Sunday, December 29, 2013

Jodi Arias Case To Be Featured On "Deadly Sins"

Jerica Young as Jodi Arias
We can now add Investigation Discovery's Deadly Sins to the growing number of crime shows that have featured Jodi Arias and the murder of Travis Alexander in recent years.  The sensational murder trial and the circumstances and evidence associated with the case has captured a large audience as cable and network television continue to pounce on this story while it's hot.  To date, Jodi Arias has been featured on the following:


  • Dateline
  • 48 Hours Hard Evidence
  • 20/20
  • "Dirty Little Secrets - The Jodi Arias Story" - Lifetime Network 
  • Who The Bleep (Did I Marry).....-  Investigation Discovery
  • Snapped - Oxygen
  • Deadly Sins - Investigation Discovery
In addition, Arias has given a number of interviews to local media in Phoenix before and after her trial.  Investigation Discovery's Deadly Sins is hosted by Darren Kavinosky, who often appears as a guest on Nancy Grace and Jane Valez Mitchell's shows on HLN network.  Deadly Sins has featured a number of high profile cases, and some that are not as well known but all of them feature killers who commit the ultimate sin because of greed, lust, jealousy, gluttony or another of the seven deadly sins.  Jodi Arias' story should fit well into this theme and was a natural to be featured on this Investigation Discovery show.

This Deadly Sins episode should air on January 11, 2014 and among the cast of characters they will feature will be Jodi's one-time boyfriend Darryl Brewer, Detective Esteban Flores, Lisa Andrews as well as actresses playing a young Jodi Arias and an older Jodi Arias.  I didn't recognize any of the actors playing these parts, but I wasn't surprised at all to see it being advertised as the season opener.  

In closing, a little irony straight from Arias' Facebook page.  On September 10, 2013, Arias posted the following:  "Over 80,000 followers on Twitter! Be sure to follow me!!"  Maybe this is why she fought so hard to compel jurors to disclose their Twitter accounts.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Jodi Arias Sentencing Re Trial - Life or Death?

It's hard to believe it's been more than 7 months since the Jodi Arias murder trial ended at the sentencing phase with a mistrial.  Although the jury found her guilty of first degree murder for killing Travis Alexander, they were unable to agree on whether she should be sentenced to life or death.  The jury's non-decision was despite the fact that Arias' defense team put on virtually no mitigation case, they never called the few witnesses they had lined up to testify on her behalf.  It seems like a distant memory, the speculation on why witnesses bailed on the defense with claims of threats against them from the public and the prosecutor.  I still don't understand why Jodi Arias' family members were not on the defense witness list, but you better believe there has to be a reason they weren't.

This trial had so many twists, turns, outrageous claims and outright perjury. Remember those magazines, passed off by Arias to a friend during a jailhouse visit?  Remember the speculation around whether Matt McCartney would be a surprise witness for the state? What about the fake/falsified letters reportedly written to Arias by Travis Alexander that the defense tried to have admitted into evidence and that Sandy Arias tried to sell to the National Enquirer? I'd love to know what happened to the gun and knife used during the murder.  Although it seems the jury didn't buy Arias' claims that the gun was in fact Travis', would it make a difference if the State could prove that Arias staged the Yreka break-in and brought those weapons with her?

As 2014 nears, Jodi Arias has a court hearing scheduled for January 3rd. We have not heard a whole lot of news coming out of Maricopa County about the retrial lately, with the exception of Judge Sherry Stephens finally handing down some key rulings on long standing motions.  The biggies - the defense's change of venue motion was denied,  the defense's request to sequester the jury was denied, the defense's request to compel the jurors to disclose Twitter accounts and/or handles was denied but the request to ban live television coverage was granted.  There will be no live coverage, which I see as a huge disappointment because I wanted to witness the conclusion of this trial but I think it's a non-win issue for Jodi Arias.  It doesn't help or hurt her chances in my opinion.  In fact, I think she will miss the reporters and television crews all clamoring over her and seeking interviews. Despite her attorney's claims, she seems to bask in the limelight and her sick celebrity.  People who truly want to keep a low profile don't communicate to the public using a third party via Twitter.

It has been said that the sentencing re-trial is supposed to get under way in earnest in mid February.  Whether that means jury selection will begin in mid February or the actual trial will start has not been disclosed. One legal pundit believes the new jury will have a difficult time sentencing Jodi Arias to death.  CBS legal analyst Rikki Klieman told Crimesider "the likelihood is that a jury is not going to come to a unanimous verdict for someone like Jodi Arias, who is clearly disturbed".  Clearly disturbed?  I agree that any living and breathing person who stabs another human being 29 times before slicing their throat and shooting them in the face IS clearly disturbed.  No argument there, but I don't believe Jodi Arias is the kind of disturbed that mitigates the extreme cruelty and savage nature of her actions on June 4, 2008 and the deceptive behavior that followed the murder of Travis.  If there is one single factor that may be in Arias' favor going in to this penalty phase re-trial, it's the simple fact that she's a female.  Jury's seem to have a difficult time sentencing a woman to death - much more so than if the exact same crime were committed by a man.

