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Jodi Arias Trial Week 20

Aired May 17, 2013 - 20:00   ET


NANCY GRACE, HOST: During all those months of testimony during guilt/innocence phase, we all knew that the day could come that there was a possibility there would be a guilty verdict and we would move to aggravation and then to penalty phase.

But when it finally happened in the courtroom and Travis Alexander`s sister and brother took center stage and described what his murder had done to them, how it had ripped their lives apart, how they still to this day wonder what he went through as he died, those moments of terror and fear, they wonder what was the last thing he saw? Did he feel the pain? How badly did he hurt? What were the last thoughts that went through his mind before he left this life?


STEVEN ALEXANDER, TRAVIS ALEXANDER`S BROTHER: My name is Steven Alexander. Travis was my big brother. I was sleeping in after working a 12-hour graveyard shift in the Army (ph). I woke up to the sound of my wife crying, walking up the stairs. I will never forget what she said -- Samantha, I cannot tell him, you have to.

My wife handed the phone to me. It was my sister, Samantha. She was crying hysterically. She told me, Steven, Travis is dead. I thought I was dreaming. She didn`t really have any details at the time. So I just gave the phone back to my wife. A few moments later, we found out he was killed.

I remember walking out my back door screaming, crying at the sky, asking why. And I sank down into a corner and I cried some more.

A while later, my commander called with the same news. I kept my composure, but in my head, I was reliving the same exact moment all over again. As soon as we hung up, I broke down again.

I thought my brother was bullet-proof. I thought he was stronger than anything, he couldn`t be cut down or knocked down. He was in two motorcycle crashes and walked away unharmed. He wrecked several cars and nothing happened to him. He rolled a snowmobile, and again not a scratch. He was unbreakable.

Who on earth would want to do this to him? For what reasons? He wanted to move forward in life, to better himself and only to help others. Why him? Unfortunately, I won`t ever get the answers to most of my questions about my brother`s death, questions like, how much did he suffer? How much did he scream? What was he saying? What was the last thing he saw before his eyes closed? What was his final thought in his head?

The last time I saw my brother was Christmas of 2007. We had a really good time. A lot of our family was there. We played a bunch of family games. One in particular was the "American Idol" game. Travis kept beating everybody. The only way I could actually beat him was by singing a Kelly Clarkson song in a girl voice so I could hit all the notes.


GRACE: As the jury heard that, I wondered if any of them wanted to cry like the rest of us did.

Also, finally, we see Jodi Arias looking remorseful, but it`s really hard to buy her remorse when you know -- like we know, but the jury doesn`t know -- that the very night before she was tweeting, Hey, my T-shirts are on sale $15 apiece, free shipping. It`s kind of hard to buy her hard sell of remorse in the courtroom when eight hours before, she was hawking T- shirts on Twitter. Of course, the jury doesn`t know that.


SAMANTHA ALEXANDER, TRAVIS ALEXANDER`S SISTER: To this day, my mind paints a picture of what happened the night Travis was taken, even though I try not to let it. Upon standing in the same exact spot where this horrific tragedy happened, when we had to go to Travis`s house after the investigators were done, I felt the same sickening feeling -- my ears ringing, burning stomach, my eyes were filled with tears to where I could barely see, the thoughts of what Travis must have went through that day, the pain, the agony, the screams and fear that Travis must have felt when he was brutally being taken.

We have been at this trial every day since it started. We have heard every detail about the crime and the injuries Travis suffered. I am a police officer, and some of these photos are more gruesome than I have ever seen in my 11 years of law enforcement.

Our minds are currently stained with the images of our poor brother`s throat slit from ear to ear. Our minds are stained with the image of Travis`s body slumped dead in the shower.


GRACE: In all of the years that I prosecuted, by the time that the victims gave a victim impact statement, I had already heard their stories. So I was never surprised because I had lived and breathed the trial with them for months in preparation, then living through the trial every day and every night, being with them, literally holding their hands, getting them through it.

So what they -- what the victims would say in cases that I tried was never a surprise to me. But you know what? It never failed to hurt just to see the suffering that they had gone through.


STEVEN ALEXANDER: He got to meet my daughter and hold her for the first time. He said she was the most beautiful little girl he`s ever seen. I never would have thought that would be the last time that I would see him.

