Directions: After viewing the Jodi Arias case in Chapter Four, please address the following questions:
1) As a Criminologist, how would you explain the fact that Arias, a woman with no previous criminal history, could commit such a violent murder?
2) In your opinion, did Jodi Arias slowly develop into a Sociopath over time? Why or why not?
3) Do you agree with the sentence given to Arias? Why or why not?
4) Why does the Jodi Arias case serve as a good template for a criminal case that can defer to a Biosocial basis to explain criminality? Explain.
5) As a Criminologist, what advice would you provide to correctional officers and staff who must work with and supervise Arias during her incarceration?
Given the depth of this case and the subject matter, your summary should be a minimum of one (1) content page however please remember that the more substantive and detailed all work, the more credit it will receive.
How could a petite, soft-spoken woman who had no record of past violence shoot her former lover in the face, slit his throat from ear to ear, and stab him 27 times?
Jodi Arias first denied any role in the 2008 killing, then confessed, claiming she did it in self-defense. At the end of a four-month trial, however, a jury found her guilty of first-degree murder, deciding it was so brutal that it could merit the death penalty.
The victim, Travis Alexander, was a leader of the Mormon Church in the Phoenix, Arizona, area who hid his steamy sexual relationship with Arias even from friends. Her highly attended trial was punctuated with photos of the couple having kinky sex, a 30-minute tape of phone sex between them and photos of them both naked, apparently just moments before the murder was committed.i
The prosecution portrayed the pretty Northern Californian as an obsessed stalker who went ballistic when Alexander wanted to date other women. Before the murder, witnesses said she slashed his tires, looked into his windows, and hacked into his Facebook account.ii
However, an examination of Arias’s past revealed little evidence of the sex-crazed stalker that seemed to emerge after she met Alexander. She claimed her parents had beaten her, but she had no problems with previous boyfriends, at work, or with friends. She had no arrests, convictions, or other legal issues.
Arias grew up in the small town of Yreka, California. “She was a sweet girl, you know, the kind of girl that you just always wanted to be around,” her best friend told the HLN network. She “definitely wasn’t” promiscuous, she added.iii
The obsessive, on-again, off-again relationship between Arias and Alexander ended up in murder. They met in Las Vegas in September 2006, at a conference for Prepaid Legal Services, a nationwide company where they both worked. They were both single and about the same age. In addition to being a company salesman, he worked as a motivational speaker. She had recently discovered the Mormon faith. Two months later, he baptized her into the faith and they had sex afterward.iv
Alexander’s image as a devout Mormon virgin, which he projected to friends, clashed with the erotic adventures he had with Arias. A friend who lived with Alexander testified that he did not admit he was having sex, saying it could have led to excommunication from the church. Arias’s defense attorney said she was “his dirty little secret.”v The prosecution speculated that Arias took pictures of Alexander in sex acts to blackmail him if he tried to leave her.
The couple carried on a long-distance romance between her home in California and his in Mesa, Arizona. They broke up in June 2007 but continued to see each other for sex. Arias moved to Mesa that summer, waiting tables and cleaning Alexander’s home for income, then moved back to California in the spring of 2008.
“I want you to understand how evil I think you are,” Alexander wrote her in an email a week before he died.vi He had invited another woman to go to Cancun, Mexico, with him. In early June, Arias drove to Mesa, arriving at his home at 4 a.m., and killed him later that day.
Friends found Alexander’s mangled body slouched in his shower. Arias’s palm print was found in blood at the scene, along with nude photos of them from the day of the killing. When she was later arrested, she denied any involvement and blamed it on masked intruders. It was two years later that she first admitted to killing Alexander, saying he became violent after she dropped his new camera, which she was using to take pictures of their sex play.
At the trial, she showed little emotion when asked about the killing. The jurors didn’t accept Arias’s plea of self-defense and wrote to her: “After all the lies you have told, why should we believe you now?” During a later sentencing phase, two sets of jurors were unable to agree upon a death sentence, and Arias is now serving life in prison without the possibility of parole.