It would take a special type of person to look forward to a trial that will determine whether you will live or die. Yet, I have a sneaking suspicion that convicted murderer Jodi Arias may be that rare breed. A lethal combination of sociopath and narcissist with a dollop of daredevil that may have her actually excited about once again basking in the spotlight as she tries to convince a skeptical jury and public that she is not who she seems to be.
Arias, who seemed like a seasoned pro during numerous TV interviews, has been relaying tweets from prison on everything from domestic violence to artwork she sells online to health tips.
So why is Arizona repeating this spectacle? Arias was convicted on May 8th, 2013 of brutally murdering Travis Alexander in 2008, but the jury hung by a vote of 8 to 4 (8 for death) on the question of whether she should be executed.
That means she is guaranteed at least life in prison, the only question would be whether she would ever be eligible for parole. So why not just offer her life without parole and end this sordid legal drama?
(It’s always possible that happened and she rejected it, but it seems highly unlikely based on the pleas of the defense team and determination of prosecutors to pursue death).
Many who support this new trial talk like failing to execute her would be akin to letting her walk. Beyond the absurdity of that on its face, it’s important to note that Arizona is one of only two states that would even permit this type of death penalty retrial.
Full disclosure: I have never thought this was a death penalty case. Not because I believe her far-fetched claims of abuse but because as horrible as it was, this is a somewhat typical domestic murder -- hardly representative of the worst of the worst for which I believe the death penalty should be reserved. She was a jealous, troubled and spurned lover.
Does it legally fit the definition where a prosecutor could pursue the death penalty? Absolutely. This was an especially "cruel" murder, with Travis stabbed 27 times, shot and nearly decapitated. Under Arizona law, that's enough to seek death. But just because they can pursue it, doesn’t mean they should. They are about to embark on an estimated two month-long retrial solely on the issue of her sentence.
Is it really so crucial to ensure that this woman who prosecutors argued has a borderline personality disorder, sit on death row as opposed to just a maximum security prison for life? No. Every district attorney makes plea bargain decisions because they don’t, and can't have the resources to try every case. High-profile ones cost even more, as do death penalty cases, and the defense alone in the first case totaled $2 million. Is it callous to talk dollars or resources when discussing justice? Yes, but it's also reality, and having taxpayers foot another enormous bill for this case ought to be of serious concern.
Maybe the most compelling argument in favor of moving forward is that Travis Alexander's heartbroken family seems to want her to face the death penalty. While that should be a consideration, and I have great sympathy for this family who handled themselves with poise and grace as Arias shamelessly attacked Travis, they don't, and shouldn't get to make that decision. This is the people of the state of Arizona versus Jodi Arias and so the district attorney, not the family, represents the people.
Prosecutors already proved that Jodi Arias is cunning, dangerous and evil. So now this sentencing re-trial runs the risk of engendering some level of sympathy for Arias that is as unwarranted as it is unnecessary.