The day had finally arrived, opening statements for the Jodi Arias retrial were finally upon us. With the courtroom filled to the brim with reporters and spectators the Jodi Arias hype was still very high. With the trial not televised or streamed the reporters have a hard job Tweeting this trial to everyone’s satisfaction, and I have to say it’s no easy job. The good thing is most already have seen the testimony and evidence so Tweeting this trial is like explaining it all over again in a condensed version. The emotions the Jodi Arias trial still resonate for supporters on both sides are powerful and intense. I have to say this trial has definitely put all that are reporting on it in a precarious position of being attacked and praised all at the same time. I myself have experienced both. The attacks do become unsettling and sad when reporting on a man that was murdered, and woman trying to stay off of death row actually becomes a dangerous job. This trial will always be a trial like no other in many ways.
Opening statements in the Jodi Arias retrial kicked off last week on Tuesday. Kirk Nurmi was up first to tell the newly impaneled jury what to expect from the defense team and Jodi Arias herself. Kirk Nurmi addressed the fully engaged jury to tell them that Jodi Arias was a girl that suffered a childhood of physical and emotional abuse from her parents. He added she was beat, pushed into furniture and not shown much love. As Jodi began to date she chose men that didn’t value her, they cheated on her, and there was a continued a pattern of not feeling loved enough. Kirk Nurmi told the jury by the time she met Travis Alexander she was a “mentally ill young girl.” Nurmi stated to the jury Jodi was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder from the states own expert witness Janeen DeMarte. He also noted Jodi was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the defenses expert witness Psychologist Richard Samuels. As Nurmi set the stage for a history of mentally illness he eluded to the notion that meeting Travis Alexander created a perfect storm of disaster. Nurmi said that Travis Alexander emotionally and physically abused Jodi Arias, and that was one of the mitigating factors. Nurmi added no prior criminal history, her age of 27 years old at the time of the murder, and the fact Jodi was remorseful should be mitigators the jury needs to consider. Nurmi also explained Jodi would tell them that it horrified her she killed the man she loved. He stated “no one can punish Jodi Arias more than herself.” Kirk Nurmi ended his opening arguments with the statement, “Travis Alexander loved Jodi Arias and this troubled young woman deserves LIFE.” With that he took his seat and we prepared for Juan Martinez to rebut, and explain to the jury why they should give Jodi Arias DEATH.
Juan Martinez stood up to give his opening arguments to the jury as to why he believes they should give Jodi Arias the death penalty. It all begins with a picture of Travis Alexander in life, followed by a picture of him in death. When the picture of Travis’s smiling face is on the big screen Juan says, “30 year old Travis Alexander had more tomorrows then he had yesterdays.” Juan then displayed a photo of Travis with his throat slit wide open laying on an autopsy table mutilated by Jodi Arias. The image spoke a thousand words and Juan stated, “Jodi Arias loved Travis Alexander so much she slaughtered him.” Seeing that picture sent chills down my spine, it’s horrific, disturbing, and to me personally very heartbreaking with what Travis must have endured. Juan also brings forth to the jury Travis and Jodi weren’t seeing each other exclusively and Jodi was peeping in his windows while he was entertaining another woman at his home. Juan also threw out some of the salacious parts of this case, saying Jodi Arias gave as good as she got when it came to the sexual nature of the relationship. While that statement was objected to by the defense and sustained, Juan managed to get it out there. Juan also told the jury in a shocking statement that Jodi shaved her private parts smooth for Travis and asked Travis to perform certain sexual acts upon her. I’ve toned down what was actually said due to the graphic nature but it definitely grabbed the attention of the jury. Juan went on to explain that Jodi Arias claimed a cellphone she had was stolen. It contained texts that maybe she didn’t want to have exposed, but that the jury would be able to see them. Juan went onto say a burglary happened at Jodi’s grandparents house and a 25 caliber gun was stolen, the same caliber used to shoot Travis Alexander. Juan caught the jury up to speed on the gas cans, the rental car, Jodi’s hair color change, and her new love interest Ryan Burns who she went to see after the murder of Travis. Juan talked about sex photos the jury will see and how much pain Travis experienced on the day of the murder. Juan told the jury Jodi lies, she lied, and lied, and lied, as she tried to cover up the crime. He states her PTSD diagnosis was based on lies and her Borderline Personality diagnosis isn’t a mental illness. Juan said that Dr. Janeen DeMarte would explain this to the jury. Juan made it clear there’s nothing documented to suggest Jodi was abused by Travis Alexander, and her mitigating factors will be disputed. A very interesting, and exciting opening to a retrial we all know too well yet hang onto every word. With both sides done, witnesses for the state will now take the stand.
