May 26, 2013

Judge declares a Mistrial in Jodi Arias Sentencing Phase

As unbelievable as this whole thing is, this is actually the lesser of two evils that could have resulted from Jodi Arias's Hung Jury.

The Jury was officially pronounced as hopelessly deadlocked on Friday, the twelve jurors claiming that no matter how much time they are given they could not reach a unanimous decision on what Arias's sentence should be for the pre - meditated murder of Travis Alexander.

Arias, who once declared to a television interviewer that there was" no way any jury would convict her" ie on the pending capital murder charges at that time for which she was indeed found guilty, now faces a second penalty phase with an entirely new Jury, who will ultimately decide whether she receives the death penalty which the state of Arizona is pursuing against her, or life in prison without the chance of parole.

The Judge actually had several options at his disposal  as the jury became officially hopelessly deadlocked over Arias's sentence; He could have opted to prescribe several legal remedies to this situation most of which would have left Jodi Arias in the catbird seat comparatively.

For example the Judge could have decided to simply give Arias Life in prison, putting an end to the state's costly (but necessary) re - assembling of a new jury, as well the entire re production of this part of the trial ie The sentencing phase, which has taken weeks for both sides to present and has involved months of preparation for both sides Moreover the voire - dire jury selection process is extremely time - consuming and arduous, n any capital murder case, but much more so for a high profile case such as this one. Now that the entire trial has been live streaming on Tvs and computers across the globe, it will be that much more difficult to choose an "impartial Jury of Jodi Arias's peers, which is the ideal that our justice system earnestly seeks to provide the defendant.

Choosing an impartial jury will obviously take a good chunk of time considering it took months upon months the first time around before the case garnered this inordinate amount of publicity and media scrutiny.

Considering the other possibilities that this judge could have put into action, a new sentencing phase with a new Jury as tedious and frustrating as it seems, is better than some of the choices that this judge had at his disposal. This still leaves the door open for Jodi Arias to receive the death penalty which she so clearly deserves.

The Jurors who have spoken with the media have expressed that they felt over burdened by the enormity of a decision that decided whether to take Jodi Arias's life - or not.  There were comments to the effect that we are mere mortals and not lawyers , we look at both families suffering, we see the Alexander's immense pain but....that is not the law, that cannot be part of our decision.

However, within those very words, that particular juror was betraying his or her own hypocrisy: By taking into account Jodi Arias's family and their feelings for their daughter ie what they would feel if she is given the death penalty, then this juror and more than likely others did allow emotion into their decision - or rather their refusal to make a decision as per The State of Arizona's Capital murder sentencing law.

When the death penalty is in fact being pursued by the State this is a rarity in and of itself. The murder must fit a certain criteria for the district attorneys office to even consider it. This case was without a doubt a death penalty case. (If the murderer had been a man we wouldn't be having this vacillation ) 

 Hence, if the defendant in this case Jodi Arias  is convicted of the capital murder, that Jury must put aside their own feelings regarding the death penalty, including their own prejudices and personal feelings about the death penalty religious or conscience borne, all of which these jurors were asked if they could do within the lengthy and rigorous voice dire process. 

 This is why the decision is so clearly narrowed down by law to aggravating factors " within the murder itself, which the prosecutor Juan Martinez certainly showed a veritable plethora of, fulfilling that requirement for the Jury to sentence Death.

The opposing considerations for the Jury to look at and weigh into their decision in this type of murder case are mitigating factors; Mitigating factors are special circumstances which if proven must show that the Convicted Murderer was under either some immediate threat or some other contributory factor ought be looked at such as a history of severe mental illness (this one is very tough as its been so abused in the past by defense attorneys it does not include personality disorders as sociopaths and borderline PD are not Mental Illness per se they are disorders of character that share the common trait of a lack of conscience and a narcissistic outlook on life.

The mental illness that might qualify might is something akin to schizophrenia, wherein the patient has auditory hallucinations,  hearing voices other worldly beings directing them to harm etc. None of this was the case with Arias, nor was she acting in self defense as the Jury already decided when they convicted her of capital murder. 
Other mitigating factors could be  an abusive relationship that over time resulted in the convicted murderer sudden unexpected and unplanned snapping" and taking her abuser/tormentors life.

Again not the case with Arias. Whether or not the jury or the public are looking at Travis's sexual involvement with Jodi Arias as morally questionable, his obviously poor decision to continue to be sexually involved with a woman he knew had committed vandalism and stalking against him in the past. 

Nor does the fact that Travis might have had a short temper was a bit of a sexist and swaggered too much at times - these things are not supposed to be entered into the Jury's decision. These are not mitigating factors. There is zero proof that Travis abused Arias, her feeling abused is subjective not a fact. The question boiled down to whether the aggravating factors exist within this murder - And they clearly do : overkill and particularly cruel painful  and depraved  killing of Travis Alexander, practically beheading him after stabbing him 30 times all over his back and the back of his skull!

