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Episode 8: USA – The Fatal Attraction of Travis Alexander and Jodi Arias (Part 2)

  • 1:37:55
  • February 14, 2022
  • Explicit Content

Part 2: Join Brianna and Steph as they discuss the insane and intense fatal attraction of Travis Alexander and Jodi Arias. Brianna deep-dives into their lives prior to meeting, their on-again-off-again relationship, and the devastating events of June, 2008. Meanwhile, Steph explores important details through an astrological lens that help us form a fuller picture of the complicated and conflicted lives these two led, separately and together.

The Fatal Attraction of Travis Alexander and Jodi Arias

Introduction

Hello. Welcome back to the dark side. This week Steph and I are concluding our discussion on the wild case surrounding Travis Alexander and Jodi Arias, so if you haven’t listened to Part 1 yet, go back and do that. We’ve still got so much to talk about so let’s dive right in with a quick recap:

Last week we heard the 911 Call Travis’s friends made, we talked about Jodi and Travis’s lives – We went through their lives growing up, what sort of lives they led prior to their meeting, and then the wild ride they were on while they were sometimes dating but usually not dating but ALWAYS communicating. We talked about the investigation including Jodi’s interrogation and the timeline of events leading up to Travis’s death, and of course, we looked at important details through an astrological lens, because why not.

Trial

When we left off, Jodi was lookin’ real mousey with her dumb bangs and church clothes, especially after she attempted to but brutally failed at defending herself in a first-degree murder trial with the death penalty on the table. Her defense counsel was reinstated, and our story continues.

Guilty Phase

In opening arguments on January 2, 2013, the prosecution said they were seeking the death penalty. Jodi’s counsel argued that Travis’s death was a justifiable homicide committed in self-defense.

Ryan Burns testified that when Jodi visited him in Utah, the two spent several hours making out on a beanbag chair. She told him she cut her hands on broken glass while working at Margaritaville, but a detective testified that no restaurant by that name had ever existed in the Yreka area, and it was proven she was working at a restaurant called Casa Ramos at the time. Jodi later testified that after she cut her hands, she “had a bazillion margaritas to make”, so that’s probably why she said that.

Darryl took the stand on Day 10 of the trial and testified in Jodi’s defense, claiming the person he knew wasn’t capable of committing murder, let alone one this heinous. He gave testimony about his relationship with Jodi where he explained that he met her in 2001 when they were both co-workers at Ventana Big Sur. They eventually started a romantic relationship and at one point, Jodi even lived with Darryl and his son, but they split up in 2006 and remained friends.

2006 is when Jodi met Travis, but Darryl said he never met Travis and was unaware of their relationship. A couple of weeks before Travis’ murder, Darryl said Jodi called to ask him for gas cans for her upcoming trip to Mesa — remember, at that time she was telling everyone else she was going to Utah. He also claimed that she called him the day after Travis’ death, sounding distraught. The prosecution argued this pointed towards premeditation – Jodi bought the gas cans to try to avoid being recorded on gas station security cameras and to avoid leaving a paper trail as she drove to Mesa.

The defense filed for a mistrial for the first time after Esteban Flores, the lead detective on the case, allegedly perjured himself on the stand when he gave inaccurate details about Travis’s cause of death and autopsy findings. It was denied and the trial continued.

Jodi took the stand in her own defense on February 4, 2013, testifying for a total of 18 days.

On the first day of her testimony, Jodi talked about being violently abused by her parents from the age of 7.

She testified that she had rented a car from Budget Rent-A-Car in Redding because their website provided two options, one to the north and one to the south, plus her brother lived in Redding.

On her second day, Jodi testified about Travis’s sexual proclivities and still refused to give up the rapist, pedophile accusation. She said Travis preferred oral and anal sex (“sodomy”). She said the “sodomy” was painful, but she went with it because Travis believed these sexual acts didn’t break Mormon rules. Jodi said that she and Travis eventually had sex, but not as much as “sodomy”.

