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Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Jodi Arias Show -- May 16, 2013

In May of 2008 friends of Travis Alexander found him dead in his Arizona home. He had been stabbed 27 times, cut across the throat, and shot in the head. Immediately, a petite but obsessive girlfriend of the victim was suspected in the brutal murder. After conducting an investigation, law enforcement became convinced Jodi Arias was indeed the killer and she was arrested. During questioning, Arias denied being at the crime scene. However, when confronted with evidence, she told police two masked men had killed Alexander. This preposterous story was not believed and she was charged with 1st degree murder. For nearly 5 years while Jodi Arias was held in the Maricopa County Jail, she clung to this scenario until trial when defense attorneys stunningly claimed their client acted in self defense. The bizarre and lurid murder case became the focus of enormous media attention. Millions of people across the country tuned in to watch the live televised trial and media commentary. Mainly due to my own prosecution in a capital murder and experience with the criminal justice system, I also was captivated. It was "The Jodi Arias Show."

I thought my month long dual jury trial was long, but it did not compare to the Jodi Arias case. For over two months her trial continued on and with media commentary it almost seemed like a never ending soap opera. I did not follow all of it, but I did watch select testimony, news summaries, and the commentary on Headline News. The case was not covered or even mentioned in the paper I received and I had no choice but to turn to CNN or their affiliate HLN. Headline News televised all the trial and then it was discussed on the Nancy Grace, Dr. Drew, or After Dark shows. Typically, I cannot stand the tabloid TV journalism due to its non-objectivity, sensationalism, gossip, and innuendo. However, I found myself regularly tuning in for information and its entertainment value.

The proposition that Jodi Arias acted in self defense was absurd to the point of being comical. The ridicule I heard on shows such as Nancy Grace was well deserved. The victim had been stabbed almost 30 times and then had his throat slit. If this was not enough, Arias shot him in the head. How could this ever be self defense? Travis Alexander's stab wounds were also to his back and the back of his skull. Defensive lacerations to his hands corroborated he was the victim and tried to defend himself. Interestingly, Jodi Arias did not have a scratch on her and there was plenty of evidence of premeditation and concealment. The "Rabbit Boiler" as she was referred to by some on Dr. Drew did not even call police, but went about her life as if nothing occurred. When arrested, she persistently claimed not to be present until confronted with indisputable evidence she was there. Then, as Nancy Grace quipped, "two ninjas" just happened to break in and slaughter Travis Alexander leaving Jodi unharmed as a witness.

A true self defense case will soon be presented by the attorney representing George Zimmerman. Zimmerman had been elected by his community to be a night watchman in the area which was subjected to a series of burglaries. He noticed a suspicious hooded man in the neighborhood and called police. Before they responded, Trayvon Martin attacked Zimmerman. George Zimmerman suffered from a broken nose, bruises to the face, and gashes to the back of his skull. Marks on Martin's knuckles corroborated Zimmerman's account he was pummeled with punches and then had his head slammed repeatedly into a concrete sidewalk. Zimmerman who was licensed to carry a firearm shot Martin once, killing the 17-year-old juvenile delinquent. Unlike Jodi Arias, George Zimmerman clearly has a legitimate self defense case. The only reason he is being prosecuted is due to political pressures (see my post 156 on the Zimmerman case).

There is no need for Zimmerman to take the stand in his own defense next month when his trial is scheduled to commence, in my opinion. However, for Jodi Arias it was essential. She had to try and explain all the overwhelming evidence of her guilt and numerous lies she had told. While she testified, I was reminded of the testimony of my own co-defendant. He also was undeniably at the crime scene and made multiple changing statements when confronted with evidence. Even his final version of events was baffling, but like Jodi Arias, he answered the prosecutor's scathing questions unflappably, if not at times smugly. In retrospect, I wonder if he may have also tried to claim self defense if he ran out of "ninjas" to point the finger at. There were some uncanny similarities between Arias and my former roommate who had the penchant for telling tall tales. On Dr. Drew's show, they often discussed the psychology or personality of Jodi Arias. She was ego-centric, very confident and manipulative and they speculated she was a sociopath. These are characteristics which describe my co-defendant. In fact, I believe he is craftier and a better liar. This may explain in part why he was acquitted.

