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first degree murder
Travis Alexander, a 30-year-old salesman from Arizona, was killed by his on-off girlfriend Jodi Arias at his home in Mesa on June 4, 2008.
Travis Alexander’s injuries consisted of multiple s**b wounds, a s**t throat, and a gunshot to the head, according to the medical examiner that ruled his death a homicide.
Jodi Arias, Travis Alexander’s ex-girlfriend, was convicted of the murder and testified that she killed him in self-defense. She was found guilty of first-degree murder on May 8, 2013. Both the murder and trial have received widespread media attention.
The victim, Travis Victor Alexander, was born on July 28, 1977, in Riverside, California. After his father’s death, Travis Alexander and his siblings were taken in by their paternal grandmother, Norma Jean Preston Alexander Sarvey (who died in 2012, aged 80), who eventually introduced them to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Travis Alexander was a salesman for the multi-level marketing company Prepaid Legal Services and he also worked as a motivational speaker.
His convicted murderer, Jodi Ann Arias, was born on July 9, 1980, in Salinas, California.
Jodi Arias and Travis Alexander met in September 2006 at a Prepaid Legal Services conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.
On November 26, 2006, Jodi Arias was baptized into the Latter-day Saint faith by Travis Alexander. They became a couple in February 2007.
After they broke up in June 2007, Jodi Arias moved to Mesa, Arizona, before moving to her grandparents’ house in Yreka, California, in April 2008.
On June 9, 2008, Travis Alexander’s body was discovered in a shower at his home in Mesa, Arizona. His throat had been c*t, and he had been shot in the head and stabbed multiple times. There have been conflicting reports over the number of s**b wounds, with some reports stating 29] and others stating 27.
Medical Examiner Kevin Horn testified that Travis Alexander’s jugular vein, common carotid artery, and windpipe had been sl***ed.
Hs hands also had defensive wounds. Kevin Horn further testified that Travis Alexander “may have” been dead at the time the gunshot was inflicted.
Travis Alexander’s death was ruled a homicide.
His body was discovered as he was scheduled to leave on June 10, 2008, for a work-related trip to Cancun, Mexico. It has been reported that in early 2008, Travis Alexander had told his company that Jodi Arias would be joining him, and that in April he asked to change his companion to a female friend.
Travis Alexander missed an important conference call on the evening of June 4. On June 9, having been unable to reach Travis Alexander, people from Prepaid Legal Services went to his home. His roommates initially said he was out of town. After finding a key to his master bedroom, they entered the room and found large pools of bl**d in the hallway to the master bathroom, where his body was discovered in the shower. In the 911 call they made to authorities, they mentioned an ex-girlfriend, Jodi Arias, whom Travis Alexander had said was stalking him, accessing his Facebook account, and slashing tires.
On May 28, 2008, a burglary occurred at the residence of Jodi Arias’ grandparents, with whom she was living in Yreka, California. A .25-caliber gun and other objects were taken. The grandparents’ gun was never recovered. The prosecutor argued that the burglary was staged by Jodi Arias and the stolen gun was used to shoot Travis Alexander.
Several days before the trip, Jodi Arias repeatedly contacted her ex-boyfriend, Darryl Brewer, asking to borrow two 5-gallon gas cans for a trip to Arizona. The cans were not returned to Darryl Brewer. Receipts presented at trial also showed that Arias had purchased a third 5-gallon gas can, sunblock, and facial cleanser from Walmart in Salinas, California, on June 3, 2008. That evening, at an ARCO gas station in Pasadena, California, Jodi Arias purchased 8.301 gallons of gasoline with her debit MasterCard, and four minutes later purchased 9.59 gallons of gas with cash. The MasterCard was used again on June 6, 2008, three times at a Tesoro gas station in Salt Lake City, at a Pilot Flying J travel center in Winnemucca, Nevada and a 7-Eleven in Sparks, Nevada.