The first witness for the state was Michael Melendez, a computer forensic expert. Melendez extracted deleted photo’s from a camera that was put in Travis Alexander’s washing machine by Jodi Arias. On the camera was pictures of Travis taking a shower, sometimes posing for the photographer just minutes before his death. Also on the camera were sexual photo’s of Jodi and Travis in compromising positions. One photo that stands out is the photo of a foot standing over Travis’s bleeding body being dragged down a hallway. While Jodi Arias looks away as the photo’s are displayed the jury is very attentive and taking notes. Detective Flores takes the stand as he explains what he saw as he arrived to the murder scene, and how Jodi Arias offered to help him in any way she could.
Day 2- Today was a very hard day for Travis Alexander’s family and friends as Juan Martinez calls to the stand Dr. Kevin Horn, the Medical Examiner. Photo after photo of Travis Alexander’s wounds were on the monitors that surrounded the courtroom. Around thirty stab wounds to Travis’s back, head, hands, and torso displayed a total rage from Jodi Arias. Travis had a slit throat that nearly decapitated him and cut his windpipe. He bled everywhere and then was shot in the head according to Dr. Horn. Juan Martinez had Dr. Horn go over the sequence of events according to his professional opinion. Dr. Horn stated Travis was stabbed in the heart, stabbed numerous times all over his body as he struggled fighting back by the defensive wounds on his hands. Travis then had his throat slashed and was shot in the head last. While some jurors looked shocked by the photo’s others were stoic and showed no expressions. Jodi Arias had her head turned away the whole time while the Alexander family cupped their faces into their hands and were emotional. The impact of these photo’s had to be strong on the jury. It was a very good day for the state as this shows how brutal and cruel the crime really was. Juan Martinez shocked the courtroom when with no warning he approached Dr. Horn grabbed his pen and pretended to stab him in heart. He asked Dr. Horn if that took much time? Dr. Horn stated no with a surprised look on his face. Judge Stephens asked Juan to let her know next time his wishes to approach the witness so there are no more surprises. The demonstration was powerful and showed how quick someone could be overpowered when caught by surprise. With the state saying Jodi Arias killed Travis Alexander three times with the stab to the heart, slit throat and gunshot to the head, the defense argued the sequence of events. Defense went on to say Detective Flores made statements that Dr. Horn told him the gunshot came first. Dr. Horn disputes that and says he doesn’t recall talking to Flores about the shot coming first. Jen Willmott for the defense wanted Dr. Horn to say the gunshot came first and the rest of the wounds were a fight to the death between Jodi and Travis. The defense wants to lessen the brutality and premeditation of the crime even though both were proved. This sequence of which came first the stabbing or the gunshot became more of a heated discussion when Detective Flores took the stand once again.
With the loss of one juror due to an emergency before trial even began we were faced with the loss of juror #9 because she couldn’t resist Beth Karas, a reporter reporting on the Jodi trial. Juror #9 not only saw Beth giving an interview about the case she asked Beth if she was Nancy Grace! Beth stated she wasn’t and notified court officials this juror spoke to her. To be honest, I don’t see the similarities…maybe the blond hair? Juror #9 was a female that had a sister in law that knew Jodi Arias when they were young and after the lunch break this juror was dismissed from the trial. The public took a deep sigh of relief.
