On May 8, 2013 - nearly 5 years after the battered body of Travis Alexander was discovered in his shower stall, 32 year old Jodi Ann Arias was found guilty of first degree murder in a Phoenix Superior Courthouse. The case took 4 1/2 years to bring to trial. There were more than 600 exhibits, dueling defense and prosecution experts and a defendant who took the stand and remained there for more than three weeks.
In her own words, Jodi Arias testified about the passionate yet troubled relationship she had with victim Travis Alexander. Armed with a few angry text messages from Alexander and a raunchy phone sex tape, Arias and her defense team tried to build a case designed around making the jury dislike Travis Alexander. While there was no evidence that Travis Alexander emotionally or physically abused Arias, the defense brought on experts that seemingly read between the lines of Arias' many journals, e-mails and text messages. The words that weren't there seemed to be of more importance than the words that were to the experts. The defense was doomed from the start. Framing Arias as a battered woman and Alexander as a sexual deviant who used control and spiritual domination was a risky trial strategy. If you are going to make those kinds of allegations in a court of law, you'd better have something to back you up. In her post-conviction interview, she made a point of referring to the statement Travis Alexander made during the phone-sex tape about her sounding like a 12 year old girl - she now says this was the statement a pedophile would make, whereas in her trial testimony she didn't put much emphasis on the line. It seems to me that Jodi Arias was hoping to be seen as more of a Ellie Nesler-like vigilante who saved the world from a child predator than a cold-blooded killer. If you recall, Nesler made headlines for killing accused child molester Daniel Driver - shooting him five times in the head in a Tuolumne County courtroom back in 1993. Driver was accused of molesting 4 young boys, one of which was Nesler's 6 year old son William.
Nesler was hated by some but reached folk-hero status with others for doing what she felt necessary to protect her son. Nesler was eventually convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to a 10-year prison term before the conviction was overturned for jury misconduct. The prosecution offered Nesler a plea deal in which she plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter - and she was released for time served (3 years) after it was discovered that Nesler had breast cancer. This California born story also captured a national if not worldwide audience, and inspired a 1999 USA cable network movie "Judgment Day: The Ellie Nesler Story".
The Jodi Arias trial has also captivated a world-wide audience, but Arias is no Ellie Nesler. This past weekend alone, there were two specials on the trial and the verdict. One was played on CNN and the other was a Dateline special. Geraldo Rivera will host yet another special next Saturday at 10:00PM EST on FNC. Geraldo looks at Arias' lack of emotion following the guilty verdict and Arias' interview with Troy Hayden within an hour of being convicted of first degree murder. In describing "Guilty - Jodi Arias: In Her Own Words" Rivera promises an in-depth look at the newly convicted murderer, "she still clings to the notion that she was somehow the injured party", he says. In the special, Arias talks about her religion, her artwork, her amnesia and of the disappointment she brought to her fans (yes, that's how it's described!), friends and her loyal family. "It is an unprecedented look inside a troubled soul on the brink of judgement", Rivera said.
Whether or not Arias receives the death penalty, she will ultimately serve time in the Perryville prison complex either awaiting execution or serving her sentence. Maggie Kerin, a former Perryville inmate gave ABC15.com an idea of what life is like on the inside of the prison. Kerin spent a total of 3 years at Perryville on a narcotics charge. She was moved into maximum security after being caught bringing a cell phone into the prison. She told ABC15.com "it is really boring, there is nothing to do but just lay there sometimes for 23 hours". She said she would often see death row or high profile inmates but never had contact with them. The high profile inmates are often taunted by the other inmates, especially if they come in with an attitude, Kerin reported. I have more information on the Perryville complex (including Death Row info) in a previous post if you are interested.
If she is spared her life, Arias will spend the rest of her days behind bars at the Perryville prison complex. Her post-conviction interview showed a complete lack of remorse for the life that she ended. The only sorrow she shows is that she will be held responsible, and she seems disappointed that the jury didn't believe her tales. I get the feeling that Arias hasn't been held responsible for her failures in life before now. In particular, her behavior around males seems to point to a woman who has used her looks to manipulate and get what she wants out of people. Her reference to her supporters as "fans" is a perfect example of the way she views herself - she's a celebrity in her own mind. I think the greatest blow to Jodi Arias will be the day the media tunes her out and she becomes irrelevant. That seems to be her greatest fear, although she insists she has not sought the attention she has received.
On Wednesday, the trial continues when the jurors return to court to hear arguments over aggravating factors. Often referred to as a "mini-trial", expect the unexpected. This trial has been full of shock and surprise. As for Jodi Arias, will she remain in the psych ward on suicide watch or will she be returned to her Estrella cell block? The Lifetime movie cast that was filming the docudrama based on this crime stopped filming to listen to the verdict live last week. The ending is being re-vamped to include the verdict - the original ending did not include the trial's verdict. Have a great week!