The nature of my brother`s murder has had a major impact on me. It`s even invaded my dreams. I have nightmares about somebody coming at me with a knife and then going after my wife and my daughter. When I wake up, I cannot establish what is real, what is a dream.

I`ve even gone through the house searching through rooms, shaking my family to wake them up to make sure that they are alive. My wife has woken me up out of nightmares because I was screaming in my sleep.

It may sound childish, but I cannot sleep alone in the dark anymore. I`ve had dreams of my brother all curled up in the shower, thrown in there, left to rot for days all alone.

I don`t want these nightmares anymore. I don`t want to have to see my brother`s murderer anymore. I don`t want to hear his name dragged through the mud anymore.



GRACE: You know, Travis`s family has undergone dire financial hardship for them to all come from California and be at that courtroom every single day of trial to represent Travis, their brother.

And to me, even though I expected what they said, it did not lessen the impact to me to see them in front of that jury, the closest thing we have on earth to Travis Alexander standing in the flesh before the jury, describing the pain that they have endured.


SAMANTHA ALEXANDER: Our family has bore the burden of extreme loss and financial hardship to be here to see that Travis is not forgotten and to ensure that his life was not lost in vain, from being away from our daughters, sons, nieces and nephews, to stepping down from opportunities in the workplace, to suffering from anxiety and severe depression, requiring many, like my grandmother to submit to anti-depressants and anxiety medication. Travis is the only family member that lived in Arizona, making it very difficult for us to be here.

We have paid the ultimate price, losing Travis. Each and every one of us have looked to Travis for support and words of guidance during times like this. None of us ever thought that he would never -- that he wouldn`t be here when we needed him the most.

To think that someone so loving, so caring, so giving could be taken from us, given the already tragic lives that we have lived, but to have Travis taken so barbarically is beyond any words we can find to describe our horrific loss.




STEVEN ALEXANDER: I`ve been hospitalized several times for ulcers and came very near to death. I`ve been on several different anti-depressants. Unfortunately, none of them really worked. I wasn`t able to be the husband my wife deserves. I distanced myself from everybody. My wife and I -- ultimately, we separated two years ago and we -- for a period of two times, for two years. My poor little girl had to be passed back and forth every week.

And now, yet again, I have to be away from my wife and my child. It has been over four months now. I go home to California during the weekends. Every time I have to come back to Arizona, I see my little girl cry and beg me not to go. I miss them very much, and I cannot wait for this to end so that we can all get back to our lives.

Travis used to write out his day on a flash card. The last one he wrote said to call Steven. I never got that call. He had been concerned about my health and wanted to fly me to his house and help me quit smoking. I never got to go.

Now when I want to talk or see my brother, I have to go to a three- and-a-half-foot, eight-foot-long and six-foot-deep hole in the ground.



GRACE: It`s one thing to plan what you`re going to say in front of the jury. It`s an altogether different animal when you finally are speaking to them, especially in the case of Travis`s brother and sister, where they have been in court every day from the get-go, watching this jury, wanting to say so much.

And then, finally, there you are in front of the jury to tell them all the things that you`ve had in your heart and your mind and kept pent up since January, since before January, since the moment you discovered that your brother was murdered.


SAMANTHA ALEXANDER: My name is Samantha Alexander. I am one of Travis`s younger sisters. There are eight siblings, four boys, four girls. And this tragedy has forever changed our lives.

I`m going to do the best to speak on behalf of my family, my family that has been tortured by the loss of our beloved brother and family member. From a family of eight siblings, we have always been there for each other through the good times and the bad. We lost our father on Travis`s 20th birthday and our mother shortly after. And through this trying time in our lives, Travis was the one that got us through the pain and the hardship because he was our strength.


SAMANTHA ALEXANDER: This is a picture of my grandmother. She is the one that raised Travis. My grandmother could not deal with the loss, could not handle the reality of what happened. Travis being taken from us has put her over the edge, and her health eventually went into a downward spiral she never recovered from. Losing Travis has completely destroyed the overall health of our family. We lived a blessed life with our grandmother, and it was with insurmountable pain when our grandmother died shortly before jury selection of this trial.


GRACE: You can see all that emotion. You can almost see their hearts breaking as they spoke in front of the jury.


STEVEN ALEXANDER: I know Travis hoped to change one life. He never would have thought he could change the world. People across the globe have been influenced by him. Travis believed every single one of us was created to be successful. We all have different lives and trials. We just have to get there.

