Saturday, May 4, 2013

Verdict Watch - The Jodi Arias Murder Trial

Closing arguments concluded yesterday in the 5 month murder trial of Jodi Ann Arias. The attorneys on both sides can do nothing else at this point but wait...with the rest of the country and the world that has been following this tragic story and the sensational trial that followed.  The court room was packed for closing arguments, yet other than an awkward moment where somebody in the gallery's cellphone rang - you could hear a pin drop as the closing arguments were delivered.

Murder defendant Jodi Arias appeared a little different yesterday, as her attorney Kirk Nurmi delivered his closing arguments to the jury. Her hair was slightly different and she appeared to have a little makeup on. Both Arias and Willmott removed their glasses for much of Nurmi's summation. The Alexander and Arias families were both present, and well known legal pundits such as Jane Valez Mitchell, Jean Casarez and Nancy Grace were seen in the gallery.  These were emotional moments, the finality of it all seemed to sink in as Travis' sisters were visible shaken and crying.


The alternate jurors were then chosen at random by a court staffer near the Judge's seat. Jurors #10, #15 and #17 were drawn as the alternates. They will be returning on Monday when the deliberating jurors continue, but they will be segregated in a separate room and watched by the bailiffs sworn in after the proceedings to guard the integrity of the jury deliberations. 


It's hard to gauge what Jodi Arias was thinking when it was over. It had to be tough to hear Juan Martinez describe why he believes she should be found guilty of first degree premeditated murder AND first degree felony murder. It fits. Kirk Nurmi, on the other hand - in his final statement told the jury "if Jodi Arias is guilty of anything - it's manslaughter, by heat of the moment passion". I've never seen a trial where self defense is argued throughout, yet in closing the defense attorney is allowed to push for heat of the moment manslaughter: the "she snapped" defense. This would have sat better with me if that's what the claimed all along, but Arias was going for broke - a justifiable homicide. That may be her ultimate undoing.


So how long can we expect the jury to deliberate Arias' fate? There's no way to tell. But I did some research on the last woman to face Juan Martinez in a death penalty case. The trial against Wendi Andriano lasted four months, yet it took them only 15 minutes to decide she was guilty of first degree murder. Like Jodi Arias, Wendi Andriano took the stand and testified for 9 days. Jurors who were later interviewed said they just didn't believe her testimony.


Deciding life or death took much longer. The Andriano case was similar to this case in that Andriano claimed self-defense, but the evidence that her terminally ill husband would have lacked the strength to harm her - coupled with a suspicious life insurance policy and previous poisoning attempts were too much for Andriano to overcome. After the guilt phase of that trial, the jury heard a week of testimony on the aggravating factors and why Andriano should be executed. It took them four hours to decide that the killing was especially cruel and eligible for the death penalty. They heard six days around the mitigating factors, and why her life should be spared. It took them four days to come back with their decision. As you know, Andriano sits on Arizona's death row.


Since Arizona juries have the benefit of being allowed to ask questions throughout the trial, their deliberations may go faster than if they were not allowed to. This may eliminate some of the back and forth questions to the Judge that is seen during deliberations. What do you think? The State has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that first degree murder is the only charge that fits - did Juan Martinez meet that burden? I think he did. If you don't believe she planned to kill him when she got in that rental car and drove to Mesa, under the law she had time to reflect in between the mortal wounds she inflicted on Travis Alexander. I don't see any other verdict being suitable for this. I wonder how close the sentencing phase will end up being to the 5-year anniversary of the tragic murder. I know this isn't an anniversary in the sense of the celebratory kind. 


So now the verdict watch begins. Juries can be unpredictable, but let's pray they get this one right!


20 comments:

  1. My Forte, thanks so much. Your blog is so informative and interesting. I have enjoyed it throughout this trial. The background on the Andriano case is so interesting. I love the fact that the jury gets to ask questions and I think it should be standard operating procedure in all states. I think it helps the process. This case has been fascinating from beginning to end. The horrific crime, the victims family who show unbelievable restraint although their heartbreak is visible every day in court, the sociopathic defendant who is so arrogant that she thinks she can play the victim during weeks of testimony and 'no jury will convict her', several questionable expert witnesses, excellent and some not so excellent lawyers, masterful closing by the prosecution... the list goes on and on. But what it breaks down to in all this is this tragic end of life that was not for any other reason than because Jodi couldn't have her man and nobody else was going to have him. Tragic.

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    Replies
    1. Anon (5/4 @ 8:06AM),
      Thank you so much for your comments. It's very sad that 99.9% of the trial focus has been on the murderer. This has been emotional for people who don't even know the families involved - I can only imagine what they are going through! When the verdict comes down, it will be about TRAVIS and not Jodi!

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  2. Wow, did they really only deliberate for 15 minutes in the other trial? That's fast but I'm sure the evidence was strong. I know if I was on this jury, my mind would already be set on murder one...absolutely nothing would sway me. There were a few odd jury questions that lead me to believe there may be one juror who isn't convinced of her guilt. I hope I'm wrong on that!

    What are we all going to do with our time now that it's almost over?!?!? I know the Zimmerman trial is coming up but I'm not very interested in that. Will you be following the Oscar Pistorius trial at all My Forte? I think that starts in June.

