Jodi Arias convicted of first-degree murder

On May 8, 2013, a jury convicted Jodi Arias of one count of first-degree murder against Travis Alexander. Arias stabbed Alexander 29 times, slit his throat, and shot him in the face.

The conviction ended a five-year wait for justice for the Alexander family. Arias played everyone, starting with the family. Initially, Arias pretended to know nothing about the crime. She called Alexander’s phone and left him an email shortly after she killed him. She wrote about his death in her diary. She even went to his funeral.

There was some concern that Arias might walk. Arias is impressively manipulative. Specifically, she is passive aggressive. Her ability to play the victim is so developed that she conned two experts into believing her story. Arias also appears to be a sociopath. She seems to lack any empathy for anyone, and appears to always look for the best angle to control someone. When that does not work, she plays the passive aggressive card, presenting herself as a victim to try to win the person over. She tried this at trial on prosecutor Juan Martinez only to have him throw it back in her face.

That alone would have been enough to ensure a conviction because while Arias is quite manipulative, she is not great at it. She is good, but her style takes time. She is not good at conning people on the fly, and when she tries, her lies are obvious.

However, the details of the case were the most damning. From the Wikipedia page on the case:

On May 28, 2008, a burglary occurred at the residence of Arias’ grandparents, with whom she was living in Yreka, California. A .25-caliber gun and other objects were taken. The grandparents’ gun was never recovered. The prosecutor argued that the burglary was staged by Arias and the stolen gun was used to shoot Alexander.

Several days before the trip, Arias repeatedly contacted her ex-boyfriend, Darryl Brewer, asking to borrow two 5-gallon gas cans for a trip to Arizona. The cans were not returned to Brewer. Receipts presented at trial also showed that Arias had purchased a third 5-gallon gas can, sunblock, and facial cleanser from Walmart in Salinas, California, on June 3, 2008. That evening, at an ARCO gas station in Pasadena, California, she purchased 8.301 gallons of gasoline with her debit MasterCard, and four minutes later purchased 9.59 gallons of gas with cash. The MasterCard was used again on June 6, 2008, three times at a Tesoro gas station in Salt Lake City, at a Pilot Flying J travel center in Winnemucca, Nevada and a 7-Eleven in Sparks, Nevada.

After Alexander’s death but before his body was discovered, Arias had continued to call him and had left him several voicemail messages. It was later alleged that she had accessed Alexander’s voicemail messages after his death. She said that Alexander had originally planned to visit her in May 2008 but that his plans had changed. On June 2, 2008, Arias rented a white Ford Focus in Redding, California, about 100 miles south of her residence. She told the Budget Rent a Car staff that she would only be driving the car locally, but when the car was returned on June 7, it had been driven about 2,800 miles. It was also missing all of its floor mats, and there were what looked like Kool-Aid stains on the front and rear seats. The car was cleaned before police were able to examine it.

Following the murder, Arias attempted to remove any evidence that she had been at the scene. She deleted photos from Alexander’s camera, and tossed it and a towel she used to wipe up some of her palm prints into a washer. The camera survived, and police managed to recover the deleted photos. Arias also called and emailed Alexander following the murder, making it appear that she had no knowledge that he was dead. Police also found a bloody palm print that had Arias and Alexander DNA present.

If that were enough to convict her, Arias presented the jury with another reason: three different stories about what happened. Initially, Arias claimed she was not there. When police interviewed her about the evidence mentioned above, Arias at first denied it. Then they arrested her. The next day, Arias claims that she was there, but that two people came into Alexander’s home, killed him, and tried to kill her but the gun jammed, giving her the chance to run out the house. She never reported the crime to anyone, either police or Alexander’s family.

She maintained that story until 2010, when she presented the last one: she was there and did kill Alexander, but did so in self-defense. This forced her attorneys to put Arias on the stand, and that is likely what prompted the jury’s decision.

Simply put, Arias continued to lie while under oath. She was on the stand for 18 days, and during that time she lied about the gas cans, lied about how she injured her finger, and lied about what she said to other people.

That manipulative trait led to the current situation. Court was supposed to continue the next day. This would have been the aggravated factor portion of the sentencing phase. The state would present evidence showing the murder was particularly vicious and therefore Arias deserved the death penalty. The defense would then put on evidence trying to mitigate those factors.

However, Arias decided to give an interview minutes after her conviction, one in which she not only took shots at the Alexander family and continued to accuse Travis of abusing her, but also one in which she stated:

Well, the worst outcome for me would be natural life. I would much rather die sooner than later. Longevity runs in my family, and I don’t want to spend the rest of my natural life in one place. You know, I’m pretty healthy. I don’t smoke. And I probably would live a long time, so that’s not something I’m looking forward to.

I said years ago that I’d rather get death than life, and that still is true today. I believe death is the ultimate freedom, so I’d rather just have my freedom as soon as I can get it.

That landed Arias in the psych ward where she now sits under observation. It also appears to have caused a rift between Arias and her attorneys. Prior to the interview, reports came that Arias and her team were arguing. It may have been about the interview, and there is a good reason why: the state can use this video in one or both sentencing phases.

Not only does Arias fail to show any remorse, but she also asks for death. As many commentators noted, this is probably Arias’ attempt at reverse psychology. She really wants life in prison, but she says she wants death knowing that Martinez will play the interview for the jury. If he does, perhaps the jury will spare her life thinking that they are actually hurting her more.

