Jodi Arias was found guilty of the grisly premeditated first-degree murder of her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander in June 2008. (Photo : myspace.com/jodiarias)
As the Jodi Arias trial resumes this week, legal experts are saying the amount of jury questions recently asked - as well as their tone and context - foreshadow trouble on the horizon for the defendant.
A photographer from California, Arias is charged with the the grisly first-degree murder of her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander in June 2008, when she allegedly stabbed the then 27-year-old man 27 times, shot him in the face twice, slit his throat and left his bloodied corpse crumpled over in the bathroom shower of his apartment. Arias' fate depends on whether the jury believes she killed Alexander in self-defense, as she contends, or was actually a jilted lover exacting jealous revenge, as the prosecution argues.
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Jurors submitted a wealth of questions earlier in the week to be asked to Arias by Judge Sherry Stephens. Arizona is one of three states that allow jurors to ask witnesses questions once prosecuting and defense attorneys have completed their questioning, according to Fox News.
Legal authorities like Julio Laboy, a Phoenix criminal defense attorney, say it's clear enough based on the jury's questions that they are far from convinced of Arias' explanations for her constantly changing stories and claim of memory loss during Alexander's killing.
"I think the message here is, 'I think you're lying and I want to have you answer my questions directly,'" said Laboy, CBS reported.
Laboy said the defense has made a huge mistake by leaving Arias on the stand for such a long time. "Let Jodi's voice just end," he said. "Jurors may not be happy if they don't have the last word."
Almost all of the 220 questions centered on Arias' varying versions of events and supposed inability to remember the most important aspects of the trial, such as killing Alexander — a focus that came as little surprise. Over four increasingly heated days of cross examination, prosecuting attorney Juan Martinez consistently pointed out the numerous inconsistencies, contradictions and outright lies in Arias' stories seeking to underline her utter lack of credibility. Martinez repeatedly noted that none of Arias' accusations of Alexander's allegedly abusive behavior or pedophilia have been backed up by the numerous emails, photographs, diary entries, text messages or recorded phone calls between the two already shown in court.
The jury's questions displayed a palpable level of skepticism for Arias' version of events, and in some cases, carried a notably pointed tone.
"How do you determine when you will tell the truth and when you will not tell the truth?" asked one juror last week, HLNTV reported.
"Anything related back to my involvement in Travis' death or de-edifying him in any way, I covered up, I attempted to cover up. The lies that I told after all of this happened were directly related to those two main things," claimed Arias.
Arias has already admitted to lying about Alexander's death to just about everyone. She first claimed she was never at Alexander's home the day he was killed, then when DNA evidence proved she was lying she said masked intruders killed him, and finally, years later she backtracked to admit she killed the victim, but claimed it was in self-defense, saying he attacked her in the shower, forcing her to fight for her life. She claims she lied so often because she was "ashamed" she killed Alexander in self-defense and because she was afraid of revealing the details of their sexual relationship.
"Do you recall the injuries on Travis' body at any point on June 4 without the aid of photographs?" asked a juror through the judge.
"No. I didn't even realize that I shot him," Arias claimed.
Arias has tried to explain away many of the inconsistencies in her stories by claiming her memory was foggy the day Alexander died. Arias has wavered back-and-forth between providing surprisingly acute details surrounding the murder to claiming she has little to no memory of certain pieces of the case, such as the actual act of killing Alexander, saying her memory of the fateful day has "huge gaps," according to The Tri-City Herald.
"If you were scared of what Travis was capable of doing, why would you let him tie you up?" asked another juror.
"When that occurred, he was in a very good mood, and he wasn't displaying any signs of agitation. That was the Travis that I liked and was not afraid of. The moment he began to get angry."
Arias' lawyers have portrayed her as an innocent, naive, devout Mormon who was sexually exploited by an often sadistic and violent Alexander. Much of the defense's case rests on this portrait of Alexander. Arias has testified throughout the trial about her lover's supposed double life: a devout Mormon virgin on the surface, but a "sexually deviant" abusive control freak underneath. Alexander's friends contend the version of him presented in court by the defense is nothing like the man they knew, but Arias has consistently claimed the couple had a volatile relationship, and that Alexander was possibly a pedophile who was "emotionally detached."
Arias faces the death penalty if convicted. Martinez will begin further cross examination of Arias March 13 at noon EST.