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  3. Four months of living with the testimony....I'd say they know it inside & out. All they have to do is take a straw vote. That's probably what happened in the Adriano case. I have no doubt that most if not all have their minds made up. Let's hope they get it right! jillb

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous (5/4 @ 12:22PM),
      Yes, the similarities are striking between these two "self defense" claims. I've read several articles saying that jurors only took 15 minutes to reach the verdict in the Andriano guilt phase. However, they may have not rendered a verdict for a little longer. I don't think a jury wants people to believe they took their duty lightly and may take longer out of the seriousness of what they are doing.

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  4. Hey All,

    This Kristin Randle article about Geffner is good. She said the way he described someone being shot In the head the person could finish a movie and grab a snack before driving themselves to the hospital. So funny! Geffner did make it sound that way.

    http://kristinarandle.com/blog/#!/entry/jodi-arias-trial-dr-robert-geffner-defense-witness,7854/2

    Sue

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  5. I found this comment the other day on an old 2009 blog post about the case. Travis’ brother actually posted on there also, asking the girl to please contact him. She replied with her email address to him.

    *JadeLeigh, on May 27, 2009 at 7:13 am said:
    I wouldn’t say I KNOW Jodi, but I have met her, and witnessed her “handy – work” first hand. I used to talk with and ended up visiting a boy she was interested in (1997 -1998) …she broke in his house and cut the phone lines, one time while I was at his house we were in his room and she was peeping through the window watching us….She always seemed sweet and such, but you could tell something was seriously wrong just below the surface.

    I found her comment interesting because, if it’s true, it shows Jodi had stalker tendencies as far back as her teenage years.
    Info:
    kristinarandle.com

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous (5/4 @ 3:59PM),
      That's beyond creepy. But shows a clear pattern of behavior doesn't it? Who does that sort of thing? Someone who doesn't take kindly to rejection. Thanks for posting this!

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    2. Wow, I wish Juan could have had that person for a witness. Although chances are the judge wouldn't allow her in because she would be too prejudicial. I feel a rant coming on. ; ) If the jury comes back with lesser charges than M1 I truly believe it will be because key evidence wasn't allowed in. Grr.

      Sue

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  6. That is so interesting about the Andriano case, My Forte. Thanks for bringing that up. I am going to read about it.

    Sadly, I have a S-I-L that I suspect is borderline. If she thinks someone has crossed her, she can hold onto a grudge for years. And the initial "offense" can be something she imagined happened, not reality. : ( She has at least 5 of the 9 traits.

    I think when JA got that e-mail from Travis calling her out as a sociopath, the rage was ignited and she nursed it. Nurmi is asking all these, IMO, ridiculous questions: why didn't she stab him in the back? Shoot him when he was sleeping? Etc. I believe she wanted to torture him. To see his face when she struck the first blow. He wronged her (in her opinion) and he deserved nothing less.

    Having first hand experience with someone no where near as violent and ill as Jodi makes it a lot easier to imagine that kind of irrational rage. IMO, JA is extremely dangerous.

    Sue

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  7. I agree with My Forte that Nurmi certainly closed the case in an unusual fashion (I did sleep through parts of it, I admit). Except for playing the sex-talk tapes yet again, he didn't really focus on Jodi's acting in self-defense. I think he made a mistake playing them again and bringing up the whole subject of pedophilia as well. The jusry has to be as sick and tired of that as the rest of us unless Nurmi knows something we don't know: God forbid there's a pervert on the jury who has fallen for Jodi's manipulation and lies. That's my only fear, that there's one hold-out juror. I too believe the jury will come to a decision fairly quickly (but so did the Casey Anthony jury), some time Monday or Tuesday at the latest. Let's all hope and pray for the best, justice for Travis and his family.

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    1. It was like at the last minute, he realized how stupid the whole self defense thing was and decided to switch and focus on a crime of passion. Too little, too late!

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  8. Watch this video of Jodi on JM
    closing before jury instructions.
    http:/www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLx
    NbzveMyY&ft
    Click on Jodi Arias cut throat
    motion or scratch

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    Replies
    1. OMG, she has got to be one of the scariest, most unstable people ever. That gave me some serious chills! Definitely a cutting motion!!!

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  9. It looks an awful lot like a threat to JM similar to her lesser gesture of giving the middle finger. This looks like a literal death threat, something we've all seen used jokingly.

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  10. That looks like a threat to JM to me, too. Obviously intentional. Should the court know about this. I would think so. Arias doesn't look like she is using it jokingly.

    Sue

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  11. I think she is seething at JM's
    account that Travis didn't abuse
    her, I think she is displaying some of her behavior that Travis
    seen on June 4, 2008. IMO she would kill again, had she not been caught.

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  12. Could you please site where you found that the Andriano jury deliberated for 15 minutes? All court docs & news reports that I have ever read state that the jury deliberated for 2.5 hours for the first verdict and 8 hours for the penalty phase. I would be very interested to see the report you found, thank you.

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous (5/7 @ 9:11PM),
      I'll look for the info on the Andriano verdict deliberation time and post it here. Check back tomorrow. I try to get my information from reliable sources before I post this stuff, but there's always room for error! I've recently heard Jean Casarez referring to a previous death penalty case JM prosecuted where the jury deliberated for 15 minutes - so that appears to be the Andriano case they are referring to so I think it's accurate. Check back tomorrow or later today!

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    2. Anonymous (5/7 @ 9:11PM), **ANDRIANO INFO**
      On the deliberation time in Andriano verdict - here is one of the sources I used in researching that case. The jurors took longer to decide the penalty, but the guilt phase was swift. Hope this helps, it was from the Arizona Republic:
      http://www.nlada.org/DMS/Documents/1106668066.47/0124deathjurors24.html

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Thank you for commenting!