 She brought a Gun to the scene. She basically laid in wait for Travis Alexander, much as any predator first luring him with sex, and then as he showered, an act that she perceived as showering her and all evidence of her off of him, she chose this vulnerable position to  begin her enraged attack upon him. My guess is she brandished the gun at him while he was in the shower. Some of the photos taken from the camera she tried to destroy show a sudden stark difference in Travis's posture facial expressions and in the end he was sitting in a very unusual position, a position that I believe Arias ordered him to make him less of a threat sitting down .

I noticed two other photos where the water was off and Travis was still in the shower looking rigid one picture he had his arms across his chest protectively.  Im certain that Arias like a cat with a mouse now realizing Travis had no plans to reconcile with her indeed he seemed anxious to get away from her, probably feeling the bad energy which he once described in a text as "evil"

This murder was steeped in aggravating factors not to mention  drenched in Jodi Arias's lies and bold faced deceit and manipulation; Of the Police she was questioned immediately as Travis's friends pointed to her in Unanimous agreement as the likely culprit.

As for Arias she played the actress well each time she met with Arizona detectives; giving three very different  stories regarding what happened to Travis Alexander?

The first began with her not knowing anything and not even being there but rather spending the night with an ex boyfriend miles away- this was true but a planned alibi that ultimately backfired by showing how cold and disaffected she was after slashing her ex boyfriend to death and dragging his corpse to his shower.

Arias's defense team did not present nor substantiate any mitigating factors that the Jury who obviously didn't want the burden of giving a death sentence - to anyone according to post trial interviews, yet by law they were required to sentence Jodi Arias to the death penalty in light of the absence of those necessary and provable mitigating factors. That is the only legal right they had to give Arias the consideration of leniency.

In my opinion a serious dis-service was committed by this Jury.

They convicted the defendant Jodi Arias as well they should with the abundance of evidence and a confession(albeit after two denials of involvement to Police) yet they refused to follow this trial to a fair and impartial conclusion in the most crucial portion - the sentencing of Ms Arias.

This Jury was not thrown together in some disheveled fashion. No indeed the State of Arizona like every other state takes the voire dire Jury selection process very seriously and as such it is done with the utmost of thoroughness and this includes asking each potential juror if he or she can or will sentence this defendant to the death penalty despite their own views regarding this sentence if it is thus dictated by the careful application of  State Law.

Each and every Juror were questioned tirelessly and many potential jurors were turned away because they were honest and said that they could not sentence someone to death, particularly a woman which this convicted murderer happens to be.

The jurors during Voire Dire assured both prosecutors and the judge that they could render such a sentence if the laws of aggravating factors vs mitigating factors deemed it the proper sentence.   They each took an oath and within that oath they made this very serious promise.

In a capital murder involving such terror cruelty and unbelievable callousness, this Jury in effect simply flung up their collective hands and waived the capital murder law sentencing dictum, betraying the people of the state and all of us who weep for Travis Alexander and his family

Despite our collective disgust at this colossal act or rather inaction of members of this Jury, I will opt to look at this Jury's  as hopeful there is hope for justice and  a positive outcome within the second penalty trial, Thankfully the presiding Judge is a man of jurisprudence  conscience and common sense.

He weighed the options and there were several; many of which could have made Jodi Arias convicted murderess lucky winner by default thanks to a number of jurors obvious issues with the death penalty itself - and quite likely sentencing a relatively young woman to death was also part and parcel of their reluctance to follow through on their sacred oath.

Within one possible choice The Judge had at his discretion he could have agreed to pare the charges down with a motion from the defense) to simplify the process and he easily could have ordered the jury to go back to deliberations and choose between life in prison or life with the chance of  Parole  for Jodi Arias.

Although Justice has not yet been served for Travis Alexander and his family, we do have a convicted murderer sitting in a prison cell awaiting her fate. Lets hope that the next Jury puts her misleading appearance and thoughts of her family aside.

Lets hope that when questioned can you impose a death sentence if Arizona Law demands it?" they answer truthfully.

This sad situation reminds me of an expression by Voltaire

"Evil exists when Good men do nothing"

Lets hope the next Jury does the right thing, below is a comment from a reader of The Daily Mail " a UK online Magazine. This rather adamant remark was in response to the abject failure of this Juror and others to keep their oath to  render a verdict no matter their personal views  re the death penalty or in this case  its even worse this juror actually mentioned Arias's age as a reason she shouldn't be given the death sentence as well he innapropraite++reader who was appalled at the Jury Foremens interview where he gave his reasons for refusing to give Jodi Arias the death penalty- I feel it sums things up very well;

"No, No, No No! No excuses! When these people were selected for jury duty they filled out a questionnaire regarding the "death penalty". They, each and ENERY one of them, indicated that, should the ultimate punishment be the appropriate one, that they would not shirk their duty as jurors. I have no sympathy for a wuss who sits through this farce and then cannot do what was promised in the first place; the correct sentencing . My personal feelings are that they got caught-up in this killer's net of manipulation"