As a Queens Criminal Lawyer, I found this trial particularly interesting. There were several themes interwoven throughout the trial: Domestic Violence, Self Defense, also known as Justification in New York State, Pre-Meditated Murder, and Felony Murder.
This was never a case of ‘who dunnit?’ Jodi Arias did not deny murdering her x- boyfriend, Travis Alexander. What she claimed was that she was a victim of domestic violence, and she murdered him in self defense. It is said that the Arias case has been the most watched murder trial this year, as 17 weeks focused around the soft-spoken defendant who spoke of kinky sex and horrific violence. Arias shot him in the face, stabbed him more than 20 times, and slit his throat from ear to ear. But at trial she claimed it was all in self-defense. It was either him or her.
Testifying in her own defense, Arias told the jury Alexander had been abusive and demeaning. On the day of his killing, she said it all started off with sex play–each photographing the other–but ended in violence when she dropped his camera–and, she claimed, he attacked her.
“He lunged at me and we fell…. And I got up and he’s just screaming angry and after I broke away from him he said [I’ll] ‘f—- kill you, bitch,'” she said on the stand.
With tears in her eyes, she then told the jury she did not remember stabbing Alexander.
The prosecution built its case, by showing step-by-step, what Arias did prior to the murder which indicated that she intended and premeditated Alexander’s murder. Led by Juan Martinez, the prosecution argued that Alexander’s murder was premeditated. The prosecution argued on June 4, 2008, Arias drove from Yreka, Calif., to Mesa, Ariz., where she showed up at Alexander’s home. She’d rented a car, dyed her hair, turned off her cell phone–apparently to make her harder to identify, her movements harder to track. Her mission, according to Martinez was murder.
The Jury believed the prosecution’s case beyond a reasonable doubt, and announced guilty to both of the prosecutor’s theory of Murder in the First Degree, i.e., to the Felony theory of Murder, as well as to the theory that the murder was premeditated.
There will be no rest for either the criminal defense attorney or the prosecutor, or even the judge or the jury. Though the verdict was announced today, tomorrow the court will proceed forward with the penalty phase of the trial. It will be determined whether Arias will face life in prison, or face the death penalty. Arias has made clear today in an interview, that she would rather face death than life in prison. Due to that statement, the sheriffs department has placed Arias on suicide watch.