Authorities in California are scrambling to determine who they actually had in custody following a theft and battery arrest that court documents attribute to Travis Alexander, the ex-boyfriend Jodi Arias is charged with murdering.
On Monday, The Huffington Post reported that Alexander's record shows a previously undisclosed conviction for fighting with a security guard and shoplifting in Riverside in 2002. But his brother Dennis Alexander immediately claimed that he was the actual culprit.
"We're glad [The Huffington Post] brought it to our attention. We're trying to verify if that's him or not," deputy Alberto Martinez, of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, told HuffPost Tuesday afternoon.
Martinez provided HuffPost with a mug shot taken in connection with the theft and battery case. Like Riverside County court records, the police department's files attribute the arrest to Travis Alexander, said the deputy.
The booking photo (seen above this article next to a photo of Travis Alexander) does not resemble other pictures of the victim. The sheriff's department is now taking seriously the claims that Dennis Alexander committed the crimes and used his brother's name when he was caught.
Police are comparing the fingerprint records from the arrest in question with prints on file from Dennis Alexander's other arrests. The department hopes to complete the verification process this afternoon or evening, Martinez said.
The outcome could affect the public image of Travis Alexander. Arias' defense team throughout the trial has tried to portray him as an abusive boyfriend. If Riverside police determine his brother was arrested in the theft case, it could restore Travis Alexander's reputation as a man without a violent past.
Travis Alexander was killed on June 4, 2008. His ex-girlfriend, Jodi Arias, is being tried for first-degree murder in the case. Prosecutors allege Arias that in a jealous rage shot Alexander in the head, stabbed him 27 times and cut his throat from ear to ear in his Mesa, Ariz., home. Arias claims the killing was self-defense. She could face the death penalty if convicted.
According to court documents obtained by The Huffington Post, Travis Alexander was convicted of a 2002 theft and misdemeanor battery.
Alexander's brother said Monday that the records are incorrect.
Dennis Gregory Alexander, told HuffPost that he committed the crime and falsely identified himself to arresting police officers as Travis Alexander, then later passed himself off in court as his brother.
"That was a time in my life when I was addicted to drugs and was a real mess," Dennis Alexander said. "I was stealing Sudafed, an ingredient in manufacturing methamphetamines … It's something that I am ashamed of. I have been clean for almost 10 years and it's something Travis forgave me for a long time ago."
Dennis Alexander said the incident detailed in court documents took place in March 2002, at a store in Riverside, Calif. He said he was attempting to leave the store with drugs when he was confronted by a security guard.
"They tackled me and beat me up pretty good," he said. "I was already on parole and would have went to prison, so I used Travis' name and information. When they arrested me, they fingerprinted me, and put it in the computer and found out who I was. They sent me to prison for a parole violation."
Martinez said Dennis Alexander has a prior arrest record with the sheriff's department and officials there have compared the mug shot attributed to Travis Alexander to one on file for Dennis Alexander.
"Comparing [the photo attributed to Travis Alexander] to the person we booked under Dennis, it does look like it could be Dennis," Martinez said. "There’s a good chance that Dennis used Travis' information and that's the way he was booked, under Travis' name.
"We are checking the fingerprints to make sure if we had same person or different people," Martinez said. "We do have two people who are booked -- Dennis Gregory Alexander and then Travis Alexander, so we sent it to our records people [and asked them] to do it as soon as possible."
The Huffington Post will publish an update once the results are in.
READ THE UPDATE: The Fingerprint Records Are In