I expected more, didn’t you? Jodi Arias is supposed to have an IQ that rivals Einstein’s. She, or her defense team, made us wait for days to hear her statement to the jury and what we got was 19 minutes of nothing. Pleading for your life, even on the heels of telling a local TV reporter that you prefer to die, is a big deal. It’s the moment you have to show the twelve most important people in your world that you are a human being who deserves to live out your days in a prison cell. Jodi Arias missed that opportunity in what can only be called an epic fail.
She had a speech or statement prepared and a set of pictures that we saw in a slide show. We saw photos of her as a child, with her parents and her brother and sister. What we didn’t see was any kind of real emotion or feelings for her family, never mind the family of Travis Alexander. Experts call that the “flat affect”. As cops, we called it “dead eyes”. Those are the descriptions we give people who have no ability to connect or bond or experience empathy for the rest of the world. Everything that happens is all about them, they’re the center of the universe, and Jodi painted a perfect picture of someone who just doesn’t “get it”. She probably doesn’t get it. I don’t think she’s faking that. She may be a consummate liar, but she’s not as smart as she thinks she is, and malingering takes a great deal of effort and real intelligence. She may be clever and conniving, even manipulative, but she’s not really all that smart.
I believe her when she says that she didn’t understand what her murderous act did to the Alexander family. To think otherwise, we’d have to believe that she has struggled with remorse for five years, that she can and does know empathy and sympathy, and that she understands that there are people who truly suffer as a result of the actions of someone else. I just don’t see any of that in Jodi Arias. If she was as smart as she purports to be she would have, at the very least, been able to feign sadness and remorse but she didn’t – or couldn’t. This is way out of my experience or expertise but maybe you can’t fake something you don’t recognize in others. Her tearless crying while on the witness stand looked like an act, a bad one at that, and convinced no one, especially the jury.
When she wasn’t showing the jury her slide show, she told them about her artwork. If you haven’t seen her “artwork”, I’ll describe it for you. It’s a series of tracings, mostly taken from advertisements and photographs of other people’s work, which she then transfers to paper and colors in. If you’re so inclined, you can see some of her pieces at jodiarias.com. Oh, and you can buy them if you want. Jodi also showed the jury her tee-shirts which are emblazoned with the word “Survivor” across the front. These, also for sale, were designed and produced, as she told the jurors, to raise money for domestic violence victims – just like she says she is. Now, this is where she did something really stupid, you see, because these very same jurors didn’t buy her claims of abuse at the hands of Travis Alexander, so I don’t think this passive-aggressive display did much to win over their hearts and minds. If that wasn’t enough, she went on to actually tell them that she knows that “some people” don’t believe her but that they’re entitled to their own opinions. Why yes they are and they’re sitting right in front of you and they hold your life in their hands. See what I mean – no Einstein there.
Jodi went on to tell the jury how much she could contribute to her fellow inmates if her life was spared. She could teach them to read, to learn sign language and how to recycle. She wants to start a reading group – a prison book club, if you will, where she’ll “stimulate conversations of a higher nature” and keep donating her hair, as she claims she’s done before, to cancer survivors who have lost theirs from the ravages of chemotherapy. All I could hear from all of that was that she’s better than all those other convicted criminals and that she will improve their lives oh so much. I hate to tell her, but that air of superiority isn’t going to make her any friends in prison. A slice of humble pie would go a lot farther behind bars.
When she finally asked them to spare her life, she couched it in terms of her parents and siblings. It was along the lines of “you, jury, would be punishing them by killing me”. That was really rich, considering that she’s already done her own damage on that front. She pulled the “abuse excuse”, a la Casey Anthony, so it seemed more than a wee bit disingenuous to hear her talk about sparing them any further pain. I don’t doubt that they’re in pain and will be for the rest of their lives. Whatever happened in the Arias family may never be known, but I’m hard pressed to believe that they set out to raise a daughter who would end up being a brutal and sadistic killer.
She described what she did to Travis Alexander as a mistake. To me, a mistake is wearing mismatched socks or buying 2% milk instead of fat-free. She says she’s sorry for a mistake she made and that she’s horrified by what she did. I contend that she’s only sorry that she was caught and will be made to pay, in one way or another, for her crime. Sorry, as most of us understand it, doesn’t mean the same thing to Jodi Arias. It just doesn’t because she has no way of comprehending how the rest of us feel. Call it whatever you want – sociopathy, borderline personality disorder – it doesn’t matter. She’s operating from a place none of us want to visit and none of us can understand.
The jury is deliberating on her punishment now. I don’t envy them because I’m a coward. I can only imagine the anguish they’re experiencing right now. They hold the power normally reserved for a much higher being than we mere mortals. Travis’ brother, Steven, said that he doesn’t want to see the face of his brother’s killer anymore, but if the sentence is death, then he’ll be seeing a lot of Jodi in the future – during the lengthy appeals process and more. I’ve made my case about how I feel about the death penalty and there’s no need for me to go into it here. Arizona hasn’t executed a woman since 1930 and Jodi Arias is looking at a minimum of 20 years on death row before her execution, should that be the jury’s decision, even comes close to being a reality – if it ever does. All I know is that twelve people aren’t sleeping well tonight, despite what you may believe. I hope, for their sake, that whatever choice they make, they’ll be able to find a way to move on from this five month nightmare. For the Alexander family there will never be peace or normalcy. My heart goes out to them. Someone they loved was ripped from their lives, too soon and too suddenly, and no one ever gets over that. You put one foot in front of the other and pray that time softens the jagged edges of pain, but that’s about all you can hope for. Jodi Arias’ sentence, whatever it may be, can’t fix their broken hearts or fill the void in their family. It just can’t. I’d say Jodi be damned but, then again, she probably already is.