She testified that Travis harbored pedophilic desires for children, stating one day she walked in on him masturbating to pictures of underage boys and he had mailed her a pair of boy’s underwear for her to wear for him. She couldn’t prove any of this. She swears she tried to help him with these urges, claiming she endlessly told him to get professional help.

The defense even played a phone sex tape that Jodi had secretly recorded where Travis says, “The way you moan sounds like a 12-year-old girl having her first orgasm, it’s so hot.” The prosecution would later play the same tape, this time in its entirety, and it proved the defense cherry-picked what parts to play, and when the whole thing was played it shows Jodi went along with everything and never seemed grossed out by what Travis said. It’s gross, though. A 12-year-old girl? Disgusting.

Forensic experts later testified that no pornographic material was found on Travis’s computer.

Jodi said her relationship with Travis became increasingly abusive – both physically and emotionally. Allegedly, he forced depraved, sexual acts on her, he made her wear a shirt and underwear with his name on them, he called her degrading names, but the last straw is when she was there on the day of the murder. Jodi testified that they were showering and taking pictures of each other when she accidentally dropped his new camera, and he flew into a rage. She said he shook her while screaming, “I’m fucking sick of you,” and then body-slammed her to the floor, called her a “bitch”, and kicked her in the ribs. She said he went to kick her again, but she put her hand out. She then held up her left hand in the courtroom, showing that her ring finger was crooked because it had been broken while she was defending herself. She was tired of the abuse and of fearing for her life, so she ran into his closet where she remembered he kept his gun, grabbed it, ran out of the closet and into the bathroom, but Travis was still raging and chasing her so she stopped, turned around, pointed the gun at him in hopes he would stop, but instead went to tackle her, and the “gun went off” (classic), but she never meant to shoot him.

Remember the abuse is alleged. Also remember it’s her third account of what happened that day, and it doesn’t match the autopsy findings – the medical examiner determined he was first stabbed in the heart, then shot, then stabbed almost 30 times, and then his throat was slit. What kind of self-defense is that? The prosecution had the same questions, and she claimed she had “no memory of stabbing him”.

Witnesses later called by the prosecution included several of Travis’ ex-girlfriends, who stated that he never exhibited any problems with anger or violence. There was also no proof that Travis ever owned a gun and witnesses testified they’d never known him to have one. Why would he secretly obtain one?

The prosecution further argued premeditation with the presence of a .25 caliber shell casing found near Travis’s body and the theft of a handgun of the same caliber from Jodi’s residence in Yreka the previous week. They argued this proved she had staged the burglary and used the gun to kill Travis.

During the trial, a video of that Inside Edition interview was played where she said:

“No jury is going to convict me… Because I am innocent. You can mark my words on that.” To this, Jodi said, “At the time, I had plans to commit suicide. So, I was extremely confident that no jury would convict me because I didn’t expect any of you to be here.”

Inside Edition Interview

To close Jodi’s time on the stand, the prosecution cross-examined her. She was initially combative, but after several days, the prosecution highlighted the inconsistencies in her testimony, and she admitted to stabbing Travis in addition to shooting him despite her earlier claims of memory loss. She said she came to holding the knife and started screaming so she must have stabbed him, but she doesn’t actually remember.

Beginning on March 14, psychologist Richard Samuels testified for the defense for nearly 6 days. He said that Jodi had likely been suffering from acute stress at the time of the murder, sending her body into a “fight or flight” mode to defend herself, causing her brain to stop retaining memory, so he diagnosed her with PTSD. The prosecution attacked his credibility, accusing him of bias since he previously testified that he had compassion for Jodi. They also got him to admit that these findings were made when the official story was intruders murdered Travis. After learning this wasn’t the case, he never administered new or alternative testing and stuck with PTSD as the diagnosis.

Beginning on March 26, a psychotherapist who specializes in domestic violence named Alyce LaViolette testified that Jodi was a victim of domestic abuse and that most victims don’t tell anyone because they feel ashamed and humiliated. She summarized emails from Travis’s close friends saying they basically advised Jodi to move on because Travis was “abusive to women”.

