Jodi Arias is once again in court for jury selection in the penalty phase of her trial. She has already been found guilty of first-degree murder. This jury's only job is to decide what sentence, life or death, is appropriate for the brutal slaying of her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander. Many potential jurors claim they cannot be unbiased and the defense has requested access to all potential jurors' Twitter and Facebook accounts, since many people express their true feelings on social sites. The stakes could not be higher.
The first trial captivated the world. Arias was an aspiring photographer; Alexander a salesman and motivational speaker. He lived a strict Mormon life until he met the wild, kinky Arias and was sucked into her craziness. When she eventually realized he was dumping her for another woman, she killed him. Defense witnesses were cut to the quick by the bulldog style of prosecutor Juan Martinez. Who could leave their television with the likes of Alyce LaViolette (who claimed Arias was battered by Alexander) arguing the point of whether or not Snow White was a battered woman, or if she lived in a shack or cute cottage or how old the seven dwarfs were?
Now the circus is gearing up again for one last Arias spectacle. I have blogged repeatedly about Arias’ psyche and pathological narcissism. Here’s what to expect from Jodi in her last trial and final chance to be in the spotlight (even though the proceedings will not be televised until after the verdict is read):
On day one Arias was already at work, trying to connect with the potential jurors -- looking them in the eye and smiling coyly. Always the manipulator, Jodi is well aware that all she needs to do is connect with one juror to escape lethal injection. In the first trial, eight jurors voted for the death sentence, while four opted for life in prison. This time around, all it will take is just one sympathetic juror. If that happens, then the sentence will be either life in prison or life with the ability to get out after 25 years. That decision will rest solely upon the discretion of the judge.
To avoid the death penalty, Arias must convince the jury she's human. To do so, she will continue to blame Alexander and emphasize his emotional and physical abuse. She will trash talk and dehumanize him at every opportunity, hoping to garner sympathy. She will remember the story of Alexander slamming her to the ground because she dropped his camera, but the convenient amnesia of stabbing him 29 times, slashing his throat and shooting him in the face will remain.
She also will not be able to recall driving hundreds of miles -- with her cell phone off -- or where she disposed of the gun. She has learned much from the first trial, most importantly that decent individuals become uncomfortable with explicit, graphic sexual details. Those theatrics will be gone. As a master manipulator, Arias knows that didn’t work, so it won’t happen again.
Defense attorney Kirk Nurmi and Arias do not like each other. He has tried to quit this case, but the judge refused. Arias has made it clear she neither wants nor trusts him, but they're stuck with each other. Nurmi couldn't control her in the first trial and will have little control over her now. But with stakes even higher, logic dictates that Arias will not spar with Martinez with open contempt this time. Well, with Jodi, you can take your logic and shove it -- it just isn’t relevant. Even though she knows it was/will be counter-productive, her narcissism will reign supreme regardless of the consequences.
She will continue to show disdain for Martinez because he is someone she dislikes even more than Nurmi. And even though the Arias camp tried to settle the case with a life sentence, Martinez refused, despite the amount of money it's costing Arizona. This might be just as personal for him as it is for Alexander's family.
Last month, Jodi filed a motion to act as her own attorney. This was done in true Arias style -- to manipulate the judge to dismiss Nurmi and appoint a different attorney. It didn't work, but it also shows that a murder conviction has not changed her thought pattern at all.
Arias will be trying to influence the jury any way she can. For example, when in court her hair has been in a ponytail which makes her look like a schoolgirl. And after all, who could sentence a schoolgirl to death? As for clothes, expect demure and conservative -- anything to make one or more jurors question the validity of the guilty verdict.
Appearances count, and Arias knows this all too well. She also knows what she says is of the utmost importance. She will continue to play the victim, and she will play it well. She's been in jail since her arrest in July 2008 -- plenty of time to hone her acting skills. However, she will remain defiant to the end and as a narcissist and pathological liar the key will be if she can control her natural instincts to seek attention and say whatever she thinks, be it true or not. This control -- or lack thereof -- could well decide the verdict.
Arias still has her craziness but she's going to do everything to deflect the jury's attention from what was done. Her hope is get them to feel pity for what she's been through. The lies will spill forth in order to spare her from the needle. This is a new trial and a new jury, but it's the same ol' arrogant Jodi Arias. The last botched Arizona execution just a couple of months ago must be a terrifying thought.
So to answer the question, yes Arias deserves to die, but will she? No chance. She is a master manipulator on the world’s biggest stage. At least one juror will see it her way.
To brush up on the Jodi Arias case, check out my prior blogs: