Here is the last segment of the April 13th Court Hearing.
April 13, 2015
Jodi Arias Sentencing. Part 2. SA and JA speak.
Bailiff: All rise.
JSS: Thank you. Please be seated.
JM: Your Honour, before you proceed, may we approach please.
JSS agrees that three jurors from the first trial may enter the courtroom and be seated on chairs in front of the 10 jurors from the penalty phase retrial who are seated in the jury box for the sentencing hearing.
JSS: All right. The record will show the presence of the defendant and all counsel. The Court has reviewed the two packets of letters provided by the defendant. Miss Willmott.
JW: The Defence calls Mrs. Sandy Arias who would like to address the Court.
JSS: All right. Please come forward.
Sandy Arias puts on display a really sweet picture of a very young two or three year old Jodi on the Court display system.
SAr: Good morning, Judge.
JSS: Good morning.
SAr: I'm Sandy Arias, I'm Jodi's mother. I'm sure you know who I am by now. I just want to let you know that I am the only one from Jodi's immediate family here today. It doesn't mean that our family didn't want to come. We all love and support Jodi, but it's very expensive to be here. It's a financial hardship for us. My husband is not well. When he was here the last time, it took him a month to recuperate. So, we wanted you to know our family is all here in spirit.
We're born into this world kicking and screaming. We go through life trying to figure out life itself. We try the best we can. It doesn't make us a bad person, it makes us human.
On July 9, 1980, Jodi was born into this world kicking and screaming. Growing up, she tried to become a successful, giving, loving, honest person. And she stumbled on the worst mistake of her life. This mistake tried to degrade her, tried to make her feel like a nobody, tried to take away her pride. When Jodi's life was at stake, she defended herself and decided she was not ready to leave this world. She had not completed her goals yet. She was not going to give up on life and fought to stay alive. Once again kicking and screaming. And she did. She lived.
About seven years ago, she was unfairly incarcerated because she wanted to live. Today, she is fighting a battle for her life. They can cage her. They can strip her of her rights. But they can't take away one thing--her beautiful soul.
Jodi's the first born of four children. She didn't come out with instructions, so we did the best we could with what we knew. I guess the one thing we failed to teach her was how to walk away from an abusive relationship. She hid it from her family. She hid it from her friends. All the signs were there. We just didn't see them. As her mother, I feel like I should have been able to protect her but I wasn't.
I in no way condone what Jodi has done, but I do understand it. Jodi has brought a lot of pain to so many lives. But she has also touched so many lives with her story. It's not my place to apologize for her actions, but I can say I am sorry for the loss the Alexander family has had to endure. I can't even imagine what they're going through. I pray that someday they will be able to find peace.
Although Jodi is still alive, we still have lost our daughter. Our lives have been forever changed. Since the day she was born, I dreamed of her becoming a bride and becoming a mother. Those dreams have all been shattered. They have been replaced by ones of someday seeing Jodi walk free.
You have the choice to give her the chance at parole, judge. I only hope that you have it in your heart to see what a good person Jodi really is. She's always helped people less fortunate than her. Jodi always sees the good in people. She has helped many people in the last seven years. She's written letters for inmates that couldn't write. She has written them poems. Sang for them. She has also read to them and drew them pictures. And I'm sure there's many other things that she has done to help people.
Jodi's bright smile always lights up the room. She's intelligent, has many talents such as her art and photography. She has excellent writing skills and speaks Spanish fluently. Jodi has two sisters and two brothers, and countless other family members that love and support her and we will stand by her always.
As I write this letter, I pray that something good will come out of all of this. I pray the Alexander family has peace and I pray for you, Judge Stephens. You have heard a lot bad things that people have said about my daughter. I've listened to it for the past seven years. I have to say it hasn't been easy. I know the beautiful soul she really is, and I know that she is not the monster that she's been made out to be.
JSS: Thank you for your statement.
JW and JA confer.
JW: Judge, Miss Arias has a few words to say.
JA: Judge, I just want to respond to a few things that were said earlier.
