Friday, May 10, 2013

1172 The Arias Verdict

1172 The Arias Verdict

Let’s be clear about one thing.  There are no good guys in this case; it’s just that some bad guys are worse than others.

That Jodi Arias was a crazy blow up doll of the kind you once could buy in Times Square is not in doubt.  And that she killed Travis Alexander years ago also isn't in doubt.  She confessed after first telling the cops she wasn’t at his house when he was killed, then that she WAS in the house and that a man and a woman in ninja costumes invaded, murdered him and threatened her.

Of the victim: in this country, we don’t give the death penalty to someone just because he’s a horn-dog and a cheap huckster working a pyramid scheme.  And his death was particularly gruesome: stabbed 29 times, his throat cut ear-to ear and from adams apple to spine and shot in the face.  But that’s what Arias did and the jury convicted her of first degree premeditated murder.

It took long enough.  The trial started in January and ended in May.  And it’s not really over -- because there’s a penalty phase yet to come.  They call it something else in Arizona, the “aggravation phase.” The question to the jury: was the killing cruel?  As opposed to what, merciful?

She lied.  On and off the stand. A lot.  They probably could make a perjury case, but they won’t.

Arias’ defense team did the best it could, but not the best that could be done.  Lead lawyer Kurt Nurmi could go belly to belly in a sumo match with Chris Christie and win.  No slower moving and talking lawyer have you ever seen.  Second chair Jennifer Willmott, Yorkshire Terrier-like, yappie as Nurmi was phlegmatic, never could seem to get a question out in one try.

The expert defense witnesses, two shrinks, are the poster children for everything you dislike about shrinks.  One is a “sensitive male of the 21st Century” who based his testimony on tests and Arias’ stream of lies.  The other is the kind who assumes the woman is always the victim.

Judge Sherry Stephens seemed to have adopted a scale starting at  petrified -- the tree kind, not the scared kind -- and ranging all the way up to apathetic.  She did not have control of the courtroom.

Prosecutor Juan “Overkill” Martinez, as close as they come to a good guy in this mess, forced a national TV audience to assume he was the kind of man who broils babies and kittens for dinner.

The prosecution’s expert witnesses seemed like Einsteins compared with their defense counterparts.

But the real villains in this story -- beside Arias -- are the TV shills who turned the justice system into a circus.  Mock trials with mock juries every night.  Mike Galanos endlessly and meaninglessly vamping for the camera when he had nothing to say, Vinnie Politan and Ryan Smith and a whole panel of experts speculating, demonstrating, theorizing and self promoting... re-creating the murder by going after each other with fake knives and guns night after night on a set that replicates Alexander's apartment and death chamber.

Jane Velez-Mitchell shouting “guilty guilty guilty” at top volume and getting “audience” reaction outside the courthouse.

The queen of this hive is Nancy Grace, possibly the most obnoxious human being ever contracted to appear on television.  You wake her out of a sound sleep and she’ll drawl  “Guilty... he’s guilty.  He should go to jail for the rest of his life.  I used to be a prosecutor.  I have kids.  I was abused.  I know!!!”  “But Nancy, we’re talking about a parking ticket.”  “It doesn’t matter.  I want JUSTICE!!! Lock him up and throw away the key.” Because she was half asleep, she wasn’t quick enough to interrupt her debate partner before he was finished with a sentence. No worries, she’ll step on the lines of others as soon as the little red light goes on.

Almost as evil were the crowds outside the courthouse in Phoenix, all smiles and back slapping and cheers, salivating for Arias’ death, ready to dance on her grave.  Maybe they should put a needle in her arm.  But that’s no reason to celebrate.  That’s no reason for joy.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments, death threats and fan mail for Juan Martinez to
© WJR 2013

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