I always find myself extremely prepared for court. Gum…check. Notepad…check. Pens…check. Phone charges and laptop…check. Well the day the Jodi Arias verdict came in I was as prepared as always, and just happened to be at the courthouse early from doing a morning interview. I sat upstairs as lawyers and the families shuffled into the courtroom. It was extremely early for them to be there and as more and more people showed up it led me to believe something was going on. A few other reporters were around the courthouse and we rushed to get in and find out if maybe the jury had a question. We soon learned it was a verdict. The jury was hung. They just couldn’t come to a unanimous decision. It was heartbreaking to see some of them and it was heartbreaking to hear the Alexander family sob. I myself had a lump in my throat; I had hoped so much a decision could be reached. The press was told we may get to hear from this jury. It would take some time but we were instructed to wait in an empty room. Chairs were set up with a long table in front that had microphones placed on it. I happened to have a front row seat. I was excited but not expecting any of the jurors to talk. Many times I have waited to hear from a jury only to be let down when I heard they didn’t want to speak. I didn’t think this time would be any different, but it was. The juror’s agreed to speak to us but we couldn’t put them on camera, audio only. That seemed fine by me as I began to search for questions I would ask. I mean really where do we begin?! I couldn’t wait to hear this jury speak and tell us their take on everything. To me this was a gift they were giving us, and I wanted to soak in every moment.
The juror’s were thoughtful and smart. The vote for death penalty was 11-1. I thought to myself “wow they almost had it,” and by the look on their tired, worn faces, they put in the time and the effort to finish this monumental job. All eyes were on them as they cried, were angry, and sad they couldn’t bring more justice to Travis Alexander. After hearing them speak I felt they did. While the outcome wasn’t what some wanted, the people that were tasked with that duty did all they could. One juror out of 12 decided she could not make that ultimate decision and while controversy surrounds her choices until all the evidence is in I will keep my opinion to myself. When finished speaking the juror’s were being scooted out the door by security to go home. I reached into my black bag to grab my business cards as I was jumping up to greet each juror. I was reaching for the one thing that is essential in this kind of situation. Well, to my dismay my business cards weren’t there! I had the gum, the pens, the notepad and not the business cards! I continued standing up and started shaking the juror’s hands introducing myself hoping and that one would remember who I am. It felt like an epic fail and I kicked myself all the way to my car. If one juror called I would take that as a stroke of great luck and if not…well I won’t ever forget those darn business cards again.
I was lying in bed exhausted coming down from the stress of the trial myself when I decided to check my email. In my inbox was a message titled “Interested in an Interview?” I jumped right up to read it and when I did I felt very excited about who it was. It was the Foreman of the Jodi Arias trial and he wanted to see if I’d like to chat. He was reading through some news coverage and came across The Trial Diaries. He thought my coverage was fair and he noted he wished I had my business cards earlier on in the day. “Oh yes,” I replied, “I won’t ever be forgetting those again!” We set a day and time and met for some coffee and a casual chat about what actually went on inside the deliberation room and what his take was on this polarizing trial. I was so pleasantly surprised by this smart man. He was young, soft spoken and a juror I had in my full view for the whole trial. He didn’t want to go on camera or do an audio spot he wanted to give the full picture and express his side in a relaxing way. With a notepad and pen in my hand (no laptop) I began to take notes while hanging onto his every word.
Living in Arizona for 16 years, the Foreman has seen and lived in many different places. Married and a father of 3 children that range from 7 to 13 years old he describes his life as very normal. He works for a large company in Chandler, Arizona that really worked to his advantage when he got on the Jodi Arias trial. His company paid his full wages throughout the retrial and he even got his bonuses. Given this trial lasted 3 months longer than expected that was quite the blessing considering jury pay can be lower at times they what someone makes. The Foreman went on to tell me he’s never been selected for jury duty before and he has always wanted to serve. When he would get a summons he would call the night before to only have it cancelled. The Foreman’s wife also had a high interest on being a juror since she’s from another country and would love to get a chance to experience our court system.
