Who Is Jodi Arias?
Born in 1980 in Salinas, California, Jodi Arias made headlines when she was charged with murdering her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander in June 2008. After the gruesome, salacious details surrounding the murder were revealed, Arias testified during the 2013 trial that she had killed Alexander in self-defense. She was found guilty of first-degree murder, and later sentenced to life in prison after two juries deadlocked on whether to impose the death penalty.
Meeting Travis Alexander
Convicted killer Jodi Ann Arias was born on July 9, 1980, in Salinas, California. In the summer of 2008, Arias made national headlines when she was charged with murdering her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander, a 30-year-old Mormon who was working as a motivational speaker and insurance salesman. Arias and Alexander had met at a conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2006, while he was living in Arizona and she was a resident of Palm Desert, California. By the following year, they were a committed couple. After only five months as a couple, however, the two went their separate ways in late June 2007 but still maintained a sexual relationship.
Murder Investigation Begins
On June 9, 2008, Travis Alexander's body was found in a pool of blood in the shower of his Mesa, Arizona, home by friends who had become increasingly worried about his whereabouts. Almost immediately after entering the residence, the young men began taking in the heinous crime scene. In the bathroom, they found Alexander with a gunshot wound to the head, more than two dozen stab wounds and a deeply and widely slit throat. Investigators later determined that the murder had occurred five days before his body was found, on June 4, 2008.
Arias quickly became the focus of investigations. She was indicted on first-degree murder charges on July 9, 2008, and arrested in California soon after. Arias initially denied any involvement in the killing, despite the discovery of her DNA mixed with Alexander's blood at the crime scene, but she later changed her story, claiming that she and her ex had been attacked by two masked intruders. After killing Alexander, the criminals decided to let her live, she told police, adding that she chose not to alert authorities at the time because she feared the intruders might seek revenge.
Testimony in Arias's trial began in early January 2013, which was aired live to the public and thus became a media sensation. The following month, the alleged killer took the witness stand in her defense, from where she would testify for 18 consecutive days. Already infamously known for her different accounts of Alexander's murder, Arias stated that she had killed her ex in an impassioned act of self-defense. She testified that Alexander had frequently abused her and that she killed him after he came at her in a fit of rage when she dropped his camera. She also claimed to have suffered memory loss as the result of emotional trauma experienced during the incident, with a psychological expert corroborating that she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
"Lying isn't typically something I just do," Arias stated during the trial in response to a query from the jury. "The lies I've told in this case can be tied directly back to either protecting Travis's reputation or my involvement in his death ... because I was very ashamed."
Conviction and Penalty Retrial
On May 8, 2013, Jodi Arias was found guilty of first-degree murder. Five jurors found her guilty of premeditated murder and seven found her guilty of both premeditated and felony murder, a verdict that sparked elation among Travis Alexander's family members. However, the judge declared a mistrial in the penalty phase after the jury deadlocked on whether Arias deserved the death penalty.
The penalty retrial began in October 2014, with a new jury revisiting the same evidence presented the first time around. This time, the focus was on the psychological makeup of both parties, with the defense attempting to portray their client as a vulnerable woman and Alexander as emotionally and physically abusive.
In March 2015, the second jury was unable to agree on Arias's sentence as well, thus removing the option of the death penalty and leaving punishment terms to Judge Sherry Stephens. On April 13, after expressing remorse for her actions in a statement, Arias received a life sentence without the possibility of parole after 25 years, and she began serving her term at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Perryville.
Although Jodi Arias appealed her conviction and sentencing, the process was bogged down by transcript errors and omissions. The court record was finally declared complete in April 2017, nearly two years after the appeals process began, and that summer a 2018 deadline was established for the defense and prosecution to file their legal briefs.
Additional complications surfaced in October 2017, when Arias alleged in a civil suit that the head of her legal team broke attorney-client privilege by disclosing confidential information for the "expressed purpose of financial gain and his own public redemption'" in a tell-all book about the case.
With the murder saga continuing to fascinate the public, Investigation Discovery was set to begin airing the three-part Jodi Arias: An American Murder Mystery on January 14, 2018.
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