The Jodi Arias Death Penalty Retrial: A Juror’s Perspective
by The 13th Juror MD
SECRET TESTIMONY: DAY 1 of 2
“A QUESTION OF QUESTIONS”
(Dedicated to the sixteen Jurors of the Jodi Arias death penalty retrial who committed five months of their lives for justice. We thank you for your service.
Special thanks to David Bodney and Channel 12 (KPHO) for the release of the secret transcripts and showing us that “the rights of Jodi Arias do not supersede that of the public and media.” Further, we would like to thank the court reporters, Marla and Mike, for your tireless work.)
“Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen,” Judge Sherry Stephens said as she directed her attention toward the jury. “Thank you for your patience with us. I have closed the proceedings for the next part of the trial. The family members are permitted by law to be present at all proceedings. The defense may call its first witness.”
Melissa sat in the third seat of the front row of the jury box. She was known by her seat number to the court but the other sixteen jurors knew her by her first name. The courtroom seemed dimly lit and Jodi Arias was already on the stand when they were sat. They had seen hundreds of pieces of evidence on the killing of Travis Alexander and it was long overdue that they see the convicted murderer on the stand. She was certainly searching for answers in her head as to why and how a homely looking girl could do this to another person. She pulled out her notebook and crossed her legs as Jennifer Willmott stepped to the front to speak with Arias. Melissa opened her three ring bonder and pulled out her second notepad. She took a lot of notes so that she would miss nothing.
“Could you tell us again what your name is, please?” Willmott asked. She was dressed in a dark business suit.
“Jodi Ann Arias,” Arias answered as she looked toward the jury. Her voice was soft, almost barely perceptible.
“And, Jodi, have you already been convicted of killing Travis Alexander?”
“Yes,” she answered imperceptibly. Her hands were in her lap. She sat at attention as if she were in school listening to someone speak. She wore a white blouse and black pants. Her hair had the look of “campground hair”. It was dark brown and lay just to her shoulders. It lay flat on her head like one’s hair after washing the soot and debris out of it in a stream.
“And did you kill Travis Alexander?”
Jodi looked toward the jury and answered, “Yes,” she said, looking toward her hands in her lap.
“When is the first time you admitted that to anyone?”
“This happened in 2008, didn’t it?” Willmott questioned.
“Why did it take you two years to admit that, that you did it?”
“Um,” Arias said, pausing. “It took me that long to be able to admit to myself that, well, that I did it.”
“Why did it take that long to admit it to yourself?” Willmott asked.
Arias straightened her clear frame glasses by the arms. She looked down and then at the jury. “Because, because what I did was so horrific that I couldn’t have, well, I could never have imagined myself doing that to another human being.”
Jennifer Willmott looked at the legal pad in her hand as if to give Arias a moment to reflect. “You were present this morning when Miss Sorenson and Mr. Alexander spoke to the jury, weren’t you? What do you think when you hear what they had to say?”
Judge Stephens over-ruled Juan Martinez as he objected to its relevance.
Arias waited until Juan Martinez sat down. She looked at her attorney and then toward the jury. She spoke softly again, making it difficult for Melissa to hear her. “I think that when I hear that, if I could do, well,” she said, faltering. She wrung her fingers in her hands. It felt like she was working hard to look meek. “I wish so badly that I could just take away that from them, and that I could reverse what I did, and that I could take away what all these people are feeling that I have hurt including Travis.”
Jennifer Willmott nodded. “You were here the other day, right, when we sat here and watched your interview with Detective Flores? And in those interviews, were you being truthful about your participation in what you did to Travis?”
“No,” she answered. “Anything surrounding my having to deal with Travis dying, I was not truthful about.”
“Well, again,” she answered, opening the palms of her hands, “it was something that I was years from being able to come to terms with, coming around to admitting to myself that I did something that horrible. Also, I had never been in trouble with the law. I didn’t, um, I was very lost. I didn’t really, I didn’t know how to act or what to do,” she finished. It looked like she tried to shrug her shoulders but constrained herself.
