Merits of the sentence aside, after Judge Sherry Stephens cried when Jodi Arias’ first jury didn’t sentence her to death, there should have been no speculation that Jodi Arias would receive a chance at parole.

The sentencing proceeding was wrought with emotion, but no surprises.

Monday’s sentencing ends, for now, one of the most dramatic cases in Arizona history.

Moments after Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens announced the sentence, the victim’s sister, Tanisha Sorenson, who had just finished talking about being threatened by unstable trial followers, shouted, “Burn in hell!” Stephens had the option of giving Arias natural life or life in prison with the possibility of release after 25 years.

In Arias’ statement to the judge, she acknowledged guilt, “I wish there was something I could do to take it back.”

Arias’ mother also gave a statement, “I know that she is not the monster she is made out to be,” said Sandy Arias.

Arias’ attorney Jennifer Willmott asked the judge to base the sentence on the case and “not…on what a mob on social media says… “

She pleaded with the judge for “just a possibility, a hope…”

“If she cries, people call them fake tears, if she doesn’t cry they say she’s evil,” the defense attorney, referring to the sociopathic circular logic of some trial watchers.

Samantha Alexander, another sister of the victim, fed into the insanity surrounding the case by saying that one of the jurors was “tainted” and because Arias didn’t receive death, “the justice system failed us over and over.” The crime “was especially cruel,” the judge said, “The defendant destroyed evidence…and went to great lengths to conceal her involvement.” She said she saw no reason for leniency.

Arias will appeal her conviction, as her attorneys have made a detailed record of allegations of misconduct against the prosecutor Juan Martinez over the course of the trial and both sentencing trials.  And the criminal defense community at large has assembled a string of cases that demonstrate Juan Martinez’s misconduct and intend on filing a complaint with the Arizona State Bar.

Jodi Arias also spoke about her wish for the death penalty, “Death would bring me untold peace and freedom.  For years that’s what I wanted.”

“I’m truly disgusted and I’m repulsed with myself,” Arias said, recalling the moment she put a knife to Alexander’s throat.

Alexander, 30, was found dead in his home in the summer of 2008.  Alexander’s friends immediately suspected Arias.  Photos recovered from a digital camera found in Alexander’s washing machine showed the murder occurred around the same time Arias was at his home. They had photographed each other explicitly.  One photo at the end of the series appeared to show Alexander dead on the floor of the shower. After the salacious and sensationalized trial ended, Arias was convicted of first-degree murder.  The same jury could not agree on a sentence and deadlocked, causing a mistrial.

A second jury was seated in the fall of 2014 to consider a life or death sentence.  The sentencing was not live streamed, but the damage was done and the closed session generated just as vitriolic sentiments as the live broadcast months before. The second sentencing hearing took almost as long as the initial trial, nearly 5 months.  The jury again ended in a deadlock.

Unlike the first jury, where the holdout juror publicly revealed his own identity in order to defend himself against defamers, the second holdout juror wished to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution from strangers.

Juror 17, however, was outed on social media and immediately began to be harassed.  She is under police protection.  The jurors who voted for death piled on to the social media hysteria by accusing Juror 17 of having an ulterior motive.  No evidence of this has surfaced, in fact, the jury made the same argument to Judge Stephens who saw no merit and kept the juror on the jury.

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office is reportedly “reviewing” the juror’s background and the circumstances of how her identity was revealed.

Alexander family and friends hugged each other with tears in their eyes but smiles on their faces after the judge imposed the sentence. About a dozen of the jurors from both trials were present at the sentencing, Willmott said she has never seen anything like the Arias trial in her life.

“It is ordered that the defendant shall be incarcerated in the Department of Corrections for the rest of her natural life, no possibility of parole,” Stephens said.

Jennifer Willmott gave an exclusive interview to KNXV after the sentencing.  She said that despite Arias’ pleas for death, she was actually afraid.

“I don’t know how she feels about dying but it’s really what comes before that that’s so awful, to be on death row…” Willmott said.

Willmott said that Arias’ biggest hope is being able to have a contact visit with her mother, which she hasn’t been allowed to do in 7 years. Willmott, who is a public defender and was assigned Arias’ case by the court and has received numerous death threats and gotten one restraining order. Willmott said she has no regrets about taking the case, but would have changed the defense’s approach somewhat.

“The hard part about that is if you were to see the Jodi that we see… she’s very funny and smart but she could never do that in court because that’s completely inappropriate…”

Juan Martinez also gave an exclusive interview to KSAZ.

Martinez told the news station that he doesn’t hate Arias.  He detests the crime, not the person.  He also said he has no regrets. “I don’t think that I have ever seen a case like this… what’s different about it is that social media became so involved, I think that was probably surprising to all of us…”

Part of the reason for the worldwide attention was the controversial behavior by Martinez during the trial.  Of this, he said, “No, I don’t think I bullied anybody… Perhaps my voice was loud, but it needs to carry across the courtroom… I wanted her to hear me.  I didn’t want her to say later, ‘I didn’t hear you.’ I wanted to make sure she understood it…”

  1. doriowen says:

    Excellent, as all of your observations and writings are. After reading this, I couldn’t help but reflect on an interview I heard yesterday from one of the Boston Bomber’s victims, commenting on the current death penalty phase. “We must resist the urge for revenge.” And I think of the Sandy Hook victims’ parents, praying for forgiveness for Adam Lanza and his family. The phenomenon of overinvestment by complete strangers in someone they did not know continues here. And the bloodthirsty quest for punishment after punishment was meted continues. I am beginning to wonder if perhaps, in time and with perspective, we will discover that this vitriolic hate was actually representative of the source–and not where it was aimed. Mercy and forgiveness are acceptable human traits. It’s happening in Boston at this very moment. Perhaps we need to look outside of this rhetorical circle of blame to find answers to bring peace to everyone.


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