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Jury Selection Begins - Jodi Arias Retrial

It's been more than 6 years since Jodi Arias slashed, shot and stabbed Travis Alexander to death in his Mesa Arizona home.  It's been nearly a year and a half since a jury found her guilty of first degree murder yet were unable to decide on sentencing, forcing Judge Sherry Stephens to declare a mistrial. After countless delays and an attempt to self represent by Arias, 300 or so potential jurors were expected to be on hand in Phoenix today to choose a new jury to hear aggravating and mitigating circumstances and decide whether Arias' life should be spared or if she should be sent to Arizona's Death Row.

We are already hearing that nearly two dozen potential jurors have been dismissed because they said they could not be impartial. CBSnews.com reported that 20 people were dismissed during the first 20 minutes of proceedings, stating they could not be impartial and they had seen and heard so much of the trial.  One of Travis Alexander's sisters was said to be in the courtroom.  Arias reportedly turned around to look at the court watchers and the media and smiled just before potential jurors filed in. Typical. I'd expect Arias to be trying to connect with all potential jurors, probably trying to zero in on those she feels she can get through to and those who aren't receptive to her facade. I'd imagine she probably will have some input on both sides of the coin, remember that Arias (incorrectly) predicted that no jury would ever convict her.  That means she has a hell of a lot of confidence in her ability to tell stories.

It's been a very long time coming.  Aside from the sensational trial that drew in millions of viewers on television and online, Arias has done everything in her power to remain in the spotlight even after the guilty verdict was handed down.  She remains in the Estrella jail where she has lived since her arrest in September of 2008 and where countless jailhouse interviews were given by the convicted killer.  Arias has courted the public and media through various websites, peddling everything from her artwork, wristbands, right down to the glasses she wore throughout the trial.  Everything about Jodi Arias seems to come back to the all mighty dollar.  She even set up a trust to raise funds for her appellate attorneys, although who knows exactly where any of these funds will land. 

During her infamous "speech" to the jury prior to deliberations, Arias shocked and angered many court watchers by holding up one of her "Survivor" t-shirts and telling jurors that "100% of the proceeds" from sales of the t-shirts were being donated to charities that support domestic abuse causes.  I happen to know for a fact that the site that originally was selling those shirts said "a PORTION" of the proceeds....we have been paying attention, Ms. Arias.  Jodi has said that money that has been donated or raised through her artwork was being used for her family to offset travel costs during the months long trial - I don't believe anybody really knows just how much she has raked in from "supporters" over the past 6 years.  All the while, claiming to be indigent and on the brink of bankruptcy she has the benefit of a $2,000,000 (and counting) defense. What are the chances Arias will donate to THAT cause?  Less than none.

Jury selection marks the beginning of the end for Jodi Arias, and I hope that her sentencing brings some relief to Travis' friends, families and all of the people who loved and miss him dearly.  Jodi Arias and her defense team did their best to dirty up his reputation through Jodi's 18 days on the witness stand, but I get the sense that the public largely discounted her testimony as little more than vicious lies.  Just as she viciously murdered him on June 4, 2008, she continues to stab him with vicious lies.  Arias, who we all know loves the media and the attention it brought her fought tooth and nail to keep the cameras out of the courtroom this time around.  Claiming her mitigation witnesses were threatened and too frightened of the public to testify previously, Judge Sherry Stephens exercised an over abundance of caution and declared no trial footage would be aired until after a verdict was rendered.  It's Stephens first death penalty trial, and many believed she has been very generous with the defense and their Motions.

Do you mean to tell me that the media is responsible for Jodi Aria being found guilty?  If the public and the media has that big of an influence on the outcome of trials, why was Casey Anthony acquitted?  Why wasn't Arias sentenced to death?  Has the Arias case gotten more media air time and attention than Scott Peterson, Drew Peterson, Casey Anthony or OJ Simpson's trials?  These were the highest profile cases I can recall - and we can't forget the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray.  All of these cases were televised, and Jodi Arias' trial should be no different.  The Judge in this case says she has a good reason for the blackout, but there has been rumors of more death threats and general intimidation of witnesses so we have to live with this. While many believe this sets a dangerous precedent in the transparency of our legal system, Judge Stephens is trying to ensure Arias gets the fairest trial possible and that no issues arise that would give Arias ammunition for an appeal.

So while Arias and her defense team won that battle, it's been disclosed that Jodi Arias gave permission to a documentary film maker and crew to interview and film her at the Estella jail!  That's right, I guess she's only worried about the way the media will portray her - and she apparently has found a sympathetic documentary film maker who has worked with domestic abuse survivors in the past, and Arias unsuccessfully tried to get them into the Estrella jail to follow her plight behind bars and through the American legal system. "As Sheriff in charge of Ms. Arias' incarceration, I do not feel it is in the community's best interest to play into her hands and glamorize this inmate, her crime and her tale of woe", said Sheriff Arpaio.

Brenda Clubine, released from prison after 26 years

The documentary film maker is Olivia Klaus, who sought permission for a one day shoot with Jodi Arias back in February of this year. Klaus is known for the documentary film "Sin By Silence, which won many awards following the stories of women behind bars for killing their abusive spouses or partners - Brenda Clubine was one of the women featured.  Clubine was started "Convicted Women Against Abuse" from behind bars at the California Institution for Woman in 1989.  Brenda Clubine's story is far different than the story of Jodi Arias. Brenda Clubine spent 26 years behind bars for the murder of her abusive husband, and Olivia Klaus' documentary was instrumental in bringing attention to her and the cause of domestic abuse in general. Clubine had a well documented case of domestic violence against her husband.  There were numerous emergency room visits and regular beatings. She truly did fear for her life when she took his.  This is very different than the plight of Jodi Arias, they aren't even in the same league.  While I have to concede there's a chance that Jodi isn't lying about everything she claims Travis did to her, I think with most abusive men it doesn't start and end with abusing just one woman.  The defense wasn't able to find one single woman who dated Travis that could say he ever abused them.  Travis may have been guilty of dating more than one woman or lying about the nature of his relationships, but that's a far cry from physical violence.  Jodi is the only woman in Travis' life who alleges he was physically abusive and therefore she feared him.  She feared him so much that she willingly detoured on the way to Utah to see him?