Jennifer Willmott outstretched a hand. “When you look at yourself in those videos, what do you think about yourself?”
“It is revolting. I look at that, I just think about how stupid I was. I was, well, I was lost. I think of what just those lies put so many people through, and I just wish I could,” she said, pausing. She straightened her hair and her glasses. “Well, there are a lot of things I wish I could do over again, but that is just one of them.”
“So, right after June 4, 2008, you made a phone call to Travis Alexander and left a voicemail. Why did you do that?” Willmott pursued.
Arias turned her chair toward the jury. She rested the back of one hand over the other in her lap. Every once in a while she would move them and return them to their spot, resting on her lap. “By the time I made the phone call, I realized that I had done something very bad. I couldn’t remember details, but I knew. I had a very heavy feeling and I knew that I had done something very bad. So, that phone call was the beginning of when I tried to cover my tracks.”
“When you listen to that phone call,” Willmott asked, “what do you think of yourself?”
“Well,” she thinks, pondering, “I was talking very fast. I’m nervous. I hear, uh, I remember, I was at the Hoover Dam. I remember that phone call and how many tries it took to get the recording right so that I sounded normal; and I just think it was something that I shouldn’t have done. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to do.”
“So, at that point, why is it you couldn’t say something happened to somebody, that you couldn’t say what really happened?”
Arias acted as if she were struggling with a thought. She shrugged her shoulders and looked toward the seventeen jurors. “Something like that is just, that is, I mean I know who I am and who I have been my whole life, and I, for those few minutes out of my whole life, I was somebody that I wasn’t and I couldn’t face that. It is completely discording with how I lived my whole life and I couldn’t even wrap my mind around the fact that I did that. I can’t even, it’s still hard to imagine because just who I know that I am, and that’s why it just took me so long to finally say, yeah, I did it.”
Melissa took notes while Arias explained why she had made discovery calls to Detective Flores after she killed Travis Alexander. She knew there was going to be suspicion and word was out that she was a suspect. Arias made the calls to Detective Flores to act normal and concerned. Melissa thought it sounded like she was fishing for information instead of feeling concern.
“We also heard that you sent flowers to Mr. Alexander’s grandmother after you killed him. Why would you do that? Was there some sort of plan to make him hurt more?” Willmott asked.
“No, there was not,” Arias responded. “She was the only family member that I knew, that I ever met. I was thinking about her and the pain she must be going through and I didn’t know what to do. Like, well, it seemed more insensitive to not reach out to her at all. I realize now,” she explained to the jurors, “I’m six years removed from that, and I see how insensitive it was, but at the time I just felt like if I did nothing, that is worse. I didn’t know what to do so I just did that.
“What about, did you go his memorial, Mr. Alexander’s memorial? Why would you do that?” the attorney asked.
“Again,” Arias said, raising her hands a little, “the memorial, separate from the funeral. The memorial was where a bunch of friends gathered and these were all people I knew, people that knew I was close to Travis; and since I was in this mode to try and cover up and trying to act like I had nothing to do with that, I knew that by my not showing up, it would look more suspicious. So, I showed up and tried to act as normal as I could.”
Jennifer Willmott presented a series of photos showing Travis and her in the year prior to his death. Arias mentioned that what she did to him was something by which she could play that day over again.
Melissa wrote her notes but there were thoughts in the back of her mind. It was as if Arias’ remorse was akin to her feeling bad that because somebody had borrowed her car and ran over the neighbor’s dog, she felt bad for loaning out her car. It was a distant ownership of the crime and words would probably have not been said had she not been caught. The other thing that rolled around was her thinking that Arias was creepy but not in a way that one would expect. What made her creepy was her distance from the crime. She did not seem to truly care about what she had done. It was hard to wrap her head around the face and the pictures of the crime that the prosecutor, Juan Martinez, had thrown in front of them. She wondered if Arias had the nightmares like she had experienced and she did not think so.
It was also strange that her words said she was sorry but they did not come from the soul. Something seemed like a vacant wasteland in her emotional struggle. There was no empathy or sympathy, only words drifting into the air.
