Saturday, June 22, 2013

Why Are Criminal Defendants like Jodi Arias Allowed to Trash Their Victims Without Evidence?

Trends Point to Victim Bashing

In murder trials, it seems to be an up and coming trend to 'blame the victim.' For instance, look at the infamous Jodi Arias case, where she has eclipsed Casey Anthony as the most-hated woman in America. Who ever thought that was possible?

Allegations made that were never proven - just on the word of the defendant, who by all accounts, is an habitual liar. Mormonism was one focus. Now, in every other religion, there's probably a creed that you shouldn't be having sexual intercourse before marriage; however, with this case, Mormonism was front and center, as though it were the only religion that forbids it.

Next, we had allegations of sexual peodphilia, which were also unproven. Not a single trace of emails, pictures, or any form of downloads on the computer of the victim.

What was the draw in this twisted case? A combination of what some called a pretty defendant, and sex of course - that sells after all, doesn't it? Sexual recordings, which in all likelihood she made without his knowledge - to possibly blackmail him at some point. Plenty of nude photos of both parties. If he were to dump her, she'd ruin his life in the Mormon community.

Let's not forget the physical abuse allegations as well - also unfounded. No pictures, no police reports, no friends coming forward to say she was abused. Nothing but the 'word' of an admitted killer. So I guess - anything goes, huh?

It's like a train wreck, where you can't take your eyes away, even though you know you should. Every day, there was yet another new revelation. Eighteen excruciating days of a defendant on the stand - feeding off the spotlight. She seems to crave attention, like a child, where even if it's negative attention, it's SOME attention, which gives her validation she's obviously missing in her life.

Something about Travis Alexander became an obsession for her - and a deadly one at that. So what does it get you at the end of the day? A very dangerous, lying, unemotional defendant who will take out anyone in her way to get what she wants - and what she wanted was him. Cliche, I know, but if she couldn't have him, nobody else could.

She still makes the news by being allowed to actually tweet from her jail cell! Why this hasn't been sanctioned is beyond me. Social media has made trials very different these days, having been used even in the Casey Anthony trial. Her attorneys would go onto Facebook and Twitter - see what they should and shouldn't be doing - and use it as part of their strategy.

What other criminal has taken to the airwaves not five minutes after being convicted of Murder One in which she could possibly face a death sentence? It was like some surreal version of a celebrity going on a PR tour for their latest movie or an acclaimed author going on book tour. Pure insanity.

I'd love to - and every shrink out there, no doubt - get half an hour with her to actually pick her brain to see what's in there. Of course, it would take a highly skilled therapist, who wasn't manipulated and fooled - to see through her. If she'd allow someone to help her, even though it won't change her new lot in life, it might give us a glimpse into her brain and what deep-seated problems she has.

Not only was Travis brutally slaughtered, but his name and reputation were dragged through the mud. In essence, she's killing him a second time, and loving every minute of it. We need to re-think this 'blame the victim' defense. Unless there is HARD PROOF of allegations, they should never be allowed into a court of law.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Manson: Monster or Myth?

I may catch a lot of flak for this, but what's life without a little controversy?  Was Charles Manson really such a mastermind cult leader?  Or was it just easier to give into the 'hype' at the time and slap that label on him? 

I've just finished reading "Manson: In His Own Words" (co-written by Nuel
Emmons) and found myself fascinated.  It was hard to put down, because I felt as though he was talking to me.  It transported me back to the 60's.  I could see how he became captivating.  All he wanted was to live with his growing group of misfits in peace and love.

If his side is to be believed, the reason for the killings was due to some of the 'other' members getting overly involved with drugs and spinning out of control.  True, he didn't stop them once he knew what was going, but I'm not so sure he was the diabolical mastermind he was portrayed as.

He allowed people to do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted.  He didn't preach, and certainly not about killing or murder.  He took in anyone who seemed lost in the world and needed a place to belong.  One could argue that's exactly what made them vulnerable to suggestion, but at what point does one take responsibility for their own choices?

If you're like me, and obsessed with true crime and/or 'all things Manson,' I'd highly recommend this book.  Upon completing it, I felt compelled to contact Mr. Manson.  I called Corcoran prison, where he's housed, with every intention of writing to him.  After all, I'm a writer, and it could possibly spawn a book.

After several phone calls, and being bounced around their system, I finally obtained his address.

That's when my husband drew the line and put his foot down, not appreciating the thought of Manson having our address.  Even if I used my work address, he wasn't comfortable with it.  I understand his concern.  Even though Manson is about 80 years old now, his mystique still gives one pause.

