Sunday, April 19, 2015

Natural Life Sentence For Jodi Arias

It' finally happened. Jodi Arias' fate was sealed last week when Judge Sherry Stephens formally sentenced her to natural life with no chance for release. This is the harshest punishment available to the judge, who ultimately cited the extreme cruelty of the murder, the preparation and planning involved in the murder plot, the use of two weapons, her attempts to destroy evidence and her attempt to conceal her involvement as factors that contributed in her decision.  The mitigating factors cited in the defenses sentencing memorandum were insufficient to warrant leniency, according to the judge.

The judge set a hearing date in the matter of restitution for June 1st, wherein Arias' lead attorney Kirk Nurmi restated his desire to withdraw as her attorney in any and all further matters.  Jennifer Wilmott handled the bulk of the arguments at the sentencing hearing.  On behalf of the Alexander family, one of Travis' aunts spoke, as well as 3 of his younger sisters - Hillary Wilcox, Tanisha Sorensen and Samantha Alexander.  On Jodi Arias' side, only her mother Sandra was there to speak for her daughter although she stated other family members were absent due to financial reasons.  

The first to speak was Travis's aunt who lives in Ohio but had been staying with her nieces and nephews in a rented house though the trials.  She spoke about her memories of Travis and how the crime has affected her nuclear family as well as her nieces and nephews and their families. She has missed countless family functions and had to step down from her job as a store manager at Starbucks to be in Arizona for Travis.

Next to speak was Hillary Wilcox. Her words were filled with tears from start to finish as she recalled the memories of her big brother and friend.  When she was planning her wedding and didn't have much money, Travis gladly stepped up and helped pay for her wedding.  With their own father dead, Travis danced the daughter/father dance with her.  She fought through tears while explaining that she now tries to forget Travis, because the memories are too painful to face. She asked the judge to give Arias the harshest sentence available.

Tanisha Sorensen was up next.  She told the judge that her family too has been harassed and threatened by a small group of Arias supporters who send pictures of Travis' autopsy and gruesome crime scene photos to her Facebook page.  Their lives have been turned upside down and they have been thrust into the social media spotlight because of Jodi's actions.  She prayed every
day before court that Jodi would come clean and tell the truth. Instead, Arias told stories and lies. In a powerful moment, Tanisha recalled one of Jodi's journal entries in which she wrote that whoever was responsible for this crime deserves the needle - she turned to face Arias and asked "what happened to that Jodi?". 

Samantha Alexander was the last to speak for the family. She remembers the voicemail she received from her grandmother while on a boating trip - she knew from previous experience that the tone of her voice meant that someone was dead.  She just knew. But when she called back and Tanisha told her Travis was dead, she was floored. She talked about the last time he came to her home a few weeks prior to the murder and he wanted her to read the first few chapters of a book he was writing called "Raising You".  He was sharing private details of their tough childhood to inspire others to rise above their circumstances.  She was sickened that Jodi tried to use his words to aid her "ridiculous defense".  OShe pointed out that the murderer in this case seemingly has so many more orights than her victim and it's so wrong.  She challenged Jodi's claims of childhood abuse as well, telling the judge that Jodi threw her own parents under the bus to save herself.  She dragged out the trial and used the system when the family was willing to offer her a plea if she got "life row", which I'm not familiar with, but Arias refused to budge.  Samantha thanked Judge Stephens for seeing the trial through to the end and asked for a natural life sentence.

Juan Martinez spoke about hope, and how the State and family hoped for a death sentence, "but that was not to be".  He argued the same things as he did at trial but summed it up by saying they thought Arias deserved natural life not to be vindictive, but because what happened in that bathroom was a butchering.

Sandra Arias was the only family member in attendance for Jodi but said they all supported her - the expense was too great for them to attend.  This must be a mother's love because in the face of all of the evidence that says otherwise, Mom-Arias says she believes Jodi was just fighting to stay alive when she killed Travis.  Calling him "the worst thing that ever happened to Jodi, she blamed herself for not teaching Jodi how to leave an abusive relationship.  She was defiant in her statement that Jodi has been unjustly confined, caged and has had her rights stripped away, but saidc"they cannot take away her beautiful spirit. 

Jodi didn't say much, but she didn't waste any time in taking a swipe at Samantha's comment about abuse and plea bargains.  It was the Alexander family that would not budge.  In an about-face, Jodi now recalls slicing Travis' throat (as he lay dying on the floor) but insists that SHE was the one trying to escape and he was still coming after her.  I don't know how she can't see how outrageous that notion is, that a person so gravely wounded and crawling away on the floor was any threat at all while she was fully dressed, armed and had not been stabbed more than 2 dozen times - and shot in the face, as she continues to argue the gunshot came first.  Sorry, I don't believe for one minute that he was ever a threat after she plunged that knife into him the very first time.  Her claims fly in the face of modern medicine and forensic science.  

She should be off to Goodyear Arizona, where she will now only get one 15 minute phone call per week for the first several years her privileges will be few. For the woman who likes to be the center of attention, this may be the best punishment we could hand down.  No more media interviews, they are prohibited in that prison.  If Arias is lucky, maybe he I'll be housed near her old friend from Estrella Jail Marissa DeVault who is also serving natural life.  She should count herself lucky, as she came very close to being a neighbor of Wendi Andriano on death row.

Will Jodi's next court appearance be during a wrongful death suit trial?  I have no doubt Arias will appeal everything and anything she can.  We have not heard the last od Jodi Arias but I'm glad she will never enjoy the freedom she robbed Travis Alexander of.