That in itself is disturbing.  Gender should not play into the punishment and sentencing.  The facts surrounding this murder are so horrific.  The relentless attack on an unarmed, defenseless and naked man in his own shower by a woman who he had been intimate with only hours before - coupled with the intentional and orchestrated acts that followed in an attempt to create the perfect alibi should be enough for any jury to come to a unanimous decision. I understand that people's personal opinions on the death penalty are a variable that is impossible to predict. There are those people who could never vote for death, regardless of how bad the offense was or who the defendant is. Those people should not be death qualified jurors on any murder case. 

Back in May when the mistrial was declared, Arias' defense requested the re trial be pushed back to 2014 because of conflicts in their schedules. I really don't know why I'm so surprised that it ended up taking so long to get Arias back in the courtroom to face her punishment. When I first started writing about this case and trial, I was shocked by the violent nature of the murder of Travis and I was surprised at the person accused of committing it.  Jodi Arias doesn't look like a murderer, let's face it.  But when the facts began to come to light and the story unfolded, I was shocked by another factor altogether.  I was struck by the lengths Jodi Arias was willing to go to in an attempt to minimize her responsibility and the testimony she gave in open court while under oath. After watching her testify for 18+ days straight, it seemed clear to me that Arias was lying through her teeth to those jurors.  Her stories of physical abuse at the hands of Travis were simply not believable. If Travis was a violent guy with a temper as she described, surely there would be at least one other person on the face of this Earth that would corroborate these claims.  But when she crossed the line into Travis being interested in little boys, and that photograph she "caught him" with - it was outright laughable. With that one lie, she lost any credibility she may have had because it was just so outrageous - her own relatives were shown looking uncomfortable when the court cameras panned to them.

If a woman is willing to tell that kind of a lie, is there truly anything she wouldn't say? It will be interesting to see how this all unfolds. All I can say is that I hope the jury reaches a decision this time. This was a brutal horrible murder.  And while the defense rattles off their mitigating factors about Jodi's age at the time of the crime, her artistic promise and her troubled upbringing, I hope the jury will remember Travis' age at the time of his death, the difference he made in the lives of countless people and how he made something of himself in spite of HIS troubled upbringing.  He was only 30 years old.  He will never get the chance to realize his full potential in life.  By the way, I'm not so sure Jodi's upbringing looked as troubled as her defense would like us to believe.  Their description of Jodi not having the support of her parents didn't really jive with all of those smiling family photos Jodi was showing on the projector during her presentation to the jury!  Remember all of those family vacation photos, holidays and birthdays?  I think the only thing "troubled" about Jodi Arias' upbringing was that her parents didn't approve of her behavior as an adolescent and teenager. It seems to me they were cracking down on her, which is much different than abuse!

Let's just hope the jury remembers that Travis Alexander was a young man with his whole life ahead of him - a life that was ended because of the jealousy and rage of Jodi Arias. Travis was a guy who seemingly beat the odds, he was driven and determined and he was succeeding in his life. But the defense made sure that the world knew that Travis Alexander wasn't perfect and that he engaged in pre-marital sex. They trashed him every chance they got, painting him as violent and a sexual predator.  I find it very telling that Jodi was the only person who saw this side of him.  

If anybody out there knows what the January 3, 2014 hearing is all about, please let me know!  The last "minute entry" associated with this case was on December 5, 2013:

The Court has considered the Motion to Reconsider Change of Venue and Request for Individualized Voir Dire filed December 1, 2013. Defendant requests the Court reconsider its ruling on two motions because the defendant’s former cellmate granted media interviews in 
which she spoke poorly of the defendant, claiming the defendant was dangerous to others even though she is behind bars. In addition, the cellmate stated the defendant wanted revenge against the prosecutor, the investigating detective and a victim family member. Defendant argues that 

this recent pretrial publicity will prevent her from receiving a fair trial in Maricopa County.

The Court finds this new information does not change its rulings on the defendant’s motion for change of venue or motion for individual voir dire. See court minute entries dated November 13, 2013 and November 14, 2013. Defendant will be given an opportunity to fully question potential jurors to determine if they were exposed to any media coverage about the defendant or this case and whether they can put aside such information and determine the case solely on the evidence presented at trial. This Court will permit an attorney to conduct individual voir dire upon request if that attorney can establish the need to speak with a specific juror outside the presence of other jurors. Each prospective juror will complete a comprehensive juror questionnaire before meeting with the court and counsel to answer additional questions.

The Court will include specific questions on the juror questionnaire directed at obtaining information about exposure to media coverage of this case. As previously noted in its rulings, this Court has no basis for finding the defendant has met the very heavy burden of establishing the media coverage has been so prejudicial, extensive or outrageous that a fair and impartial trial cannot be had. See Rule 10.3(a), Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure and State v. Payne, 674 Ariz Adv.Rep.5 at 7 (2013). Defendant may re-urge her motion if it becomes evident during jury selection that a fair and impartial jury cannot be seated in Maricopa County.

IT IS ORDERED denying the Motion to Reconsider Change of Venue and Request for Individualized Voir Dire filed December 1, 2013.

There you have it. We will all have to wait and see what a jury of Jodi Arias' peers set her punishment at.  The best she can hope for is life with chance of release after serving 25 years.  The worst she can receive is death.  Whatever sentence she receives, she has to live with the knowledge that she killed Travis and shattered the lives of his family, her family and friends on both sides of the fence.  Regardless of how many pieces of artwork she sells, how many people follow her on Twitter or how many media interviews she gives - she will always be a convicted murderer.