Jodi Arias was on the witness stand for an unprecedented three weeks. She claimed Alexander became furious at her for dropping a camera she was using to take nude photos of him in the shower and attacked her. She managed to get away and run into the closet where she grabbed a gun. Being armed with a firearm did not dissuade Alexander and he charged her like a "linebacker." She shot him in the head and then took a knife which just happened to be left on the top of the bathroom counter. From here, her memory blacks out and she does not recall going "Psycho" on Travis or slicing his throat from ear to ear. She also does not remember cleaning up the crime scene, deleting photographs from the camera, or tossing it into the washing machine. Memory of dragging Alexander's corpse and stuffing him back in the shower is also lost in the "fog." She does, however, remember driving through the desert disposing of the murder weapons on her way to stay with another man who she makes out with. The date and make out session she says she had to keep in order to appear normal. The lies she told later also were necessary to protect her from being wrongfully prosecuted and amazingly to protect Alexander's reputation.

Much of Jodi Arias' testimony dealt with her sex life. There is a reason why the media often hyped the murder case as "Sex, Lies, and Audiotape." In detail, Arias was to talk about how she had various types of sex with Travis. Personal phone conversations she had recorded where the two had discussed sex and sexual fantasies were also played in the court room. Arias attempted to portray the man as perverted, degrading, or abusive. However, it was clear the sex was consensual and she even admitted to enjoying most of it. She also admitted to having a number of other sex partners and engaging in similar types of sex. While Jodi Arias may have tried to disparage Alexander and his image in the Mormon community, she only managed to make herself more loathsome. I was amused when a juror submitted a question which asked what her definition of a skank was. Obviously, it was less of an inquiry than a statement.

Jodi Arias was not only a slut, but ugly, in my opinion. Media remarks that she was beautiful or a "blond bombshell" were as ridiculous as her claim of self defense. Even before she intentionally dulled her appearance for trial and aged five years in the county jail, I found her unattractive. When she appeared on television, I sometimes thought "woof" and how appropriate it was for her to gain entry to Alexander's house through the dog door. If I were him, I would have left out a bowl of Alpo, but then again I would not have even entertained such an ugly and promiscuous woman. Men at the prison I spoke with disagreed with me and commented any girl who brings her own KY jelly was their ideal woman. My cellmate, a/k/a "Giggity, Giggity," even at times defended Jodi Arias when I would ridicule her.

Two defense experts testified on behalf of Jodi Arias. Both psychologists' opinions, however, were irrelevant and based solely on the defendant. There was no independent verification Arias suffered from post traumatic stress disorder or was abused. The diagnosis of PTSD was supposed to explain "the fog" or why she could not remember butchering the victim. Typically those with PTSD are the victims of horrific trauma and not the perpetrators of it. A number of prisoners I have met over the years claim not to remember their crimes, but it seems like a convenient excuse. The proposition that Arias was abused also seemed contradictory to reason and the evidence. She regularly traveled 700 miles to see Travis Alexander or would sneak into his house through the dog door just to lie on his bed. It was her also who exhibited stalking behavior hiding in his closet when he was with another woman, reading his emails, joining his religion, keeping sex tapes and photographs. The sex they had was reciprocal and congruent with her past sex partners. Even if the claims of Jodi Arias were true, the loss of neither memory nor abuse was justification for premeditated 1st degree murder.

While I did not watch every bit of testimony or see every scrap of evidence submitted, I am certain the prosecutor proved its case far beyond a reasonable doubt. Because I was convicted wrongfully of murder and must spend the rest of my life in prison, I do not judge other criminal defendants without the most serious contemplation. It was undisputed Jodi Arias killed Travis Alexander. The claims of self defense are preposterous and I have no doubt let alone reasonable she had no legal cause to murder him. I theorize Arias was obsessed with a man who thought she was beneath him. Although he enjoyed having sex with her, he had no intention of marrying her or committing to her in any fashion. Alexander dated other women looking for that Mrs. Right and this infuriated Arias. She planned his murder meticulously buying gas cans so she would not have to fuel her car on the trip to Alexander's home and could then drive on to Utah without detection as well as to establish a quasi-alibi. She stole the gun from the grandparents she lived with and took a knife along with her as well. After having sex with the victim, the "black widow" coaxed him into the shower to take photos of him nude. While his back was turned, she took out the knife and began to stab him repeatedly. Turning around to defend himself she continued to take out her rage eventually slitting him across the throat and then shooting him, possibly post-mortem. The photos she took of him nude or dying she may have saved as souvenirs before deleting. The purpose of throwing the camera in the washing machine was not to destroy the memory card, but to eliminate her bloody fingerprints or other DNA evidence. She wanted the police to find the photos of her and Alexander, but failed to notice how one picture put her at the crime scene. This murder case was not self defense but a classic "Fatal Attraction."

