Jodi Arias

While researching this case I realized that at the time most of the first trial was going on I had a lot going on in my life and I just was not into this case as much.  Sure I knew the basics such as Jodi Arias was accused of murdering her boyfriend... was he an ex or not.... in his home and she had changed her story more than once.  I may have even known her victims name was Travis Alexander but beyond that I could not have told you a whole lot.  Sure this case was a media sensation because it had a scorned woman, a vicious murder, and a story of kinky sex to boot, but still it had not garnered much of my attention. Sadly, while it does have it's twists and turns and did have a large amount of media coverage, the reality of it is that there was not really a unique situation.  

On June 9, 2008 in Mesa Arizona a group of Travis Alexanders friends went to the home he shared with a few roommates.  Travis was a motivational speaker and a salesman for a legal services company.  He had missed a few conference calls, which was out of character for him and no one had been able to reach him in a few days.  Travis' roommates believed that he was gone on a trip, which was not unusual for Travis.  His bedroom door was locked but they were able to gain access and what they saw was grisly to say the least.  They saw a blood trail leading from the bedroom to the adjoining bathroom.  Once inside the bathroom they found the body of their friend in the shower.  

Obviously the friends called 9-1-1 and almost immediately when asked if Travis was having issues with anyone many of them mentioned Jodi Arias.  They described her as an ex girlfriend who was stalking Travis, was accessing his social media and was even suspected of slashing Travis' tires. Over time many of his friends would claim these things and more about Travis and Jodi's relationship and related that he had called her a sociopath and indicated he was scared of her.  This however would be disputed by Jodi Arias' defense attorneys at her trial, pretty convincingly I may add.

One of the things that made this case so sensational was the condition of Travis' body when it was found.  First it was determined that he had likely died four days before, so obviously his body was decomposing, but worse than that he had been stabbed in excess of 30 times, had his throat cut from ear to ear and had been shot in the head.  The jury were shown pictures and of course as is often the case those pictures have made their way to the Internet.  I have seen autopsy and death pictures before and they do not generally bother me but I have to say these were rather gruesome.  

So as I said Jodi Arias was on the investigators radar pretty quickly.  Travis and Jodi had met at a conference in Nevada in September of 2006.  Travis was living in Mesa Arizona at the time and at least outwardly portrayed himself as a good Mormon follower.  I do not say this to be judgmental by any means.  I say this because his religion apparently or seemingly played a role in things to come. Jodi lived in California at the time but by February 2007 she had moved to Mesa and the two were apparently officially dating.  Most indications were that, at least publicly the romance did not last more than a few months and by summer time they were not as serious as they once were and Travis indicated he wanted to date other people.  In April of 2008 Jodi moved back to live with her grandparents in California.  It seems that outwardly, at least to his friends, Travis was done with Jodi and they were moving on.  Privately however it seems that things were different and while he may have said she was "crazy" and the "worse thing to ever happen" to him it appears that there was still some sort of a sexual relationship going on between the two, including on the day he was murdered.    

While investigators searched Travis' place they found a broken digital camera in the washing machine.  They were apparently able to save the disk inside and saw the pictures on the camera.  There were pictures on there dated June 4th of both Travis and Jodi in shall we say a variety or a lack there of, of clothing.  The last picture of Travis being alive showed him in the shower. Then there were pictures of him during or after his death.  There were also samples of DNA taken from many of the blood samples and other things at the crime scene. 

A few hours after the discovery and friend of Travis' Daniel Freeman decided to call Jodi and inform her of Travis' death.  It seems he did not think she was a viable suspect and apparently just felt she needed to know.  He would later say that when he informed her she seemed surprised and upset. She even went to a memorial service that was held for Travis a few days later.  Family members and friends were bothered by this because they knew, or at least thought they knew how Travis felt about her.  They also had to know that she was a suspect already.

So obviously investigators wanted to talk early on to Jodi Arias and see what she had to offer.  She initially tells investigators that she was no where near Mesa around the time that Travis was murdered and that she had not seen him since she had moved back to California two months prior.  It is a good thing that investigators are taught not to simply take someone at their word. They obviously had the pictures taken on the camera that said differently, however, who is to say the date and time on the camera was correct? But then they started getting some forensic evidence back and well, Jodi had to change her story.  She had to explain how her DNA was found in a bloody hand print at the crime scene if she was not there.  So now she moves on to what would be story number two that she would tell investigators.  This one obviously had to put her at the scene and she says that while there visiting Travis, and obviously having sex, two unknown intruders had entered the home, killed Travis, attacked her and then left.  She did not report it because she was "scared" of course and she thought that was good enough.  

