Jodi Arias Claims That Cops Deleted Travis Alexander's Porn Files, Ruining Her Credibility

Jodi Arias
Jodi Arias

A new defense motion in the Jodi Arias penalty-phase trial claims that pornography files had been deleted from victim Travis Alexander's computer while it was in police custody.

Arias, who was convicted of first-degree murder last year, wants all charges dropped.

But even if the allegations in the new motion are true, the murderer is still a proven, prolific liar.

See also: -Jodi Arias Judge Can't Keep News Media Out of Courtroom, Appeals Court Rules

Arias was found guilty in a jury trial for the horrific, 2008 slaying of Alexander, a Mesa businessman.

After spending weeks getting to know Arias on the witness stand, the first jury couldn't decide whether she should spend life in prison or die by execution. As before, she could receive a sentence of 25-years-to-life instead of natural life, but under Arizona law the only way she could be released would be by a pardon from the governor.

The penalty-phase trial, complete with a new jury, isn't a retrial in the usual meaning of the word. Arias' guilt is well-established. The Maricopa County Attorney's Office is trying to prove that the murder was "cruel, depraved or heinous," which is one of the requirements for a capital case in Arizona.

Given the number of lies the convicted killer has already told, the story of deleted files might be essentially made up. On the other hand, even if Mesa police deleted the files, that might not affect whether the jury sees the murder as "cruel, depraved or heinous."

One of Arias' many unbelievable defenses is that Alexander appalled Arias with his supposed obsession with child pornography. She claimed she'd once caught him masturbating to an image of a young boy.

Jodi Arias Claims That Cops Deleted Travis Alexander's Porn Files, Ruining Her Credibility

The motion filed by defense attorney Kirk Nurmi on Monday claims that the authorities destroyed evidence that could exonerate Arias, or might at least lessen the perceived severity of her crime.

In a three-hour period on the afternoon of June 19, 2009, while Detective Esteban Flores checked out the computer and took it to "forensic services," thousands of files from Alexander's Compaq computer were deleted, including "several" pornographic websites, the motion states. (We're not sure if Nurmi means the links to the sites, or copies of web pages.)

Nurmi goes on to list several examples of files that are "easily recognizable as pornographic websites and therefore demonstrating the purposeful nature of their targeting and their exculpatory or mitigating value..."

By the dates the websites were supposedly accessed on Alexander's computer, he was looking at porn in the days before Arias slaughtered him in his Mesa home on June 4, 2008. Worse, the "computer contained further evidence that Mr. Alexander had a sexual interest in children," the motion states.

Police, and by extension, prosecutors, knew about this exculpatory evidence before the conviction, Nurmi asserts. Naturally, if the allegations of misconduct were proven true, "this would lead to obvious questions about what else Detective Flores has done to garner a particular outcome in a case..."

Nurmi admits it would take "weeks" to analyze the computer to figure out what happened -- if anything happened, that is. The penalty-phase trial would probably conclude before Arias and her defense team can learn what sort of mitigating evidence might be on the computer, he argues. If Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens doesn't want to dismiss all the charges, Nurmi says in the motion, she could at least dismiss the prosecutor's motion to execute Arias.

For sure, if Mesa police committed misconduct, that would be a serious development in the case regardless of the level of any circumstances in Arias' favor. But the claim is a real stretch, in part because of the lack of motivation by Mesa police to do anything that might screw up a case that was already quite solid by June of 2009.

Mesa police don't have much to say about the new motion. Detective Steve Berry, department spokesman, says he's not in a position to immediately deny the claims in the motion, and police "wouldn't be able to say one way or another" as of today whether the motion's details are accurate or pure fiction.

"It's been one curve-ball after the next in this case," Berry says.

In fact, the investigation by Mesa police was an example of first-rate police work. Faced with no witnesses to the slaying and a reasonable-sounding young suspect who could tell lies with ease, Mesa police recovered indisputable proof that Arias had been at the home with Alexander at the time of the murder, and that she'd acted alone. Cops recovered deleted photos dated from the minutes before and after the murder on a camera Arias had put through a spin in a clothes washer. And they found Arias' hair and her bloody hand-print on a wall.

Evidence in the case shows Arias stabbed, shot and slit the throat of Alexander not in the heat of passion after a fight, but rather in a murder meticulously planned. She dyed her hair, purchased gas cans in California to avoid Arizona gas station and made a rendezvous with a guy friend in Utah just after the slaying. In all likelihood, she stole her grandfather's .25-caliber handgun from her grandfather's Yreka, California, home, where she'd been living. Alexander was shot with a .25-caliber gun. No other explanation or suspect for the burglary has surfaced, and Arias admitted in testimony last year she got rid of the crime gun after the murder.

One of the recovered pictures that Arias deleted.
One of the recovered pictures that Arias deleted.

Nurmi claims that "attacks" on Arias during the first trial included the idea that she had made up the story of Alexander looking at child pornography. Proof of deleted pornography on Alexander's computer could show that Arias is not the "liar" she was made out to be by deputy county attorney Juan Martinez, Nurmi says.

Yet such a notion is short-sighted, to say the least. Arias lied repeatedly after being arrested -- first, about the ridiculous claims that she wasn't in Arizona at the time of the slaying, and later, that she was with Alexander when two strangers came in the home and attacked them.

Her subsequent version of being attacked by Alexander on the day of the murder and climbing the shelves of his closet to grab a gun he knew he kept there was debunked by (among other things) a police photo showing Alexander's closet in pristine condition.

"This attack on Ms. Arias' credibility..." Nurmi writes in the motion -- but we must stop the sentence there.

Arias has no credibility.

As to the cruel, depraved and heinous: Read through the state Supreme Court's legal interpretation of the phrase. We think you'll agree Arias' crime fits in several ways. The jury will see this language in their final instructions. Here are some highlights:

* "Mental anguish includes a victim's contemplation of his or her ultimate fate." -- Yes. Alexander had more than two dozen knife wounds.

* "As to physical pain, the victim does not need to be conscious for "each and every wound" inflicted for cruelty to apply." -- Check.

* "The plan must be 'such that suffering before death must be inherently and reasonably certain to occur, not just an untoward event.'" -- As with the "anguish" Alexander undoubtedly felt, the sheer number of stab wounds seems to meet this requirement.

* "A defendant relishes the murder when he or she takes pride in, or derives enjoyment from the killing as demonstrated by the defendant's words or actions." -- In addition to stabbing and shooting Alexander, Arias slit her boyfriend's throat from ear-to-ear. Only she knows if she enjoyed doing that -- but it's plain freaky that 24 hours later she was necking with a guy in Utah.

* " The fact finder must consider the killer's intentional actions to determine whether he acted with the necessary vile state of mind. The state must make two showings. The state must first show that the defendant did, in fact, use violence beyond that necessary to kill. The state must also show that the defendant continued to inflict violence after he knew or should have known that a fatal action had occurred." -- Check and check.

* "Needless mutilation occurs when the defendant mutilates the victim's body subsequent to death, reflecting 'a mental state that is `marked by debasement.'" -- Perhaps slashing Alexander's throat wasn't mutilation, but Arias' way of ending the suffering from his knife-gashes and bullet lodged in his brain. We'll give Arias this one.

Judge Stephens, after being thwarted in effort to allow witnesses to give testimony in secret at Arias' request, has said that the new witnesses could be called as soon as Wednesday.

Got a tip? Send it to: Ray Stern.

Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX. Follow Ray Stern on Twitter at @RayStern.


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