 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Cold Justice Does It Again - Arrest Warrant Issued In Cold Case

A case that will be featured in Season 2 of TNT's Cold Justice has already produced an arrest warrant in the unsolved disappearance and homicide of 27 year old Tracy Lynn Allen.  Tracy was 27 years old when she vanished in May of 2001. She left her 3 and 6 year old daughters with a neighbor who was babysitting for her, went out one evening and never returned.  Instead, ex husband Garfield Allen picked up the kids from the neighbor and dropped them off at his mother's house.  He told his mother Tracy ran off with another man.  

Tracy and Garfield divorced in 2000 and were known to be having custody issues prior to her disappearance.  I suspect the Altus police department suspected Garfield way back when, but lacked sufficient evidence to take action against him.  Tracy's remains have never been found.  The Cold Justice team agreed to take a look into this case, and in late November an arrest warrant had been issued for Garfield Allen for second degree murder. When authorities traveled to Hillsboro to arrest him, he went on the run.  To my knowledge he is still wanted and on the run.

Just a little preview of the effect the attention of Cold Justice can have on a cold case.  This case is listed as the first one on their Season 2 episode guide, not a bad beginning for their second year.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Jodi Arias Featured on Oxygen's "Snapped"

I knew it was only a matter of time before Jodi Arias was featured on Oxygen's Snapped, and tonight the first part of a 2-part special on the tragic story airs at 9:00PM ET.  Snapped tells the stories of female killers, and over the years they have featured many high profile cases as well as some not so well known to the public.  They are all chilling, and they do a pretty good job of telling the backstory and facts and circumstances leading up to a murder. Snapped airs in marathon runs on Sundays in my area. 

Snapped has been on air for 13 seasons and has featured Celeste Beard Johnson, Susan Wright, Clara Harris, Pamela Smart, Susan Polk, Mary Winkler, Michelle Michael, Shawna Nelson, Susan Grund, Kelly Ryan, Dalia Dipollito, Rachel Wade and many many more. 

Tonight's show takes a in depth look at the relationship between Jodi Arias and Travis Alexander, starting at the beginning of their relationship and through the savage murder, the media circus around the trial and all the way up to the guilty verdict.  They promise first hand accounts and never before seen interviews with friends of Travis Alexander and experts who covered the trial. They interviewed both Jodi and Travis' former co-workers which should be interesting.  We've heard from people who used to work with Jodi how obsessive she was about Travis - at one of the restaurants she used to work at, a former colleague said there were days when Arias would sit out in the parking lot refusing to start work until she got a hold of Travis.  We also learned during the trial coverage that Jodi once drove from the Palm Desert area directly through to Mesa after work one night, just to see Travis.  This sounds like textbook stalking to me.

I don't know if Travis' family was interviewed or appear on this episode of Snapped. They have remained largely out of the media spotlight throughout the horrible 5+ year ordeal, speaking at times through Justice 4 Travis Facebook postings. They are clearly more interested in getting through this trial, and having their brother's murderer sentenced one way or another.  Snapped also will feature an interview with Juror #6, Diane Schwartz - who voted in favor of sending Arias to death row.  This case has been blanketed with media coverage yet it continues to draw in viewers across the country. I have been one of those people who cannot get enough trial coverage. The story caught my attention because of the sheer brutality of the murder, and the woman responsible who lied at every turn while thrusting herself into the media spotlight.  The lies, the photos - how a seemingly average woman could commit such a brutal crime and go on to Utah to see another man?

It's unthinkable.  Normal people don't behave this way, they couldn't continue on to Utah to see another person.  A normal person would be completely devastated and shaken to the core.  Even if you believe Jodi Arias' story of self defense and abuse, why did she go to Mesa that night and disarm her cell phone? If she and Travis really got into a fight that started in the bathroom shower area and he was soaking wet, there's no way he could have body slammed her while wet and slippery.  I'll never believe that she couldn't escape the danger she perceived she was in that night.  She was dressed, he wasn't. She was dry, he was wet.  She could have and should have been out the door and down the stairs before things got out of hand. Her story doesn't make sense. None of them do.  People who act in self defense have no reason to clean up or alter a crime scene, and they have absolutely no reason to not call the police if they have been in a fight for their life.  How could she kill him the way she did and then proceed on like nothing ever happened?

We know from Ryan Burns' testimony that Jodi Arias arrived and acted completely normal.  How can somebody tear into another person's flesh and watch them bleed out and die and then carry out all of the things she did afterwards? The camera, the bedding, dragging the body back to the shower? How could a person do that?  Jodi Arias is a perfect candidate to be featured on Snapped. You can bet I'll be watching tonight, and waiting until Jodi Arias is finally sentenced for murdering Travis Alexander.  My hope is that once she is sentenced, she will fade into the background and be forgotten.



Saturday, December 14, 2013

Jodi Arias and Debra Milke Due in Court Same Day

Fox 10 News' Troy Hayden reported yesterday that earlier this year, Jodi Arias found out that former death-row inmate Debra Milke was being moved to the Maricopa County jail to attend court hearings, and she made a request to jail officials to have Milke housed in the cell next to hers.  As you may know, Debra Milke spent nearly 20 years on death row after being convicted of murder in the death of her young son.  Her conviction was recently overturned and she was taken off death row.  