In 2010-2013 the Foreman was out of the United States so if anyone were to ask him who Jodi Arias was he just wouldn’t know. My eyes got wide as I thought to myself “There you have it…the one and only person who doesn’t know who Jodi Arias is!” I wasn’t the only person to share this same sentiment. The Foreman got his jury summons to report to Maricopa County Superior Court and this time it wasn’t cancelled. As he arrived in the jury parking lot he boarded the bus he would soon find himself riding every week for months. Someone sitting next to him said, “I bet you are on that Jodi Arias case,” he responded, “Jodi who?” This same person replied “You have to be living under a rock to of never heard of Jodi Arias!” The Foreman made it easily through the first cut since the question revolved around media coverage of the first trial. He was then taken downstairs to fill out a questionnaire that was around 30 pages long. The potential jury was told Jodi Arias was a first degree convicted murderer and the crime was heinous. The questionnaire asked them if they had strong feelings for or against the death penalty and if they had any church affiliations. After that task was completed the Foreman was back in a group but this time in the jury box. Jennifer Willmott asks him if remorse was important and Juan in turn asked if the defendant didn’t take the stand would it make it harder to express remorse. The Foreman told me remorse was important to him and he would want to see it expressed from a defendant. The Foreman went on to tell the court he could be unbiased but his default was for life.
When the Foreman was told to be in court on October 20th of 2014 he showed up not knowing he made it on the Jodi Arias retrial jury. He was walked into the courtroom by staff and seated with 19 other jurors as the judge began reading jury instruction and then the lawyers began opening arguments. “I looked over at Jodi and she looked normal.” When Kirk Nurmi began he came across as easy going. Nurmi expressed to the court the defendant would be speaking and that perked the Foreman’s interest. He described Juan Martinez as “bold.” Later on in the trial the Foreman confirmed he really came to appreciate Juan Martinez’s efficiency and speed with each witnesses. Dr. Horn was an impactful witness for the state. He’s the Medical Examiner and handled the body of Travis Alexander. The Foreman found his testimony to be very difficult. It sparked the question as to “why this crime was so brutal and nasty.” When Detective Flores was up for the state the Foreman noticed he was very gentle as he watched the interrogation tapes. Jodi Arias came across as being in “full cover up mode.” Juan’s overview of the pre meditation and murder of Travis Alexander was quick in the Foreman’s mind, but clear. As I listened to him describe each player in this trial I began to realize he was seeing all the things we as the public have seen for years. I found him to be very good at grasping what was going on considering he never saw one bit of the first trial.
The next expert I wanted the Foreman’s take on was Dr. L.C. Miccio-Fonseca. Dr. Fonseca was a defense expert and in the Foreman’s thoughts this was finally getting to the “why” the murder happened. Up until this point some of things the juror’s were exposed to were crime scene photos, a Walmart witness and information regarding the gas cans. According to the Foreman, Fonseca gave fascinating insight into Travis Alexander and Jodi Arias’ relationship. He found she was reasonable and it impressed him she didn’t use notes. While she was making some headway he felt Kirk Nurmi tended to drag things out and it was going on a little too long. At this point the information Fonseca gave showed that Travis seemed to be verbally abusive to Jodi Arias. Dr. Fonseca was getting good mileage out of the texts and emails between them. “They really did make Travis look terrible and he didn’t deny his behavior to his friends Chris and Sky Hughes,” stated the Foreman. He went on to say “Fonseca came across as truthful,” and it had him wondering what was next. When Juan Martinez was up for cross he felt Fonseca held up well. He recalled Fonseca telling Juan after much grilling “Perhaps you are having trouble with your memory.” Fonseca used outside sources besides Travis and Jodi’s communication and Juan continued to try to trip her up. All in all he found the testimony of Miccio Fonseca was “lengthy but humanizing.”
We then moved on to Dr. Robert Geffner who was also a defense witness. I wanted to hear how the Foreman viewed his testimony. “Dr. Geffner had shockingly great qualifications, it went on for over an hour and as a whole the direct examination felt long.” The Foreman describes himself as scientific and he felt Dr. Geffner was the same way. He reminded the Foreman of a College Professor that had his text books and was organized. Dr. Geffner came across very professional, he had his own team; “he seemed like an all around funny guy that if you hung out with him he would come across as hilarious.” Dr. Geffner did show a pattern of the alleged physical abuse from Travis Alexander but the Foreman felt it was problematic since it was based on Jodi’s word alone. The physical abuse was alleged to of happened at 6 months, 3 months, and then 1 month apart according to Dr. Geffner. The Foreman saw an escalation in this alleged abuse but felt there was just nothing to back these incidents up. He did comment that he felt at this point emotional and verbal abuse from Travis Alexander seemed to exist. The PTSD was irrelevant in the Foreman’s mind, first the incident was based on a lie, and second Jodi should have PTSD after committing a murder. The Foreman asked a question of Dr. Geffner, “Could Jodi score low on the aggression scales on purpose?” Dr. Geffner replied that would be hard and the questions asked helped prevent that kind of thing from happening.
