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Comparing Other High Profile Trials to Jodi Arias Trial

Following the latest status hearing to decide when the retrial of the penalty phase of Jodi Arias’ trial will begin and given the numerous delays in the trial process,  I wanted to compare some of the statistics from this trial to other high profile trials to see if anything stands out as excessive.  There were some interesting data points when I looked at some of the trial data from the Scott Peterson and Wendi Andriano trials – both of which were high profile murder trials that received extensive media coverage.  Scott Peterson’s trial in particular became a national story from the moment his beautiful young and very pregnant wife Laci was reported as missing in Modesto, California.  Peterson’s trial was covered extensively, although it did not have the gavel to gavel media coverage that Jodi Aria’s trial received.

Some interesting points:  The State of CA v Scott Peterson lasted 5 ½ months and had testimony from 184 witnesses.  The defendant never took the stand.  The jury deliberated over guilt for more than 44 hours after 2 jurors were removed from the panel.  One juror was removed for conducting independent research on the case and the jury foreman reportedly asked to be removed from the panel.  Despite the jury issues, no mistrial was declared and after the 2 jurors were replaced with alternates, the panel deliberated for 44 hours over a period of 7 days before finding him guilty.

The prosecution team was greeted by cheers and applause from members of the public following the verdict – there were no arguments of “rock star treatment” or prosecutorial misconduct because of the public’s reaction of gratitude towards the prosecution team.  During the sentencing phase, jurors deliberated for 11 ½ hours before handing down the death sentence.  This was a highly publicized trial and Scott Peterson was public enemy number one during this period of time.

The State of Arizona v Wendi Andriano – Joe Andriano was murdered on 10/8/2000 in the Ahwatukee luxury apartment he shared with his wife Wendi and their two young sons.  Joe Andriano was fighting terminal cancer and the chemotherapy treatments left him very weak.  Andriano argued she killed her husband in self defense after he attacked her following an argument about an affair Wendi had disclosed to her husband.  Wendi Andriano was arrested and charged with first degree murder, the state notified the court they intended to seek the death penalty.

The Andriano trial started on 8/23/04, a little less than 4 years after the killing of Joe Andriano.  Wendi Andriano had no criminal record and was 29 years old at the time of the murder.  Andriano took the stand for 9 days and testified about abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband during their marriage. She told the jury that she and Joe had a suicide pact, and Joe wanted to die because the cancer was causing him to suffer. Evidence that Andriano poisoned her husband with Sodium Azide was also uncovered during the trial, and she tried to have a large insurance policy on her husband reinstated fraudulently shortly before his death.

The jury found Andriano guilty of first degree murder on 11/18/04.  Following the guilt phase of the trial, jurors heard 1 week of testimony on aggravating factors, followed by 6 days of mitigation testimony.  Andriano’s mitigation included the assertion that 1) she was a good mother, and 2) she did some missionary work in Mexicali at age 19, her age at the time of the murder and her lack of criminal history were also presented by the defense – in all, they listed 23 mitigating factors to the jury!The jury found the aggravating factor (cruel and heinous manner) was present in the way Joe was murdered, and the death penalty was on the table.  Deliberations for the penalty phase began on December 16, 2004.  Shortly after the jury began deliberating they took an initial poll, which showed 3 jurors were in favor of the death penalty, 4 were in favor of life and the rest were undecided.  Following a 3 day weekend, they resumed deliberating and weighing the specific mitigating factors against the aggravating factors. The jury discussed this at length, and by the next vote they had swung to 11-1 in favor of the death penalty.  One hold-out juror was said to be a senior citizen who adamantly opposed the death penalty.  How did somebody who “adamantly opposed” the death penalty land on the jury?  On the third day of deliberations, each juror discussed the 23 mitigating factors given by the defense and they ultimately decided they did not outweigh the brutal manner in which Joe Andriano was murdered.  One juror pointed out “does a good mother kill her husband”? 