Clinical psychologist Janeen DeMarte testified for the prosecution, stating she found no evidence that Travis had abused Jodi, and there was no evidence that Jodi had PTSD or amnesia. She also pointed out that memory loss over the time Jodi claimed to have experienced it is inconsistent with traumatic amnesia associated with PTSD, which manifests as much shorter gaps in memory. She instead suggested that Jodi suffered from a borderline personality disorder, because of her immaturity, an “unstable sense of identity”, and her personality traits of being terrified of feeling abandoned, a symptom that can line up with people who have this diagnosis.

The final defense witness was psychologist Robert Geffner, who said the borderline personality diagnosis was wrong and all tests Jodi had taken since her arrest pointed toward an anxiety disorder stemming from trauma.

So ultimately, the prosecution and the defense could equally argue Jodi’s diagnosis, and no one could agree.

The defense filed for a mistrial for the second time when they claimed prosecutor Martinez had acted inappropriately by saying the case resembled a modern-day equivalent to the Salem Witch Trials with a “circus-like atmosphere inside the courtroom” which was unprofessional behaviour. It was denied.

Neither the prosecution nor the defense presented any character witnesses for Jodi.

Conveniently, the defense filed for a mistrial for the last time when they alleged that a defense witness who had been due to testify on Jodi’s behalf had been receiving death threats, and the day before they were to take the stand, they contacted Jodi’s counsel stating she was no longer willing to testify because of the threats.

In closing arguments on May 4, the defense argued the premeditation theory didn’t make sense and if she was guilty of any crime, it was manslaughter. In rebuttal, the prosecution reminded everyone there was no evidence to suggest Travis was abusive in any way and everything pointed toward a premeditated murder stemming from Jodi’s anger, spite, and jealousy.

On May 7, after 15 hours of deliberation, all 12 jurors found Jodi guilty of first-degree premeditated murder. As the verdict was read, Travis’s family smiled and hugged one another, and crowds outside the courtroom began cheering.

In an interview after the jury delivered their verdict, Darryl Brewer said: “… She’s unrecognizable to me now as to the Jodi she used to be, she never talked like that, she never lied and had that disrespect, she was not manipulative, she was not evil.”

Jodi said: “I was really hoping the jury would see things for what they are. I didn’t expect to walk away. I knew that was a possibility, a slim chance. In a parallel universe somewhere, but certainly not first-degree.”

Aggravation Phase

Phase 2 of the trial began on May 15, 2013. The prosecution was required to convince the jury that the murder was “cruel, heinous, or depraved” so they could determine if Jodi was eligible for the death penalty.

The only witness was the medical examiner who had performed Travis’s autopsy. Jodi’s attorneys, who by this point had repeatedly asked to step down from the case, gave brief opening statements and closing arguments, where they said the adrenaline rushing through Travis’s body may have prevented him from feeling much pain during his death.

The prosecution showed photos of Travis’s body and the crime scene to the jury, then paused for two minutes of silence to show how long it took for Travis to die. So, even if he didn’t feel much pain, that’s a long time to lay there dying.

After less than 3 hours of consideration, the jury determined Jodi was eligible for the death penalty.

Penalty Phase

The final phase, the penalty phase, began on May 16, 2013. The prosecution called on Travis’s family members to give victim impact statements in an effort to convince the jury that Jodi’s crime merited a death sentence.

On May 21, Jodi gave a spiel pleading for a life sentence. She acknowledged that her plea for life was a reversal of remarks that she made shortly after her conviction in which she had said that she preferred the death penalty. She said she changed her mind to avoid bringing more pain to her family, who were in the courtroom. At one point, Jodi held up a white t-shirt with the word “Survivor” written across it, telling the jurors she planned on selling the shirts and donating all proceeds to victims of domestic abuse. She also said that she would continue to donate her hair to Locks of Love while in prison.

On May 23, the sentencing phase of the trial resulted in a hung jury and ultimately a mistrial. The jury had reached an 8–4 decision in favor of the death penalty.