As the courtroom was cleared of media and public by the judge so Jodi Arias could testify in secret it didn’t seem to alert the jury that something was wrong. The Foreman remembers seeing Jodi on the stand as he was waiting in line to enter the courtroom and was really excited to finally hear what she had to say. Kirk Nurmi had told the jury she would speak and he thought “wow this is it.” When the Foreman walked in he felt the lack of press and public gave the courtroom a more relaxing environment and he enjoyed it. He really wanted to hear what Jodi Arias had to say. Jodi came across as well spoken, talked rather fast and she didn’t come across as someone who was mentally ill. She would speak about things that happened in her life and it tended to sound like she was showing off at times. Jodi would speak about housing markets when explaining the foreclosure issues with Daryl and wanted the jury to know she was smart. Jodi didn’t seem like the “closeted” woman Dr. Fonseca portrayed, Jodi didn’t come across as having low self esteem in fact she seemed rather normal, the Foreman explained. He noted that the whole time Jodi was testifying he was looking for remorse; he was listening intently for it and didn’t fully believe it. Her body language just didn’t match her words in his mind and while he found Jodi to be smart the pre meditation was a major strike against her. The Foreman stated that this was the first time they got to see Jennifer Willmott on direct. He found Jennifer to be classy, nice, and he liked how she smiled a lot to court staff like Court Reporter Mike. I asked the Foreman if he had any questions for Jodi and he responded “Yes.” “I had a question for her and it never made it in the basket. I was saving it in case she would answer it and if not I would put it in there. I wanted to know where that knife came from.” With a sudden turn of the tide Jodi was off the stand and the Foreman stated he just grew use to the non consistent pattern of the trial.
The state’s top expert Dr. Janeen DeMarte was one I really wanted the Foreman’s opinion on. He found her to be very well spoken. The most interesting thing he noted was that Jodi didn’t seem to like her at all. “Jodi would lean forward in her seat, smiling and staring intently as Kirk Nurmi would drill the Dr. on the stand.” He felt DeMarte held up very well and remained calm and cool as a cucumber as Kirk Nurmi called her Dr. Death, “I just felt that was childish.” DeMarte he felt was important because she stated there was no physical abuse that happened at the hands of Travis Alexander. The Foreman had put a question for her in the basket that was never asked, “Since you had the most interview time with Jodi did you see genuine remorse from her?” While the defense hammered away at DeMarte’s qualifications and experience, the Foreman felt the Dr. was “diligent and knew her stuff,” a statement most everyone that has seen her testify in trial could agree on.
I wanted to know the juror’s take on the porn that was found on Travis Alexander’s hard drive for his laptop. The defense made this a huge issue in the case. From accusing the Mesa Police Department to Juan Martinez himself of misconduct, and I wanted to see how it came across to the jury. In simple words the Foreman said “the porn was just a non issue.” Being a scientific kind of guy he did find the forensics’ side of the computers interesting along with learning about the software but the porn….not so much. The police misconduct allegation about the turning on of the computer at 11pm raised an eyebrow but he felt Juan Martinez turned it all around and it also became a non issue.
With as much time as defense spent on the infamous sex tape between Jodi and Travis, I was very curious to know what the Foreman thought about hearing it and digesting what was said. “The sex tape was rather shocking and embarrassing.” The call happened on May 10th, 2008 and the Foreman noticed that during some of Travis’s statements in this phone call Jodi would stop and ask him to repeat what he said. “I heard her saying “what?” to Travis on the call” It was then the Foreman said it clicked that Jodi was recording this sex call and this is when the pre meditation began, “I felt this was evil planning.”