My legal team and I tried to settle this case on four different occasions before trial. We tried three times before the 2013 trial and what Samantha said was not accurate. I was not the one who refused to settle. It was Travis's, it was Travis's family who not only refused to settle and insisted on both trials, but then they bragged about it on the Social Media including the posting of the group photo on the steps of this very courthouse holding out all of their thumbs down. Refusing to settle.
As for not wanting the Death Penalty, it's my firm belief that death would bring me untold peace and freedom. That's my personal belief. If I died today, I would be free and I would be at peace. For years, that's exactly what I wanted. But I had to fight for my life, just like I did on June 4, 2008 because I realized how selfish it would be for me to escape accountability for this mess that I've created.
I have two brothers, two sisters, several nieces and nephews, a mom, a dad, eight aunts [she pauses to glare at a baby crying in the gallery], nine uncles, over twenty cousins that I've grown up with as well as countless friends, all of whom would suffer greatly if I ended my own life or if I allocated and begged for the death penalty and then got it.
I did not drag Travis through the mud. I protected Travis's reputation for years. I did say he was an influential person. I kept his skeletons in the closet all to my own detriment for years. What I testified to was not false. They were not made up. They were not things I wanted to get out in the public either but when I was on the stand, I told the truth. Your Honour was also here during the second trial when a lot of evidence came to light that supported my testimony from people that never even knew me but knew Travis.
I do remember as I testified to this. I'm sorry, I think I would have testified to this in the 2014 trial.
I do remember. I do remember the moment when the knife went into Travis's throat and he was conscious. He was still trying to attack me. It was I who was trying to get away, not Travis. And I finally did. I never wanted it to be that way, Judge. The gunshot did not come last. It came first. And that was when Travis lunged at me just as I testified to and just as the State's own detective testified to two years ago before he and Juan got together and decided to change their story for trial.
As for not being abused, maybe I wasn't as badly abused as Travis and his siblings were by their parents, but I didn't consider it to be abuse either. I didn't consider being beaten and hit and all those things abuse. That was discipline in my family. That's how my parents were disciplined by their parents. That's why I didn't consider those things abuse. I understand not that that's abuse. So for Samantha to say that I was not a victim of abuse is wrong because I was. And my family understands that now and we--like my mom says, I didn't come with instructions. They did the best they could. They didn't do it because they were bad parents. They did it because they thought that they were disciplining us and that's the best that they knew how.
The most important thing I want to say is that I am very sorry for the enormous pain that I've caused the people that loved Travis. I never thought I would cause so many people so much pain. I live every day wishing I could undo what I did to Travis and wishing that I could take away their pain and just put it onto myself.
To this day, I can't believe that I was capable of doing something that terrible. I can't even--I'm just--I'm truly disgusted and I'm repulsed with myself. I'm horrified because of what I did, and I wish there was some way I could take it back. That's all I have.
JW: Your Honour, I'm asking the Court as I did in the Sentencing Memorandum. We're asking this court to sentence Miss Arias to Life but with the possibility of release. And we're doing that, Judge, because based on, as the State called it, a comparative analysis, it's not so much a comparative analysis--it's about sentencing and equity in sentencing and when this court is able to look at other cases that are similarly situated, then the facts of this case become not as gruesome. Not as bad when you compare it to others that have occurred in Maricopa County and those others that have occurred in Maricopa County where those people, those defendants, received the possibility of release.
When we talk about, according to the sentencing in the Sentencing Memorandum, I attached 60 cases. And those 60 cases were pulled from the County Attorney's office specifically from their own information and from the information available by the Maricopa County Superior Court. In those cases, the Court can see, and I should be clear, those cases are just cases for first degree murder. They do not involve cases regarding second degree murder. And so, when you look at some of the cases, you look at Moore [JW is referring to Jeff Leo Moore on Page 15 of attachment], http://************************/wp-...-filed-4-10-2015-JodiAriasIsInnocent-com.pdf]
. That's a case, that's the case where the victim was bound: his eyes, ankles and mouth with tape, laces, climbing rope, and ultimately that victim was left alone and he asphyxiated. He choked to death. That defendant received Life with the possibility of parole. When you look at Coker, another case on Page 14 [JW is referring to Jack Coker on Page 14 of the attachment], that defendant killed the victim with a hatchet. And that person then went back and shot him. And the victim in that particular case was an elderly victim. 74 years old. That defendant received the possibility of release. And not only did that defendant receive the possibility of release but you can see that that defendant had prior felonies. He'd been in trouble before, but he gets the ability for possibility of release.
