Well folks, the decision over Jodi Arias' life is now in the hands of the jury. After a 90 minute delay this morning, Jodi Arias stepped up to the podium and delivered what seemed to be more of a campaign speech than a plea for mercy. Using a Powerpoint presentation, Arias flashed photos of herself as a baby, a small child - family photos taken during holidays through the years. Sure doesn't look like a family that was abusive and not supportive. This was one of the problems with the mitigating factors the defense presented to this jury. While on one hand, they described Jodi's family as being neglectful and abusive to her while she was a child and as an adult, all the while these family photos are being shown.
There's a reason her family can't testify for her, and the fact that we know that makes this hard to listen to and even harder to swallow. Back to Arias' 19 minute speech. At times, she seemed to be on the right track while discussing a jail visit from her mother in which her mom was stopped at a signal and looked over and saw the Alexander siblings in a car next to her. She said she and her mother talked about how horrible this must be for his family and what they must be going through. "I caused that", Arias said. She seemed to be ready to own up to the pain she has caused everybody, but just when it seemed she may be ready to show some emotion, regret and remorse - it went back to Jodi. She ultimately came across flat, with a lack of affect and she never did what she needed to do most and that is to apologize.
Arias seemed to be campaigning for public office, talking about the things she has done while awaiting trial and the programs she would like to enact if she is given life in prison. She talked about setting up a recycling program at the prison, which would create jobs and keep materials out of the landfill. She talked about starting a book club! Teaching other inmates how to read, how to speak Spanish or teach them sign language. Yes, those are all good and positive things she could do if given mercy and being allowed to live. But the way she presented this, and the things she didn't say and needed to may overshadow her visions to make prison a better place for the inmates she believes she can help. She told the jury that during her incarceration, she has been donating her hair to "Locks of Love", and vowed to continue to donate hair if allowed to live. I'm not saying that is not an admirable thing. But when I look at her behavior over the last 5 years and the self-serving endeavours she has taken on, it makes me wonder how much good will she has in her heart for causes that don't further her own agenda.
In the middle of her Powerpoint presentation, she actually pulled out one of her "Survivor" t-shirts and showed the jury!! She said "I know some people don't believe I was a victim of domestic violence, and you are entitled to your opinion". She told jurors that 100% of the proceeds from these t-shirts is going to domestic violence non-profit organizations! Hmmm...I just saw on her tweet and her website that a PORTION was going to domestic violence centers, and the portion she was donating is questionable! Her speech on how much she could help other women from inside prison came across as crass - sort of like she was a better class of inmate than the women who are incarcerated. She wants to teach illiterate women how to read? Too little, too late.
She then talked about everything she will miss in life due to her bad decisions. "I won't be at my sister's wedding and I won't get to take her wedding photos", and "I missed my brother's wedding" and talked about getting to know her nieces through a glass partition. "Ill never get to be a mother", she said. No emotion, she was just speaking the words. I discussed her televised lies, her artwork and she said she loved Travis Alexander and put him on a pedestal. She talked about how Steven and Samantha's victim impact statements touched her and she acknowledged that she caused their pain. She claims she didn't know Travis' grandmother had died until she heard it in court last week. But ultimately, she lacked the emotion I think she needed to show. It was like a business proposal. She said that although she has talked about suicide and wanting to die, she has had a change of heart and now believes she can have contribute to the world if given the chance to live her life in prison.
She talked about the pain she caused her family, and asked the jury to spare her life for their sake! There was a lot more than this, I'm paraphrasing. Those are just the highlights. Before the lunch break, Judge Stephens read the jury instructions, very lengthy - after lunch, Jennifer Willmott spoke. Her message was basically "people are better than their very worst deed". That was the argument, Jodi Arias did something horrendous and these mitigating circumstances are not excuses. Willmott argued that Jodi has much to contribute and her life is worth sparing. She showed more passion in her closing argument than Arias showed in her 19 minutes at the podium. Willmott described Arias as "an amazing poet (doesn't she just quote other poets?), an amazing writer (because she journals?) and mentioned her desire to help other victims of domestic violence. Again with the domestic violence. Didn't the jury reject that argument already?
Willmott's other theme was to argue the abuse and neglect Arias allegedly suffered from her parents, "they weren't there for her when she needed them". "They punished her for inexplainable reasons", Willmott said. Didn't the punishment/grounding start when they caught their 14 year old daughter growing pot on the roof? She left that factoid out. She seemingly is not embracing DeMarte's diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, referring to it as mitigating factor and a result of the abuse and neglect suffered at the hands of her parents! "People with BPD are prone to violent outbursts, is that what happened here?", Willmott asked. She argued there was so much mitigation in this case, and just one aggravating factor. I'd say that's a very big aggravating factor. "Two wrongs don't make a right", Willmott said and asked the jury to show mercy on Jodi Arias and give her a sentence of life.
Juan Martinez told the jury that Travis Victor Alexander will always be 30 years old. Referring to the photos Arias displayed, showing her as a small child and age-progressing over the years, yet Travis will never have the opportunity to age. "Travis' family tries to remember him the way he looks in this photo", Martinez displayed a photo of Travis smiling. "But they cannot forget the pain, the suffering and the agony", he said - and you shouldn't forget this either - he displayed one of the crime scene photos of Travis. I noticed that the prosecutor allowed the defense to give their closing statement without much interruption, yet I counted 14 objections by the defense while Martinez was delivering his closing argument!
He went through each one of the mitigating factors cited by Jodi Arias, and carefully examined each one and explained why these were not mitigating factors at all. He told the jury Jodi's age at the time of the crime should not be a mitigating factor - she was over the age of 18 and had experienced life. She wasn't under the age of 18, she was an adult. Again, he reminded the jury Travis would always be 30 years old. He did this with each one of the mitigating factors one by one. If I were delivering a closing argument, I would have talked about the fact that Travis Alexander was executed by Jodi Arias, he had no trial - no attorneys. Jodi Arias was the judge, jury and executioner. I would have talked about the mitigating circumstances that were not considered before Travis was murdered. Travis Alexander had a truly hard upbringing complete with neglect and abuse! There is real evidence there in the form of his 7 siblings and his grandparents.
Travis was a good friend, evidenced by the sheer number of people who have spoken out on his behalf about the inspirational and big-hearted person he was. He helped people, he had a ton of potential that will never be realized. Travis had no criminal history, he had a lot of talents. There are probably dozens of additional factors I am not aware of since I didn't know Travis. My point is that Travis was shown no mercy. Yet Jodi Arias expects to be given mercy? The death penalty really should be reserved for the worst of the worst. I'm neither pro or con the death penalty, but I do believe there are some cases where there seems to be no other appropriate penalty but death. What Jodi Arias did to Travis Alexander during the course of the murder, and what she did to him after killing him in that court room - she is the worst of the worst, in my opinion. Mercy is given where mercy is shown.
Willmott had the final word, but I don't have time to elaborate on it now. All in all, I think Jodi Arias' presentation was too business-like, lacked emotion and was completely self-serving. Bringing out that Survivor t-shirt was a huge mistake! Again, Arias has overestimated her "skillset" and underestimated the seriousness of her crime. I don't think she came across as sorry. The case is in the hands of the jury now. What do you think? Did she do enough today, or did she fall flat? Will she get death, or life?
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