Jodi Arias Sentenced to Natural Life in Prison; Recalls Stabbing Victim
Jodi Arias (center, with lawyer Jennifer Willmott to her left) was sentenced today to natural life in prison.
Court pool photograph
Infamous boyfriend-killer Jodi Arias was sentenced today to spend the rest of her natural life in prison for the 2008 slaying of Travis Alexander.
The sentence handed down by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens comes after two juries deadlocked on whether Arias deserved a death sentence. Stephens could have given Arias 25 years in prison with the possibility of parole but chose the harsher sentence because the murder was "especially cruel."
Arias' long 2013 trial turned into a media sensation, propping up ratings for TV stations like HLN and entertaining courtroom junkies across the world with daily live video feeds and nightly expert analyses.
The entertaining trial resembled a reality show, with its particularly heinous crime, good-looking defendant, ham of a prosecutor, fascinating forensics work by police, plenty of sex talk, and random heaping of Mormonism.
Meanwhile, Alexander's devastated family did its best to cope with the circus-like atmosphere both inside and outside the courtroom.
At today's hearing, broadcast live on TV, prosecutor Juan Martinez sounded on the verge of tears as he said there was no more hope of a death sentence for Arias. The only hope now, he told Stephens, was for Arias to get the max.
Then Arias' mother, Sandy, approached the bench. Her speech was almost surreal as she talked of Arias' "beautiful soul" and how Alexander supposedly mistreated her. She understands why her daughter did it, she said. However, she's "sorry" for the loss the Alexander family has to endure.
The most intriguing moment of the hearing was when Arias revealed that her memory fog has been somewhat lifted.
Arias had insisted previously that she couldn't recall butchering her ex-boyfriend, instead telling the court that her memory of the traumatic event was plagued by a large blank spot.
She claimed -- unbelievably, and in dramatic contrast to the physical evidence found at the crime scene -- that Alexander attacked her on June 4, 2008, in his Mesa home during a fight. She scrambled into his walk-in closet in an attempt to escape him, found "his" gun and shot him in the face, she told jurors at her first trial.
This was after two other stories she'd told about the incident -- first she'd claimed she was never there. Later, she made up a tale about home invaders who killed her boyfriend but spared her. She came up with the self-defense excuse only after police debunked her stories.
At her trial, Arias maintained that she remembered nothing from the time she fired the gun until she was in her rental car driving through the desert on the way to meet a romantic interest in Utah.
It was an incredibly convenient memory lapse: She told jurors and the public that she couldn't recall stabbing Alexander more than 25 times or slitting his throat from ear to ear. She couldn't recall cleaning up the crime scene or deleting pictures from Alexander's camera. And she couldn't recall what she did with the gun, which she claimed was Alexander's but which she almost certainly stole from her grandfather.
Today, though, Arias told Judge Stephens she did, in fact, remember sticking the knife into Alexander's throat. She didn't elaborate much, though, or say how slitting his throat could be considered "defense."
She stayed with the idea that she shot him first, in self-defense. She said she was "truly disgusted" with herself and wished she could take back her actions. She again blamed her parents for their abuse of her. Though she faltered a bit in her presentation, her statements sounded canned. Considering that the most likely story is the one presented by Martinez, not Arias, her final words came off as cruel to Alexander's family and lacking any remorse.
Her attorney, Jennifer Willmott, seemed to want to make the case that because other brutal killers got off easier than they should have, Arias should have the hope of being paroled someday.
But Stephens, walking into the light at the end of a very long tunnel, launched immediately into a litany of Arias' aggravating factors when Willmott wrapped up.
The crime was especially cruel, the judge noted. Arias hid evidence and went to great lengths to conceal her involvement in Alexander's murder. She caused extensive harm to the victim's family, Stephens said.
The judge told Arias she would spend the rest of her natural life in prison, with no hope of parole.
Arias will be transferred today from the Maricopa County Jail, where she's spent the past seven years, to state prison.
And with that, the Jodi Arias story comes to an end.
Or so it appears. Somehow, we think we'll hear from her again.
Got a tip? Send it to: Ray Stern.
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