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Jodi Arias' Fate Is Now In the Jury's Hands

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?


Jodi Arias' Lies Prevent Character Witness Testimony

Wow. It's almost a full day later and I'm still left with "wow"!  Jodi Arias is expected to speak to the jury this morning at 9:30AM PST and with all that has happened during this trial, I'm hesitant to speculate on whether or not that will even take place.  Yesterday, the defense was supposed to call character witnesses to speak on behalf of convicted murderer Jodi Arias - childhood friend Patricia Womack was supposed to speak first.  When she declined and was a no-show in court, a meeting in the Judge's chambers ensued. Another trial delay was no surprise in this trial, where on most days delays have become standard.

What happened after the parties came out of chambers was shocking.  If you read yesterday's post or watched the trial, you know what happened.  Womack apparently had second thoughts about publicly testifying in this trial, but the reasons for her reluctance vary depending on whether you believe the prosecution or the defense. The defense claims Womack chose not to testify because of threats to her life, basically witness intimidation. Prosecutor Juan Martinez says otherwise. When he interviewed Womack on May 15th, he apparently had done his homework on Womack and uncovered skeletons in her closet that included drug use, income that was potentially not reported and other things that have not been publicly disclosed. Womack became nervous during her interview with Martinez on May 15th when asked about her prior drug use - she left the room briefly with Arias' attorneys, and when she returned she asserted her fifth amendment rights and refused to answer Martinez's questions.

After several motions by the defense failed yesterday, including a motion for a mistrial, motion for Nurmi & Willmott to withdraw from the case and a motion to stay the penalty proceedings, Nurmi stood before Judge Stephens and said the defense would not be calling witnesses, in light of the courts rulings.  He was rude and aggressive to the Judge and seemed critical of her handling of the trial and previous motions. That being said, Judge Stephens offered a remedy to Womack's concerns about publicly testifying - she, or any other witness would be allowed to testify outside of the presence of the media in a sealed proceeding. Not good enough for Arias & Co.

When you step back for a moment and look at all of the people the defense could call, but won't - and peel back the layers of this smelly onion of Jodi Arias' creation, it's not difficult to see how she has sabotaged her own witnesses. Her lies have created so many conflicts and issues.  Let's break it down:

Sandy Arias - Mother
Jodi & Sandy Arias (Daily Entertainment News)
If the defense were to call Jodi's mom Sandy, she would be subject to cross examination by Juan Martinez.  It's public knowledge that Sandy Arias approached the National Enquirer and tried to sell them copies of letters allegedly written by Travis Alexander to Jodi Arias in which he admits to being abusive and a sexual deviant. The letters were rejected as evidence and are believed to be forgeries.  If Mama-Arias got on the stand, Martinez would be able to cross examine her and these issues would come to light.   Martinez would also be able to ask her about the alleged childhood abuse and the wooden spoon she supposedly beat Jodi with.  Who knows what else would come to light, but these facts alone make her an unlikely witness for her daughter. Again, this mess was created by Jodi Arias, not Juan Martinez or the media or Judge Stephens.

William Arias - Father
William Arias In Court

They could potentially call Papa-Arias to the stand to beg for his daughter's life. I'm not aware of any issues involving Jodi's father that would prevent him from testifying - other than his interview with Detective Esteban Flores, in which he called his daughter "strange" and "secretive". He also told the detective that Jodi was very abusive to his wife Sandy, and that they did not maintain a close relationship with their daughter after she moved out of their home at age 17. Arias was unable to follow the rules of the house and moved in with then-boyfriend Bobby Juarez.  Martinez, on cross examination would be able to ask Jodi's father about the alleged abuse at the hands of both parents.  This is the only issue I'm aware of involving Bill Arias. Arias has been at the trial off and on, he suffers from medical issues that prevent him from attending the trial regularly as his wife does.

Matt McCartney - Ex Boyfriend and Friend
Although we have heard an awful lot about former boyfriend Matt McCartney, he didn't testify during the guilt phase of the trial and I've never seen a photograph of him.  Arias has testified that McCartney is a person who would never let her down, and she claims that she and Matt maintained a close friendship years after their romantic relationship ended.  There is one big thing the prevents McCartney from coming forward on Jodi's behalf now.  During the guilt phase of the trial, Juan Martinez presented evidence that suggests that Jodi Arias attempted to give magazines to friend Ann Campbell during a jail visitation. The magazines were intercepted and examined by jail personnel and they were found to have secret-coded messages in the pages of two magazines. The magazines were seized, and while the intended recipient is not known they were believed to have been meant for Matt McCartney who had an upcoming interview with prosecutor Juan Martinez just days away.  The message, when "de-coded" seemed to ask that he change or alter his testimony in the interview with the prosecutor.  Here is the content of the message:
"You fucked up. What you told my attorney next day directly contradicts what I've been saying for over a year. Get down here ASAP and see me before you talk to them again and testify so we can fix this. Interview was excellent. Must talk ASAP".
I seriously doubt Matt McCartney wants to be subject to perjury charges and has wisely backed away from Jodi's defense. Again, Jodi Arias' lies and manipulation has blocked another defense witness from testifying on her behalf.  This is not the media's fault, not the prosecutor's fault and not Judge Stephens fault!