Travis has a legacy. It is up to us to make sure it survives. You were born to be great. It is your destiny. The difference between a stumbling block and a stepping stone is the character of the individual walking the path.

Travis coined that philosophy. Those are Travis`s words. That is the way my brother lived his life. That is the way he wanted to continue to live. That is how he wanted us to live. He will never get to do that because he was so brutally ripped out of this world, my world. Hopefully, one day I can make him proud.




JUAN MARTINEZ, PROSECUTOR: The last thing that Mr. Alexander felt as he lay there, as he could see up there, was this knife, this woman and this blade coming towards him.

Was he alive when he was stabbed in the heart?


MARTINEZ: Was he thinking about his dog? Was he alive when he is being stabbed in the back of the head?


MARTINEZ: Is he thinking about his family? Was he alive when he was being stabbed in the back?


MARTINEZ: If he is being stabbed in the back, would you acknowledge at that point that he`s no threat to you, right?


MARTINEZ: He can`t even get away. And that in and of itself is extreme mental anguish.

Was he alive, in your opinion, when his throat was slit?


MARTINEZ: Is he thinking about the grandmother, the one that received the 20 irises from the defendant?

And the word that you used -- stung, right?

ARIAS: Yes. Double-bladed razors. I took it apart one night with intentions of slitting my wrist. It just stung so bad, I couldn`t bring myself to do it.

MARTINEZ: Mr. Alexander did not have that choice on June 4th of 2008 as to whether or not he was going to endure pain.

Each and every time that that blade went into his body, it was more than a sting.

He was still alive. He was still breathing. He could still see this knife, this woman and this blade coming towards him, and that is especially cruel.


GRACE: There was one particular moment that to me was one of the most heart-breaking or the most poignant moments this week, and that is when Travis`s sister described one of the last photos she had with Travis.

And he was visiting her and they were sitting on a sofa, and he wanted to take a picture of them together. And she was going, No, I`m in my pajamas. I don`t have makeup. I look horrible. He said, Come on, please, we`re together. Just do this for me. And she said, OK, and she took the picture. And there he is, forever immortalized in that last photograph with his sister. That`s the photograph I want to remember.


SAMANTHA ALEXANDER: He talked me into taking this picture, even though I was in PJs. It makes me cry every time I look at it. I`m so glad he talked me into taking this picture. I will cherish it for the rest of my life.


GRACE: I don`t want to remember the photograph of him with his neck slashed ear to ear. I don`t want to remember that wound with scallops, which means she sawed his neck. I don`t want to think about his once beautiful hands swollen and black with blood, slit open with defensive wounds from the knife of Jodi Arias. I want to think of him in that moment on that sofa with her in her pajamas.


SAMANTHA ALEXANDER: Recalling the moment that I found out about my brother, my brother`s death, I think of my ears ringing, my stomach burning, and this idea that this can`t possibly be happening.

On the morning of June 10th, 2008, I was on a river trip in Parker (ph), Arizona. We were getting ready to take the boat out. I checked my voicemail before we went out for the day. There was a message from my grandmother. My heart sank into my stomach. She said, Samantha, you need to call me back. It`s very important. I could tell that she was crying and I recognized her tone of voice from before. I knew that someone was dead.

I called my grandma`s house, and my sister (INAUDIBLE) answered the phone. She screamed at me. She said, Samantha, Travis is dead! I could barely breathe out the words, What happened to him? She told me that no one knew, and the police didn`t provide any details.


GRACE: They had to endure something very horrific. I remember when my fiance was murdered, just simply seeing his bloody clothes on the state`s counsel table was almost nauseating to me. It threw me in a convulsion. I will never forget that moment, and it was 30 years ago, to just see his bloody clothes. I didn`t have the strength at my young age to look at crime scene photos. When I arrived to the funeral home and saw the coffin at a distance, I passed out. I never saw his body.

They have been forced to look at Travis`s body day in and day out, to see it mangled in death. It`s just torture for them, but they did it. They did it. They felt they had to do it, to be there, to represent him, and they did it.


STEVEN ALEXANDER: He was meant to do so much more. He never got to live his dreams. He never got to meet his goals.