ravis Alexander and Jodi Arias
After Travis Alexander’s death but before his body was discovered, Jodi Arias had continued to call him and had left him several voicemail messages. It was later alleged that she had accessed Travis Alexander’s voicemail messages after his death. She said that Travis Alexander had originally planned to visit her in May 2008 but that his plans had changed. On June 2, 2008, Jodi Arias rented a white Ford Focus in Redding, California, about 100 miles south of her residence. She told the Budget Rent a Car staff that she would only be driving the car locally, but when the car was returned on June 7, it had been driven about 2,800 miles. It was also missing all of its floor mats, and there were what looked like Kool-Aid stains on the front and rear seats. The car was cleaned before police were able to examine it.
A spent .25 caliber round was located near one of the sinks in the master bath. Travis Alexander’s damaged digital camera was located in the downstairs washing machine. The camera was new. Detective Esteban Flores, via phone interview with Jodi Arias, asked her if she knew a possible motive for why someone would want to damage Travis Alexander’s camera. Although images had been deleted, Mesa Police were able to recover the images. The recovered images included Jodi Arias and Travis Alexander, both in se***lly suggestive poses, at approximately 1:40 p.m. on June 4, 2008. The last photo of Travis Alexander alive, and in the shower, was taken at 5:29:20 p.m. on June 4. Moments later, images appear of an individual, believed to be Travis Alexander, “profusely bleeding” on the floor.
A bl**dy palm print was located in the bathroom hallway, which DNA revealed to be a mixture of Jodi Arias’ and Travis Alexander’s DNA. Jodi Arias continued to insist that she had last seen Travis Alexander in April 2008 despite being presented with DNA and photographic evidence by Detective Esteban Flores.
Ryan Burns and others who met Jodi Arias in Utah after the killing indicated she had bandages on her hands and she wore long sleeves on days when it was very hot.
Jodi Arias told different stories about how she received the cuts to her hands. Ryan Burns was told they were from an injury while working at “Margaritaville” restaurant. At the trial, it was revealed by Siskiyou County, California, authorities that no such restaurant exists, nor ever existed in the area. At the time of the killing, she worked at Casa Ramos in Yreka.
She was indicted by a grand jury on a first-degree murder charge on July 9, 2008, and arrested at her grandparents’ home on July 15, 2008.
Jodi Arias was extradited to Arizona on September 5, 2008, where she pled not guilty on September 11, 2008.
She gave three different accounts of her whereabouts. She originally told police that she had not been in the home at the time of Travis Alexander’s death. She later told police that two intruders had broken into Travis Alexander’s home and that they murdered him and attacked her. Finally, Jodi Arias stated that she killed Travis Alexander in self-defense and she was a victim of domestic violence.
The trial of Jodi Arias began on January 2, 2013, in Maricopa County Superior Court before Judge Sherry K. Stephens. Prosecutor Juan Martinez sought the death penalty.
Jodi Arias was represented by appointed counsel L. Kirk Nurmi and Jennifer Willmott. Her counsel argued that Travis Alexander’s death was a justifiable homicide committed in self-defense.
She took the stand on February 4, 2013. When asked about her quote given to Inside Edition that she would not be convicted, Jodi Arias testified: “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, I planned to be dead.”
On February 6, Jodi Arias testified that she killed Travis Alexander in self-defense and recounted an intimate encounter with him that started with kissing and ended in a**l s**, describing the act as painful and adding: “It was not something I expected to happen, and I can’t say I wanted it to, but I didn’t stop him.”
Jodi Arias testified for a total of 18 days, which criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos described as “unprecedented”.
As of March 29, 2013, $1.4 million had been spent on providing public defenders for Jodi Arias.
On April 3, a member of the jury was dismissed for “misconduct”.
The defense team asked for a mistrial, which the judge denied.
On April 12, “Juror 11” was excused for health reasons, leaving the jury with eleven men and six women. A third juror was subsequently dismissed after he was arrested on a DUI offense during the course of the trial.
