In May 2008, Travis Alexander told Jodi Arias that he wanted to tie her to a tree. The devout Mormon's beliefs prevented him from having vaginal sex, but he'd found what he imagined to be a gray area in other acts. Over the phone, in graphic detail, he described which of those he'd do to Arias as she was dressed as Little Red Riding Hood. Five years later, the 32-year-old dabbed her downcast eyes with a tissue as she was forced to relive the 30-minute recording in front of a jury, as well as her family, in an Arizona courtroom.
By that point, Arias had already admitted to killing her ex-boyfriend in the shower by stabbing him nearly 30 times, slitting his throat, and shooting him in the head. The bizarre courtroom scene was part of a larger strategy by the defense to prove that Alexander was a sexual deviant who had forced Arias to engage in depraved acts against her will. For obvious reasons, the trial that captivated the country, and it just ended today with a judge sentencing her to prison for the rest of her natural life without the possibility of parole.
Part of the reason the trial became such a national sensation is because, well, it's perfect tabloid drama. As an attractive and admitted killer, Arias was perfect fodder for the likes of Nancy Grace, and the fact that their sex life was being aired in court made for some captivating television. But the case was also interesting because Arias took the stand for an unprecedented 18 days in her own defense. It didn't go well.
According to her, Alexander was into young children and would make Arias wear little boy's underwear while they had sex, and he was extremely physically abusive. She said that the abuse reached its apex on June 4, 2008, when she went over to Alexander's house even though they had already broken up. They were in the shower taking sexy photos because they "were going for a certain effect for the pictures and the water," according to Arias's testimony. She said she dropped the $1,500 camera, which caused Alexander to flip out. "He lifted me up as he was screaming that I was a stupid idiot," she told the jury. "And he body-slammed me again on the tile. He told me that a five-year-old can hold a camera better than I can." She claimed that she killed Alexander in self-defense. His body was later found with his throat slit ear to ear.
In May 2013, the jury found her guilty of first-degree murder and decided she was eligible for the death penalty. The penalty version of the trial resulted in a hung jury, however, and the subsequent re-trial lead to a vote of 11-1 in favor of the death penalty. Because one juror held out, and the decision to execute Arias needed to be unanimous, a judge was tasked with deciding whether or not she should have life in prison or be eligible for parole after 25 years. (Technically, parole is no longer offered in Arizona, so she would have to apply for clemency, USA Today reported.)
Because the case has dragged on for so long, it's reportedly cost taxpayers nearly $3 million.
Arias's mother, Sandy, addressed the judge before the decision was read. She was the only one from her immediate family there, and she pleaded for the chance of parole. She gave her condolences to the Alexander family, but described Travis as a someone who "tried to degrade [Arias], tried to make her feel like a nobody, and tried to take away her pride."
"They can cage her, they can take away her rights, but they cant take away one thing: her beautiful soul," Sandy Arias told the judge.
Then Arias said a few words. "I do remember the moment the knife went into Travis's throat and he was conscious," she said. "He was still trying to attack me. It was I who was trying to get away and not Travis. And I finally did."
Although she maintained that she was acting in self-defense, she got choked up as she apologized for all the pain she's caused. "I'm truly disgusted and repulsed with myself," she concluded, "I wish i could take it back."
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