The jury reportedly also discussed the fact that if they gave Andriano life, they would have no control over what the trial judge gave her – natural life, or life with possibility of parole/release after 25 years and jurors did not want Andriano to receive a 25 year sentence.  On December 22, 2004 the jury unanimously voted for the death penalty for Wendi Andriano.  It wasn’t an easy road for any of the jurors.  Did Jodi Arias’ jury deliberate for long enough?  Did they throw in the towel too soon?  Looking at these other two lengthy media-driven trials, some may say it appears they did.  But this is our judicial process.  Here are some statistics for the Jodi Arias trial:

June 4, 2008 – Travis Alexander was murdered.
June 9, 2008 – Travis Alexander’s body was discovered by concerned friends.
July 15, 2008 – Jodi Arias is arrested in Yreka, CA
September 5, 2008 – Jodi Arias is extradited to Phoenix, AZ
September 11, 2008 – Jodi Arias pleads not guilty to charge of 1st degree murder
October 31, 2008 – State of AZ files notice of intent to seek death penalty

December 10, 2012 – Jury selection begins
January 2, 2013 – Trial begins with opening statements, prosecutions case in chief begins
January 17, 2013 – The State of Arizona rests after 9 days of testimony
January 29, 2013 – The defense case begins
February 4, 2013 – Defendant Jodi Arias takes the witness stand, remains on stand for 18 days
April 15, 2013 – Defense rests after 38 days of testimony
May 2-3, 2013 – Closing arguments are given
May 3, 2013 – Jury begins deliberations
May 8, 2013 – Jury delivers guilty verdict
May 21 – 22, 2013 – Jury deliberates on sentencing
May 23, 2013 – Jury unable to reach unanimous decision
May 23, 2013 – Mistrial declared by Judge Sherry Stephens.  Retrial date set for July 18, 2013
July 16, 2013 – After 3 minute court session, status hearing rescheduled for August 26, 2013
August 26, 2013 – After 5 minute session, status hearing on retrial rescheduled for September 15, 2013


It just seems to me that other high profile cases have been handled much more swiftly and efficiently than this one has been.  The Peterson trial ousted 2 jurors during deliberations!  Wendi Andriano’s defense team presented 23 mitigating factors (versus zero for Arias), Andriano was around the same age as Jodi Arias AND she was the mother of two small children.  What happened here?Following the latest status hearing to decide when the retrial of the penalty phase of Jodi Arias’ trial will begin and given the numerous delays in the trial process,  I wanted to compare some of the statistics from this trial to other high profile trials to see if anything stands out as excessive.  There were some interesting data points when I looked at some of the trial data from the Scott Peterson and Wendi Andriano trials – both of which were high profile murder trials that received extensive media coverage.  Scott Peterson’s trial in particular became a national story from the moment his beautiful young and very pregnant wife Laci was reported as missing in Modesto, California.  Peterson’s trial was covered extensively, although it did not have the gavel to gavel media coverage that Jodi Aria’s trial received.

Some interesting points:  The State of CA v Scott Peterson lasted 5 ½ months and had testimony from 184 witnesses.  The defendant never took the stand.  The jury deliberated over guilt for more than 44 hours after 2 jurors were removed from the panel.  One juror was removed for conducting independent research on the case and the jury foreman reportedly asked to be removed from the panel.  Despite the jury issues, no mistrial was declared and after the 2 jurors were replaced with alternates, the panel deliberated for 44 hours over a period of 7 days before finding him guilty.

The prosecution team was greeted by cheers and applause from members of the public following the verdict – there were no arguments of “rock star treatment” or prosecutorial misconduct because of the public’s reaction of gratitude towards the prosecution team.  During the sentencing phase, jurors deliberated for 11 ½ hours before handing down the death sentence.  This was a highly publicized trial and Scott Peterson was public enemy number one during this period of time.

The State of Arizona v Wendi Andriano – Joe Andriano was murdered on 10/8/2000 in the Ahwatukee luxury apartment he shared with his wife Wendi and their two young sons.  Joe Andriano was fighting terminal cancer and the chemotherapy treatments left him very weak.  Andriano argued she killed her husband in self defense after he attacked her following an argument about an affair Wendi had disclosed to her husband.  Wendi Andriano was arrested and charged with first degree murder, the state notified the court they intended to seek the death penalty.