If you look at the Dominguez case, which is on Page 12 [JW is referring to Eric Dominguez on Page 12], and I'm just picking out just a couple of these because we don't need to keep going over it, but the Dominguez case, again, that person, that defendant had prior felonies. The victim was found beaten and bound. He had been stabbed and cut. And, and it was part of a burglary. That defendant received a possibility of release. Even after having a criminal history, after having prior felonies.
In the Gonzalez case [JW is referring to Adan Gonzalez on Page 10], that person received the possibility of release, and, in that particular case, that one, the victim was beaten with a pipe. Beaten so badly he was left for dead. But this particular defendant went back and continued beating him until he was dead. After that, he returns with a knife. This person receives 25 years with the possibility of release.
The other cases that, some of the other cases that were attached have to do with um well, the Ross case in particular, [JW is referring to Christopher Ross on Page 7] Ross had. Ross, he stabbed his victim 25 times and left him in a hotel room. That person had prior felonies. And that defendant received the possibility of release after 25 years.
There's other cases that were attached, Judge, that have to do with killing children. And gruesome, gruesome details about how these children were killed. And these children were innocent, defenceless people. And they were killed mercilessly. But yet, those people received a chance at release.
And we're asking the court to consider all of these things, and I understand that this court wasn't present for all of those trials and didn't hear all of the evidence, but it's important to know that, that with Miss Arias that the facts of what Miss Arias did are not dissimilar to what we see here. And these cases are taken from 2008 up until 2013. So, the same timeline that we've been dealing with.
The, when, when trying to decide what cases we should have pulled for this situation, we decided not to pull cases where the State had the ability to choose to charge the person with Second Degree murder. So, because as the court knows, and as all of us know, the State has complete discretion when charging. They can choose to charge something as First Degree and then they can choose to charge something less. So these cases are just sixty of First Degree Murder. There are scores, hundreds more of cases where the State chose to charge cases that--as Second Degree and that plead those to obviously lesser charges because Second Degree Murder doesn't even have a life sentence to go with it.
I can avow to the Court, that I know personally of one particular case that was charged with Second Degree where the boyfriend slit his girlfriend's throat and because, for whatever reason, the State chose to charge that as Second Degree Murder, that defendant got a plea for sixteen years. So, we look at all these different cases and we see that there are similar types of cases. We see that other people had prior felony convictions. And then, you compare that with what has gone on with Miss Arias and I think it's important for the Court to take all of that into consideration.
Especially taking into consideration, Judge, the fact that Miss Arias doesn't have any criminal history. And when I say that she doesn't have any criminal history, I mean she doesn't have any contact with police at all until she was arrested, except for an occasional speeding ticket. That's it. So this isn't like something that you see like a lot of defendants that come before you where they have come through life continually repeating to offend and finally they get up to the point where it becomes so serious that now it's murder.
Miss Arias has never been arrested for anything. She has never had contact with police. And, when you take that into consideration with equity in sentencing, that's something that we look at most of the other defendants listed in the Sentencing Memorandum did have a some prior felonies.
In the Sentencing Memorandum, we discuss mental illness. The Court is well aware of what the testimony was. She was diagnosed with a mental illness by both the State's witness and by the Defence witnesses. That is something that, as I explained in the Sentencing Memorandum, should also be taken into consideration when deciding whether or not she should have the possibility of release in the future. Being afflicted with a mental illness is something that is serious.
Especially in this country that is not --people aren't given help when they should be given help. And in this situation, Miss Arias lived her life with mental illness, like the State's witness said: it was like a light switch. And environmental factors can turn that light switch on. And that's clearly what happened in this situation. How else do you explain the fact that Miss Arias led her life law abiding, good natured, kind, until the day of June 4, 2008.