I have to admit, the curiosity and intrigue feel overpowering right now, but I've always been impulsive and rarely listen to anyone, even my very wise husband.  In this instance, I will...for NOW...but I'm keeping that contact info on file:)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Keep those muscles flexed...those WRITING muscles that is ;)

They say cliches exist for a reason - because they're TRUE.  That old saying of writing every day is no exception.  I find that if I don't work those creative muscles, they atrophy.  Like any other muscle in the body, if we 'let it go,' we forget how to use it.  Even if you can't muster up ideas for your current project, engage in a different writing exercise.  If you only write several sentences, it can sometimes spark more to follow.  Before you know it, your words are flowing across the page...or computer screen...whichever method you prefer.

On day at work, as I sat in my car at lunchtime, I saw a beautiful butterfly flit across my path.  I wrote down a few things about the wonderous nature is, noting the different colors in its wings, and how it floated through the air.  Once I was done, I'd realized I had another IDEA for a portion of my current manuscript. 

I'm the type of person that's too easily distracted.  If I allow myself to miss one day of writing, a month will then pass, and I'm looking at a blank computer new ideas...just stuck in my story.  That gets me nowhere if my dream is to be published.  Books don't write themselves. Even famous authors have to sit down and  slog through a manuscript the same way the rest of us do.  They're no exception, and I've read that even THEY suffer with writer's block from time to time.
I've become more observant....that truck with the squeaky trailer that passes me by in traffic...the sound of the waterfall in a building's lobby...all become a sentence, and in no time,  a paragraph.
Even if you're not a writer - notice the world around you, and it becomes a more interesting place.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

How is YOUR writing?

Show of many of you out there have noticed a decline in the quality of your handwriting?  I swear, since I started typing a lot more on my computer, I've watched my formerly neat handwriting morph into something you'd see on a doctor's prescription pad.

Have we become THAT technologically advanced that actual writing is falling by the wayside?  Rarely do we send notes or letters in the mail anymore.  Even greeting cards can now be sent electronically! 

I wonder if there are any writers out there that actually WRITE?  And I mean
that literally.   I find I can't do it for two reasons - one, my thoughts &
hands are quicker in concert, and two -- when I do try it, I practically revert into my old standby of shorthand I learned many years ago just to keep up with my brain.  (yes I still remember it and even THINK in shorthand - weird I know, but hey, that's  how I've kept up with it.  It's like learning a new language-if you don't USE it, you lose it).

Also, if I write down my thoughts, my hand seriously cramps up after a while.  At that point, I throw down the gauntlet (I mean pen), and turn to my trusty laptop.  So..anyone ELSE out there ever actually hand write anything other than a grocery list?  Let me know..

Thursday, May 9, 2013

I'm Baaaaack!

Wow, it's been six months since I last posted on my blog!  If I haven't mentioned it before, I'm a crime and trial junkie.  I've been wrapped up in the (in)famous Jodi Arias trial.  A woman who stabbed her ex-lover nearly 30 times, slit his throat, then shot him for good measure.  The epitome of a woman scorned.

This is the stuff of novels, though if anyone were to have written it, nobody would believe it was true.  Each new day brought with it another tale of filthy deceptions.  Anything to get her out of First-Degree Murder, which carries the death penalty.   It had all the hallmarks of great fiction -sex, lies, and yes....audiotape!

Perhaps a lot of you already know me from my HLN Crime Fan page on Facebook, where we've discussed this trial ad nauseam.  I've enjoyed meeting many new people that I now consider friends and hope they'll follow my blog as well.

I love reading, but I gravitate toward mysteries, detective stories, and true crime.  I write what I read, which is what they say authors tend to do.

So, for those of you that might have wondered what happened to my psychological thriller novel, it was put on hold while I allowed my mind to stray.  Not a good thing for a writer, as I've realized.  Much like exercise, if you miss one day, it can turn into two.then three..and so on. Writing is the same.  Every author will tell you to write EVERY DAY, and they're right.  If you don't, the 'muscle' becomes atrophied (yes, another metaphor to exercise, but if the shoe fits.).

When I received the feedback from my editor (who is WONDERFUL), I was overwhelmed by all the changes that were necessary, and I let it get to me.  I didn't know where to start.  I felt like I had to practically re-write the whole novel.  I've begun the process, and let me tell you, as a first-timer, it's ARDUOUS.  However, I want to make this happen, so I have to do it - no more excuses!  Life is way too short, and this has been my calling since childhood.

Now I see why some authors take YEARS to write a novel.the easy part (for me) is the writing - EDITING is the bear.  Learning what areas to tweak, which characters you (sadly) need to part with, and what you need to expand on to make the reader identify with your story and fantastical people.  It's a learning experience and can only serve to make me a stronger writer in the future.

There will ALWAYS be 'another trial' to follow, but now that I have a break, I'm making it my mission to forge ahead and work on the book.  I need to find a balance, which I've never been good at.  That Billy Joel song, "I Go To Extremes" seems to have been written for me!  I'm either gung-ho about a project or totally ignoring it.  I'm a great 'starter,' but this time, I need to be a 'finisher.'