Earlier this year, Milke was moved from Perryville prison to Maricopa County jail so she could attend hearings in her case.  When Jodi Arias heard this news, she sent a request to jail administrators asking them to put Milke in the cell next to hers! Her request was denied, as inmates are not allowed to pick their "cellies".  How weird is this?  Did Arias want to seek advice from Milke on what death row is like, or was she interested in how Milke got her conviction overturned on appeal? It could be a little of both.  The Fox 10 News article says that Debra Milke, like Jodi Arias - gave an interview after her conviction from the jail.  But Milke has remained virtually silent since.  Debra Milke is free while awaiting a new trial. Both Milke and Arias were due in court for hearings on Friday. I can only imagine what Jodi Arias wanted to talk to her about.  

Arias' Motion To Compel Juror Twitter Accounts Denied

There have been some key rulings handed down from Judge Sherry Stephens in the never-ending saga that is the Jodi Arias penalty phase re-trial.  In a December 3, 2013 minute entry, Judge Stephens denied Defendant Arias' Motion to compel juror Twitter accounts:

"In the Motion, Defendant Arias requests the Court order all juror seated in her case to disclose Twitter accounts and/or handles.  Defendant claims the disclosure of this information will assist in investigating whether the jurors have been subjected to any extraneous influences during jury service.  Defendant argues that improper communications between jurors and third parties can invalidate a verdict".  In her ruling, Judge Stephens said "There is no lawful basis for the Court or parties to investigate or monitor jurors absent a credible allegation that juror misconduct has occurred.

The Court will not presume juror misconduct will occur. The Court will not require all jurors to provide their social media account information to the Court.
IT IS ORDERED denying the Defendant’s Motion to Compel Juror Twitter Accounts.

I'm certain that I'm not the only one rolling my eyes at Jodi Arias' audacity at this Motion.  After all, she was "tweeting" throughout her own 5 1/2 month trial.  So it would seem that Ms. Arias wants jurors to hear what she has to say, but not what other people may have to say via Twitter.  Had she not been tweeting and using other social media tools while behind bars, I may have seen her point.  But since she was the one who WAS using every online tool to her advantage.....I think she has made her jail cot and now she needs to sleep in it!

Another key ruling was handed down by Judge Stephens, outlined in a December 4, 2013 minute entry:

IT IS ORDERED denying the Motion to Reconsider Change of Venue and Request for Individualized Voir Dire filed December 1, 2013.


So there you have it.  I believe the only Motion that Arias has been successful with relates to televising the re-trial live.  We won't get to witness the trial in real time, and this is quite disappointing.  For those of us who were glued to our televisions watching every minute of coverage and were hugely disappointed with the non-verdict at the penalty phase, we will be scrambling to keep up with the trial coverage the old fashioned way.  

In other Arias trial-related news, Travis Alexander's brother Steven's recent posting on the Justice 4 Travis Facebook page that the re-trial is set to begin in February of 2014.  FEBRUARY of 2014!  Hard to believe that a person can murder somebody and remain unsentenced for 5 1/2 years.  It would appear that at least some of the Arias' defense's attempts to delay punishment have been successful.  But if they think the delay is going to make people forget the brutality and senselessness of this crime, I think they are greatly mistaken.  The public is still outraged and people want justice for Travis Alexander.  It sickens me that so much time, money and focus has been spent on ensuring that Jodi Arias gets a fair trial while she sits behind bars directing so many websites and online ventures that have $$$$ attache to them.  She not only wants your sympathy, she also wants your money.  And I whole heartedly believe if she hadn't been caught red handed with her own lies and the physical evidence left at the crime scene, she'd still be sticking to the two masked intruder story.  

In Steven Alexander's Facebook posting, he says that the family remains united and ready to see Arias' sentencing through to the very end.  "We believe this is a tactic to try and get us to throw in the towel, we will not", he wrote regarding the trial delays. "Our family will come together and see it through until it is finished.  There is a monster who haunts us, but once the sentence is given it's her who will be haunted until the most humane sentence comes to her", he wrote.  "Nothing compares to the sentence she gave to a good man".  The family continues to support the death penalty for their brother's murderer.

I checked Arias' website to see how her limited edition prints are selling.  The website still lists the two limited edition prints of her "Sailing at Sunset" and "Picasso Cala Lillie's" for sale.  There were 100 of each for sale, the site says there are 89 of the Picasso prints left and 66 of the Sailing at Sunset remaining.  If my math is to be trusted, that means she has sold 45 prints in total, at $39.00 each.  This means she has taken in $1,755.00 for the two so far.  Again, I can't explain why this bothers me as much as it does. Just seems so wrong that she is selling stuff from JAIL! And now that she is a convicted felon, it should not be happening.  The fact that she seems to do this with such ease is troubling.  Do you think that $1,755.00 will be given back to the State to offset her $2,000,000 defense? Do you think it will be used for her appellate attorney? Do you think it will be placed in a fund for the victim's family?  No, no and no.  When will somebody do something about this?  A convicted murderer is running a business from behind bars, she isn't reporting the income or paying taxes on it.  She is essentially fund raising via her new JAA Appellate Trust. Why don't the authorities seem to care? Are they really unable to prevent her from releasing personal property to her visitors when they must have an idea that it's being sold?  Come on.  She is making a mockery of you, Sheriff Joe.  So much for being the "toughest Sheriff in America".



