When Jodi Arias took the stand in her own defense three weeks ago, I was not surprised by the move because I'm confident the tactic will spare her from the death penalty. With defense attorney Kirk Nurmi's slow, sometimes annoyingly so, delivery, jurors have gotten to hear every single detail of her life. I think letting the jurors, including seven women, get to know her face to face like this will be the key to sparing her life.
That being said, I've closely watched her testimony to see if somehow she could pull off her claim that she killed Travis Alexander in self-defense because she feared for her life and had no other option. There is no way the jury will buy her self-defense claim, despite the fact that Arias has been able to come up with a convenient excuse for her every action. Let's review:
1. Arias claims she did not plan to drive to Mesa, Arizona to kill Travis Alexander on June 4, 2008, instead she claims that she was on her way to Utah to visit new boyfriend Ryan Burns when Alexander called her and convinced her to come visit him.
2. She claims she did not borrow gas cans from ex-boyfriend Darryl Brewer in order to cover her tracks so no one would know she drove to Arizona, instead she claims that she borrowed the gas cans because gas in California was too expensive and she wanted to pump up out-of-state on her road trip to visit Burns.
3. Arias claims she did not steal a gun of the very same type that was used to shoot Travis Alexander from her grandparents home a week prior to his death. Instead she claims she had nothing to do with the break-in at her grandparents home and used a gun from Alexander's own closet to shoot him.
4. She claims she did not plan to shoot Alexander, instead she shot him accidentally when he grew angry after she dropped his camera and he charged at her like a linebacker, yelling "I'm going to kill you b*tch," at which point she pointed the gun at him, which went off accidentally.
5. Arias claims she did not stab him first and then shoot him, as medical examiners had testified previously, instead she claims she accidentally shot him first and then does not remember stabbing him 27 times, nor slicing his throat, but that her first memory after shooting him was driving to the desert, with a vague memory of placing the knife in the dishwasher.
6. She claims she later told Inside Edition "no jury will convict me" not because she believed that but instead because she had planned to kill herself and thought she would not be alive to see a trial.
The list can run on endlessly, but her self-defense theory will not work because among her litany of excuses, Arias testified that after killing Alexander she threw the gun in the desert and the rope he used to tie her up in a dumpster on her drive to visit Burns in Utah. She testified that she knew she was in big trouble and felt ashamed at what she had done. She said she did not want her family to know what she had done. All of this points to at least second-degree murder because if she truly killed him out of self-defense, she would not feel as if what she did was wrong, but instead justified in light of the circumstances.
At this point, the question is whether jurors will convict her of second-degree murder or first-degree, meaning the killing was pre-meditated and she had planned it all along. That will come down to whether jurors believe some of her convenient excuses or whether they believe the circumstantial evidence that points to the fact that she stole the gun from her grandparents home a week earlier and drove to Arizona directly with the intent to kill Travis Alexander out of jealousy. It will also come down to the psychological experts set to take the stand after Arias who will likely attempt to explain her behavior as in line with one who suffers from Battered Woman Syndrome and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, given her history of abuse, first from her parents, then old boyfriends, then Alexander himself, as she testified.
As cross-examination continues, prosecutor Juan Martinez will likely grill Arias on every convenient excuse she has come up with and on every lie she has told along the way, and with that, her self-defense claim will crumble and first-degree murder will become more and more likely, along with a life sentence.
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