Patricia Womack - Childhood Friend
Jodi Arias & Patricia Womack (Nancy Grace)

Patricia Womack is a long-time friend of Jodi Arias. She has appeared on several television shows including Nancy Grace's show and talked about the Jodi Arias she grew up with. She is probably the person who has known Arias the longest and she was supposed to testify in last Thursday's afternoon proceedings. That session was abruptly halted for reasons unknown. Some of those reasons came to light yesterday. Womack apparently has some substance abuse issues that would become public knowledge if subject to cross examination by Juan Martinez. There has also been talk of Womack receiving "licensing fees" for the photos of Arias she has shared/sold to the media. I heard something about these funds being unreported, although I'm not sure if that means she failed to report the funds as income or if it somehow involves the public assistance she either is receiving or had been receiving.  Many cans of worms with this witness. She formally is claiming the reason she doesn't want to testify is because of death threats she is receiving - were these threats discussed on May 15th when she was interviewed by Juan Martinez, when she invoked her fifth amendment rights against self-incrimination? That's the big question here. The defense is playing this card close to the vest. They are presenting Womack's reluctance as "witness intimidation", by the prosecutor and the public at large.

Donovan Bering - Friend

Donovan Bering (Channel 5 News)

Donovan Bering met Jodi Arias while she was housed in the Estrella jail. She has been a supporter of Jodi Arias since the trial began, and is frequently seen in court with the Arias family. There are several problems with calling Bering as a character witness. It was Bering's friend Ann Campbell who Arias tried to give those coded magazines to.  Bering is also a convicted felon, and it's widely known she is the person who "tweets" on behalf of Jodi Arias. If you put Bering on the stand, those tweets would more than likely be introduced.  Bering is technically prohibited from associating with Jodi Arias now that she has been convicted of murder. Bering herself is on "Supervised Probation for a Class 2 Felony Conviction (ARSON)". Her probation officer has been notified of her affiliation with Arias, and if Bering wants to remain on parole/probation, she would be wise to stay away from Arias' questionable fundraising activities and Twitter account!

In a dramatic rant yesterday, Kirk Nurmi rattled off the defense witnesses who were being threatened and likened Jodi Arias' trial to a Salem Witch Hunt or a public stoning!  Are you kidding me?  There is still one viable witness they could call, and that's Darryl Brewer. HLN News reported yesterday that Brewer was ready and willing to testify yesterday. He was actually staying in the same Phoenix-area hotel where the HLN staffers were, and they spoke with him briefly and he confirmed his readiness and willingness to head to the court room and testify.  Seems Brewer is the only witness Jodi Arias hasn't tainted to the point of rendering them more harm than help.  But Arias' defense attorneys are now choosing to abort any/all defense character witnesses, putting on no mitigation case.  The way in which Kirk Nurmi delivered his speech to Judge Stephens yesterday was rude, unprofessional and bordered on contempt of court in my opinion!  Seems that since the judge denied their numerous motions, they want to take their ball and go home.

I personally believe the defense wants a new jury altogether.  They probably sense that this jury heard enough from Jodi Arias' 18 days of testimony and their guilty verdict is a signal that they did not believe what Jodi Arias said about Travis Alexander being abusive.  If they can't get a mistrial, they are going for the next best thing - a new jury. The only way they can get a new jury is if this jury is hung.  Is their decision to not present mitigating defense witnesses a reason for Arias to potentially win an appeal?  I don't think so.  This judge has done everything she can possibly do to remedy these problems and her patience was really put to the test yesterday after Nurmi attacked the entire trial process and her prior rulings.  I haven't agreed with some of her rulings, I feel she has been overly lenient with this defense team.  Will Nurmi & Willmott try to use Stephens lack of experience in death penalty trials against her?  Or are they just throwing anything and everything against the wall to see if something sticks?

Is Jodi Arias behind these defense decisions?  Do you believe she will speak today? This trial has been one for the books. I thought the Casey Anthony trial was the biggest circus on the planet - until the Jodi Arias trial.  Even Casey Anthony had the sense to stop talking after her numerous lies were uncovered. Jodi Arias will never stop talking or trying to make money off of the people out there who either believe her stories or feel some sort of empathy for her.  One thing is certain, she is one of the biggest manipulators ever to step foot inside a United States court room!

What will happen today?  Will Judge Stephens ask to withdraw from this trial? Will Nurmi & Willmott show up to represent Jodi Arias today, and will Jodi Arias actually take the stand?  Will Arias have a last minute migraine?  Will the defense ever take advantage of the mitigation specialist who has billed the state for at least 100 hours of time, that we are aware of?  Just when you thought you've seen and heard it all, something else happens.....

Have a great day!

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