In 2008, he wrote his affirmations on his blog. "This year will be the best year of my life. This is the year that will eclipse all others. I will earn more, learn more, travel more, serve more, love more, give more and be more than all the other years in my life combined.

"True, other years now passed have been at times magnificent, but not like this. This is a year of metamorphosis, of growth and accomplishment that at previous times was unimaginable, a year where the impossible will become commonplace and the unachievable will become effortlessly achieved, where I raise myself to heights only visited by the great men and women of this world. By so doing, this year will be the best year of my life.

"And how will I do this? Through compassionate service, random acts of kindness, unconditional love and acknowledgment of the true source of all blessings with gratitude in my heart. And when I fail, I will learn from my mistakes. I will strengthen my resolve, be better than I was before."




MARTINEZ: Mr. Alexander suffered excruciating pain.

One of those stab wounds went into his heart.

With regard to these stab wounds, is one of those the one that actually pierced the heart or not?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. The lower right corner.

MARTINEZ: He felt that pain. He was also beginning to feel the pain of his heart running out of blood as the blood kept seeping out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it actually injures the vessel leading into the heart. So as the blood began to leak out of that vessel and the heart began to fail, he probably experienced shortness of breath.

MARTINEZ: We`ve heard of people having heart attacks. Is that similar to that, or not?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. As the heart is starved for oxygen in a heart attack...


GRACE: I think that your psyche gets so overloaded with grief and shock and denial of what has happened that you really can`t bear it, and your waking hours are consumed with it. You can`t take it anymore. And it invades your sleep. Even when you seek rest and respite from it, there is none. It comes after you in your sleep.


SAMANTHA ALEXANDER: Travis was our strength, our constant beacon of hope, our motivation. And his presence has been ripped from our lives. His giving spirit, his determination for accomplishment and his endless strength as the foundation of our family has been taken from us and never can be replaced.

Something that we have all missed and will live the rest of our lives missing are our times together, especially during the holidays. Travis always gave us motivational books, books which are about saving the planet, a thousand places to see before you die.

It is sickening to think that he motivated us with topics he will never be allowed to live out. It`s not just the holidays, but every day will never be the same. Our lives will never, ever be the same.

Travis worked hard for everything he had. He never had any handouts. He never took anything for granted. Travis was not shy. He was full of life. If he were able to walk in this room, you would immediately feel his love and warmth. Travis would cry with you. He would laugh with you. He would joke with you, always lifting your spirits.


GRACE: What was especially hurtful to me is when I heard about Travis`s grandmother. He was apparently the apple of her eye. And after his death, she just gave up and died. This family has suffered so much because of Jodi Arias.

During the victim impact statements that we saw this week 20 of the Jodi Arias murder one trial, we saw something completely different. Jodi Arias actually looked distraught and remorseful for an extended period of time.

It almost seemed as if it were for real. It`s very hard to believe that Arias is actually remorseful. I think it`s more a, I`m not sorry I did it, but I don`t want to go to hell for it.



MARTINEZ: Was he alive when he was stabbed in the heart?


MARTINEZ: Was he alive when he was being stabbed in the back of the head?


MARTINEZ: Was he alive when he was stabbed in the back?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How about was he alive, in your opinion, when his throat was slit?



GRACE: At this point, I find it difficult to believe that the jury, anyone on the jury, is going to be sympathetic to Arias`s tears, now, in retrospect. However, the death penalty is a very, very curious creature. You may walk into the jury box full of bravado. When it`s time to vote, it takes a lot of backbone to actually vote for the death penalty.


MARTINEZ: And finally, something about her being a talented artist. And you`ve heard that as a talented artist, she somehow was somebody that could -- you were told about paintings. You have also been told from the witness stand that she`s a photographer.

Yes, I guess, in a way, she is a talented artist because she can take photographs of Mr. Alexander in the shower that look like the Calvin Klein commercial. And after she takes pictures of him in that position, and after there are inadvertent photographs of her committing this crime, what is -- do we know that she`s so talented that she can take that camera and delete the images that (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) argumentative (INAUDIBLE) not to be considered.


MARTINEZ: The fact that she is that talented indicates, you (ph), in this particular case, that all of these items presented that have been presented to you, every single one of them, is nothing more than the defendant`s statement attempting to gain sympathy.

