It appears that Jodi Arias will be with us for a long, long time. It’s not often that life in prison could be considered a victory, but when facing the death penalty this would surely be the case. Unlike Travis Alexander, Jodi Arias, the master manipulator, escaped death. Again. The second Arias jury in the penalty phase of her trial, like the first, could not reach a unanimous verdict on the appropriate punishment. This time, however, there was a dramatic twist, as it appears there was a near mutiny within the jury deliberation room. Eleven jurors decided that execution was the appropriate sentence, while one lone juror held to life in prison -- sometimes refusing to even discuss it with the others. With this deadlocked jury, the sentence -- scheduled for April 13 -- will be at the discretion of Judge Sherry Stephens, who will render either a life sentence or life with the possibility of parole after 25 years.
Even if you don’t believe in the death penalty surely this case would serve as an exception. A death sentence would have been appropriate for Arias due to the severe brutality of the murder. According to forensics, after an afternoon of sex and at a moment of vulnerability, Arias began her assault by repeatedly drilling a knife into Alexander. Stumbling to get out of the shower, he managed to make it to the lavatory, Arias clinging onto his back, where he looked at himself in the mirror, blood gushing everywhere. I would imagine at this point he knew he was going to die.
Looking into the now bloody mirror was the woman who professed to love him, still plunging the knife into his back, shoulders and chest. With blood gushing from his mouth, he stumbled to the floor where he began crawling, trying to get away from the assault. It is speculated Arias was still clinging onto his back, continuing to thrust the knife deeper and deeper, over and over. She finally pulled out her grandmother's gun and shot him in the face. Then, as if that weren't enough, she grabbed his hair, pulling his head back and exposing his throat took the knife and viciously sliced his throat opened from ear to ear, nearly decapitating him in the process. It is speculated that Alexander was still alive and bled out after that. She left him there to be found by friends five days later.
Horrible? Absolutely. Worthy of the death penalty? No doubt. But, it just takes one sympathetic juror to take death off the table. Or one juror with an agenda.
The jury of eight women and four men deliberated 26 hours over five days. As it turned out, the final tally was 11 for the death penalty with 1 holdout. The other jurors are saying the lone dissenter would not even consider the death penalty. They also insist this person had an agenda, despite the fact that when she was sworn in she promised to keep an open mind and have no preconceived notions. The eleven are heartbroken over the ordeal, with one saying, "The 11 of us strived for justice but to no avail. We absolutely feel the penalty should have been death." He then added, "We feel we have failed."
Kirk Nurmi pleaded that Arias deserved a second chance because she was not only a victim of abuse, but also that she also suffered from some type of personality disorder where she tried to make herself into what her boyfriends want (this a new one to me; there is no formal diagnosis for this). Even if you accept this absurd logic, are we now supposed to believe that what Travis really wanted was his own killer? As the judge read the decision, Arias remained unfazed and unemotional, stone face to the end, despite the wails of crying coming from Alexander's family.
The Alexander siblings have expressed their appreciation for the outpouring of public support, and now request privacy. What is left is the discussion of how did a single closed-minded juror, perhaps with an agenda end up on the jury in the first place without raising flags? Sadly only by manipulating the system and/or out-right lying during the jury selection process is this possible. It’s one thing to carefully weigh the evidence and come to a conclusion, but from the snippets we are hearing that does not appear to be the case here.
My question is this: We know that Arias has not only a plethora of haters but also a hard core group of defenders. She also has been shown to be cagey and manipulative on many occasions. Could she have somehow used her defenders and powers of persuasion to seed the jury with a clear cut ringer?
Only time will tell, but for now we are left with the undeniable sense that justice has not been served.
For a psychological analysis of Jodi Arias see my summary blog here.