A few prisoners and I made a pool on how long the jury would deliberate before finding her guilty. The case was so cut and dry, the men wagered between one and three hours. I placed my wager at four, but only because I knew I would win with any time above that. The thinking of most people including those in the media was the jury would render a verdict quickly and there was nothing to debate. However, while there may be no debate as to whether the state proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt or the claim of self defense, there was certainly going to be discussion about the two months of trial and evidence they were unable to talk about until deliberations. This was a case of "Sex, Lies, and Audiotape" which had riveted not only the public's attention, but the jury. They were going to want to talk about it at length.

As soon as closing arguments ended, the media started their verdict watch clocks. Hundreds of people outside the Maricopa County Court House also waited on pins and needles as if the jury would return any moment. I thought this was silly. They were at least going to wait until after the weekend to render a verdict. Closing arguments ended on a Friday midday and a couple hours was not going to be sufficient for the jury to peruse the evidence or begin to express all their pent up thoughts. The prison was on lockdown, but if I were able, I would have told all the inmates in the pool they may as well concede they lost and send me their commissary.

By Tuesday of last week, the media was astonished the jury had still yet to return with a guilty verdict. Nancy Grace and other trial commentators were even angry no decision had been reached. Bitterly, the spoke about how the black widow may get away with the murder. It is well known the longer a jury is out, the odds of an acquittal increase. In my own case, the jury deliberated for three days and it greatly disturbed the prosecutor especially after my co-defendant was acquitted. He had killed a man and the evidence against him was far greater. I recall the prosecutor somberly conceding to the media he may lose both cases. On the other hand, my defense attorneys were upbeat and William Von Hoene even began to gloat his strategy of not contesting the lies of the interrogating officer. Despite how the days went by, however, I knew I was doomed. I sat in holding cells alone waiting in despair knowing my life was over. I even had the sorrow of telling my parents they no longer had a son. It was the last time I wept.

Finally a verdict was reached in the Jodi Arias trial after 15 hours of deliberations. It was going to be read in the late afternoon however, and during this time media pundits filled the void. There was some speculation of a jury compromise to the lesser charge of 2nd degree murder and even some talk of an acquittal. I do not know if their conjecture was serious or simply to add suspense. There was no doubt in my mind she was going to be convicted of 1st degree murder. When the guilty verdict was read, thus, I was surprised by the outburst of emotion. I was also puzzled by the mobs outside the courtroom which were ecstatic. The victim was dead and never coming back. It was justice but nothing to be jubilant about.

Jodi Arias asked her attorney what she thought as the jury filed in before the verdict was read. The lawyer said, "I don't know." I certainly knew and could not ascertain if this exchange was a pretense on both their parts. Later, Arias would sigh when the guilty verdict was read as if her last glimmer of hope was extinguished. She then looked at the jury imploringly as they were polled. I did not want my attorney to have each juror one by one say this was their verdict in my trial. They were not going to change their minds and it seemed impolite to put them on the spot. I knew it was a difficult decision for them to reach and noticed a few crying. They expressed more emotion than I did. After a month of trial, I was exhausted. I felt like a zombie throughout much of the proceedings and in the end I just wanted to crawl into a grave. I rarely looked at my jury and was not about to stare them down when they found me guilty.