A defense expert diagnosed Jodi Arias with post-traumatic stress disorder, while a prosecution expert diagnosed her with borderline personality disorder.
On May 3, 2013, closing arguments concluded and the jury began deliberations. On May 8, 2013, after 15 hours of deliberation, Jodi Arias was found guilty of first-degree murder. Out of twelve jurors, five jurors found her guilty of first-degree premeditated murder, and seven jurors found her guilty of both first-degree premeditated murder and felony murder.
With this conviction, Jodi Arias was eligible for the death penalty. The aggravation phase of the trial started on May 15, 2013.
In the aggravation phase, the jury determined in less than three hours that Jodi Arias was eligible for the death penalty.
The penalty phase of the trial began on May 16, 2013, where prosecutors called Travis Alexander’s family members to offer victim impact statements, in an effort to convince the jury that Jodi Arias’ crime merits a death sentence.
On May 21, 2013, Jodi Arias offered an allocution, during which she pleaded for a life sentence. She acknowledged that her plea for life was a reversal of remarks she made to a TV reporter shortly after her conviction, when she said she preferred the death penalty.
“Each time I said that, I meant it, but I lacked perspective,” the former waitress said.
“Until very recently, I could not imagine standing before you and asking you to give me life.”
Jodi Arias changed her mind to avoid bringing more pain to members of her family, who were in the courtroom. At one point, Jodi Arias held up a white T-shirt with the word “Survivor” written across it, telling the jurors that she would sell the clothing and donate all proceeds to victims of domestic abuse. She also said she would sell her hair to Locks of Love charity while in prison, and had already done so three times while in jail. Later Jodi Arias gave a series of interviews, explaining how she addressed the issue of life imprisonment.
On May 23, 2013, the sentencing phase of Jodi Arias’ trial resulted in a hung jury, prompting the judge to declare a mistrial for that phase.
A retrial to determine Jodi Arias’ punishment is scheduled to begin on July 18, 2013, with a new jury empanelled for that purpose.
Members of jury for the Jodi Arias court case were sent home at 4.30 p.m. local time after spending the entire day deliberating whether or not they should sentence the convicted murderer to death or to spend her life in prison.
Earlier in the day on Wednesday the jury returned to the courtroom after deliberating for two and a half hours saying that they were unable to reach a unanimous decision, but that did not sit well with Judge Sherry Stephens.
Sherry Stephens ordered the jurors to go back and talk more until they came to a decision.
The rest of the afternoon was not enough, however, as they were sent home and ordered to return at 10 a.m. on Thursday.
There are three options going forward: they will either decide to sentence 32-year-old Jodi Arias to death, or to sentence her to spend her life in prison with the prospect of parole after 25 years. The third option would be if they fail to unanimously agree on those two sentences, making them a hung jury.
In that case, the judge will be forced to declare a mistrial and a new jury will be picked.
The new jury will not have any power to change her guilty conviction, and they will be solely tasked with determining how Jodi Arias will “pay” for the first degree murder.
The decision follows a trial that has staggered on for five months over the 2008 slaying of Travis Alexander, Jodi Arias’ on-again off-again boyfriend who she killed in his home in 2008. She sta**ed him nearly 30 times, s**t his throat, and shot him.
Even for the most fastidious of court followers who have developed a sense of who Jodi Arias is over the past five months of the trial, her behavior in the past week has been confusing as she gave conflicting statements about her desire thoughts on a possible death sentence.
Immediately after her guilty verdict was handed down two weeks ago, Jodi Arias granted a local news station an interview where she said that she was “in shock” and that she would rather be given the death penalty as opposed to a life sentence in prison.
Members of jury for the Jodi Arias court case were sent home after spending the entire day deliberating whether or not they should sentence her to death or to spend her life in prison
Speaking to the local Fox affiliate KSAZ, Jodi Arias said that she would “prefer to die sooner than later”.