When I asked about the how the Foreman felt regarding that surrebuttal the defense put on, the Foreman replied he was, “tired.” “Seeing Dr. Geffner back on the stand didn’t do the defense any good,” he replied. The Foreman stated when the trial started he defaulted to life but by December/January he began leaning more toward death. The night before closing arguments the Foreman said he was thinking, “This crime was VERY pre meditated and I believe it was since May 10, 2008. It was brutal; she wasn’t honest after the murder and the letter she wrote to the family showed deception. I didn’t see any genuine remorse from Jodi Arias yet I did have the impression that Travis was emotionally and verbally abusive. Jodi didn’t have to go to Mesa, Arizona that day. She wasn’t even living in Arizona, she pre meditated this.” When closings concluded the Foreman felt Kirk Nurmi did a decent job and he felt Juan Martinez did well also. “The one thing I really remember about Juan’s closing was that moon story.” The Foreman stated that story seemed odd at first and Juan moved very fast and in many different directions with the rest of his closing arguments. “I felt Jodi knew right from wrong even if she had a mental disorder. I saw her often times coloring, smiling, having fun, whispering to Maria De La Rosa (Foreman didn’t know her name) and Jennifer Willmott during this retrial. Jodi seemed to show unexpected emotions for somebody supposedly remorseful.”
What really impressed me about this Foreman was his thoughtful nature. He expressed to me the dedication of this Jodi Arias jury and while I suspected that hearing just how much was truly eye opening. Some on the jury would travel one hour and thirty minutes each way to get to court daily. Many had health issues they had to deal with and put off appointments and surgeries due to the court schedule. One delayed a honeymoon, and when the court would ask them to serve for one more month that turned into three; they would make the sacrifices and do it. Juror’s had family schedules that were disrupted, child care to worry about and some mom’s had 1 year olds at home. “My wife enjoyed my schedule. I normally worked late but with this court schedule I was home early and the schedule really worked for us.” A story of one juror that got a flat tire on the way to court showed just how dedicated this group was. “Instead of calling and saying they would be really late, they pulled right into Walmart on a flat, bought a tire, had it put on and showed up to court on time for the day. Their commitment to this trial was very strong.” One juror did an Ironman and was in court the next day sore and worn out. On Fridays some jurors went to their jobs along with anytime off they had from the trial. Three months in some of the ladies were experiencing body aches from sitting so much in trial. The Foreman stated, “I, myself, was feeling pain too, and I was walking and taking stairs to try to combat it.”
In the Foreman’s Words
“After the closings it was very stressful. Some jurors were nervous about getting picked to deliberate and I didn’t want to be an alternate. My body was aching from all the stress. When the alternates were picked and dismissed the stress was beyond belief. We went back into the deliberations room and the evidence carts were wheeled in. They hooked up TV’s, videos were brought out, we had all the evidence from the first trial and it was crowded in the room. To give you an idea we had part of Travis’s bathroom sink in the room with us. Randy and Janet the court staff came in and told us we had to pick a Foreman and set a schedule very quickly. One juror was already standing and looked like he wanted to be the Foreman. I was sitting and other jurors began to suggest me for the position, I accepted.
The jury instructions were confusing for me in the beginning but one of the jurors understood it very well and it was helpful. I decided as group we would just begin by talking before taking any kind of votes. I thought we would start by giving the defense a chance and talk about their case. The room was just crowded as we all took a seat around the very long table. We decided to talk about mitigating factors, clockwise we would each take a turn about how we felt about each one. We started with the age of Jodi Arias. One by one no one thought “age” of Jodi Arias was a factor until it came to Juror 17. It struck me as interesting she would find this a mitigating factor but we moved onto the next one. Lots of talking was going on at this point we could finally communicate with each other about the case. Whenever one of us took a break all talking had to stop. The breaks had to be recorded and I was in charge of it. I would be recording breaks, communicating with court staff, listening and talking to jurors all at the same time. I let the other jurors know they had my full attention and were being heard. (I asked the Foreman if the jury breaking in a group of 8 had anything to do with the split…he stated no.) We then moved on to “criminal history” of Jodi Arias. None of us found that to be a mitigating factor. Another mitigating factor none of us around the table found was “remorse.” We then went over mitigating factor #4, emotional and physical abuse Jodi claims she suffered as a child. Some wanted to review Carl’s interview on it and Juror 17 stated it carried a lot of weight for her.