The verbal interchange between Willmott and Arias took them through her childhood. Arias was born on July 9, 1980. Her parents were Bill and Sandy and she was originally raised in Salinas, California. She has a half-sister and three younger siblings named Carl, Angela and Joey. The family moved to Yreka, California when she was twelve. She claimed her childhood became abusive when she was seven years old pointing out the traumatic experience of being disciplined with a wooden spoon. She recalls getting emotionally angry.
Melissa took her notes but did not want to look at the witness stand. She did not want to make eye contact with the defendant. Her job was to analyze and reserve judgment. As Arias spoke of her traumas, Melissa would focus her eyes on a table across the courtroom.
Jennifer Willmott walked over to the podium and glanced at her notes. She walked crisply back to her position six feet in front of Arias. “Were you ever aware that your parents used drugs?”
“When I was four, I have a distinct memory of going into my parent’s bedroom. I didn’t know what it was at the time. There was a mirror with a white powder and a razor. So I realize now what that was or what it probably was. Also, when I was five, my uncle, my dad’s brother,” she explained to the jury, “got married and my dad was in the wedding along with me. He brought cocaine to the party as part of the party.”
“Other than that, did you see any other drugs, or did you know anything else about them using drugs?” Willmott asked.
“I have learned that my mom smoked pot on the day I was born prior to giving birth to me. She may have done it throughout her pregnancy but I’m not aware of that.”
The journey of Arias through her childhood moved to when she was fifteen and met Bobby Juarez. She claimed that throughout her high school years, no one but an art teacher nurtured her in her studies. When she turned seventeen while staying with an exchange student in Costa Rica, her parents had become more abusive. Juarez was eighteen when she claimed that she became his girlfriend when she was fifteen. They dated for a few months and broke up because Bobby Juarez was showing too much serious interest.
They reunited a year later and it developed into a relationship, Arias states.
“At the time that things were happening in your house,” Willmott directed, after they spoke of violence Arias said occurred, “when we talked about your junior year in high school and how things began to slide, was there a certain point in time when you said you had had enough?”
Arias explained to the jury, as if she had built a bond with them, “Well, you see, things had just gotten to a point where I didn’t want to live there anymore. I began, well, Bobbie and I began to make plans to move in with him and his grandparents. So, little by little, I began to pack up some things I had and whenever I was visiting, I would take them over to his shed in the back of his house.”
“So, what happens then? At some point, do you actually leave the house?”
“Yes, I think it was sometime in the spring when I was seventeen. I stayed up all night packing. And then I picked up my cat and walked out at seven in the morning and drove everything out to his house,” Arias explained. “When my mother asked me what I was doing, I just told her nothing and left.”
Arias told the jury that she lived in a dirty house with Bobby Juarez and money issues were evident as she was the only one with a job working at The Purple Plum, bussing tables. She supported him with food and clothes but the relationship was short-lived with it being only four or five months in length when she decided to break up with him because he had an affair with another woman.
Melissa adjusted herself in her juror seat and opened her notebook. She slid a Juror Question form out the pocket. She closed her folder and set it upon her notepad while Arias spoke of her less than perfect relationship.
Arizona is one of few states that allow jurors to ask witnesses questions. The question must be in writing and they must be anonymous. The questions are answered, as Judge Stephens explained, after a witness has completed testimony. There is no rule as to when any question or concern can be put in the wire basket that sits atop the rail in front of the jury.
Since the testimony was moving subject to subject fairly quickly, she wanted to capture her thoughts before she forgot so she filled out a question. The seal of Arizona was on top of the sheet of paper while blank lines allowed the question to be filled in. There was something that bothered the juror. It did not seem clear why Arias would move in with Juarez. Was it a boyfriend relationship or was it because she was afraid of living at home? It seemed like mixed messages.
She quickly scribbled her question, “You stated that your mother’s family all lived in Yreka and you were close to your grandmother, also living in Yreka, why the decision to move in with Bobby Juarez instead of your grandmother or other family members?”