Outspoken Sheriff Joe Arpaio very wisely refused the request to allow the film maker access to Arias or the jail.  In fact, Sheriff Joe issued a press release to all members of the media that no further interviews for inmate number 438434 will be allowed during her retrial.  Arpaio believes Arias played the media, and refers to it as "self-aggrandizement".  Good for you Sheriff Joe!  "America's Toughest Sheriff" also revealed that he as on to certain people on the outside who have been assisting Arias in getting items such as the eye glasses and artwork out of the jail and onto websites where they are being sold or auctioned off. He's aware and they are watching.  Nobody is gonna make a fool out of Sheriff Joe.  

It's public knowledge that Arias' mitigation specialist was caught red-handed leaving the Estrella jail with Arias' artwork and other "personal items" and she was banned from the jail for a period of time for the discovery.  And who could forget the secretly coded magazines Arias attempted to smuggle out of the jail through a friend, meant for Matt McCarty?  This is a woman who is willing to do and say anything to evade full responsibility for her brutal acts.  Is there any doubt who was the victim of domestic violence in this case? Juan Martinez needs to drive this point home - the only way the much smaller and weaker Jodi Arias slaughters the much larger and stronger Travis Alexander is by catching him completely off guard and off balance.  Wet, naked and completely vulnerable - trapped in his own shower stall.  Make no mistake, this was an attack and the only wounds from self defense were on Travis.

So when the new jury is finally seated, what will they see and who will they hear from? The matter of guilt or innocence is no longer in question, it's all about deciding punishment for the crime.  The mini-trial is expected to last through December.  That seems like a long time and a lot of testimony.  Will the jurors hear again from medical examiner Kevin Horn? Will Detective Flores return to the stand and will the new jury see all or some portion of the numerous pre and post verdict Arias interviews? Will they see her websites, hear about the auctions and read all of the Twitter activity? I certainly hope so.  What it shows is how self absorbed Jodi Arias really is.  This is and always has been about her, when it should have always been about Travis Alexander.  She tried her best to turn him into a perverse womanizer, someone who used her as his own sexual play-thing, abused her and tossed her aside like trash.  The first jury didn't hear about the stalking behavior, the slashed tires for example.

According to Arizona law, the new jury will be able to consider the entire record from the previous stages of the trial, including nearly five months of testimony - yet it's not clear how those records will be presented.  The new jury will be notified early in the proceeding that Arias was convicted of first degree murder and Arias committed the murder in a "cruel manner", according to Jerry Cobb, public information officer for the Maricopa County District Attorney's office. Attorneys may get a chance to present evidence, and the jurors may be given transcripts of prior testimony.  There is also a chance Arias may return to the witness stand to testify during the new phase of the trial.  She will also have the opportunity to give a statement to the jury that will not be subject to cross-examination, as in the first trial.  

Will previous witnesses Chris and Skye Hughes testify? They could offer potential insight into when this murder was set into motion. Remember, in late May of 2008, they believe Jodi Arias had done something considered unforgivable to Travis, which caused Travis to respond in a way they had never seen before. Some sort of betrayal, could it have been that audio sex tape? Did she reveal to him that she taped the phone sex call and threatened to play it for his Bishop or his Mormon friends? It had to be something on that level, but the Hughes have stated that they believe this event may have been what led to her deciding to kill him because it happened on May 26th and on May 28th, her grandparents gun was stolen and she asked Daryl Brewer to borrow the gas cans.  The very next week she told Ryan she was coming for a visit.  Did Travis' reaction and him essentially cutting her out of his life, coupled with the fact that he was getting ready to go to Cancun with another woman send her into a furious jealous rage?  It's all related.  I simply do not believe this happened because of a dropped camera.  That story never rang true.  And if Jodi really was "body slammed" on the tile floor in the bathroom, wouldn't she have been hurt by that impact? Think about it, that would really really hurt.  And although I'm no wrestler or fighter, I think one has to have a lot of traction to pick up another person and body slam them. That's quite a maneuver even for a person who is dry, I can't imagine a slippery and wet person having the footing to pull that off.

The whole story was so outrageous from the start.  Just about as likely as Josh Powell's story of taking his 2 very young children on an impromptu camping trip on a snowy Sunday night when wife Susan went missing.  It was a school and work night and it stank from the time it came out of his mouth. Yet he stuck to that outrageous and unbelievable story. It's bull. It's not true, and we know how tragically the Powell story ended.  There were no survivors. 

It will be interesting to see how this penalty phase retrial plays out.  I don't know what to expect, and I'm counting on Internet and television sources to bring us as much information as possible.  I still feel like the public should be watching this play out - that's our judicial system in America, or that's what it's supposed to be!  Apparently as long as they are allowing the public into the trial, they are fulfilling their duty but I think it's a grave injustice and an over reaction by the Judge in this case.  Will we ever know what the reasons were for her decision?  I guess we will have to trust and wait.  

Justice is just around the corner!


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