The Jodi Arias Show
I confess that I am completely consumed by the case of the State of Arizona vs. Jodi Ann Arias. I’m embarrassed to admit it, actually. As a rule I am inclined to shun and debase a great deal of pop culture television. I don’t watch The Bachelor or American Idol or The Real Housewives of Whatever American City or any reality television show for that matter. (Okay, I got sucked into Dance Moms last year, but I gave it up.) And I am turned off from reality TV because there’s nothing real about it. The moment anyone knows they're being filmed, it changes everything. However, I have become riveted to this real First Degree Murder trial, with its high death penalty stakes. It doesn’t get more real than that. Here I am, recording hours and hours of the HLN trial coverage so I can zip past the endless commercials and then I watch Jane Velez-Mitchell, Nancy Grace, and Dr. Drew on Call, as well. It’s a daily “Jodicopeia.”
I am a bit of a trial hound. I watched a great deal of the O.J. Simpson trial in 1995 and some of the Casey Anthony trial in 2011. But I am glued to this trial I think because it has it all: an attractive, young, soft-spoken defendant, who admits that she hacked and butchered her ex-lover to death, a smart and seasoned prosecutor with a courtroom demeanor akin to the Tasmanian Devil, religious conflict, and secret (and sexually ambitious) lives. And now, even social media has entered the case. Jodi has a Twitter “beard” who talks to her on the phone each day and then posts tweets in Jodi’s behalf.
And that is perfect, because the thing that will eventually, I think, convict Jodi is her own arrogance, ego, and the fact that she cannot stop talking. She couldn’t stop talking to the police before she was arrested and she couldn’t stop talking to Detective Flores after she was arrested for Travis Alexander’s murder. She couldn’t stop talking when she testified on her own behalf and she couldn’t stop talking when she was cross-examined by Prosecutor Juan Martinez. It only stands to reason that she cannot stop talking while she’s behind bars, even though it seems absolutely essential in order to maintain the iota of credibility that she has left, that she say little or nothing until the end of her trial.
And then her defense expert, Alice Laviolette could also not stop talking when she testified on Jodi’s behalf. Don’t get me wrong, I was rooting for her. She spent over two days on the stand in direct testimony talking amicably and clearly about the nature of domestic abuse. I began to think she had agreed to testify only in generalities and then perhaps let the defense try to apply her opinions specifically to their case. Then the questions began to be directly related to Arias and Alexander’s relationship. I couldn’t believe that someone who had been a pioneer in the field of domestic abuse in the 1970s, was actually attempting to make the case that Travis Alexander had physically and emotionally abused Jodi over the course of their relationship and that Jodi was indeed, a battered woman who killed him in self-defense.
Then Prosecutor Juan Martinez began his irritated and hostile cross examination, fairly jumping to his feet the moment Judge Sherry Stevens said, “Mr. Martinez?” It seemed to me like he was absolutely appalled and disgusted with what he had been forced to listen to for three days. Still, I hoped he would dial it down a notch. He did not. By the end of his cross-examination, I knew he knew what he was doing from his very first question. Ms. Laviolette had talked herself into a potentially career-ending corner. Somehow Jodi had gotten under her skin with that “Ah, gosh. I’m too pretty and feminine to have stood up to that mean, abusive, Travis Alexander.” It’s akin to Martha Stewart, that tough, smart, savvy business tycoon insisting all the way to her prison cell, that she didn’t know what she did was wrong. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t offer yourself up as a sexual smorgasbord and then kill the guy when you don’t get a simple band of gold out of the deal as Jodi did. And you can’t make a whole lot of money being a cutting edge business tycoon and then plead dumb blonde when you’re caught with your hand in the cookie jar like Martha.
It’s that stance that a woman like this takes, the hiding behind their skirts, that makes it harder for all other women to be taken seriously. Therefore, Jodi Arias’ crimes and subsequent excuses enter our living rooms and affect our lives. You can’t have it both ways, Jodi. You can’t butcher a guy who just happens to be taking another woman on a trip to Mexico in a few days, lie about it, not once but twice, and then try to sell the old self-defense excuse claiming you were battered and abused and therefore, somehow, not responsible for your actions. It seems to me she made a conscious decision to kill Travis and even though he lived a decidedly inconvenient 1000 miles away from her, all that time behind the wheel failed to dissuade her. How much more premeditated can you get?
It is difficult to picture such a physically lovely woman stabbing her ex-boyfriend 29 times, slashing his throat from ear-to-ear so deeply that it nearly decapitated him, and then firing a just-to-be-sure pistol blast to his face. I guess that’s why I am so in thrall. It just seems so incongruous that I am driven to try to understand it somehow, though I never will. At least I hope I never will.
Looking into those empty brown eyes of hers, I see nothing. It’s obvious that she just doesn’t have the ability to empathize or feel anything for other people, so she is unable to understand their wrath for her. She has no ability to read people. I watched the same dead eyes not responding when Alice Laviolette was answering one obviously skeptical jury question after another. Each question was pushing Jodi a little bit closer to Death Row, but she never reacted at all, except when Laviolette spoke about Jodie’s domestic abuse at the hands of Travis Alexander. Then, and only then, did her nose redden, her brow wrinkle, and a tear roll down her face.
There was a particularly telling jury question read by Judge Stevens: “It seems that Jodie was the victim of some mean words, a slap, a choke hold, and a lunge while Travis was the victim of 29 knife wounds, a gunshot and a four-inch-deep throat slash. Isn’t it true that Jodi committed more abuse than Travis?” As Laviolette took an uncomfortably long pause, the camera cut to Jodi, who sat unfazed and unresponsive. Her face was utterly devoid of emotion as Laviolette finally answered sheepishly, “No.”
Every once in a while I find myself almost feeling sorry for her. She killed Travis Alexander in frigidly cold blood, and yet she feels nothing. How perplexing human relationships must be to her. She apes behaviors that work for other people and yet they do nothing for her, because there is no feeling behind them. It must be baffling. I am, however, quickly jolted out of any pity for her by remembering how dangerous she is. Who can kill so brutally and sixteen hours later be in the arms of another man? Who can slash and cut and kill and have the presence of mind to clean up the scene, delete incriminating photos from a camera, and in order to build an alibi, leave a decidedly perky message on her victim’s voice mail? Who? And then lie over and over about her involvement in the murder trying to avoid the consequences of her actions? Who? Even if it’s possible to believe she killed Travis in self-defense, who can kill anyone and then do all those things? A very, very dangerous woman, that’s who.
I have no reason to believe she won’t be convicted of something. Even if she’s able to wriggle out of a First Degree Murder wrap and the death penalty, surely she’ll be found guilty of Second Degree Murder and get a life sentence. But I’m a little nervous. I thought the same thing about Casey Anthony and O.J. Simpson.
Is Jodi Arias . . .
And now, Jodi Arias, in her own voluminous, stream-of-consciousness, never-ending words . . .