Investigators looked into Jodi's stories and looked at the evidence and while I cannot say what they had by the time it was sent to a grand jury for review on July 9, 2008, just over a month after the murder but they voted to indict her on 1st degree murder.  She was arrested at her home on July 15th, extradited to Arizona on September 5th (I question why it took so long) and pleaded not guilty on September 11th. That same month she granted a television interview in which she stated "No jury is going to convict me because I am innocent. You can mark my words."  

Jury selections began December 10, 2012 but opening arguments did not begin until  January 2, 2013.  The court system is a bit different in Arizona it seems than in most states that I have seen. And, although I have blogged about many cases from Arizona I do not recall any in which I heard things not only about jury members asking questions to witnesses but also what they call the aggravating phase.  This came between the trial and the penalty phase in which the jury determined if there was enough evidence to warrant a death penalty phase. 

At any rate, regardless the process, lets see what the prosecution had on Jodi. Of course they have the pictures, the DNA hand print and at the start of trial they have her intruder story. They also had the fact that on May 28, 2008, a week before Travis was murdered police in California were called to the home Jodi shared with her grandparents.  It was claimed that the home had been burglarized and among the items that were stolen was a .25 caliber colt pistol.  The gun was never recovered but the crime scene at Travis' home was riddled with .25 caliber shells.  Coincidence? On the early morning hours of June 2, 2008 there are several calls between Travis and Jodi, most appeared to be called that were not answered but there were a few that amounted to just over an hour of talk time.  Jodi was planning a trip to Utah to go to another conference and the prosecution theorized that she was talking to Travis about meeting with him on her way out to Utah.  Later that morning Jodi had rented a car and returned it on June 7th with 2,800 miles driven on it.  A rental clerk testified that the car had been returned without floor mats and that there were red stains on the front and back seat of the car.  However, to be fair it seems the defense was able to prove that there was no way to prove it had floor mats when Jodi rented it and the car had been cleaned prior to investigators seeing or testing it so there was no way of knowing if this was true.

The prosecution apparently had a variety of witnesses who testified to Jodi's supposed obsession with Travis, once again implying the stalking issues that were discussed earlier.  One claimed that she had climbed through a cat door to get into his house.  A man by the name of Ryan Burns also testified.  He saw Jodi in Utah when she got there and there were indications that they were intimate in some fashion while there.  He testified that Jodi had cuts on her hands and when he asked her where they came from she told him she had cut them on glass while working at a restaurant called "Margaretaville."  Prosecutors were able to show that there was no such restaurant by that name where she claimed to work.  She did apparently work sometimes at a restaurant however, so I can only assume that part of the reason this became an issue was to show that Jodi often did not tell the truth, especially during that time period.  

Another thing that the prosecution claimed was that Jodi had admitted to buying a gas can at a Walmart on June 3rd but said she returned it never using it. They brought in someone from the store to discuss this and they claimed there was a record of a gas can being bought on that day, at that location, but no record of it being returned.  The defense gained a little ground on that when they were able to get the witness to admit that she could not be absolutely certain all the records were completely accurate. This was important to the prosecution however as they claimed that Jodi had premeditated plans and that the gas can was bought so as she would not have to stop while in Arizona to get gas and show that she had been there.  The defense continued to claim that there was no proof that she did this and if she wanted to make sure there was not a record of her being in Arizona she could have just as easily paid for anything in cash. I am unsure that I think that is a great defense because sure, they are correct, she could have paid with cash but then she would have still been seen and maybe it was not just about leaving a paper trail but being seen at all.  

