CRJ336 Criminal Investigation
Colorado State University Global
In the case of Jodi Arias, the defense had their work cut out for them. During the investigation into Travis Alexander’s death, Arias had changed her story several times. Typically when a suspect changes their story, or can’t keep their story straight, when being interviewed by police it isn’t the best indicator of innocence. During the trial, Arias’ defense attorneys brought up 5 important points to defend her. They wanted to show that Arias was being abused by Alexander, both physically and sexually. They also wanted to give a valid reason as to why her story changed several times when she was questioned. Lastly, the defense wanted to present a solid story to the jury that this murder was a case of self defence.
When it came to Arias’ changing story, the defence brought in a psychologist to testify on her behalf. Dr. Richard Samuels told the jury that her memory loss was caused by the stress of the murder (Owens, 2013). Dr. Samuels explained that the diagnosis of PTSD could medically explain why Arias had suffered from amnesia during the killing of Alexander (Fuchs, 2013). The interviews with the police made Arias’ credibility virtually nonexistent, which made it harder for the jury to believe her. Bringing in the psychologist was supposed to help build that credibility back up. Arias had gone through several tests to determine whether or not she had experienced traumatic amnesia, but even those tests didn’t seem to help (Hogan, 2014).
Many accusations were made in regard to Alexander’s sexual interests. Much of the couples sex life was provided in the court. Arias would discuss Alexander’s sexual habits, his desires and personal beliefs as to what constituted as actual intercourse. When Arias took the stand, she included pedophillia allegations against Alexander (Conti, 2015). Arias discussed her disgust when she found Alexander pleasuring himself to the photos of young children on his computer. An investigation in to this claim came back empty, foresnic experts testified that when they completed an examination of his computer there was no evidence of child pornography (Hogan, 2014). Many believe that this was a desperate attempt to slander Alexanders name and embarrass the mormon community.
Physical and Emotional Abuse
Arias would also testify that Alexander became more and more physically and emotionally abusive towards her, claiming that he would shake her and scream at her (Emery, 2013). Arias also elaborated on how Alexander would tackle her violently, throwing her to the ground, kicking her in the ribs and, one time, kicking her hand resulting in a broken finger (Emery, 2013). The defence used this only as an argument as they did not have any evidence to support the claims. Arias put her hand up to show that her finger was not set properly which is why it was crooked. She never filed any police reports to corroborate her stories, and the prosecution destroyed this argument by presenting statements from Alexanders previous girlfriends who all said he was never like that (Hogan, 2014).
Arias’ defence team used multiple points to paint a convincing picture of abuse from Alexander. One of the key points that they focused on was audio recordings of Alexander. Provided by Arias, they used these recordings to make Arias out to be a submissive partner in the relationship. On one of the audio recordings you could clearly hear Alexander saying that he wanted to tie her to a tree “and put it in her ass” (Pelisek, 2013). They added this to their argument to show that Alexander was sexually deviant, but while Arias was on the stand she would go into great detail about their sexual exploits which did not convince the jury that she did not enjoy what Alexander put her through. Had Arias not elaborated on their physical relationship, the defence could have strengthened their position.
In addition to the audio tapes, Arias provided a sex tape of the aforementioned sexual fantasy heard in the audio recording. The goal of using lude audio and video recordings of Alexander, the defense wanted to build on the evil inside the businessman. Arias had recorded the video without any obvious consent, or even knowledge, on Alexanders part (Hogan, 2014). The use of the video was aimed at showing Alexanders sexual deviance and how he would put her in humiliating and degrading situations as a form or emotional abuse. Mel McDonald, a Phoenix defense attorney, stated that having the jury see her cry would humanize her. The defense wanted the jury to see that something had happened to her and that she became this way and ‘because of what he did to her’ (Pelisek, 2013).
Conti, A. (2015, April 13). Jodi Arias Got Life in Prison Without Parole at the End of Her Long, Bizarre Murder Trial. Retrieved February 9, 2020, from https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/zngbky/jodi-arias-gets-tk-years-in-conclusion-of-bizarre-murder-trial-912
Emery, D. (2013, February 12). Jodi Arias Testifies Alleged Murder Victim Broke Her Finger In Fight, Describes Horrific Sexual Encounter: Radar Online. Retrieved February 9, 2020, from https://radaronline.com/videos/jodi-arias-murder-trial-testimony-travis-alexander-broke-finger-sex-abuse/
Fuchs, E. (2013, April 4). Jodi Arias’ Psychologist May Have Screwed Up Her Murder Defense. Retrieved February 9, 2020, from https://www.businessinsider.com/jodi-arias-defense-strategy-2013-4
Hogan, S. (2014). Picture perfect: the Jodi Arias story: a beautiful photographer, her Mormon lover, and a brutal murder. New York, NY: St. Martins Press.
Owens, R. (2013, April 24). Jodi Arias Cries Over Picture of Travis Alexander Kissing Her. Retrieved February 9, 2020, from https://abcnews.go.com/US/jodi-arias-cries-picture-travis-alexander-kissing/story?id=19028331
Pelisek, C. (2013, February 17). Jodi Arias’s Baffling Defense Strategy. Retrieved February 9, 2020, from https://www.thedailybeast.com/jodi-ariass-baffling-defense-strategy