At this point the jurors seemed uneasy about declaring if they were for life or death so I tried to break the ice and just start a conversation on their thoughts about it. We took a vote. It was approximately 7 for death penalty, 4 undecided and 1 for life. Some jurors wanted to be clearer and look at Jodi’s journals and see the psychological reports while making a decision on which way they would lean. That led us to ask our first question to the court. “Can we view evidence items not presented in our trial?” In five minutes or less our answer was “Yes.” We wanted to stay late and deliberate. We talked about Fridays but some jurors had appointments scheduled for that day and the court told us 5pm was the latest we could stay. The court staff recommended we bring our lunch the following day and that is when one of the jurors said he would bring in a Crockpot of chili. So we asked another question of the court and that was “Can we work through our lunch?” We were able to and we did. We also wanted a summary list by number with a description and what we got was a list with where the descriptions were blank and whited out.
We asked the court if we could review our notes on our own. If a juror took a break would we still be able to look them over? The court responded to us we could not. Every time a juror took a break we weren’t allowed to review them. We all had to be in the room together and that made things difficult. We had gone through mitigating factors 1-4 the day prior and were now going to tackle 5-9. The mitigating factor Jodi suffered physical and emotional abuse while in a relationship with Travis Alexander was next on our list, it was #5. The emotional most jurors believed the physical some. We discussed #7 the factor she was diagnosed with PTSD. We all believed she should have had it from the murder and it wasn’t a mitigating factor. We didn’t see #8 the Borderline Personality Disorder as a factor either but most felt Jodi had it. At this point we were all still in sharing mode.
We took a vote after lunch. I made a chart with life on one side death on the other with a line going down the middle for undecided. I wanted a data point from the jurors. Everyone seemed more comfortable voting now; everyone got up and put their vote on the side they chose. It was 11-1 death. This is when I noticed Juror 17 had put more weight on the mitigating factors than anybody else. After the vote we decided to do a round table chat and look at the Gchat between Travis and Jodi. (This was the chat where Travis called Jodi “evil” “a frickin whore” “a rotten lunatic.”) Some of the ladies on the jury noticed the manipulation from Jodi Arias and even Juror 17 agreed. We cross referenced journals and text messages and wondered why Travis was so mad. . We however did find something that wasn’t brought out in court. It was a text from Jodi Arias to Travis Alexander stating to him she needed to speak to the Bishop about the sex stat. We felt this may have been the trigger for Travis’s anger. At this point I still had the impression Travis’s emotional abuse was consistent over time. We ended our day and went home.
All weekend long I had trouble sleeping….
We took another vote. It was 10 death, 1 undecided (they leaned toward death by end of day) and 1 life. We brought out the autopsy photos along with some other items. Juror 17 wanted to read Jodi’s journals starting from June of 2007. Juror 17 would read them out loud to others and then we would pass it around and take our turn reading. Juror 17 would take a lot of notes. We put large pieces of white paper on the walls, one for each mitigating factor. We would have a female juror read the texts as Jodi and a male juror read the part of Travis. We worked a lot together reading and writing.
When a juror would find things in writing that would collaborate other evidence Juror 17 often times saw it or interpreted it differently. On some occasions it made my jaw drop. Everyone saw things one way in the journals but Juror 17 didn’t see it the same way. This is when we began to debate.
Juror 17 mentions to us she saw bits and pieces of the Lifetime movie “Dirty Little Secret,” while she was vacuuming one day and it was on in the background. She stated to us she disclosed this on her questionnaire.
Jurors wanted an explanation from Juror 17 on her views but 17 was just reading the journals, taking notes and talking less. This is when things began to get very heated. Jurors felt 17 wasn’t deliberating at this point. I decided a note needed sent to the judge regarding Juror 17 and I informed her I was doing this and would read the note out loud before it was sent. I explained to her it wasn’t personal. The jury felt Juror 17 was biased from the beginning and just wasn’t deliberating. This gave me the feeling we were a hung jury. I tried explaining to Juror 17, Jodi Arias lied to the Alexander family in that letter she sent them about the murder as a way to maybe get her talk again and see it for what it was. It was so heated and intense in the deliberation room I did feel Juror 17 was being attacked at this point but she wasn’t deliberating and it frustrated some of the jurors. I drafted two questions:
2 concerns regarding Juror 17- #1…17 was exposed to some of the Lifetime movie previously and we want to double check this was disclosed and considered. (I took a vote on this question among jurors and 7-11 were concerned with this)
#2…In my assessment this juror was ineffective in deliberations and was unable and/or unwilling to express her views despite repeated requests. (I again took a vote on this question and 11-11 jurors were concerned.)
