Culture News

Juan Martinez's Jodi Arias Book Is the Final Word in the Gruesome Murder Tale

Editor's note: This review originally stated that Martinez's book included details about jurors and one particular juror's infatuation with Arias. Such details do not appear in the book and have been removed from the review. 

The publisher’s subtitle appended to prosecutor Juan Martinez’s new book, Conviction: The Untold Story of Putting Jodi Arias Behind Bars (William Morrow, $26.99) is only partly true. Much of what Martinez reports in this just-published hardcover was widely covered in this internationally ballyhooed case, which resulted in Arias being convicted of first degree murder.

But there’s enough new material here to keep fans of the case happy. Readers of nonfiction murder cases and good, solid crime reporting will also enjoy the story’s structure, which commences with Martinez’s 2008 investigation of the gory Mesa murder scene.

Arias was convicted of brutally stabbing her 30-year-old lover, Travis Alexander, 29 times, shooting him in the face, and slitting his throat. Her trials made headlines all over the world, yet Martinez and his legal team managed to withhold some of the evidence and, for anyone who didn’t follow the case closely, there’s still plenty of new material among Martinez’s nearly 400 pages that didn’t make the dailies.

Among the revelations in his book is the discovery by officers that Arias had possession of knives and a handgun following her arrest. The famed Arizona prosecutor also reveals that the accused killer communicated throughout her trial with a former friend, Ann Campbell, and that Arias upbraided for contradicting her alibi during trial testimony.

There’s plenty of backstory on how and why Martinez withheld key evidence (like the gas cans Arias purchased shortly before she allegedly killed her boyfriend), but true crime enthusiasts and those who already know the case well will no doubt whine about the exhaustive nature of Martinez’s narrative; his retelling of the investigation and trial doldrums is meticulous. Others, looking for the final word on this gruesome murder tale, will likely be pleased with the author’s thorough-going analysis of his best-known case.
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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela