Local and national media, especially CNN's HLN, which stars loudmouth court pundit Nancy Grace, had in Jodi Arias an enthusiastic volunteer star for a four-month reality series that earned record ratings. Arias' epic murder trial had everything that voyeurs, gossips, and just plain curious computer users could want, starting with the terrific decision by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens to allow the case to be televised. With the case's long prehistory — going back to June 4, 2008, the day Arias sliced, stabbed, and shot her 30-year-old former boyfriend Travis Alexander at his Mesa house — the media cannon was well primed by the time the trial started on January 2.
And so it went: Backstory TV interviews, nude and even X-rated shots of Arias and Alexander, blog posts and pictures by the victim and murderess (an amateur photographer), a marathon run of 18 business days on the witness stand by the smart-alecky, remorseless Arias, and the nightly rehash by Grace, Dr. Drew, and scores of amateur trial watchers. Arias finally was convicted of premeditated first-degree murder on May 8, followed by more frenetic TV coverage until the unsatisfying non-decision by the jury on May 23 regarding the death-penalty question. The Arias-obsessed might not have much longer until the sequel begins. Judge Stephens expects a new jury — which will decide only whether Arias should be executed or face life in prison — to be convened in late September.