I then wrote down another question for the judge, “I respectfully request consideration of an alternate. Please advise in meantime we will continue to deliberate.”
Juror 17 sat in a corner and drafted her own question that we didn’t hear read out loud. She folded it and gave it to the court staff.
After some time the jury was then called into the courtroom and given the Impasse Instructions. The instructions didn’t help us and we weren’t allowed to tell the judge our vote. We started deliberating again and asked the court for Dr. DeMarte’s and Dr. Geffner’s psychological reports on Jodi Arias. The court responded by telling us their reports weren’t admitted into evidence. So we decided in order to help Juror 17 we would start from the beginning and once again go over the text messages and journals.
We thought it would be a good idea to look at the DVD’s that were provided. We wanted to sit back and watch something. We put in a DVD and it was a 20 second clip from an Inside Edition interview with Jodi Arias. We wanted to see some kind of major interview that Jodi gave but most of the DVD’s were 20 sec clips. We then listened to the phone call between Detective Flores and Jodi Arias. It showed how cool and calm Jodi was after she murdered Travis Alexander. We found that the text messages were so much more creditable than the journals. I never butted heads with Juror 17 during this time, I was trying to stay calm and keep her engaged. I noticed after the Impasse Instructions given by the judge Juror 17 moved to a different location at our table and began to engage. We went back over the December 07 text messages with males reading Travis’s part and females reading Jodi’s, Travis and Jodi texted a lot. We looked at the alleged abuse that happened 6 months prior to the murder. We looked at December 07 texts through January 08 and realized not one mean comment was made to Jodi from Travis Alexander. I felt like I had been mislead and shocked about how Travis was portrayed. We also compared Jodi’s journal writings during this time and she would comment how depressed she was all the while the texts showed she was happy. We took a vote…..11-1 death.
There was a knock at our door and it was the court staff asked jurors to go into the judge’s chambers one by one. I had felt earlier my questions had been ignored by the judge regarding juror 17, that maybe they were brushed off, until now. The judge asked me about the ineffective deliberations. I told her after our questions were submitted Juror 17 showed signs of improvement. The judge then asked me if I thought deliberations were happening and I stated they had improved but later wished I had given her a scale from A-D. I would have said she was a D and had progressed to a C+/B- area. As Juror 17 walked by me to see the judge she smiled at me and I smiled back.
I wasn’t sure if Juror 17 or any other jurors would be back this morning after the talk with the judge but everyone returned. We again tried to dig for reasons as to why Juror 17 was voting for Life. We asked about the child abuse mitigating factor she agreed with and Juror 17 shared her own personal story. Juror 17 began to write on the white paper that hung on our walls, she began to put her pros and cons on each mitigating factor. 17 struggled but began to write things down. The Borderline Personality Disorder #8 and #9 the psychological makeup impairing Jodi’s ability to cope with the tumultuous relationship she had with Mr. Alexander was big for Juror 17. She just couldn’t separate these two factors from each other. I gave her positive feedback for making efforts in hopes it would encourage her.
One juror suggested we now start discussing the Aggravating circumstances and we made a paper and attached it to the wall. Juror 17 was engaged and fully participating by putting things down on the paper such as receipts, dates, and pretty much all the pre med evidence. She was really good with all the dates. We had great discussion as a jury and continued to look through journals and texts starting with 4 weeks before the murder and 1 week after the murder. We then cleared the whole table off; just imagine this large table that seats 12 or more people. We put out the crime scene photos and autopsy photos in time stamped order all over the table. Juror 17 was engaged at this point, she had a strong stomach for the photos. Most of us at this point were very tired and not sleeping. The autopsy photos were very hard to look at. They were deeply moving and I had to look away at times. I had lost 5 pounds alone just during these deliberations. We once again discussed how Jodi made phone calls just hours after murdering Travis and even went to see Ryan Burns. Most of us felt Jodi had to get rid of Travis Alexander so she could move on. Juror 17 agreed with this theory as a motive.
