On Wednesday the Jodi Arias death penalty murder trial will resume in the same court room it began in on January 2, 2013. It's been nearly 5 years since 30 year old Travis Victor Alexander was savagely attacked in the master suite of his Mesa Arizona home. As the dramatic trial is entering into it's final day of testimony, closing arguments are slated to begin on Thursday, May 1st and conclude on Friday May 2nd. The jury is expected to begin deliberating as early as Friday.
It's been a long and difficult road for the loved ones of Travis Alexander and Jodi Arias as well. Family members have been seated in the first rows of each perspective side throughout the trial. They have been asked to not display emotion as graphic crime scene and autopsy photos revealed just how brutal this murder really was. What Travis must have endured during the last moments of his life is unthinkable. Most people cannot imagine inflicting so much pain to ANY person, repeatedly thrusting a knife into another persons flesh - let alone can we imagine doing this to somebody we know and love.
At the center of the storm is now 32-year old Jodi Arias, who took the stand in her own defense and testified for 18 days about her tumultuous relationship with ex boyfriend Travis Alexander. Having initially lied to detectives investigating the murder, giving two very different accounts of her whereabouts at the time of the killing Arias was decidedly behind the 8-ball when she took the stand. Her credibility was destroyed by her own lies and her defense team attempted to rehabilitate her as a witness and a human being. With family members and friends watching and listening, they never got the truth out of Jodi Arias, rather they heard a distorted portrayal of Travis Alexander as a controlling, self centered sexual deviant - somebody who preyed not only on Arias but on other "young and vulnerable" women.
Their case was largely built on the foundation of a few written exchanges between the pair that were written during times when the couple argued and one audio recording of Arias and Alexander that turned sexual - and began to build a battered woman's defense around their client. Those written exchanges offered the only evidence that the two had at least verbally fought with one another. There would be allegations of physical abuse against Travis Alexander, based solely on the words of Jodi Arias. Arias told the jury that during the alleged altercations, Alexander broke her finger, slapped her, body slammed her to the ground and the most serious of all allegations was that he choked her to the point of unconsciousness. Arias told no one of the alleged abuse, she made no attempt to document the abuse via photographs or medical visits. In fact, her self-defense claims didn't come to light until she had spent nearly 2 years in jail. Did her attorneys succeed in building a case around self-defense? Will the jury believe Arias was physically abused, or will they find her testimony less than credible?
Number one - the whole notion of this murder being the result of self defense is ludicrous at face value. Based on the sheer number of wounds Travis Alexander suffered and the absolute brutality of stabbing a person so many times before slicing their throat and shooting them in the face, it seems crystal clear this was NOT self defense - this was absolute rage. To imply that the victim provoked and threatened to kill her after being shot in the head is outright unbelievable. The medical examiner has testified he would have been unable to attack or speak after being shot in the head. Arias claims the shot came first, she doesn't remember stabbing or slashing his throat. So much focus has been put on what came first, but does it really matter? If she did shoot him first, then stabbing him 29 times (including numerous stabs to his back) would seem even more heinous because he would have already been incapacitated. So if you believe Arias' account, she attacked a man who was already down and unable to attack her - that should have been the end of her efforts at self defense. Yet it wasn't. Conveniently, she claims to not remember the details beyond the gun "going off".
The other scenario has Arias luring Alexander to the shower to pose for photos. Trapped in a confined space and unaware of what was about to happen, Arias takes several shower photos before plunging a knife deeply into his chest. The ME testified the deep stab wound wouldn't have been immediately fatal, but it was deep enough to cause major damage to a vital artery. He was likely confused and in shock, but blood evidence seems to point to him getting out of the shower, standing over the sink where he aspirated blood onto the mirror and sink below him. Did Arias continue her attack, stabbing him numerous times in the back while he stood bleeding over the sink? The defensive wounds to his hands and the blood trail leading to the bedroom and hallway show Arias likely followed him as he tried to get away from his attacker. At some point she cut his throat, causing him to lose massive amounts of blood - yet the attack continued. Prosecutor's believe Arias shot him in the head last. Does it matter? Arias seemed to have ample opportunities to escape any perceived danger during many points throughout the attack. Yet she continued to attack him. Is this self defense? Not by any stretch of the imagination.
Juries can be a crap shoot. You never know if one or more of these jurors has bought into some part of Arias' stories. Even if they do, if they follow the law they should find that this was not a case of self defense. Self defense does not allow for a person to slaughter another. Even if the defense is successful in getting manslaughter added as a lesser included charge, I don't see how a jury hearing this trial could come back with a guilty verdict on manslaughter. We have one more day of testimony to hear, as the defense has succeeded in getting Judge Stephens to allow in another expert witness for the defense. Dr. Robert Geffner is expected to take the stand tomorrow to testify on behalf of the defense. Geffner is known to be a colleague of Alyce LaViolette - the defense's "star witness" who many believe failed to convince the jury Jodi Arias was an abused woman. Geffner will be the third expert witness to testify in this case for the defense, but how much weight will jurors give to another expert? It seems to me that the jury is focused on the testimony of the defendant more than that of the experts. Has Jodi Arias managed to fool three experts and convince them she was a victim of domestic violence? Will it make any difference in the ultimate verdict?
Unfortunately there is much the jury will never know during the guilt or innocence phase of this trial. They haven't heard the interviews with Arias' mother or father. They haven't seen the 2/2/08 police report Travis Alexander filed after his tires were slashed. They are not aware that Jodi Arias bought a gun and was planning on hitting the road in the days leading up to her arrest. There is so much they don't know. Do they have enough facts and tangible evidence to convict her of murder in the first degree? I believe they do. I don't see any other possible verdict for this case. Travis Alexander was viciously murdered in his own home. He was left to decompose for 5 days before being found. It doesn't get any more heinous than that. Arias' life went on as if nothing happened, according to her parents who revealed she was just fine when she returned from Utah. Pray the jury remembers Travis was the victim and that his family receives the justice they all deserve.
The home where Travis Alexander was murdered was purchased in 2009 by a family who was unaware of the crime that took place there the year before. They reportedly believed the missing faucets, carpeting and other damage to the home was due to vandalism. The house is no longer the scene of a gruesome crime, it's now their home. Although they wished to remain anonymous during a recent media interview the home owner said "it's a very loving home" and "this home has a very sweet spirit in it". That sweet spirit must be the spirit of Travis Alexander. The new owners have long since replaced the carpeting, floorboards and repainted the rooms. They reported that people still come by the home and get out of their cars to take photos in front of the home.
The trial resumes Wednesday, May 1 2013.
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