On May 30, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery discussed the next steps at a news conference. He said that he was confident that an impartial jury could be seated, but that it was possible that lawyers and the victim’s family could agree to scrap the trial in favor of a life sentence with no parole. Jodi had said: “I don’t think there is an untainted jury pool anywhere in the world right now. That’s what it feels like. But I still believe in the system to a degree, so we’ll just go through that if that happens.” Defense attorneys responded: “If the diagnosis made by the State’s psychologist is correct, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office is seeking to impose the death penalty upon a mentally ill woman who has no prior criminal history. It is not incumbent upon Ms. Arias’ defense counsel to resolve this case.”

Sentencing Retrial and Incarceration

But on October 21, 2014, Jodi’s sentencing retrial began. Opening statements were given, and a hearing on evidence was held. This included: inconsistent testimony on gas can purchases and returns and evidence that Travis’s laptop did have pornography on it.

Jury deliberations began but after 2 deadlocks, a mistrial was declared on March 5, 2015.

Sentencing was scheduled for April 7, 2015, with the Judge choosing to either sentence Jodi to life without parole, or life with the possibility of parole after 25 years. On April 13, he sentenced Jodi to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

In June 2015, Jodi was ordered to pay more than $32,000 to Travis’ siblings.

Today, Jodi is housed in the medium-security level of the Perryville Arizona State Prison Complex in Goodyear, Arizona.

Appeals

On July 6, 2018, and October 17, 2019, Jodi’s attorney’s filed appeals but the court has always upheld the conviction, saying Jodi was convicted because of the overwhelming evidence of her guilt.

Aftermath

Jodi is reportedly a manipulative prisoner known to flirt with correctional officers to earn privileges.

In Cellmate Secrets, a true-crime docuseries, Jodi’s former cellmates, Donovan Bering, and her wife, Tracy Brown, claimed that Jodi often ‘used her sexuality to get things from other inmates.’

The 3 women became really close, and they even allowed Jodi to practice tattooing them. Using a rubber band, a staple, and a pencil as the tool, and shampoo, baby powder, and mascara for ink, Jodi gave Donovan 4 tattoos, and Tracy 6 tattoos – one of them being Jodi’s name.

Donovan and Jodi initially remained friends after her release and even managed Jodi’s social media for her. But their friendship fell apart after getting sick of how hateful Jodi was.

Allegedly, she would scream terrible things at her mother and frequently hang up on her. If she got mad, she wanted destructive, hurtful posts on social media about her. She said Jodi asked her to post something “vile” about her family, and when she refused, she said Jodi lashed out and said she’d have people she knew attack her and her family. She said Jodi spoke horribly to her parents, especially her mother.

In 2019, Arias claimed she was happily in love with a man named Benjamin Ernst and was looking forward to marrying him but for whatever reason, that fell through, and they never married.

Jodi makes money in prison by selling her artwork. She said she started selling her artwork because “she often felt hungry in jail, and her family could do little to financially support her, an adult who should have been feeding herself.”

Originally, her brother helped her sell it on eBay, but they eventually banned her from the site “because she was a felon”, so a website was created specifically for her to sell her art. She also sells “merch”: those shit survivor t-shirts and “Free Jodi” bracelets. On the site, it says: “With your purchase of a Survivor T-Shirt, 100% of the net proceeds will be donated to a non-profit organization that assists survivors of domestic violence… As a survivor of domestic violence, I can attest to the accompanying shame of being abused. Many victims will not tell anyone what is happening to them and will even cover for their abuser. For the victim, living becomes a prison of personal hell. Help us support an organization that assists other victims of domestic violence, empowers them to end the vicious cycle of abuse, and enables them to move from “victim” to “survivor.”

There’s also this long-winded statement about how she’s a survivor and she’s happy she didn’t kill herself and blah blah blah.

Sign Off

And that, my lovely listeners, is the story of how a heartless, horse-faced ghoul got exactly what she deserved. Thank you everyone for tuning in this week. Rate, follow, and share the show, follow us on Instagram @darkadaptationpodcast, and visit our website darkadaptationpodcast.ca. Thank you for tuning in. We’ll catch your spooky asses on the dark side.

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