Monday, December 2, 2013

Details Around Arias Re-Trial Closely Guarded

For those of us who followed the sensational murder trial against Jodi Arias and were stunned with the non-decision the jury rendered at sentencing, the wait for the penalty phase retrial seems endless.  When Judge Sherry Stephens declared a mistrial back in late May, she initially set a tentative retrial date for late July of 2013.  What the hell happened?  Endless defense motions, delays and detours and 6 months later here we are where we started in late May. Watching and waiting.  How excruciating must this be for Travis Alexander's family? Seeing the torture on their faces during the trial as their deceased brother was portrayed as a villain, it seemed their nightmare was finally coming to an end with one word: Guilty. Will they ever get to put this ordeal behind them and begin the healing process?  Is healing even possible knowing how Jodi Arias cornered and attacked their brother like an animal? I pray they find the strength to.

Since the mistrial, one of the biggest concerns the defense has raised about the retrial is the media. Citing the media circus that hung on every word, reported on every minute of her 5 1/2 month trial, Arias' defense team has sought to have cameras in the courtroom banned. After months of silence about a number of defense motions Judge Sherry Stephens has largely shut the media out of the courtroom proceedings and status hearings.  She also has ruled there will be no electronics allowed in the courtroom during the retrial; meaning no real time information will be coming out of that courtroom period.  Members of the media believe that Judge Stephens may have over reacted or even over reached in shutting the public out of recent hearings.  Judge Stephens has said the hearing closures are intended to protect Arias' right to an impartial jury.

David Bodney, an attorney who represents several media outlets including the Arizona Republic has fought back, saying "there have been repeated flagrant violations of the public's constitutional right to attend criminal proceedings". Bodney told abc15.com that "locking the courtroom doors without issuing an order as to why, is in violation of the Constitution."  Regardless of which side you agree with, it does seem ironic that Arias' attorneys are fighting so hard to keep the cameras and media out of the courtroom while their client openly communicates with the very same jury pool from her jail cell via Twitter and the several websites she operates through other people.  It seems Jodi wants to be heard, but she wants to control what is being said. Another thing that seems abundantly clear - she wants more of the public's money. I've ranted ad-nauseum about her websites and the items she is selling, and I've wondered where this money is going.  The official launch of the "JAA Appellate Trust" is just her latest attempt to have more of her legal fees paid for by the people - this time, not just in Arizona but nationally. I have a real issue with the terminology used to describe the aforementioned fund - wrongful conviction.  How can she continue to refer to herself as wrongfully convicted?

In yesterday's post, I wrote about the newly offered limited edition prints of her "Sailing at Sunset" and "Picasso Calla Lilies Bouquet" - apparently she has 100 of each, for sale at $39.00 each. Can anyone say price cut? Her site says there were 66 of one of the limited edition prints left, meaning that she has sold 34 of the 100. Today, she tweeted more information on the Picasso Calla Lilies offering, she says:

"Prints are 10 x 13 inches"

"Picasso is the name of that type of calla lily. The piece doesn't have anything to do with Pablo himself".

"100 Limited-Edition prints of Picasso Calla Lillie's Bouquet are now available at......"

Seems to me she should be worrying more about the potential death penalty she is facing than selling limited edition prints of her crayola-like drawings. Really, does she grasp the concept of what she is facing? What does Jodi Arias' reality look like? Why doesn't Juan love me?  I don't know if she really said that, but if she then she truly is a narcissist. Back to wrongfully convicted. The Wikipedia definition of wrongful conviction:


  • A miscarriage of justice primarily is the conviction and punishment of a person for a crime that he or she did not commit.  The term can also apply to errors in the other direction "errors of impunity" and to civil cases....
Does Jodi Arias believe she did not commit the act of murder?  She seems to be clinging to the self-defense theory - but the evidence says it was not self-defense.  Evidence points to Arias as the aggressor and Travis Alexander trying to defend himself against the attack. How else can she explain her walking away from that scene of horror with only superficial cuts to her hands? This was not hand to hand combat, it was an ambush - had it been anything other than that, she surely would have had more serious injuries.

Another piece of evidence that just isn't going to go away. The gun. The stolen gun. The staged robbery. That's pre meditation. A jury agreed. What about the conviction was wrongful Jodi? Tell us, please!


I thought I'd take a look at a nationally known organization that helps right the wrongs of the justice system, The Innocence Project. The site gives statistics of people who were wrongfully convicted and problems with the evidence that helped to convict them. As we all know, advances in DNA technology has helped to free many wrongfully convicted people in recent years and they post the following stats on their site:


  • There have been 311 post conviction exoneration in the United States.
  • 18 of the 311 people exonerated through DNA served time on death row. Another 16 were charged with capital crimes but not sentenced to death.
  • The true suspects and/or perpetrators were identified in 152 of the DNA exoneration cases.
  • Since 1989, there have been tens of thousands of cases where the prime suspects and pursued - until DNA testing (prior to conviction) proved that they were wrongly accused.
  • 29 of the DNA exonerees plead guilty to crimes they did not commit.
Leading Cause of Wrongful Convictions:
These DNA exoneration cases have provided irrefutable proof that wrongful convictions are not isolated or rare events, but arise from systemic defects that can be precisely identified and addressed. Many wrongful convictions overturned with DNA testing involve multiple causes.