I felt positive 17 was coming around that the jurors would be unanimous after all. We read the journals a month before the murder and Jodi mentioned a pattern of Travis’s rudeness. She stated that her parents were never proud of her accomplishments and Travis had a firey anger. Prior to this Jodi’s journals didn’t mention anything negative about her parents. She had stated her childhood was ideal and something she wished she could go back too. We noticed this last month was used by her experts to show what Jodi called a pattern regarding Travis’s behavior. We felt Jodi Arias was setting up her journals for the murder of Travis Alexander. I felt stronger and stronger for death at this point. Juror 17 had stated to us earlier in some cases she would support the death penalty. She acted like she fully understood the pre meditation of the murder, the photos. I asked the trauma nurse to explain to 17 what kind of force it would take to stab Travis like she did and nearly decapitate him. The nurse explained how hard it is to cut someone’s throat like she did and it would take a lot of force. We asked 17 if she was clear and what did she think now? Juror 17 expressed to us she still felt mitigating factors #4, #5, #8, #9 applied to Jodi Arias. We asked her what it would take for her to vote death in a capital case. She responded “this would if not for the mitigating factors.” We asked her again if there was anything we could do or show her to sway her vote? We offered to review more evidence and some jurors even shared such personal stories I can’t even repeat them. Juror 17 told us there was nothing we could do or say to change her vote. Once again the room exploded into a heated, cussing match between some jurors and 17. By 4:30pm on this Wednesday it was incredibly intense. I suggested we sleep on this and see if minds are changed in the morning. One juror stood up and said she wasn’t sleeping and they wanted to express to the judge where they stood. This person wanted their life back and needed sleep. Another juror joined in wanting to tell the judge where they stood or they will request to be removed from the jury. It was clear to everyone additional time would not change Juror 17’s view. I felt I was losing the jury one by one. I asked them to please sit down and we would craft a note to the judge. All the photos of Travis Alexander’s dead body still lay on the table in front of us. “We are not unanimous. Votes steady since last Thursday. Jurors say vote will not change. Inform judge or we want off jury. In my assessment we are hung and additional time will not help.” We were informed the judge had already left for the night so it forced us to sleep on it.
When I arrived there was yellow tape all over the outside of the courthouse. I got to the place I had come to since jury selection began back in September/October, room 5C. I informed the court staff I would give them a heads up as soon as we were all together around 9:30am. We again asked if Juror 17’s position had changed, she again responded “No.”
I had it in my head what I would do when we delivered the death penalty verdict to the Alexander family. I would give them a nod as I walked by for my final time out those courtroom doors. Today I knew it wouldn’t be so. We walked into the courtroom for the last time; I saw the family crying and my legs began to shake. The defense looked very calm and casual. We saw 2 of the alternates sitting in the jury box along with a female that was released because her mother died and I became emotional. We sat down and the judge read out loud we were hung. It was declared a mistrial. As I got up and walked past the Alexander family who were sobbing loudly I decided I would give them that nod after all. I felt we tried and we gave it our all. We tried really hard to get a verdict. Things from there moved very fast. We had to decide if we were going to speak to the press and we were advised the previous jury didn’t and they were followed home and hounded. That made the decision easier to talk in hopes for some privacy after. We were living in a fishbowl during this retrial most days being constantly watched and especially during deliberations. I have to say it did feel good to talk to the press and get some things out.
In the end, it’s just hard to get 12 people to agree and it’s hard to ask regular people to make such a heavy decision regarding the death penalty. At that moment walking out of the courthouse I felt a judge could have made a more consistent decision rather than 12 people. I felt the alternates we had would have voted death penalty if they were chosen to deliberate. The whole experience has been extremely overwhelming and the after effects are still felt. During deliberations I developed a lump in my back from all the stress. I went back to work right away but was told to go home and take a week off and regroup. I feel as a jury we did our job well and we were not failures. We worked hard and took risks by sending notes to the judge about the non deliberating juror. I really thought my note could have possibly gotten me kicked off the jury.”
Would you like to serve on another jury in the future, I asked? The Foreman takes a long pause and answers, “In a little while, why not.”
(I’d like to thank the Foreman for his service along with the other jurors that tried to bring more justice to Travis Alexander and his family. Thank you for trusting me to get your story out there.)
Jen Wood- The Trial Diaries