JODI MAKES A PLEA FOR THE JURY TO SAVE HER LIFE
Today, Jodi Arias stood at the podium and addressed the jury. This statement is not under oath. It is her plea that they save her life and her reasons why they should do it. Most of what Jodi Arias had to say was about her, along with a slide show – sort of like watching a boring Power Point demonstration. Why? Jodi Arias has a very flat emotionless affect and she very rarely changes her soft monotonous tone of voice. She shared photos of her as a baby and child, her family and her artwork.
The gist of why she believes her life should be spared:
- She has donated her hair to “Locks of Love” three times, and will continue to do that.
- In prison, she can teach other prisoners Spanish and sign language.
- There is a high illiteracy rate in prison, and she can teach other prisoners to read.
- She made up a t-shirt with the word “Survivor” printed on it – to be sold to raise money for victims of domestic violence.
- She will start a recycling program in the prison, improving the planet.
- She is a good artist. She wants to use this to bring awareness to domestic violence.
- Giving her the death penalty will hurt her family.
I might have forgotten something. My memory isn’t always perfect, but you get the idea. To be fair, Arias started off talking about a moment she and her mother shared in jail, when her mother had seen Travis’s siblings, when both of their cars were waiting at a stop light. Arias’s mother said that family must be going through hell. She said that is what she was thinking. We will never know if that is true.
Was Jodi Arias able to reach the jury? They must be unanimous in their verdict. Did she reach just one jury member?
I can tell you one thing Arias didn’t do. She didn’t apologize to the family. She didn’t take responsibility for her actions, still holding onto the domestic abuse story. She didn’t say anything redeeming. It was like she stood up in front of a classroom to give a report about someone else – someone who didn’t premeditate murder; someone who didn’t stab Travis 29 times; someone who didn’t practically decapitate him when she sliced his neck from ear to ear; someone who didn’t shoot Travis in the head with a gun.
Defense – Show Arias Mercy
Jennifer Willmott gave closing arguments for the defense. She is a death qualified lawyer (I don’t think Nurmi is). She spoke positively about Jodi Arias, reiterating some of what Arias said. She acknowledged Aria is a liar, but that isn’t a reason to give her death. Then she trashed Travis Alexander once again, as the defense has done throughout the trial, saying he was abusive toward Arias – at least verbally, if not physically. She repeated some of Travis’s harsh words toward Arias after their breakup; when she was stalking him, breaking into his house, and allegedly slashing his tires and the tires of someone he was dating, among other things.
Willmott said that the biggest lie Arias has ever told was lying to herself; denying Travis’s abuse. Then she lied to herself about murdering Travis. Then she lied to the police and everyone else. This does not diminish the abuse.
Willmott then tried to use the Prosecution’s witness, Dr. DeMarte’s evaluation of Arias – that she had borderline personality disorder. People with personality disorder are known to sometimes go into a rage. The Prosecution’s case against Arias might be Willmott’s strongest argument. She also brought up PTSD – the defense used this in the Guilt Phase.
Willmott said that nothing excuses Arias murdering Travis, but “two wrongs do not make a right”. I’m sorry, but I don’t think it was a good idea for Willmott to trash Travis. The jury has already dismissed the abuse story. They gave Arias a verdict of premeditated 1st degree murder.
Finally, Willmott asked the jury to show mercy and sentence Arias to life in prison.
Prosecution – The Jury is Obligated to Give Her Death
Juan Martinez briefly reminded the jury about how cruel and painful the murder of Travis Alexander was. He reminded them to rely on the evidence and the facts of the case. He said that there were no mitigating factors related to the crime. (Willmott has asked for two sidebars already in the first five minutes of Martinez’s closing argument.)
Juan Martinez addressed the mitigating factors that the defense tried to put on. Does being a good artist mean anything? Not according to the law. Having a skill or talent is not a legal mitigating factor.
Does her age at the time of the murder – 27 – matter? No, she is well beyond the age of 18. She is an adult.
Does her relationship with Darryl Brewer and his son make a difference? Again, this is not a true mitigating factor. It might have been better for Brewer to have been called as a character witness. He was ready and willing.
Martinez continued. Travis was only 30-years-old when she murdered him. He is not going to have any of the experiences that Arias spoke about missing when she is in prison. (Willmott objected twice, and got one more sidebar.)
One mitigating factor was that Arias had no prior criminal record. As Martinez spoke about why this is not a mitigating factor in this case, Willmott objected and got another sidebar. These sidebars are really only a couple of minutes apart. I think she is trying to break up the flow of his argument before the jury. Martinez didn’t object once during Willmott’s closing argument. Martinez reminded the jury about the events leading up to the crime, and that she had perjured herself on the stand. Not being convicted of a crime doesn’t mean one wasn’t committed.
Another mitigating factor put on by the defense was that Arias was a good friend. Martinez reminded the jury about how she lied to her friends and about a friend after the murder. This is not a mitigating factor. In fact, her best friend refused to take the stand on Arias’s behalf. (Guess what? Another objection and sidebar. Willmott is driving me crazy.)
(By the way – during Martinez’s closing argument, some of the Alexander family was crying. This has been so hard on them.)
How about her claim that her family was abusive, neglected her, and was non-supportive? During the trial, she told about times when her parents were supportive of her. Her mother helped her move back to her family’s home a few weeks before she murdered Travis. Stating that Arias spoke about her family out of both sides of her mouth, he said that the defense had not proven their argument beyond a preponderance of the evidence – the standard the jury must use. (Another objection and sidebar.) There is nothing to corroborate her claim of abuse. No medical reports or police reports.
Another mitigating factor the defense claimed was that Arias was trying to better her life. Martinez argued that she was doing only the very minimum of what she had to do; implying that she wasn’t really doing anything to better her life. Martinez denied that this was a mitigating factor.
As Martinez began his next argument about mitigating factors, Willmott objected again.
Martinez finished by say that there are no mitigating factors related to the crime and that the jury has a duty to come back with the death penalty.
(15 minute recess in the courtroom – to give the jury and everyone a break)
Willmott stood behind Arias with her hands on her shoulders. She said, “The simple question that is before you is: Should you kill her?”
She tried to talk about a life sentence and parole, but Martinez objected. The Judge sustained the objection.
Basically, Willmott argued that Arias might be of some value to this world. She said you can’t give someone death for lying. Something changed the trajectory of her life. She trashed Arias’s parents for the period when Arias was a teen.
In response to Martinez’s argument that Arias was doing the bare minimum to improve or make the best of her life; Willmott said that Arias has hope and is looking toward how she can contribute and be of value in the future. Then Willmott said that Arias is already convicted of first degree murder, and hopefully the Alexander family can find peace in that (I have heard that they want the death penalty). She then pleaded once again for mercy and a sentence of life in prison for Arias.
THE JURY WILL NOW DELIBERATE BETWEEN A SENTENCE OF LIFE OR DEATH