“Longevity runs in my family, and I don’t want to spend the rest of my natural life in one place. I’m pretty healthy, I don’t smoke and I’ll probably live for a long time so that’s not something that I am looking forward to.
“I believe death is the ultimate freedom and I’d rather have my freedom as soon as I can get it.”
Those comments prompted courthouse officials to order that Jodi Arias be placed in a psychological hold and on suicide watch, which inevitably delayed the second portion of the sentencing- where jurors were forced to decide if the murder was especially aggressive.
During the ensuing testimony, called the aggravation portion of the trial, jurors heard from both sides who were able to call witnesses arguing that she should and shouldn’t be forced to die, respectively.
When she addressed the court in her own defense, Jodi Arias pledged, if allowed to live, to donate her hair to cancer patients and start a prison recycling program.
“I have made many public statements that I would prefer the death penalty to life in prison,” Jodi Arias told jurors.
“In each of those cases, I lacked perspective,” she said.
“Until very recently I could not imagine standing before you all and asking for you to give me life,” she said.
“But as I stand here now I cannot in good conscience ask you to sentence me to death.”
Jodi Arias made the statements as she tried desperately to humanize herself to jurors by sharing childhood photographs, talking about her “red-headed stage” and displaying the drawings she has created while in prison.
She followed up her case with a surprise jailhouse interview on Tuesday where she placed blame on her legal team.
The most emotional portions of the entire trial came last week, when Travis Alexander’s siblings told the court how their lives have been wrecked in the wake of their brother’s brutal murder.
The victim’s brother Stephen Alexander told how he has since been put on several different antidepressants, had to have several hospitalizations for his ulcers, and frequently wakes up in the middle of the night with vivid nightmares.
His sister Samantha told the court that even though she has been a police officer in California for 11 years, the photos of her brother’s crime scene were by far the most gra**ic she has ever seen.
They both said how difficult it was for them to see his murderer in court and on her many television appearances, so the judges’ move to force the jury to a decision deadline may be in light of the victim’s family’s wishes.
Jodi Arias gave a surprise jailhouse interview just hours after a jury began deliberating her fate, speaking out about her murder trial, her many fights with her legal team and her belief that she “deserves a second chance at freedom someday”.
Jodi Arias repeated many of her claims from previous interviews, testimony on the witness stand and her statements to the jury earlier on Tuesday as she pleaded for mercy.
Her further stints of self-promotion came as the jury were unable to reach a decision on Wednesday on whether she should be sentenced to death.
The judge sent the jury back out to deliberate until 4.30 p.m. (MST). If jurors are unable to agree, then the judge will declare a mistrial for death penalty phase only and a new jury will be brought in.
Jodi Arias also provided some new information about her case and how she believed her lawyers let her down by not calling more witnesses who could have bolstered her claims that she was a victim of domestic violence at the hands of Travis Alexander.
She was convicted last week of first-degree murder in the June 2008 stabbing and shooting death of her one-time lover in what prosecutors described as a cold, calculated killing carried out in a jealous rage. Jodi Arias has maintained all along it was self-defense.
The jury began deliberating Tuesday as they worked to determine whether she should live or die for her crime. If the jury opts for a life sentence, the judge will have the option of determining whether she spends the rest of her days behind bars or is eligible for release after 25 years.
Jodi Arias acknowledged it was unlikely she would ever be released, but believed she deserves a second chance.
Following her conviction last week, Jodi arias told a local TV station that she preferred the death penalty.
She said on Tuesday night that she changed her mind after a tearful meeting with family members that same day, realizing that her death would only cause them more pain.
“I felt like by asking for death, it’s like asking for assisted suicide and I didn’t want to do that to my family,” Jodi Arias said.
Jodi Arias said she fought from the beginning to keep cameras out of the courtroom to limit the media spectacle, and believes that the jury should have been sequestered. She stated flatly that she did not receive a fair trial.