Eyewitness Misidentification Testimony was a factor in 72 percent of post conviction DNA exoneration cases, making it the leading cause of these wrongful convictions.

Unvalidated or Improper Forensic Science played a role in approximately 50 percent of wrongful convictions overturned by DNA testing.

False confessions and incriminating statements lead to wrongful convictions in approximately 25 percent 

Informants contributed to wrongful convictions in 18 percent of cases.

The site says for every case where DNA evidence has been used to exonerate, there are hundreds that do not involve DNA." Only a fraction of cases involve biological evidence that can be subjected to testing." The site also discusses misconduct by law enforcement officials - since the DNA evidence in Arias' case points squarely at her, I wonder if this is the route she will try to take. 
There is also a section on "bad lawyering", her recent rants about Kirk Nurmi point to the old ineffective counsel or maybe even bad lawyering.  From the Innocence Project website:

  • The resources of the justice system are often stacked against poor defendants. Matters only become worse when a person is represented by an ineffective, incompetent or overburdened defense attorney. The failure of overworked lawyers to investigate, call witnesses or prepare for trial has led to the conviction of innocent people. When a defense lawyer doesn't do his/her job, the defendant suffers. Shrinking funding and court-appointed attorneys is only making the matter worse. It seems to me that the State pulled out all the stops for Jodi Arias and her attorney. They agreed to pay him an extra $100 per hour to represent her. That's $225.00 and hour. I'd hardly call that shrinking funding.

 Even the best attorney cannot change the evidence! It is what it is. Arias was caught up in her own web of lies, and this was ultimately a factor that ate away at any sympathy she may have garnered from Jury #1. Further eroding the sympathy factor was the absolute trashing of Travis Alexander as an abusive, aggressive and sexually deviant and controlling man.  The defense couldn't find one other woman or human being who knew Travis that described him the way she did.  It's unlikely an abuser chooses only one victim exclusively, and treats the other women in his life differently. Abusers have patterns of behavior, and Arias' defense was unable to substantiate her many claims of physical abuse. The only thing that seemed to resonate with at least the jury foreman is the thought that Travis may have subjected Jodi to emotional abuse.

How far off is the penalty phase retrial? Will we learn anything about the date and jury selection before the trial starts? A look at a November 26, 2013 court minute entry seems to point to some very repetitive status hearings coming up.  On December 3 at 8:30am the court is to hear oral arguments on juror Twitter accounts. Jeez, are we still deciding these motions that were filed months ago? 

A more cryptic minute entry on November 19 says:

This is the time set for Status Conference

The Court will hold in abeyance the Defendant's sealed Motion until the hearing currently set for 11/26/13

Discussion is held between the Court and counsel regarding trial exhibits as stated on the record.


As to exhibit 271, a photograph, the State will provide a copy of this exhibit and if it cannot be determined which photo it was, the State will check FTR on the date the photograph was received in evidence.

As to exhibits 527, 528, 531 and 647 by stipulation of the parties the record will reflect that these exhibits were permanently released to defense.
As to exhibits 662 and 663, there being no indication of what happened to these exhibits, defense is not prepared to stipulate that they were released to them.  (what's this??)

Defense is checking their records and these will be addressed again at the next hearing on 11/26/2013.

Counsel for the State files State’s Proposed Juror Questionnaire.
IT IS ORDERED sealing State’s Proposed Juror Questionnaire not to be opened without further order of the Court.

SEALED: State’s Proposed Juror Questionnaire.
8:45 a.m. Matter concludes.

LATER: The Court finds Exhibits 662 and 663 are secure with the Clerk of Court and further inquiry into these exhibits is not necessary.


And in a November 11, 2013 court minute entry:


The Court finds the Maricopa County jury pool is sufficiently large to assure impartial jurors can be found. A change of venue would create logistical issues for the parties, witnesses, court and involve substantial expense to the taxpayers of Maricopa County. No good cause appearing,

IT IS ORDERED denying the defendant’s Motion for Change of Venue

November 14, 2013 court minute entry on sequestering the jury:

In this case, the Court has granted the defense motion to preclude live camera coverage of 
the trial. The Court expects there will be significantly less media coverage of the case during the 
retrial of the penalty phase. As noted by the State in its response, much of the media interest in 
the case was generated by the defendant contacting media outlets. Defendant now complains she 
cannot receive a fair sentencing phase retrial because of the media interest in her case and wants 
the jury sequestered for the duration of the sentencing phase retrial. The parties estimate the 
retrial will last at least two months.

IT IS ORDERED denying Defendant’s Renewed Request to Sequester Her Jury.

I looked back at the old minute entries from the time the mistrial was declared.  The original date the retrial was supposed to begin:


IT IS ORDERED setting retrial on 07/18/2013 10:00 a.m. 