Miss Arias does have family support and I know that her mother, Sandy, was the only person that was able to be here today. We have been in contact with the family since the verict and it is important for the Court to know that they all very much support Miss Arias. They don't have the funds to be here today, but they did send letters for the Court to read and they are behind her 100%.
One of the things that the state talked about is Miss Arias's supposed lack of remorse and And this is something that I think it's really unfortunate for the Alexander family to feel that way. Because I know that does not help in healing. And if there is anything that I wish they would know, it's that that Miss Arias feels not just remorse, it, it's something that I have noticed from the time that I started representing her.
The way she talks about what happened on June 4th. The things that she has said to me not in preparation for trial, not in preparation for taking the stand and having to say in front of people that she doesn't know, but just saying to people that she knows randomly when we're talking about getting prepared for something or talking about legal matter, I can tell that she is not paying attention. And we'll talk about, hey, what's going on? And those will be the times when she's told me, several times, Judge, those were the times she's told me that it's a bad day for her. It's a bad day because she knows what she did is horrible. Because she can't believe that she was even capable of doing something.
She has told me over and over again, when she says that she is repulsed by what she did, she truly is. That's not something I told her to say or that anyone told her say. That is something that is coming from her own mouth and that's something that she has told me from the very beginning since I met her. She refused to accept this about what she did. And she, there have been times in my representation of her, that she has just broken down crying.
And I know the Court has seen her, throughout this case and in trial. It is not easy for Miss Arias to cry in front of other people. That is something that she learned as a child. That you don't cry in front of others. But, there are times when she does break down and cry and, Judge, that is something that I have noticed also in representing her. There are times when we're talking about the facts that she just can't hold it in. and she talks about how awful she feels for what she did.
I think it's important to remember that Mr. Alexander was someone she cared about. Whether they were getting along in the end or whether Miss Arias was trying to leave him in the end, she still cared about him. And all of that was very clear from reading her journal entries. Unfortunately, and there is something that I guess that, unfortunately, I need to address because this would have had nothing to do with them, Judge. No one ever called Mr. Alexander a pedophile.
And I certainly didn't intend to address any of that information today, but that was brought up by the State and I think it's important for the Court to realize and hopefully not punish Miss Arias for having to defend herself. Every defendant has a right to defend themselves, and if the government is going to allege charges against them, the defendant has a 6th Ammendment Right and a 5th Ammendment Right, they have a right to defend themselves.
And if defending themselves means that negative information is gonna come out, that's what happens. It is true that the Defence attempted to settle this case several times, times before I was the attorney on the case, and times when I was the attorney on the case.
And the State never agreed to settle. So it is, I am so, sorry that the victim's family had to sit here through trial because I watched them and I know how tough it was for them. And Miss Arias knows that as well. But it wasn't because we didn't attempt to settle and I hope, and I know that the Court will not take that into consideration and hold Miss Arias accountable for defending herself.
The State brought up Miss Arias fabricating evidence and I know what the State is talking about. These are letters that were mysteriously leaked onto Social Media by supporters of the State. Those letters, the State's witness never said those letters were fabricated and they never came into trial. It is inappropriate for the Court to take into consideration anything having to do with that, and when the State is arguing to the Court that Miss Arias has called Mr. Alexander a pedophile or talking about fabricated letters that is information that has never been proven and the State, and the Court should not take it into consideration when sentencing because those are matters that are not aggravating factors and they are not, they were never proven.
Unfortunately, with this type of an unusual case, the way that it has gone, being unusual I think for all of us, it has been difficult for Miss Arias to be able to do, to show her true feelings. Because if she were, if she cries, then people say those are fake tears. And if she doesn't cry, then people call her evil. If she says that she's sorry, and expresses remorse, people say she's lying. And, if she doesn't say anything, it's because she's a monster.
But, Judge, Miss Arias is not a monster. She is not unlike any other defendant that has come before this Court many times. It's just the fact that for two minutes in her life she did something reprehensible. For two minutes. Miss Arias is better person than those two minutes of her life. She has lived her life up until that point remarkably. I'm asking the Court to take that into consideration as well.