“The prosecutor has accused me of wanting to be famous, which is not true,” she said.
However, Jodi Arias has sought the spotlight at every turn, providing TV interviews and even using a third-party to tweet throughout the trial.
Jodi Arias repeated her claims that she never wanted to go to trial in the first place but instead wanted to reach a deal with prosecutors on a second-degree murder count that would have carried a maximum of 22 years in prison. However, she said, “no deal was offered”.
Jodi Arias gave a surprise jailhouse interview just hours after a jury began deliberating her fate
She gave the interviews on Tuesday after the judge lifted an order barring jail officials from arranging any media requests.
The judge did not elaborate on the reason for the ruling, but Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s office quickly began making the media arrangements that lasted late into the night.
A shackled Jodi Arias wore makeup for the interviews and showed up in a jail classroom with a comb in hand as she fixed her hair for the cameras. When pressed for details on some of her conflicting stories, she was mostly evasive, citing advice from her attorneys and possible pending appeals.
She was also asked about the conflicts she had had with her two court-appointed lawyers, Kirk Nurmi and Jennifer Willmott.
Jodi Arias said she wanted at least three people called as witnesses who could have testified to having seen bruises on her neck “when I was choked out” by Travis Alexander but she said she was rebuffed by her lawyers.
The prosecutor insisted her claims of self-defense were an exaggerated attempt to avoid being convicted.
Jodi Arias said her lawyers “felt a little betrayed” and blindsided by her post-conviction interview but that they gave their blessings for Tuesday night’s interviews, warning her to be cautious.
She said she sometimes wishes she’d never met Alexander, “just because of how ultimately everything ended and I say that for his sake and mine – not just a selfish thing”.
Jodi Arias said if the attack never occurred and she never crossed paths with the victim, she would likely now be a happily married 32-year-old with children, good finances and a successful wedding photography business.
Earlier on Tuesday, Jodi Arias told jurors she planned to use her time in prison to bring about positive changes, including donating her hair to be made into wigs for cancer victims, helping establish prison recycling programs and designing T-shirts to raise money for domestic abuse victims.
Jodi Arias became emotional as she displayed for jurors photos of her friends, boyfriends and family members, including newborn relatives she has met only from behind bars.
She asked jurors to reject the death penalty for the sake of her family.
“I’m asking you to please, please don’t do that to them. I’ve already hurt them so badly, along with so many other people,” she said.
“I want everyone’s healing to begin, and I want everyone’s pain to stop.”
Jodi Arias stabbed and slashed Travis Alexander nearly 30 times, shot in him in the forehead and slit his throat, nearly decapitating him, before leaving his body in his shower to be found by friends about five days later.
“To this day, I can hardly believe I was capable of such violence. But I know that I was,” Jodi Arias told jurors.
“And for that, I’m going to be sorry for the rest of my life.”
Her speech to jurors came a day after her attorneys asked to be removed from the case, saying the five-month trial had become a witch hunt that prompted death threats against a key witness in the penalty phase. They also argued for a mistrial. The judge denied both requests.
Travis Alexander’s family showed little emotion as Jodi Arias’ mother, father and sister looked on from the other side of the gallery and cried.
After Jodi Arias finished speaking, Judge Sherry Stephens explained to jurors that their finding would be final
The jury heard closing arguments later on Tuesday, with Jennifer Willmott citing Jodi Arias’ mental health problems and lack of a criminal record among the reasons to spare her life.
“The question now before you is: Do you kill her? Do you kill her for the one act that she did, the one horrible act, or can you see that there is a reason to let her live? Can you see that there is value in her life?” she said.
Prosecutor Juan Martinez said that despite Jodi Arias’ claims, there were no factors in the case that would warrant a sentence other than death.
He implored jurors to look at the “whole panorama” of the case, not just Jodi Arias’ statement on Tuesday, and explained how Travis Alexander’s family will live with the pain of their loss for the rest of their lives.
