Last summers gripping televised trial was that of The State of Arizona v. Jodi Arias. It had everything a fictional soap opera would include over the span of decades on the air love, lust, sex, and a murder. It was a tale that started out too good to be true, and ended too terribly to be a lie.
To recap, Jodi Arias was on trial for the first degree murder of her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Travis Alexander. Jodi, an amateur photographer living in Yreka, California, decided to visit a friend in Nevada, but wound up taking a detour in Mesa, Arizona to see Travis. Traviss body was later discovered by friends a few days later, and an expensive camera was found in the victims home.
Hidden in that camera were nude pictures of Jodi and Travis that were taken the day of the murder. This caused Investigators focus on Jodi who had originally claimed she hadnt seen Travis in a month, perhaps two. When investigators showed her images from the recovered camera, she suddenly admits that she was there, and the experience was traumatizing.
According to her, masked intruders burst into Traviss home while she was visiting, around 1:00 PM, tried to rob Travis, stabbed him multiple times and shot him. While Travis was left nearly decapitated, Jodi managed to get away completely unscathed where she ran to her car just kept driving, never stopping to call police.
Those were her first two stories; first, she was not there, and then, she was lucky enough to escape masked intruders. However, when a palm print is discovered at the crime scene and sent to a lab for DNA testing, the results didnt surprise anyone, it was Jodis and that was enough for her to be arrested and charged with the murder.
At this point, Jodi decided to change her story one last time. Now, there were no intruders bursting into the house in the middle of the afternoon. Instead, Jodi claims that while she was in an on-again, off-again relationship with Travis for years, she was the victim of Traviss temper and constant demand for rougher than normal and unwelcome sex. She was in fear for her life, and apparently what happened that afternoon was self-defense.
According to friends, Travis was a devout Mormon and Jodi had converted to Mormonism for him. Jodi says that there was a side to Travis that was repressed by his community and unleashed onto her. Travis had a temper; he threatened her, and forced her to do things in the bedroom that she claims she never wanted. Scared for her life, she took the gun from her grandparents house on her way to see Travis on that trip and, somehow from there, things went terribly wrong.
Prosecutors charged Jodi with first-degree, pre-meditated murder, while the defense claimed self-defense. After 5 months of ongoing trial, the jury voted guilty on the count of first-degree murder. In some states, there is a mandatory sentence that comes with first-degree murder convictions while in others, the judge determines sentence based on the jurys findings and recommendations.
However, under Arizona law, the same jury that decides the verdict also decides the sentence, and after days of deliberation, the jury could not agree. After all, choosing between the death penalty and life without parole is no easy task. The judge ordered them back to deliberate further and to try to work out whatever issues they had, and many hours later, they were still deadlocked.
In the meantime, Jodi agreed to an interview shortly after her conviction, stating that she has decided that she would rather get the death penalty than life in prison because, to her, death is the ultimate freedom. However, when it came to the sentencing, she stood in front of the judge and jury and pleaded for her life, arguing that she could still make a positive contribution to society from behind bars.
Since that jury could not agree on a unanimous decision, the judge has ordered that a new jury be called in to decide her fate. The new penalty phase is scheduled to begin March 17, 2014, nearly nine months after her trial initially began.
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