Boston, Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney Kevin J. Mahoney’s Commentary on Jodi Arias Trial
The sensational 2008 murder of Travis Alexander created the usual media circus. The defendant in the case is his ex-girlfriend, Jodi Arias. Alexander’s body was discovered in his shower with approximately 30 stab wounds, a slashed throat, and a gunshot wound to the head. The case has enthralled the public with its romance, betrayal, and violence, to such a degree that a movie is already in the works. Graphic and sexually explicit photos along with raunchy phone conversations have kept viewers on the edge of their seats during the court proceedings.
Alexander and Arias had a dating relationship for several months. Arias even converted to the Mormon faith to follow in his footsteps. The pair hid their erotic sexual relationship behind this religion, which forbids premarital sex. After the on and off relationship ended, Alexander dated other women. Alexander portrayed Arias as a stalker to his friends, though he continued sleeping with her, even after the breakup. Arias testified to enduring emotional, physical, and sexual abuse.
The night of the murder, Arias and Alexander took provocative photos of themselves and slept together. Arias dropped his new camera by accident while trying to take photos of him in the shower; Alexander became extremely upset and attacked her. This violent attack ended with Alexander dead in his shower. Arias recalled accidentally shooting the victim but not stabbing him. She testified she “came to” when she was driving a rental car through the desert to dispose of the gun.
Arias’s inaccuracies of her first story, that she was not there when Alexander died, became apparent when the police found photos of the defendant with the victim just before he was killed on his camera. The police also acquired footage of Arias, a resident of California, buying gas in Nevada, on the way to the victim’s home in Arizona. Arias’s second story included admission to being with the victim but home invaders killed her lover. After care scrutiny of the photos from Alexander’s camera, the police found one of a bleeding Alexander and part of Arias, visible in the shot. The third defense she provided was one of self-defense. Arias stated she did not tell the police what happened initially because she planned on committing suicide.
The jury, which finished its deliberations this week, had four options:
1. Convict Arias of first-degree murder, with a potential death sentence.
2. Convict Arias of second-degree murder, with a sentence of up to 25 years.
3. Convict Arias of manslaughter, with a sentence of 7-21 years.
4. Acquit her of all charges.
Yesterday, the jury delivered a guilty verdict for first-degree murder. The prosecution backs the first-degree murder argument, stating that Arias filled up several gas cans before leaving, to avoid stopping at gas stations on the way. She armed herself with a family gun and headed to Utah to see a different man. She stopped at Alexander’s on her way. The jury concluded these steps were premeditation for Alexander’s murder. No doubt, the jury was swayed by the violence of the murder and if any juror turned on a TV, they would certainly get an earful of trial analysis.
The Defense’s Case
The criminal defense attorneys backed up the self-defense theory with expert testimony. One expert testified that Arias had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and amnesia, another that she suffered from Battered Women’s Syndrome. These experts put more weight on the fact that Arias was abused sexually, emotionally, and physically by the victim. The defense characterized the victim as controlling and abusive. In one last attack, she completely lost it. Jodi Arias bravely took the stand during her trial, waiving her Fifth Amendment right, and spilling the beans on her erotic sex life with Alexander. She sat on the stand for 3 weeks, answering more than 200 questions from jurors.
The trial for Jodi Arias lasted for 5 months. Broadcast live on the major news networks, followed by, of course, thorough analysis of the daily proceedings, Arias has been subjected to an unbelievable amount of scrutiny. The media frenzy has turned the prosecutor into a rock star, and “fans” swarm the courthouse daily to get an autograph or picture with him. People camp out to get a seat in the courtroom, and some have even sold their seats on EBay.
After such widespread public humiliation, with her private sex life on trial, making international news, it is a wonder that this is not taken into consideration in determining sentencing. No one was present at the time of Alexander’s death besides Arias; she is the only witness. She has confessed to his murder, and the jury has ruled she planned the entire thing. Next week it will be decided whether she will spend her life in prison or be given the death penalty. Her wish was to commit suicide in 2008, so if she receives the death penalty she may get what she has wanted all along: an end to a painful 5 years.
Contact a Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer
Kevin J. Mahoney is a Cambridge, Massachusetts Criminal Attorney. Call us at 617-492-0055 to schedule a free, in-office consultation with Attorney Mahoney.
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