And in view of the fact that there are no mitigating circumstances in this case, the only appropriate sentence based on what the jury instructions tell you that you should do is death. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your verdict, ladies and gentlemen, will determine whether or not Jodi Arias spends the rest of her life in prison or if she`s sentenced to be executed. That`s what your verdict will determine.

And make no doubt about it. As the judge just said to you moments ago, the verdict that you will render is not a recommendation. The judge is not free to disregard it. If you sentence Ms. Arias to life in prison, she will be sentenced to a life sentence. If you sentence her to death, she will stand at this podium and be sentenced by the judge to death, to be executed.

That is the decision before you. Obviously, an important one, and in many ways, a pretty simple distinction to understand life versus death.


GRACE: You know, in her tell-all interview that she gave immediately following her guilty verdict, Jodi Arias said a very interesting thing. She said her lawyers have told her she has no mitigating factors. And for once, I agree with Jodi Arias.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now you`ve heard during the judge reading, when the judge read the jury instructions to you about mitigating circumstances, about mitigating factors. So as you hear the evidence, we need to talk a little bit about those, what they are and how they`re used, or how they can be used by you.

First of all, Ms. Arias does bear a burden of proving to you by a preponderance of the evidence, more likely than not, the aggravating factor -- excuse me, the mitigating factors. And then you decide if those mitigating factors are substantial enough to call for leniency, to allow her to live her life in prison.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cell B-403, where Arias spends 23 hours a day when she`s not in court.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She gets out one hour a day, and either to shower or make a telephone call.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On top of her small table sits a bottle of lotion, newspaper clippings, and a small picture of a cat. Next to the table, the amenities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A little toilet, a little sink and two bunks.


GRACE: Conventional wisdom is that a defendant should never take the stand, and I think that was borne out times 50 by Jodi Arias on the stand. I think that there was a real question as to whether she`d be found guilty of murder one until she took the stand for 18 days. That pretty much turned the tide.

Now she is flirting with taking the stand at the penalty phase. I would not advise it. I really do not advise her to take the stand.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re just now telling us that your mother carried a spoon with her. What did she do with that spoon?

ARIAS: It was a wooden kitchen spoon that she would keep in her purse. And if we were misbehaving, my brother and I -- this was before Angela and Joseph were born, although it continued through that point. If we were misbehaving, she would use it on us. Sometimes, she would pull the car over, and you know, if we were just being brats or something.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you mean by use it on you?

ARIAS: She would hit us with it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She hit you hard?

ARIAS: It felt pretty hard, yes. It left welts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It left welts on your body?



GRACE: I don`t think she`s going to come across as genuine because she`s not genuine. I think that it`s going to come across as an act and as if she`s just using the jury, which she will be. I think it would be wiser for her to have her mother and her grandmother plead on their behalfs (sic) because I find them much more sympathetic than I find Jodi Arias.


MARTINEZ: And show me the posture of Mr. Alexander immediately before he rushed you, according to you.

ARIAS: As he was...

MARTINEZ: No, no, just show me. That`s what I`m asking you to do, not talk, show me. Show me the linebacker pose.

ARIAS: He got down and...

MARTINEZ: Well, show me. Show me the linebacker pose. That`s what I`m asking for you to do.

ARIAS: OK. He went like that and he turned his head and he grabbed my waist.

MARTINEZ: Just like that, correct?

ARIAS: Pretty much.

MARTINEZ: And he grabbed your waist, right?

ARIAS: I can`t say it`s just like that, but that`s what I...

MARTINEZ: No, just -- just -- I want it without talking, just show me the pose.

ARIAS: He got down like that.

MARTINEZ: Like that.


MARTINEZ: All right. Go ahead and have a seat, then.


GRACE: After reviewing the autopsy report in depth and reviewing the autopsy photos and the crime scene photos, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that Travis Alexander suffered considerably before his death. He struggled to live. He struggled to get away. He knew he was dying. It was not an instant death, such as with a bullet wound to the head. No. If he had to be murdered, I wish it had been that way so he would not have suffered the way he did.

I agree wholeheartedly with the prosecutor, Martinez, when he said that death only relieved Travis of ungodly pain that was forced upon him by Jodi Arias.

I expect the mitigation to go on next week. I expect we will hear from Jodi Arias, even though her last turn on the stand did her no favors. I expect to hear from her mother and/or grandmother, from friends and lovers, but I would put my money on the mother and the grandmother. If anyone can save Arias now, it`s them.