And here we are, more than 4 months later and still pondering juror Twitter accounts? Really, this is beyond ridiculous. And to see that the Court is anticipating the penalty retrial will last at least 2 months is astounding. Whatever the time it takes, it will eventually happen. Jodi Arias will either spend at least 25 years or natural life in prison, or she will be living out her days on Death Row.  Those are the possibilities.  If Ms. Arias truly believes she was wrongfully convicted, I'd love to hear what she believes the punishment for what she did to Travis Alexander should be. Remember her own words, "IF I did this to Travis, I'd BEG for the death penalty". In her own words. 




Sunday, December 1, 2013

Jodi Arias Seeking Donations - JAA Appellate Fund

Jodi Arias' website, where she is hawking Limited-Edition copies of her artwork for $39.00 a pop now has a link to a site seeking donations for her appeal.  The "JAA Appellate Fund, An Irrevocable Trust"  is the registration on the account set up to take your money to help offset her legal fees!  Hey, wait just a minute....aren't the Arizona taxpayers still paying for her current legal fees?  She wants more of your money.  I won't reference her website here because it seems that every time we turn around Jodi Arias is trying to pick the public's pocket - whether it be via Survivor t-shirts, original artwork, limited edition artwork, and let's not forget the commissary fund - a must for all wrongfully convicted inmates.

Let's talk about this JAA Appellate Fund.  It says the following about the fund and what it was created for:  This is the official donation website for assisting with the legal fees associated with appealing Jodi Arias's wrongful conviction (yes, it says wrongful conviction) Previous trial and pre trial costs amounted to millions of dollars (not YOUR dollars, Jodi). Therefore, appeals are expected to be costly.  Donations are not tax deductible.

Appeals Process:  Direct (Automatic) Appeal - The Arizona Supreme Court independently reviews the case.  Most convictions are upheld at this stage.

Post Conviction Relief:  If a mandate is issued upholding the conviction, the Arizona Supreme Court automatically initiates post conviction relief (PCR) proceedings. PCR proceedings allow the defendant to raise claims of ineffective assistance of counsel (uuhmm...YOU MUST KEEP KIRK NURMI AS MY LEAD ATTORNEY, IT'S VITAL TO MY CASE.....YOU MUST LET ME FIRE KIRK NURMI, HE HASN'T COME TO SEE ME SINCE I WAS CONVICTED) or other factors the probably would have led to a different outcome at trial. 

Irrevocable Gift Trust:  Donations are non-refundable and are made to the JAA Appellate Fund. This money will not go to or through Jodi Arias or her family, but will be used strictly for the limited purpose of paying for the legal costs associated with Jodi Arias's appeals. If for any reason whatsoever appeals are not pursued or if after appeals are completed there are funds remaining, the entire balance will be equally distributed between two nonprofit organizations. One assists disabled children and the other is a no-kill animal sanctuary. (What happened to the domestic violence/battered women's shelter support? Is Ms. Arias trying to broaden her humanitarian horizons in order to reach a broader audience?)

OK, this is the United States of America and everybody is entitled to a fair trial and competent representation.  Jodi Arias had both.  She was convicted, not because of Kirk Nurmi's "utter poverty of people skills" but because a jury of her peers decided she committed murder in the first degree.  Prior to her conviction and her rapid-fire attempts to fire lead attorney Kirk Nurmi, she was making pleas to the court on the absolute merits of retaining Nurmi as her attorney after he left the office of public defender. Remember this, I believe she wrote to the judge how detrimental it would be if she had to get a new attorney up to speed, citing that nobody knew her case as Nurmi did? The court eventually agreed to pay Kirk Nurmi an additional $100.00 per hour and ordered him to stay on the case?  The taxpayers paid at least an additional $200,000.00 to Kirk Nurmi alone, and much of that was because the defendant wanted to retain him and not have another attorney start from scratch.  So now, when she will undoubtedly argue ineffective counsel I just have laugh at the way this woman wants it all her way.

I realize Jodi Arias has supporters out there in the world. Despite what I think of her monstrous acts of June 4, 2008 - she is a human being, with a family and friends. But aside from the murder and perjury, Jodi Arias is an opportunist. I see her as a self absorbed woman who truly believes she is some kind of celebrity, someone who has an adoring public - ever since the spotlight was shined on her she refuses to step out of it. She got a taste of recognition, and even if it was for a hideous act she seems to relish it. How else can you explain why she feels the need to tweet or have numerous websites with her name all over them?  She's peddled sketches, original artwork and limited edition artwork, "Survivor" t-shirts, given her opinions on books via her online book club and all the while she has been asking for your money.  Money for her family's travel expenses to and from her trial.  Only at her sentencing trial did she state that 100% of the Survivor proceeds were going to a battered woman's shelter.  Before, the website said "a portion". 

Nobody knows for sure how much of the public's money she has collected in the 5 1/2 years she's been behind bars, but I'd venture to say it's a fair amount of money.  Not including the $1,700,000 defense, and the cost to feed and house her at the Estrella jail complex - and yet she is running what could almost be described as an enterprise from behind bars.  The only thing missing are more than likely her tax returns on said businesses. Just where are the proceeds of the artwork and limited edition prints going?  Is Jodi Arias filing tax returns on the money she's made from selling her artwork? She is required to, by law. Yet she doesn't seem to want to use any of THOSE proceeds for her appeals, she wants the public to foot the bill...again! It would just be in another form, via the old "irrevocable trust".  That means you can't take the money back, by the way. 