There is no sentence that will bring Mr. Alexander back. And there is no sentence that will make these last seven years disappear. We know that the Alexander family is hurting. What, what family wouldn't hurt having to go through something like this? It is the nature of this type of crime. But this case has to be judged not on a lynch mob born out of Social Media seeking vengeance but on a judicial system seeking justice.
And that's what we're asking the Court to do. Do not base this on what a mob on Social Media has to say about who Jodi is but really who she is and who she was before June 4, 2008. i have practiced in the court on, for quite a while now, and I have been in here on other cases, and I have seen this Court sentence many defendants. I've seen the Court take into consideration that defendant's background and that defendant's crime itself and the potential for a future for those defendants. And I have sat in this court for settlement conferences, and I've seen the Court handle settlement conferences where the discussion turns to other defendants who are similarly situated get in these types of cases. So I know that the Court takes these things into account when deciding sentencing, and that is the appropriate way to do it. That's what justice is. Justice requires equity.
And sometimes equity isn't what victims want it to be. This case has been different from others not because of the type of case, not because of what happened, but because of the strange attraction to a mitigated cause for so many. This Court has the experience to know the difference between a lynch mob from Social Media and their requests, and I'm not referring to the victims, Judge, just so we're clear, and equity in sentencing and what is just and what is fair.
This is a difficult decision. I don't in any way think this is a light decision at all. The facts are gruesome and for two minutes what Jodi did was horrible. And the pain that she caused was reprehensible. But this case is no worse than so many other cases that have come before this Court and many other courts in Maricopa County. And what happened in those cases where those defendants received the possibility of release.
It's only a possibility. It's not even a guarantee. It is just a possibility. A hope to live for. We're only asking the Court, Judge, to give an equitable decision. And a reasonable decision. And a decision that is fair in light of the facts of this case. Based on that, Judge, we are asking the Court to sentence her, Miss Arias, to the possibility of release.
JSS: All right. Is there any legal cause why sentence should not be pronounced?
JSS: Then, the Court has considered the nature and circumstances of the offence. I have considered the aggravating factor found by the jury. I have identified aggravating and mitigating factors and considered those factors in arriving at a sentence for Miss Arias. As aggravation, the Court finds, as the jury found, the crime was especially cruel. The crime was committed with at least two deadly weapons-a gun and at least one knife. The crime involved substantial planning and preparation. The defendant did not render aid to the victim. The defendant destroyed evidence at the crime scene. The defendant went to great lengths to conceal her involvement in the crime. The Court has also considered, as an aggravating factor, the emotional and financial harm to the victim's family members.
As mitigation, the Court finds the defendant has no prior criminal history. The defendant has family and community support. The defendant has no health issues. The Court has also considered the defendant's childhood background, family history, and her expressed remorse.
The Court finds the mitigation presented is not sufficiently substantial to call for leniency and that a Natural Life sentence is appropriate. It is ordered the defendant shall be incarcerated in the Department of Corrections for the rest of her natural life with no possibility of parole. The sentence shall begin today. The defendant shall receive credit for 2,463 days of pre-sentence credit.
It is ordered that the defendant shall pay a $10.00 probation surcharge assessment and as previously stated, the Court is retaining jurisdiction over restitution.
Miss Arias, you have twenty days from today to file a Notice of Appeal. You have the right to have an attorney represent you. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. If you cannot afford the necessary requisite transcripts, they will be provided for you at no cost. Do you understand?
JSS: Counsel is there anything else for the record?
JM: No, thank you.
JW: No, Your Honour.
KN: Your Honour, I will be moving to withdraw at this point in time. A reconsideration of April 4, 2011. That order contemplated joint representation because it was a capital trial pending, pending trial at that time. Given that that is no longer the case, Miss Arias has been sentenced to life moments ago by this court, I see that there's a few ancillary issues remaining, but the motion, for which motion should be filed, but, pending that, I would ask that I be withdrawn from the restitution hearing or any future matters, particularly given Miss Arias's choice to be non-communicative with me. I believe it would be best for Miss Willmott to handle that. And so, I would ask that my motion to withdraw would be granted here this morning.
JSS: All right. The motion to withdraw is under advisement. Anything else?