“They can’t forget that what happened on that afternoon, Travis Victor Alexander suffered immense physical pain,” Juan Martinez said.
“They can’t forget that.”
James Holmes, the man accused of killing 12 people in a shooting at a Batman film screening in Aurora, Colorado, has appeared in court for the first time.
James Holmes, 24, sat in court in a red jail suit with dyed orange hair, and appeared sleepy during the proceedings.
Nine of 58 people wounded by the gunman remain in critical condition.
On Sunday, President Barack Obama met survivors and families of the dead as hundreds of people took part in a service of remembrance.
James Holmes is to be held without bail at a jail in Centennial, Colorado, the judge said.
He is accused of throwing two canisters of gas into a busy midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises before firing at random at the crowd. Witnesses say he was wearing full body armour during the attack.
It is reported that a semi-automatic rifle jammed during the attack and the gunman switched to a weapon with less firepower, possibly saving some lives.
James Holmes, the man accused of killing 12 people in a shooting at Batman film screening in Aurora, has appeared in court for the first time
James Holmes was being held in solitary confinement. Police say he is not co-operating with them.
The dead include a six-year-old girl and two US military servicemen.
James Holmes appeared in court at 09:30 local time for the first stage in a process likely to see him face at least 12 counts of first-degree murder. He could face further charges of aggravated assault and weapons violations.
Prosecutors are to formally file charges on 30 July.
One prosecutor has warned it could take at least a year before James Holmes stands trial, the AP reported.
The office of prosecutor Carol Chambers is considering whether to press for the death penalty for James Holmes, a decision that will be made in consultation with the victims’ families, she said.
On Monday morning uniformed police were stationed outside the court house, and deputies were patrolling the roofs of court buildings.
President Barack Obama said that when he visited Aurora on Sunday he had shared hugs and tears, but also laughter as the families recounted the lives of their loved ones.
He added that he visited as much as a father and husband as a president, and that Aurora was in the nation’s thoughts.
Barack Obama said: “I confessed to them words were inadequate but my main task was to serve as a representative of the entire country and say we are thinking about them at this moment each and every day.”
Both President Barack Obama and his Republican Party challenger, Mitt Romney, curtailed their election campaigns in the wake of the Aurora attack, dropping advertising in Colorado state out of respect for victims and their families.
Meanwhile, residents have been laying flowers at a memorial site near the Century cinema and thousands of people have been participating in vigils outside City Hall.
Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan told the crowd on Sunday: “While our hearts are broken, our community is not.”
On Saturday police managed to gain access to James Holmes’ flat, which had been laid with booby traps connected to explosives that could have killed someone entering through the door.
The FBI is now collecting evidence, and investigators say a computer found inside his home could provide crucial details.
Several US media outlets have reported that a Batman mask and poster were in the flat, but police have not confirmed this.
Police said the suspect had acted with “calculation and deliberation”, adding that he had been stockpiling ammunition for months.
Over the course of eight weeks he bought 6,300 rounds of ammunition: 3,000 for a .233 semi-automatic AR-15 rifle, 3,000 for two .40 Glock 22 pistols and 300 cartridges for a pump-action shotgun.
James Holmes bought the four weapons legally.
Authorities say the suspect is not linked to terror groups and have not established a motive for the attack. James Holmes had no criminal record other than a speeding fine.
James Holmes grew up in San Diego and was pursuing a PhD in neuroscience at the University of Colorado in Denver. School officials have said that he recently left the programme.
Names of the dead in Aurora cinema shooting:
• Jessica Ghawi, 24
• Veronica Moser, 6
• John Larimer, 27
• Alexander Boik, 18
• Jesse Childress, 29
• Jonathan Blunk, 26
• Rebecca Ann Wingo, 32
• Alex Sullivan, 27
• Gordon Cowden, 51
• Micayla Medek, 23
• Alexander Teves, 24
• Matthew McQuinn, 27 (presumptively identified, awaiting confirmation)