The next witness to take the stand was Nathan Mendez. He was in charge of locating Jodi Arias after the murder of Travis, and he found her at the grandparents house loading a car full of luggage. Officer Mendez called in to have Jodi arrested right away and they did a search on the vehicle. Juan pointed out in the vehicle was luggage and condoms. Some can say carrying birth control around is a smart thing, but others will point out after Jodi murdered her lover, sex should be the last thing on her mind. Officer Mendez also stated he did the photo line up of Jodi and was there when her booking photo was taken. Jodi asked the photographer if her hair looked OK and she smiled and gave a booking photo worthy of a glamour shot. Officer Menedez stated it was so odd how good that picture turned out and how concerned she was about her looks. The man that rented Jodi Arias the rental car picked Jodi out of the photo line up but stated her hair, which was now brown, use to be blond. When Nurmi got up to cross Officer Menedez he asked if someone under these circumstances asking if her hair looked OK would be someone who may have a mental illness in his opinion. The Officer stated he didn’t know. Nurmi went on to ask why Jodi Arias would be out to commit a crime and leave a paper trail that could be tracked? Juan rebutted that with Jodi kept all receipts for her road trip except for any travel that pertained to Arizona.
Day 3- Jodi Arias arrived wearing a sweater she owned during the first trial and I recognized it right off the bat. It was tan, she had her hair down, glasses on, and for this trial no bangs. Detective Flores was back on the stand once again, and it would be a grueling day for him being hammered on his statements during a preliminary hearing. The transcripts from the hearing have Detective Flores testifying he heard Dr. Horn tell him the gunshot came first in the sequence of events on the day of the murder. The defense ran with that to bolster their position, but Dr. Horn denied ever having this conversation with Flores. According to the transcript Detective Flores thought the slit throat came last. Jurors took many notes, but we will have to wait and see if the sequence of events on how Travis was murdered will matter to them while deliberating life or death. Nurmi then put up all the pictures of Travis Alexander in the shower, he stated that Jodi Arias had many moments and many opportunities to kill Travis such as when his back was turned, and his eyes were closed. He left the question floating in the air as to why Jodi would wait till Travis was looking at her to attack. Juan states that she waited till she got Travis sitting in a wet, slippery shower to stab him in heart by surprise. A Walmart employee then took the stand to say no gas can was ever returned by Jodi Arias as she so strongly stated in her testimony on the stand in the first trial. Nurmi asked the Walmart employee if maybe she overlooked it somewhere somehow, and the witness said “no,” she checked all registers and it wasn’t returned. The next witness was an important one for the day. It’s was an Officer from Yreka that investigated the burglary at Jodi Arias grandparents home. This Officer testified a 25 caliber hand gun was taken along with a stereo, DVD player, and $30.00. He found the burglary strange as no money was taken that was out in the open, no other guns were removed, and even the big screen TV was still there. The Officer spoke to Jodi and took pictures of what she said was out of place. Drawers were barely opened, and the only real damage was to the front door. The Officer found the burglary suspicious but they didn’t find any useable fingerprints at the scene. Nurmi questioned him on why Jodi who lives there would have to stage a burglary? Why not just take the gun? The Officer couldn’t answer that. With that witness off the stand the lawyers, Judge, Jodi, and Travis’s sisters go back to chambers for what seemed like a very long time. We were left to wonder what happened and why. When the parties came out the Judge asked juror 17 to stay behind and recessed court for the day. While we all waiting in the courtroom all parties again left. When they returned Detective Flores was asked if a juror was dismissed and he stated “no.” So the mystery deepens as court was called early but whether we will find out what happened or not is left to be seen. Court resumes on Monday at 9:30am MST, and The Trial Diaries will be there to bring you all the accurate updates throughout the day. Let’s just hope Monday is a full day with no juror issues, defendant problems or anything else that may crop up. Until Tomorrow, The Trial Diaries
Pictures by Tom Tingle, BethKaras.com, Nancy Grace Show