After the prosecution rested things really got interesting.  On February 4, 2013 Jodi Arias took the stand in her own defense.  Not only is it only on the rare occasion that you see this happen, it was even more rare considering she spent the next 18 days testifying.  Presumably, although I cannot be sure, the prosecution was on to the theory by the defense by now, but if they weren't, they were surely in for a surprise.  Jodi now had a new story to tell.  Remember, first she was not there at all, then she was there but intruders had come in and killed Travis, now she was not only prepared to admit being there, she was now admitting to actually committing the murder.  But... not so fast... it was not that simple.  She was now claiming that Travis had been abusive to her throughout their relationship and that while things apparently (if you look at the pictures) seem to be looking good between them on June 4th that when she accidentally dropped his new digital camera and broke it (funny that a broken camera still takes pictures) Travis totally lost it and began attacking her.  She claimed yes, she had stabbed him and shot him but claimed it was self defense and her lawyer would claim had she not done this that it would have been Jodi's body they found in that apartment and not hers.  She testified to other things such as being abused by her parents when she was young (apparently to show a pattern I suppose... abused children grow up to be in abusive relationships).  It seemed that her testimony, and her defense was an attempt to assassinate Travis once again.  She brought up episodes of domestic violence with him, claimed that he had a fondness for young boys and girls and apparently went into graphic details of their sex life.  As members of the Mormon church she discussed (as well as text messages and voicemails were presented) that actual vaginal sex before marriage was looked down upon and while she and Travis had engaged in that sporadically, most of their sex involved anal and oral sex.  Whether you or I find this interesting or even relevant I believe the reasons it was even brought up was an attempt to tarnish Travis' imagine as the "good Mormon boy."  Of course the prosecution had plenty of time in those 18 days to cross examine her and after the trial was over most of the juror said she would have probably fared better had she not taken the stand because she seemingly could not keep her stories straight then.  When confronted with her statement in her 2008 television interview in which she proclaimed her innocence and how a jury would never convict her Jodi proclaimed that she really did mean that because she had every intention of committing suicide so there would have never been a trial, hence never a jury to convict her.  When asked about all of her changing stories suddenly she apparently was concerned for Travis' reputation, or so she said.  

So now, with this new defense obviously her attorney had to explain things. They bombarded the witness stand with doctors who would claim she suffered from abuse, PTSD and pretty much anything that would excuse her actions.  A rebuttal witness for the prosecution claimed she suffered from borderline personality disorder to which of course the defense disagreed as it was not apparently something that would have excused her behavior to the jury and make it less likely to find her not guilty or at the most guilty of manslaughter as they were claiming.  

Throughout the trial there were other issues too.  The defense made several efforts for a mistrial (not something very unusual considering the high profile trial), everything from prosecutor misconduct, to claiming an officer committed perjury to jury misconduct.  The latter may have had a little merit, but then again the courts seemed to handle it.  On April 3rd a juror was dismissed.  All I could find was they were dismissed for "misconduct" but I am unsure what that pertained to so I cannot make a judgment on that issue.  On April 12th, another juror was dismissed due to health reasons.  Then on April 25th a third juror was dismissed after he had been arrested for a DUI offense and announced to the officer he was a juror on the case.  

On May 8, 2013, after 15 hours of deliberation the jury found Jodi Arias guilty of 1st degree murder.  The next phase was the aggravation phase.  This is where both side basically speak and plead their case and then the jury decides if there is enough evidence to warrant a death penalty phase.  Once they returned with the decision that there was enough evidence to warrant a look at the death penalty they moved on to the penalty phase.  This phase began on May 16, 2013.  Once again Jodi had changed a tune.  Immediately following her guilty verdict she had expressed to the jury to return with a death sentence as that would be better than life in prison.  By the time the penalty phase started she had decided she wanted to live and let the jury know that she planned to do good.  She claimed that if she got life in prison she would produce shirts that said "Survivor" on them and donate the proceeds to help with domestic violence and would continue to donate her hair to Locks of Love.  The jury went back to deliberate but on May 23, 2013 they announced they were hung on a decision.  They were 8-4, in favor of the death penalty.  Jurors would later state that they did not realize that a mistrial of the penalty phase would be granted and indicated that had they known maybe they would have tried harder.  The law apparently held that if a jury deadlocks on a penalty phase a mistrial was granted and another jury would be enacted at a later date to decide that phase. And so it was that another jury sat to hear this phase and once again they were unable to come to a decision.  This time it was 11-1, still in favor of the death penalty.  Once again the judge had to call a mistrial only this time a new jury would not be found and it would be up to the judge to decide.  He could not give Jodi Arias the death penalty though and was limited to the choices of life with parole after 25 years or life without parole in 25 years.  The judge chose the latter meaning she will spend the rest of her natural life in prison barring an appeal.


Comments

  1. The Judge that called the mistrial was a She not a he.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Is there a certainty he did moleste anyone? Or is this just more crap that stuck? In my opinion, his ex-wife is evil. Child molestation accusations from family members in any case is despicable and underhanded. Very cheap shot!

    ReplyDelete

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