prevented you from moving on? Nobody was preventing you from moving on.

ARIAS: Well, the only person preventing me really from moving on was myself.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: We had a question from a juror about the impact of the questions. In Arizona, jurors can ask questions. And they did ask some questions that had people kind of startled. One not so much was the gun used to kill Travis Alexander found in her possession; no, it was not. But the other one, do his roommates have alibis, which she`s already admitted she killed him. Just saying it`s self-defense. Why are they asking about the alibis of the roommates?

Let`s bring in the attorneys to debate this. Does this show that jurors maybe see this case completely differently from the general public?

Start with Anahita.

SEDAGHATFAR: I was a little bit perplexed by this question, as well because this is not a whodunit. She has admitted that she killed Travis Alexander. But I don`t think we should read too much into this. We have to remember this was not a collective question by the jurors. It was probably just one juror that asked this question who probably just wants to make sure he has all his I`s dotted and his T`s crossed.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Stacey Honowitz.

HONOWITZ: Well, as a prosecutor, if I got that question on a case where the person admitted to doing the killing, I`d be a little bit nervous. I don`t care if one person asked it or five people asked it. I mean it is a nerve-racking question. You would hope that all your ducks are in a row but you`d start to wonder, why are they worried about other people, they are not involved? So I`d be a little bit concerned as the prosecutor about that question in all honesty.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, Drew Findling.

FINDLING: I would not -- I am not shocked at all. Jurors know, they pick up the papers every day and see confessions are being thrown out all over the country. Those of us that practice in federal court know that the FBI, if they were involved, they do look at every conceivable alibi of everybody involved. They eliminate the defense`s opportunity to pursue those areas. Those are great questions.

And I think the prosecutors from Casey Anthony should have gotten a few questions from jurors.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Beth Karas?

KARAS: You know, that particular question about the alibi of the roommates because there were like eight that particular day had been answered in previous testimony. So I was a little perplexed. I suppose if the jurors have been able to talk to each other the other jurors would have said they checked out. The roommates were looked out, they checked out. That was the testimony.

So you know, somebody was probably just confused at least regarding that one.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Beth Karas, I think you make an important point. They can`t really -- they`re not supposed to talk to each other until they start deliberating.

We`ll be right back with more.


ARIAS: This is his shower. I was sitting here, I was like right here on my knees in his bathtub. I was right here and I was talking them here and I was just going through the pictures and I heard this loud ring. And I don`t really remember except Travis was screaming.




ARIAS: He`s really, he`s really persuasive.

FLORES: Did he persuade you to stay there in Mesa?

ARIAS: He kind of was playing up all the advantages if I did come to Mesa. And if I did, you know, he said you know, it`s a great place. We could still see each other and hang out on occasion.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Selin Darkalstanian, senior producer, you`re there in the courtroom. As we get ready for the defense case, it would seem that the defense is likely to try to paint a portrait of Travis Alexander not really wanting to break up with Jodi, but trying to keep her there as his secret, as her defense attorney said.

DARKALSTANIAN: Exactly. They`re going to -- the defense didn`t want -- the prosecution didn`t want to really paint her as a stalker although you could think that it would be really easy with the tire slashing and following him around town and sneaking into his house and sleeping on the couch.

But you have to remember that the defense has a really strong argument against her being a stalker because they have thousands and thousands of text messages showing that Travis was reaching out to Jodi. Travis was texting Jodi. Travis was calling Jodi. So how could she be a stalker?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, and taking those text messages and those e-mails and taking them out of context could work for the defense. Will they be allowed to do that?

We`ll stay on top of it.

Nancy Grace next.