After Jodi Arias' conviction she surprised the media by immediately giving an interview to a local TV network. Nancy Grace expressed outrage she would disregard her attorneys who were trying to save her life by saying she preferred the death penalty over life in prison. I thought it was odd the antagonistic talk show host and former prosecutor who wanted her to die would criticize her for wanting just that. On the Dr. Drew show they speculated if she was using reverse psychology. Afterall, Arias was a very cunning and manipulative person they reasoned. Why does the public have such a hard time believing some people would rather be executed than live out the rest of their years in prison? Prison from my experience in the maximum-security penitentiaries of the IDOC is the most wretched and miserable existence. Unlike death, it is never ending suffering. Jodi Arias' comment during her TV interview caused her to be put on suicide watch which if the same as in Illinois means stripped naked in a barren cell.

Due to the suicide watch, the penalty phase of the trial was delayed. It was not until earlier this week, the jury decided whether Jodi Arias was death eligible. Unlike earlier deliberations, the jury came back quickly with a decision the murder was extremely cruel. This did not surprise me. Travis Alexander had been stabbed nearly 30 times before having his throat slit, and then shot in the head. Blood was everywhere in the bathroom and hallway despite Arias' attempts to clean up. Furthermore, numerous gruesome photographs of the victim's nude eviscerated corpse were shown to the jury. The murder may have taken place within a few minutes of time, but the defense was hard pressed to argue their client did not act with great cruelty.

Once found death eligible, a new phase in the sentencing began. During this stage, both the prosecutor and defense are allowed to present witnesses to persuade the jury, or in my case a judge, why the defendant should be executed or spared the death penalty. Unlike the trial which has strict parameters, a sentencing hearing is open to almost anything. This week, a number of Travis Alexander's family members had given victim impact statements. The defense was supposed to begin calling their witnesses, but none has yet to be. There was a request to have a couple of friends testify on video camera and this was denied by the judge. Defense attorneys argued they were afraid for their lives, however, I believe this was a ruse. Jodi Arias does not want any mitigation presented on her behalf. Defense lawyers are obliged to do so even if their client is opposed. This is what occurred in my own death penalty hearing. The judge denying the attorneys motion gave them the excuse to do nothing.

There is speculation if next week Jodi Arias will give an allocution and what she will say. Will she tell the jury she wants death or will she make a plea for her life? I was able to address the court but only after the death penalty was taken off the table. Therefore, I was only statutorily facing 20 to 60 years in prison. I told Judge Sam Amirante I sympathized with the victim's family, but I should not be held accountable for my co-defendant. I knew the judge was under tremendous pressure to give me a harsh penalty despite his ruling I was not at the crime scene and the killer had walked free. I asked him to give me hope, but for my pleadings the judge told me he was going to give me no hope at all. I would spend the rest of my life in prison. If Jodi Arias is smart, she will convince the jury to give her death. There is nothing worse than an indefinite prison sentence. It is better if the Jodi Arias Show ends with curtains.

6 comments:

  1. George Zimmerman not guilty. Justice prevails.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Funny how the easily and eternal offended celebrated "the system" when OJ was found not guilty yet today they trash the same system...And funny how 8000 blacks get wasted every year and the above-mentioned, and the priests and the civic leaders and anyone else don't say jack because the criminals are black and black on black crime is not going to earn them media attention...yet here one black guy gets killed and everyone is up in arms and soon they'll ask NATO to bomb Zimmerman's house hahahahha. Fake...this is what community leaders are...fake bastards. As for Zimmerman if he's smart he transfers everything he has on relatives' names and that way he will be lawsuit-proof, then change the name then move to Colorado. Anything short of this will earn him so much grief at the hands of the fake "community"...he might kill himself due to depression.

      Delete
  2. Police dispatcher told Zimmerman to stand down.
    He refused to do so.
    He got away with, at the very least, manslaughter.
    Trayvon Martin was still legally a child. Regardless, he was someone's child.
    To me, this case was an outrage from beginning to end.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The George Zimmerman case was an outrage from beginning to end for me too. He should have never been arrested and prosecuted.

      Delete
  3. Odd, most of the crime in our neighborhood are streetwise, "legally a child" blacks that bike, walk in to prey. These are no children, just looking at street video shows them as planning, cunning professional thugs. So I don't buy into "child" based on some line drawn in the sand.

    ReplyDelete

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