Thanks to Journee & Pandora for the planning & production of this movie on behalf of Team Jodi.
On May 8, 2013, Jodi Arias was convicted of first degree murder in the 2008 death of her boyfriend, Travis Alexander. The Maricopa County, AZ jury that convicted her was unable to agree on whether she should be sentenced to life or death. In most states, the court ruling would have defaulted to the lesser sentence of life in prison, but Arizona allows the prosecution to make another run at the death penalty. The retrial of the penalty phase is currently set for Sept. 8, 2014. Meanwhile, Arias has been kept in solitary confinement at Estrella jail in Phoenix since the day she was convicted.
Jodi Arias stood before the jury and took responsibility for the death of the man she loved, saying she’d undo it all if she could, but that she acted in self defense. In the United States, it is not a crime to kill in self defense. The law recognizes that life fights for itself, survival its only imperative.
But, as you may know, neither the laws supporting self defense nor evidence of abuse/battery serve to advocate for women in actual trials. When intimate partner violence culminates in a woman killing her abuser, 75-80% of those women are either convicted or convinced to plead guilty, and sentenced severely. Often more severely than abusers are sentenced in the deaths of their intimate partners.
Many legal pundits across the country have weighed in to say that this was clearly a domestic violence case for which Arias was grossly over-charged. We agree. We believe the crime scene itself testifies a violent struggle between two people. We believe the testimony of domestic violence expert Alyce LaViolette, who read hundreds of pages of written communication between Jodi and Travis and concluded that Travis was abusive, volatile and escalating.
We believe Jodi was still in denial that Travis would really hurt her, or she would not have gone there that day. The violence was still a fairly new element in their relationship. There had only been a few incidences of physical abuse in the preceding months. In her mind the violence didn’t come from the Travis she loved and she did not report those incidents. But the most recent incident had involved a Travis so enraged that he choked her until she lost consciousness. So we believe Jodi had good reason to be very afraid, to take an angry Travis at his word when he said he was going to kill her that day. We believe that when Travis said those words, Jodi’s LIFE took over and fought for ITSELF.
We believe Jodi is not guilty of first degree murder.
But we’re not writing to convince you of that. The law says only twelve people get the deciding votes on whether someone is guilty or innocent of the charges against them, at the end of the *fair*trial* also guaranteed by law.
Jodi Arias did not get a fair trial. If the five month trial in Maricopa County Superior Court is any example of how justice is done in this country, we’re all in trouble.
Judge Sherry Stephens allowed Travis Alexander’s family to ‘testify’ from the gallery, sitting in the front row, just a few feet away from the jury, sobbing and making faces. One sister in particular was caught on camera several times a week, rolling her eyes for the benefit of the camera that was positioned in the jury box. If the camera saw it, the jury saw it. That’s not supposed to happen. That’s a sixth amendment violation in that it was ‘testimony’ delivered directly to the jury, with no opportunity for cross examination by the defense.
Then we have the prosecutor, Juan Martinez, who stomped and shouted and bullied witnesses, even his own witnesses when they dared to go ‘off message.’ This same prosecutor also gave every appearance of suborning perjury, first from the lead detective on the case who contradicted his own sworn testimony from pre-trial hearings, then from the medical examiner who contradicted his own autopsy report – all in support of the prosecutor’s new theory of the crime, which he announced just four days before the trial began.
Martinez got away with using vague references and sly innuendo which should have been completely lost on the jury, because they alluded to events about which there had been absolutely no testimony, malicious gossip promoted by one particular network and spread like gospel over the internet. Did Mr. Martinez trust that the un-sequestered jurors would disobey the judge’s admonitions to avoid any and all media discussion of the trial? It’s clear that at least one of them disobeyed, because there were juror questions (in Arizona jurors are permitted to submit anonymous questions to witnesses) taken directly from televised programs the night before.
If you are wondering how the judge allowed all this to happen, you’re not alone.
The news media has always sought to capitalize on ‘sensational’ trials. Provocative headlines sell advertising, after all. And we’ve all watched the steady decline of journalistic integrity as it was sacrificed to the priority of making money. Even so, it was grotesque and very disheartening to watch the apparent glee of broadcasters as they discussed the Arias trial. This was a tragedy, after all. A man lost his life and woman was on trial for hers and these people were making extreme ‘reality TV’. They could say anything they wanted, and did. They were all too happy to offer 15 minutes of fame to anyone who cared to step up to the mike and say something bad about Jodi. It didn’t have to be true, it just had to be bad enough to feed the beast, to arouse the bloodlust of their viewers and bring them back for more.
The viewers, in turn, went to the internet. If the so-called ‘news’ media turned the trial of Jodi Arias into bloodsport, the internet’s social media turned it into an unprecedented corruption of our judicial system.
Internet discussion groups have long provided an environment where people felt a bit too free to be their worst selves, to behave online in ways they’d never behave in real life, to speak to faceless strangers online in ways they’d never speak to a stranger on the street. During the Arias trial, the impassioned seekers of “Justice for Travis” took it to a whole new level, in some cases even taking their bad behavior out into the real world.
It started with harassment and threats to Jodi’s friends and family. As the defense case progressed, the ‘seekers’ moved on to harassing and threatening defense witnesses. Harassing and threatening witnesses is a felony. “Freedom of speech” they called it when over a thousand people flocked to Amazon.com to write scathing reviews of a book they’d never read, just because it was co-authored by Alyce LaViolette. They lobbied every business and organization she was affiliated with to drop her and distance themselves from her. They called her office and left death threats on her voicemail. She ended up in the emergency room when that tidal wave of venomous hatred hit her.
That was witness tampering on a scale never seen before, and had the effect of intimidating anyone else who might dare to take the stand on Jodi’s behalf. Two witnesses did, in fact, decline to take the stand during the mitigation phase, citing intimidation. We would be surprised if the defense team hasn’t encountered this same obstacle while trying to prepare their case for this upcoming re-trial.
The judge was aware of all of this. It was all over the news, after all, and Judge Stephens had meetings in chambers about it. It should have been grounds for an immediate mistrial, but the trial proceeded. Now Jodi Arias stands convicted of first degree murder and may face the death penalty.
We hope you will agree that this precedent cannot be allowed to stand. Social media cannot be allowed to corrupt the judicial process as it has in this case. Jodi has the same rights as you and I to a FAIR trial. But at this point, she needs a good appellate attorney to secure the fair trial she was denied the first time around.
This conviction stands, with very limited sentencing options: life or death. All that is left is a retrial of the penalty phase. If they say “death”, the state is obligated to fund her appeals through the public defenders office, if there is not already an appellate attorney retained to take over. If she is sentenced to life in prison, the state is not obliged to fund her appeals. Either way, it would be prudent and preferable to have a GOOD attorney retained and ready to hit the ground running as soon as the court hands down a sentence.
Arias’ family has set up a trust fund to finance Jodi’s appeals. We hope you might see fit to contribute to the cause.
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Thank you in advance for your support.
WE ARE TEAM JODI – AND WE WILL BE VICTORIOUS in our quest for JUSTICE FOR JODI!