At present, the trial is on hold. Court is supposed to resume next Wednesday. We will see if that happens.

While I do not support the death penalty, if ever there were a case for executing someone, this case is the best example of it. Travis Alexander died in agony, and likely knew he was dying. Arias not only stabbed this man 29 times, but stabbed him as he tried to flee. She cut his throat so deep she almost decapitated him. She stomped on his legs and feet, presumably to keep him from kicking her or running away. Then she shot him in the face. And if that were not enough. she slandered the man’s reputation, accusing him at trial of being a pedophile despite presenting zero evidence of that.

I will not say that Arias deserves to die. That is too cruel a statement even for her. However, I will say that when she dies, I likely will not care.

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12 thoughts on “Jodi Arias convicted of first-degree murder

  1. Very good post, TS.
    But you forgot about the very incriminating notes she scrawled in a notebook to a friend during her trial, the testimony of many of Travis’s friends that he was scared she was stalking him, the fact that she had nude and lewd (sexily posed obviously not tied up or anything) photos of herself on his bed the day he died, the fact that she claimed to remember almost literally nothing about the killing and couldn’t explain how she got the knife and supposedly did all this (the camera photos of Travis in and out of the shower were time stamped) in under a minute and…

    Well, you get the picture.
    This lady is a real piece of work.
    I also like how the DV expert Jodi’s defense hired claimed she had testified for two or three men over the years (because she’s very Duluth Model centric) in court but when questioned by a juror could only remember sending a report(not directly testifying after all) in to a court for all of one man…

  2. Be that as it may, even with what the jury got right, I’m going to wait until the judge actually imposes sentencing on her.

    If she gets a lenient sentence than required for a crime of such nature, I’m calling it a waste of hope.

  3. I think that the willingness to administer the death penalty is an intrinsic part of being a man.

    That’s not a slam, but an observation. The unwillingness to give someone the ultimate penalty shows a weakness of resolve in a society, such that it will eventually be undermined.

    How about the guy who abducted those women in Cleveland, beating one until she miscarried? He does not deserve the death penalty?

    Part of being a man is to be bold about moral absolutes. Hand-wringing over capital punishment is incompatible with strong leadership.

  4. You know what death is too lenient. A lifetime of slavery and torment in prison is a more fitting punishment. She will not get the freedom she craves in death for her 60 remaining years of life.

  5. The unwillingness to give someone the ultimate penalty shows a weakness of resolve in a society, such that it will eventually be undermined.

    This reminds me of a quote from Lord of the Rings: “Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends.”

    Part of being a man is to be bold about moral absolutes. Hand-wringing over capital punishment is incompatible with strong leadership.

    Any fool can kill. Arias proves that. It takes a better man to show pity and mercy where one thinks they are undeserved.

  6. Clarence, I wanted to write a blog post, not a novel :) There is so much from this case that it would likely take a couple of books to sift through it. I did find Arias’ sudden memory loss the most hilarious of her lies. She could recall minute details from years past with no problem, but conveniently blacked out during the murder and the cover-up. Her team claimed that this blackout period would have prevented her from planning anything, yet during this time she a) cleaned up the scene, b) deleted photos from a digital camera (which took five steps per photo), c) gathered the murder weapons, d) washed herself off, e) called Travis and sent him texts and emails, and f) managed to make her way through the desert back to California. That is a lot of activity, and I am sure I missed some other elements.

  7. Tim: An interesting paragraph from that paper:

    Proponents of the female-specific approach to rape argue that laws acknowledging male victims can “cover up” what is happening in reality. 194
    Removing references to men as perpetrators and women as victims, it is argued, is to deny a common reality and to obfuscate men’s sexual violence toward women.195
    Some have gone so far as to argue that the acknowledgement of male rape victims via more inclusive laws and policies “is part of a backlash against feminism.”196

    p. 628-629

    We saw these at play when women’s rights activists successfully lobbied against a gender neutral rape law in India earlier this year.

    Lara Stemple in this paper constrain rape to the International Criminal Court’s definition (Elements of Crimes for the International Criminal Court art.7(1)(g)-1, U.N. Doc. ICC-ASP/1/3)
    which only include penetration, thus excluding a large subset of male victims.
    The paper does not as far as I could tell by my first reading touch upon female perpetrators at all. Even given the narrow definition of rape studies from DRC and Liberia have shown that a not insignificant number of perpetrators of conflict rape are women. I found that omission jarring.
    She also talks about inmate-on-inmate rape in prisons, while neglecting prison-official-on-inmate rape (which includes a large number of female perpetrators) completely.

  8. Sorry, my comment above were meant to be posted as a reply to Cicero on a thread at Genderratic, I got my Firefix tabs mixed up. The context for the above coment is this paper on male rape: https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http%3A%2F%2Fscienceblogs.de%2Fgeograffitico%2Fwp-content%2Fblogs.dir%2F70%2Ffiles%2F2012%2F07%2Fi-e76e350f9e3d50b6ce07403e0a3d35fe-Stemple_60-HLJ-605.pdf

    Toysoldier; if you’d rather keep this thread on-topic then I wouldn’t mind at all if you deleted the previous and this comment from me.

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