Irritated enough? I am!  By the way, it appears on Ms. Arias' site that she has 66 Limited-Edition prints of "Sailing at Sunset" left for sale at $39.00 a pop.  And she now has 100 Limited-Edition prints of "Picasso Calla Lilies" available at $39.00 a pop.  I think that means Jodi Arias has already sold 34 of the "Sailing at Sunset" prints, at $39.00 each.  What is that $1,326.00 being used for? Will that be turned over to Kirk Nurmi or Jennifer Willmott or the taxpayers of Arizona?  I seriously doubt it. She wants to pocket this cash, and have the public pay for her appeals.  Any IRS agents out there looking for an audit?  Have I got a lead for you.

"Cold Justice" Renews With TNT For Season 2

Producer Dick Wolf and TNT announced there will be a Season 2 of their new hit reality crime show "Cold Justice".  The show, which features veteran prosecutor Kelly Siegler, former CSI Yolanda McClary, detective Johnnie Bond and other members of local law enforcement communities will air another ten episodes beginning with the Season Two premiere on Friday, January 17 2014. 

The show premiered in the fall of 2013 and nabbed an impressive market share, and the team's very first televised cold case netted a murder confession from 41 year old Ronnie Hendrick.  In 2001, Pamela Shelly was found dead in the bathroom of the home she shared with Hendricks and her children.  She died from a gunshot wound to the head, her death initially ruled a suicide - but law enforcement was skeptical of the suicide angle from the start, especially after learning that Shelly had loaded up all of her belongings onto a trailer and was ready to move out when she reportedly killed herself!

In addition to the timing of the "suicide", Shelly's 10 year old daughter reportedly told the police that she saw Ronnie Hendrick shoot her mother in the head.  How many times have we heard that the most dangerous time for an abused woman's life is when they try to leave?  This proved to be true for Pamela Shelly.  Ronnie Hendrick escaped justice for 12 years until Siegler and McClary took a fresh look at the cold case.  Who knows if he ever would have been held accountable had they not. Things didn't go smoothly when it came time for jury selection in this case. The District Attorney's office ran into a big problem when it polled 60 potential jurors, and more than one third of them admitted they had watched the Cold Justice episode and had already formed an opinion on the case.  A mistrial was declared, but Hendricks eventually plead guilty in exchange for a 22 year prison sentence.

Kelly Siegler added "the shows ability to affect potential jurors is unlikely to happen again.  In every other case, the show will air way before any trial setting comes up, so there's plenty of time and distance to minimize the effect of the show. This one was different, because it was the pilot. In all circumstances except for the pilot, the show will air long before a local district attorney will be ready to go to trial."

I think Cold Justice is a really good show.  I like the shows concept, and in just a single season it netted some real results, those ladies (and gentlemen) made a real difference in those small communities they traveled to.  I get the sense that Siegler and McClary are not in this for the glitz and glamour of the television viewers, it feels like something much bigger for them. They truly seem to care about these forgotten cold cases, and if they have the chance to help bring a murderer to justice they are all in.  I enjoyed all episodes in Season One, but I especially enjoyed the episode that brought Siegler back to her home town - watching her interact with her father who still owns and operates as the town's barber (in a barbershop/liquor store!) and seeing her high school friends, many of which still live in the same small town she grew up in.

Kelly Siegler is definitely a self-made woman, and her impressive record as a prosecutor was the result of sheer tenacity and her no nonsense style.  She wasn't born with a silver spoon in her mouth, and maybe that's why I admire her.  As a Harris County prosecutor, Siegler tried 68 murder cases and won them all. Many of them were high profile, but perhaps the case that she's most well known for is Texas v. Susan Wright. Her dramatic courtroom performance, said to be over-the-top by some and the gruesome nature of the crime spawned a Lifetime movie called "Blue Eyed Butcher". 

Siegler personally pitched the idea for Cold Justice to producer Dick Wolf who immediately liked it.  In each episode, Siegler and McClary travel to a small town and meet with local detectives and learn everything they can about the unsolved murder case they have taken on. They visit the crime scene, spend an average of 10 days reviewing the evidence, in some cases sending evidence to the crime lab for new analysis - since new technology and testing methods have given law enforcement tools they didn't have access to or didn't exist when the crimes were committed, they re-interview family members and witnesses and seek out new witnesses before assembling a list of potential suspects on a big board.  Together, they compile a list of physical and circumstantial evidence pointing to or away from each suspect until they reach a consensus.

If they believe they have enough evidence pointing to a likely suspect, Siegler writes up a report and delivers it to the local district attorneys office.  From there, the DA either agrees to bring the case to a grand jury or in some cases the DA passes if they believe it lacks enough evidence to indict.  It's fascinating to see how our justice system works, and in some cases to see where our process falls short.  Siegler and McClary seem to have good on-air chemistry, and Johnnie Bonds is a great detective and a master interrogator. I love this show, so I was more than pleased to see that TNT has ordered another 10 episodes for Season Two.  I'm waiting to see if they release an episode guide for next season, as they did for Season One.  It's interesting to see which cases they are taking on, and to look back at the old news stories online about these cold cases before watching Cold Justice take on a case.