There’s a real-life drama being played out in a courtroom in the State of Arizona. A young woman has been charged with felony murder for the death of her on-again, off-again boyfriend. Most of you are familiar with the details of the case and its’ gruesome nature. If not, and you’d like to look it up, the official court records are under The State of Arizona v. Little Miss Smarty Pants, Docket # CR 666-5150.
I tuned in to HLN to see what all the buzz was about, because you can’t avoid reading or hearing something to do with this case. It’s all over the internet. There are Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and blogs which are dedicated to nothing but the Jodi Arias trial. Some of them are divided by which side the owner of the site is on – Jodi’s or that of her victim’s, Travis Alexander. After reading some of the comments on one of the pro-Jodi sites, I wondered if these people were seeing and hearing the same things I was. They do have some very flattering photos of her, though, wearing a white parka and sporting her once-blonde hair, like a sweet, innocent, little snow bunny.
You can always tell when trial is in session, especially if you’re on Twitter, because scores of people begin tweeting each and every excruciating detail. One person in particular seems to have made it her job to report things minute by minute, even providing links to the very morbid and graphic crime scene photos, including Alexander’s lifeless body and nude shots of Arias. She’ll remain anonymous in this post because I think she’s about five minutes away from going stark raving mad. I’m not kidding – she scares the heck out of me with this some of this stuff. In case you’re interested, there’s also a Justice for Travis fund set up, where you can make donations through PayPal to cover the trial costs for his family. I don’t know what kind of trial costs they have unless it’s for meals and whatnot. The prosecutor and all of his expenses are paid for by the State, so I’m hoping that these donations are going to something or someone with a real connection to the victim and his family. I guess I’m a little leery of all of the funds that suddenly pop up whenever something is in the news.
Given the fact that HLN is airing the trial, we’re treated to endless commentary by the likes of Jane (Mad Dog) Velez-Mitchell and Nancy (Answer Yes or No) Grace. I haven’t heard Nancy come up with a nickname for Ms. Arias. I guess that tot-mom thing just wore her out. Overall, HLN has really turned this trial into a circus, something they’re very good at. For what it’s worth, I don’t understand why it’s even on television. The on-air personalities and the people commenting on social media are comparing Arias to Casey Anthony, as if that somehow gives it gravitas. Aside from being young, Caucasian females with long brown hair, the two really have nothing in common – okay, they’re both crazy liars with huge egos. In terms of crimes and noteworthy trials, though, neither case deserved the attention they got and the defendants certainly weren’t worth all of the time and effort HLN dedicated to them.
This trial could be in any courtroom in any State on any given occasion. Men and women are killed by someone with whom they’ve had an intimate relationship every single day – estimates are around 4,000 to 5,000 per year in this country, and yet, most of them are reported as nothing more than a very small story in some local newspaper. I think what’s driving this case and the story, more than all the others, is that it has all of the salacious and gory details that make for good TV. HLN knows that and they’re dishing up some rather questionable and inappropriate material to their viewers. I’m not so sure that we need to know what kind of lubricant the couple used or what positions they assumed during their sexual encounters. I’m also not convinced that this is the kind of public awareness and teaching moments our legal system had in mind when all fifty States decided to allow cameras in our courtrooms. The jurors have to see and hear all of it, but I think the way it’s being covered, given the nature of the evidence, is more than a little voyeuristic. It does nothing to elevate the way in which we should view our legal system – or want to, and I think that’s a huge disservice as well as a missed opportunity.
It’s been an extremely long trial, even for a murder, and it’s not looking as if it will end any time soon. There have been delays, short court weeks and a seemingly endless amount of questions for witnesses. Arizona is one of only three States that allow jurors to submit questions, a practice that I disagree with. Arias, herself, answered over two hundred of them, although she did seem to enjoy the experience. She just doesn’t like it when that mean old prosecutor gets all up in her face. That’s when she goes into her “fog” or PTSD or transient amnesia state and gets a migraine. Apparently, being questioned on the witness stand has the same effect as committing a murder. On occasion, she’ll correct his grammar or criticize the way he phrases a question. When she’s really had enough, she’ll start making the ugly, tearless cry face for the jury and the cameras. I have to hand it to her, she’s quite the entertainer. Her defense counsel, on the other hand, look as if they’d like to be anywhere else but in that room. It’s never a good thing when an attorney has to resort to speaking objections because their client and experts are giving terrible answers, but look at what they have to work with. I imagine that Arias is the client from Hell and probably doesn’t take advice well. She’s the smartest one in the room, after all – just ask her.
If this case ever reaches a conclusion, the jury should have no problem finding her guilty as charged. I’d vote for guilt, beyond any reasonable doubt, something I couldn’t have said with regard to Casey Anthony. The State of Arizona has proved their case and Jodi hasn’t proved that she acted in self-defense – that was her choice, that was her plea, that was her burden and I really think she failed. I won’t watch any more of it but I’m sure that someone will tweet the verdict just as soon as it comes in. She’s facing the death penalty, but, from what I’ve written here, you probably already know that I’d prefer to see her in prison for the rest of her life. Then she can sing and do handstands, dig through trashcans, and fix her makeup for her prison booking photo, happy as a crazy clam, but without the television cameras and an audience. No one will be watching anymore or caring, and all of it will fade away from our memories and tweets, just like any other program at the end of its’ run. HLN will pack up their props and reenactments and studio juries, and move on to the next titillating case without any sense of remorse, conscience or responsibility for their part in this terrible and real reality show.