It seems like a familiar headline when you see it, there's another new date set to begin jury selection for Jodi Arias' penalty phase retrial. This time, it's September 8th. Chances are, you've heard about this case and the trial-turned-soap opera and full on media frenzy last year in Phoenix, Arizona. The televised trial propelled HLN's ratings through the roof as they blanketed viewers with coverage of the ongoing saga. With Jane Valez Mitchell, Nancy Grace and Dr. Drew all covering the trial on their HLN time slots, HLN could not get enough of the Jodi Arias murder trial. And viewers could not get enough programming. HLN even tailored a show to create more on-air time to talk about the day's events in court - HLN's "After Dark" provided viewers with a daily trial theme, complete with a mock jury to hand down verdicts throughout the 5 month long trial. This time things will be slightly different.
Jodi Arias' penalty phase retrial will not be televised. But I don't expect that to slow down the networks who had such stellar ratings with trial #1. If anything, a non-televised trial gives the anchors that much more to talk about. It will be interesting to see how it goes down. Although last May's guilty verdict brought some relief to Travis Alexander's family and friends, the non-verdict at sentencing has left the final chapter of this tragic story untold. Since the mistrial was declared, we've seen a flurry of court dates that have come and gone, most of which have been kept closed to the public. We are well aware of the numerous Motions that have been filed by Arias' defense team, thanks in part to Maricopa County's public "minute entry" logs - we can view the court documents and rulings made to date. Arias' requests for a change of venue and a sequestered jury were both denied - although they did score a victory in keeping cameras out of the courtroom this time.
Meanwhile, Jodi Arias remains at the Estrella Jail complex in Arizona, waiting for her return to court where she will face a new jury, a jury that Arias will not enjoy the same face time she had with jury #1. These jurors have a singular purpose - deciding what punishment best fits Arias' crime. They will not decide guilt or innocence nor will they weigh her culpability. Their job will be to listen to and carefully weigh the aggravating factors against the mitigating factors and hand down a sentence they feel is most appropriate. Many people have expressed that Arias' best shot for the most favorable outcome for herself was with the original jury. While consciously or subconsciously, those jurors may have formed a bond with Jodi after seeing her day in and day out for 5 months straight, making it more difficult for them to hand down a death sentence. They may have even felt some sympathy for her and how she ended up where she is. I firmly believe that the outcome of the trial would have been decidedly different had it been a man on trial for committing a similar murder against a former girlfriend. Justice would have been swift and severe. The best thing Jodi has going for her going into this trial is the fact that she is a female. It's very difficult for juries to sentence a woman to death, and it's rare.
It will be interesting to see whether or not Jodi's family or friends will testify on her behalf this time around. One of the things I found so contradictory in her mitigation trial is how her defense team painted her as someone who lacked family support and love during her formidable early years, yet Arias displayed photo after photo of her family on the projector screen - at holidays, and other celebrations and several photos of family vacations. This was completely at odds with the picture painted by her attorneys of her mother beating her with a wooden spoon and a threatening father figure. Sure, photos can be deceiving, but her family was there at the trial day after day after day. It was clear they supported her, it was unclear why they did not come forward as mitigation witnesses. We all have our theories! I'd expect to see someone from the Arias family come forward this time. This is it for Jodi Arias, she will literally be fighting for the chance to live for the rest of her life in prison - or at best, spend a huge chunk of time in prison with the chance of release someday.
Murder has sadly become an every day part of life in cities all across America. There are still stories of murder that are headline news, but it seems we have become so used to hearing about shootings and crime that it takes a great deal to shock us these days. This is one of those murders that shocked people. Travis Alexander was a young man, only 30 years old when he was killed. He had from all accounts overcome tremendous obstacles in his own life and was seen as a leader to many in the Mormon community and in his business with Pre Paid Legal. His murder shocked us because he lived such a low risk lifestyle for this type of thing to happen to him. It shocked us because of the absolute violence and unthinkable brutality that happened in that bathroom and bedroom. And it shocked us when it was a petite, young and attractive woman responsible for such a savage attack. It shocked us that this young woman wanted to talk to reporters and tell "her story". It shocked us when she declared that no jury would convict her. Jodi Arias has stayed "radio silent" for the past few months but she shocked us for the last year with her tweets from jail, her numerous television interviews and her online presence during her own murder trial.
Jodi Arias won't have 18 days to talk to the new jury from the witness stand. She can no longer argue her innocence. Her arguments this time will be on why she should be allowed to live - why she deserves compassion after her own heinous acts towards another human being. The evidence suggests she ambushed Travis in that shower, stabbing him in the chest while he was cornered with no escape route. She followed him, while she continued to stab him again and again while he tried to crawl to safety. She slit his throat and watched him bleed. She dragged him back to the bathroom where she shot him in the face. She took numerous steps to try and conceal her crime. She got caught, and tried to lie her way out of it. That's a lot for any defense team to overcome. I'd expect to hear her attorneys trying to mitigate by means of Jodi's untreated mental illness. I'd expect the prosecution to drive home the fact that the murder was premeditated and took a lot of planning - not the acts of a mentally ill person. Juan Martinez needs to step it up a notch this time around and really drive home just how absolutely brutal this murder was. This is the State's last crack at Jodi Arias. More to follow!