Melissa thought about putting the question in her folder and saving it and then decided there was no harm in sliding it into the wire basket located only feet from here, perched on the rail. She did not notice if Nurmi or Arias saw her do it and it did not cross her mind that most jurors save their questions until the end. She had only been a juror for a few weeks and protocol had not been explained to any of the jurors.
“How did you feel when you discovered he was cheating on you?” Jennifer Willmott asked.
“I felt awful,” Arias answered toward the jury. “It was very hurtful. I had found the letters from the girl he was having an affair with and I felt deceived, of course; and I felt really hurt. I do not cheat on boyfriends so I found this especially painful. He was very sweet and loving to her and I thought he was treating her better than he was treating me.”
Arias explained that she gave him all of his lover’s letters after confronting him and then went to her grandmother’s house for a few days. It was not long afterwards that she moved back in with Bobby Juarez because she thought he was sorry for what he had done. He told her he loved her. Of course, they broke up and reconnected multiple times afterwards and there was always an issue of another girl until she finally left.
“Why not move in back with your parents?” Willmott asked. Arias had just explained the two choking incidents with Bobby Juarez and her brother’s confrontation with him wielding a Samurai sword.
“I didn’t want to go back to that environment. My parents and I were getting along now that we weren’t interacting so much. So, I moved in with my grandmother in Yreka,” Arias explained. “My grandmother and I always got along.”
“At this point,” Willmott asks her, “is Bobby still contacting you?”
“Yes, we were still hanging out.”
“And because of that, did you meet, do you know who his roommate is?”
“His name is Matt McCartney,” Arias answers.
“At some point, do you move in with his family?”
“Yes, I moved to Phoenix, Oregon about ten or fifteen miles away. I did not have to pay rent and they took me in to get me on my feet.”
“Did Bobby stop contacting you? How did that happen?” Willmott asked.
“I don’t remember the exact date,” Arias answered. She furrowed her eyebrows. “I think it was 1999. The sword was mine so he, um, I just remember he liked and held onto it but then, one day, he put it out on the porch and gave it to me. He didn’t say a word and that was it. Matt couldn’t explain his behavior and why he didn’t want to talk to me.”
Arias told of moving in with Matt McCartney and sharing various interests such as taking Martial arts classes and meditation classes. She said he was respectful and polite and the relationship was much better than that of the one with Bobby Juarez. They moved to Crater Lake, Oregon and worked a seasonal job at a resort. They never made it back to work a second season because they broke up beforehand. There was a lot of tension in the relationship.
They separated and Matt moved to Crater Lake while she stayed working at Applebee’s in Midland. One day, people she didn’t know, but knew her, told her that Matt was having an affair with someone in Crater Lake. They had taken a vote whether they should tell her about a girl named Bianca and they thought it best to be honest with her.
Arias explained that she drove to Crater Lake to meet this girl named Bianca who was staying at a dorm in college. She went to the door and knocked on it, without pounding, until Bianca and her roommate answered the door.
“We got to talking,” Arias explained to the jurors, “I don’t remember the exact words but I asked about her and Matt and she pretty much confirmed it for me…”
“I’m having a hard time hearing the witness,” Kirk Nurmi said as he stood up.
Judge Stephens advised Arias to pull the microphone closer to her mouth.
Jennifer Willmott waited until Arias adjusted the microphone. “How did that make you feel?”
“I didn’t feel good,” Arias answered. It sounded like she was trying to raise her voice but was not successful. She still spoke meekly and softly, a bare hint about whispering. “I mean, I felt very deceived, obviously. He was still sleeping with me and coming to my house on weekends. You know, we are going places. Not in our relationship, obviously, so I hurt. I was very hurt.”
Jodi Arias claimed that she and Bianca had a mutual understanding and there was no confrontation whatsoever, merely a pleasant conversation talking about a boyfriend moving on to another girl. She explained that she wanted to confront Matt once and for all so stayed at his place while she waited for him to come back from out of town.