The Andriano trial started on 8/23/04, a little less than 4 years after the killing of Joe Andriano.  Wendi Andriano had no criminal record and was 29 years old at the time of the murder.  Andriano took the stand for 9 days and testified about abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband during their marriage. She told the jury that she and Joe had a suicide pact, and Joe wanted to die because the cancer was causing him to suffer. Evidence that Andriano poisoned her husband with Sodium Azide was also uncovered during the trial, and she tried to have a large insurance policy on her husband reinstated fraudulently shortly before his death.

The jury found Andriano guilty of first degree murder on 11/18/04.  Following the guilt phase of the trial, jurors heard 1 week of testimony on aggravating factors, followed by 6 days of mitigation testimony.  Andriano’s mitigation included the assertion that 1) she was a good mother, and 2) she did some missionary work in Mexicali at age 19, her age at the time of the murder and her lack of criminal history were also presented by the defense – in all, they listed 23 mitigating factors to the jury!The jury found the aggravating factor (cruel and heinous manner) was present in the way Joe was murdered, and the death penalty was on the table.  Deliberations for the penalty phase began on December 16, 2004.  Shortly after the jury began deliberating they took an initial poll, which showed 3 jurors were in favor of the death penalty, 4 were in favor of life and the rest were undecided.  Following a 3 day weekend, they resumed deliberating and weighing the specific mitigating factors against the aggravating factors. The jury discussed this at length, and by the next vote they had swung to 11-1 in favor of the death penalty.  One hold-out juror was said to be a senior citizen who adamantly opposed the death penalty.  How did somebody who “adamantly opposed” the death penalty land on the jury?  On the third day of deliberations, each juror discussed the 23 mitigating factors given by the defense and they ultimately decided they did not outweigh the brutal manner in which Joe Andriano was murdered.  One juror pointed out “does a good mother kill her husband”? 

The jury reportedly also discussed the fact that if they gave Andriano life, they would have no control over what the trial judge gave her – natural life, or life with possibility of parole/release after 25 years and jurors did not want Andriano to receive a 25 year sentence.  On December 22, 2004 the jury unanimously voted for the death penalty for Wendi Andriano.  It wasn’t an easy road for any of the jurors.  Did Jodi Arias’ jury deliberate for long enough?  Did they throw in the towel too soon?  Looking at these other two lengthy media-driven trials, some may say it appears they did.  But this is our judicial process.  Here are some statistics for the Jodi Arias trial:

June 4, 2008 – Travis Alexander was murdered.
June 9, 2008 – Travis Alexander’s body was discovered by concerned friends.
July 15, 2008 – Jodi Arias is arrested in Yreka, CA
September 5, 2008 – Jodi Arias is extradited to Phoenix, AZ
September 11, 2008 – Jodi Arias pleads not guilty to charge of 1st degree murder
October 31, 2008 – State of AZ files notice of intent to seek death penalty

December 10, 2012 – Jury selection begins
January 2, 2013 – Trial begins with opening statements, prosecutions case in chief begins
January 17, 2013 – The State of Arizona rests after 9 days of testimony
January 29, 2013 – The defense case begins
February 4, 2013 – Defendant Jodi Arias takes the witness stand, remains on stand for 18 days
April 15, 2013 – Defense rests after 38 days of testimony
May 2-3, 2013 – Closing arguments are given
May 3, 2013 – Jury begins deliberations
May 8, 2013 – Jury delivers guilty verdict
May 21 – 22, 2013 – Jury deliberates on sentencing
May 23, 2013 – Jury unable to reach unanimous decision
May 23, 2013 – Mistrial declared by Judge Sherry Stephens.  Retrial date set for July 18, 2013
July 16, 2013 – After 3 minute court session, status hearing rescheduled for August 26, 2013
August 26, 2013 – After 5 minute session, status hearing on retrial rescheduled for September 15, 2013

It just seems to me that other high profile cases have been handled much more swiftly and efficiently than this one has been.  The Peterson trial ousted 2 jurors during deliberations!  Wendi Andriano’s defense team presented 23 mitigating factors (versus zero for Arias), Andriano was around the same age as Jodi Arias AND she was the mother of two small children.  What happened here? 

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