In her opening statement, Jodi Arias’ defense attorney Jennifer Willmott said that her client “had no other option but to kill” Travis Alexander on June 4th 2008. She explained how Alexander had threatened her life that day and how Arias had every reason to believe him.
Now, fast forward seven weeks, and seven days into Jodi Arias’ direct testimony, and defense attorney Kirk Nurmi is finally getting around to asking Arias about the day she killed Travis Alexander. We’ve heard all about her childhood, her allegedly abusive parents, her string of boyfriends before Travis, and the day in/day out of her relationship with Travis Alexander. Jurors have been seen swiveling their chairs, stretching their limbs and cracking their necks as Arias’ direct testimony drags into week three. At this point, Nurmi risks jurors being so bored that Jodi Arias words start to become white noise to them. So why the need for this long, drawn-out testimony?
The defense is trying to explain why Jodi Arias felt she had no other option on June 4th 2008 but to kill him to save her own life and the key is to portray her as a domestic violence victim with a long history of verbal and physical abuse, especially in her relationship with Travis Alexander.
Jurors have heard every little detail about all of Alexander’s sexual fantasies: from having her wear Spiderman underwear and French maid costumes, to requesting pictures of her in schoolgirl outfits and a red riding hood costume. They’ve heard every little detail about the text messages and phone conversations between Travis and Jodi: from him telling her “I’m sick of your soap opera” and “after tomorrow it’s going to be really bad for you” to him telling her she’s beautiful and hot. They’ve heard every little detail about how he once slapped her face, and once grabbed her wrist and how she would visibly shake when he became angry.
The reason for all of these meticulous details is that her defense must lay the foundation of abuse and show that Travis Alexander repeatedly victimized her in order for defense experts to later testify and explain her behavior. The reason for detailing all of the ups and all of the downs in their relationship is because it’s setting the stage for defense experts to later testify that she suffered from Battered Woman Syndrome and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The experts are key to explaining why Jodi Arias never said a word about Travis’ abuse in her initial police interviews but instead praised him and why she is now detailing his verbal and physical abuse. They must explain why a domestic abuse victim wants to protect her attacker initially. More importantly, defense experts must explain her behavior on the day of the killing.
Yet, when compared to the mounting evidence of premeditation, Arias’ self-defense theory starts to look pretty slim, regardless of what defense experts have to say. When compared to the inferences that she took a gun from her grandparents home, staged a robbery to make it look like it was stolen, and then used that same gun to shoot Travis, her self-defense theory starts to fail. When compared to the fact she told everyone she was driving to Utah but instead drove straight to Travis’ home in Mesa, Arizona, likely with the gun in tow, her self-defense theory starts to unravel. Finally, when compared to her countless lies that she was not with Travis the day he died and later that intruders killed him, her self-defense theory starts to fall apart.
So Nurmi can drag out her testimony all he wants in an attempt to portray her as a sympathetic abuse victim, but such a portrayal stands in stark contrast to the facts of the case: that she not only shot him, but stabbed him 27 times and sliced his throat. If it was truly self-defense, there would be no need to essentially kill him three different ways.