Melissa jotted a mark on her notepad with a question mark. Did she just say that she went to his house and waited for him while he was out of town?
“So, this begs the question, did you stay friends with him after you broke up?” Willmott queried.
“Yes, it was difficult breaking up but we had to move on. We cried and there were tears. He was seeing somebody else, you know. We were no longer together.”
“Then,” Willmott said as she glanced at her legal pad, “you were working at Ventana and did you eventually meet anybody that you started to date?”
“Yes. Daryl Brewer who was the food and beverage manager when he hired me. We did not fraternize at all until one day we were talking and we started to date after he stepped down from his position. He wanted to spend more time with his son,” Arias answered.
“I can barely hear,” Juan Martinez said as he stood up. “Can we ask that the witness speak up?”
“Please speak into the microphone,” Judge Stephens told the witness.
“How old was Daryl Brewer when you started dating?”
“He was forty-two and I was twenty-two.”
“When you started dating Mr. Brewer, what was the understanding about the type of relationship that you were going to have regarding marriage?”
Arias straightened her glasses and then tried to think about it, as if choosing her words carefully. “There would be no marriage in our relationship. It was my understanding all along and he was very mature about it. He just told me, ‘Look, I don’t ever want to get married again. I didn’t see myself having a girlfriend but I like you and if you’re okay with it, we can be together’ and I was okay with that.”
“About how long did you date Mr. Brewer altogether?”
“Roughly close to four years, or just shy of four years. We were living together and got a house with his son. I had saved up about twelve thousand dollars so we got a house together,” Arias answered, matter-of-factly.
“And what year was this?”
“2005,” Arias answered.
“Were you able to buy a house in Palm Desert, California?”
“Daryl had good credit. Mine was not as good as his so we bought the house together and each owned fifty percent. The market was booming and we closed in late 2005, I think,” Arias answered.
“All right,” Willmott said. “What happened after your first year of living together as far as the house is concerned?”
“The housing market started crashing everywhere. There were pockets that were good but the whole housing market was coming down.”
“What did that then do to your investment with Mr. Brewer?”
“It made it worthless,” she answered.
Jennifer Willmott looked at her watch. It was almost 4:30 in the afternoon. “This might be a good place to stop.”
“All right,” Judge Stephens said toward the jury. “Ladies and Gentlemen, Come back on Monday at 9:30 AM. Please remember the admonition that you are to speak to no one about this case. You are not to speak to any media nor are you to research anything about this case. Are there any questions?” she asked.
Melissa had put one question in the little wire mesh box earlier and no one raised or submitted any questions on paper.
“You are excused,” the Judge said.
Melissa nor did any of the other jurors look at Arias before they left the jury box. The courtroom was eerily quiet with no media or public filling the seats throughout the back.
She left the jury box and looked toward the family of Travis Alexander without connecting eyes. They showed no emotion on their faces but she could feel that this had to have been a difficult situation for them, looking at the killer on the stand. Even though they each had been told that there was to be no sympathy or empathy in their job, she had feelings despite what they were told.
Although the family showed no emotion on their faces, Melissa knew they had to be feeling pain inside. She could not stop seeing the pictures of Travis Alexander in her mind and it was still creepy that the defendant seemed to show a surprising lack of emotion for what she had done. Her job was to remain along a middle course in her mind, not to lean one way or another, but that was difficult.
Something else bothered her, too. She did not remember the market crashing in 2005. She could have sworn that didn’t happen until 2008. Then, she thought she might be being too overly critical. Maybe Arias was right on that and it was hard to get a fix on truth or lie.
The family watched the jury file out.
Jodi Arias would get on the stand one more day and two questions were yet to be asked by Melissa.
Little did she know that all of it would become a moot point shortly down the road in her temporary position as a juror on the death penalty retrial of Jodi Arias…
“Every good relationship that develops as a result of this Trial is the
manifestation of the Spirit of Travis Alexander.”
Justice 4 Travis Alexander…
Justice for Dale…
Paul A. Sanders, Jr.
The 13th Juror @The13thJurorMD (Twitter)
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