The Jodi Arias case is the latest bizarre murder trial that has generated great media interest and much commentary.
As a criminal defense attorney, I have represented the guilty, the innocent, the innocent (in my opinion) who were found guilty, and the guilty who were found not guilty.
And as a legal analyst, I have opined on numerous cases and predicted verdicts. For example, I always believed -- based on the evidence (or lack thereof) – that Casey Anthony would be acquitted of murdering her 3 year old daughter Caylee.
Caylee disappeared between June and July of 2008. In October of 2008, Anthony was indicted for her daughter’s murder even though Caylee was still missing.
It was not until December of 2008, that Caylee’s body was discovered in the woods near her grandparents’ home in Florida. As a result of the delayed discovery, the crime scene provided few clues for investigators. Anthony sat in jail for three years as she prepared for trial; at no point did she ever confess to having anything to do with her daughter’s disappearance, let alone killing her.
Anthony’s trial increased television ratings as analysts speculated about whether or not Antony would (and should) take the stand in her defense. When the opportunity finally came to appear on the stand she instead invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to be a witness against herself -- thus avoiding prosecutors’ cross-examination. In July of 2011, a jury found Anthony not guilty.
The Jodi Arias case, while also televised, is vastly different from the Anthony case. I believe Arias should be found guilty of the brutal murder of Travis Alexander for the following four reasons:
1. Evidence at the crime scene: In June of 2008, Travis Alexander’s friends found him dead in his Mesa, Arizona home. By the time Alexander was found, he had been dead for a few days; regardless, investigators were able to obtain and preserve a large amount of physical evidence that placed Arias at the scene of the murder.
• A camera was inside Alexander’s washing machine. Pictures retrieved from its digital card contained nude pictures of Arias on Alexander’s bed, and pictures of Alexander in the shower. These pictures were allegedly taken just moments before Alexander’s murder.
• Arias’s bloody palm print with a piece of her hair was on Alexander’s wall.
• Alexander was stabbed 29 times and shot twice with a .25 caliber pistol and his throat was slashed. In May of 2008, Arias’ grandparents’ .25 caliber gun was stolen during a burglary, which they reported to police.
2. There was a confession: Arias stated she “would never do anything to hurt Travis” during her initial interrogation in July of 2008. Then she asked the investigator, “Are you sure it’s me? Because I wasn’t there.”
• In a subsequent interview, she told investigators that intruders came into Alexander’s home while she was there, murdered him and then threatened to kill her and her family.
• Then, two years later, in 2010, while sitting in jail Arias confessed to investigators that she killed Alexander.
• Arias testified before the jury and subjected herself to intense cross-examination. During her 18 days on the stand, she admitted to previously lying to investigators and also to killing Alexander. It seems that the jury did not buy Arias’ testimony, having submitted the question, Jury: “After all the lies you have told, why should we believe you now?”
3. There is a motive: Arias told her former love interest via instant message that she discovered text messages from other women on Alexander’s phone.
• During the 911 call, Alexander’s friends told the dispatcher that he was having problems with his ex-girlfriend who had stalked him and slashed his tires.
4. Arias’ poor defense: Arias (foolishly) took the stand in her defense and admitted to killing Travis Alexander. She told the jury that she “couldn’t keep her lies straight.” Her testimony seemed staged and she hardly showed emotion as she was asked about Alexander’s killing.
• Arias stated she killed Alexander in self-defense, after a history of his violence. The defense does not have police reports, orders of protection, pictures of an abused Arias, or any evidence whatsoever to support this claim.
• Defense expert Richard Samuels testified that Arias suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He did not treat Arias for PTSD prior to Alexander’s murder and his initial analysis was based on Arias’ lies.
• Defense witness, Alyce LaViolette, a psychotherapist, stated, “Woman generally say psychological and verbal abuse [is more hurtful] than physical abuse.” LaViolette may be correct; however, again there is no corroboration that Arias was the victim of such abuse – friends, family, coworkers, nor neighbors have stated they witnessed Alexander’s abuse of Arias.
There is no doubt that women suffer physical, sexual, and psychological abuse at the hands of their partners, and that it often does not get reported. In the Jodi Arias case, however, I believe that Arias' defense will fail, the jury will review the crime scene evidence, her confession, her possible motive and her own poor self-defense and she will be found guilty of murdering Travis Alexander.