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Murder of Travis Alexander: How Jodi Arias went from passionate lover to one of America's most brutal killers

The passionate love story of Arias and Alexander ended with the former boyfriend being stabbed 30 times, his throat slit and a bullet through his head. What led to such a brutal ending?
Travis Alexander and Jodi Arias (AP Photo)
Travis Alexander and Jodi Arias (AP Photo)

Jodi Arias was convicted in 2008 for brutally murdering her former boyfriend Travis Alexander. At the time, the 39-year-old claimed that she killed Alexander in self-defense after he attacked her.  The 30-year-old was stabbed nearly 30 times, his throat slit and was shot in the head at his home in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa.

In January 2020, Arias appealed that Maricopa County prosecutor Juan Martinez's misconduct and a judge's failure to control news coverage during the case deprived her of the right to a fair trial. But what led to this unfortunate brutal murder?

Prosecutors said that Arias violently attacked Alexander in a jealous rage after he wanted to end their affair and planned a trip to Mexico with another woman. Arias and Alexander had met at a work convention in 2006. She was in a four-year relation then and had called it off a few days after she met Alexander.

Arias was an aspiring saleswoman and photographer. She lived in California while Alexander lived in Mesa, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix. Alexander worked as a salesman and a motivational speaker. He was a devout Mormon and Arias converted to Mormonism for their relationship's sake.

She was baptized into the Mormon faith in November 2006, according to the Associated Press. During one of her trials, she testified about a flurry of boyfriends she had before Alexander, and how she followed them into exploring witchcraft, Buddhism and Hinduism before eventually converting to Mormonism.

In 2007, they called it quits but were still actively sexually involved together. She claimed during her trials that she and Alexander had a dark side to their relationship. She said that he was often abusive and quick to anger.

She described her relationship with Alexander as "physically and emotionally abusive". She said that Alexander shook her while saying, "I'm f**king sick of you", then began "screaming" at her after which he "body-slammed" her "on the floor at the foot of his bed" and taunted her saying "don't act like that hurts".

He then called her a "b***h" and kicked her in the ribs. Arias said, "He went to kick me again, and I put my hand out." Arias held up her left hand in the courtroom, showing that her ring finger was crooked.

However, Alexander's friends and family were not convinced that he could be abusive. His friends described Arias as obsessive. When Alexander started seeing other people, she became enraged and stalked him and slashed his tires.

Her crazy antics were so hard to bear. She was jealous if he even spoke to any of his female friends, said one of Alexander's friends during a trial. Arias, meanwhile, claimed that the murder was in self-defense, In 2008, she was on her way to meet another love interest but took a detour to meet Alexander.

According to Arias, the dysfunction of their relationship reached its climax when she killed him in self-defense after he became enraged when she dropped his camera, forcing her to fight for her life.

"As that camera was falling, that was enough for Travis because he lunged at her in anger, knocking her to the ground," appointed counsel Jennifer Willmott said in court. "Sadly, Travis left Jodi no other option but to defend herself. On that horrible day, Jodi believed that Travis was going to kill her." 

In 2013, Maricopa County prosecutor Juan Martinez sought the death penalty. Arias was represented by appointed counsel L Kirk Nurmi and Willmott, who argued that Alexander's death was a justifiable homicide committed in self-defense.

Later, the prosecution argued that since a .25 caliber round was found near Alexander's body and a gun of the same caliber was stolen from Arias' residence in Yreka the week before, she had staged the burglary and used the gun to kill Alexander.

Martinez was able to highlight the numerous lies and inconsistencies in her testimony and Arias admitted to stabbing and shooting Alexander. After almost a month of court trials, the jury reached the conviction stating that she was guilty of first-degree murder.

This led to an appeal for the death penalty by Martinez and in 2015, after the jury was unable to reach a unanimous decision on whether she should live or die, another jury was selected but had the same results of 11-1 for the death penalty.

Because a second jury was deadlocked in the penalty phase of Arias' case, the death penalty was taken off the table, Judge Stephens sentenced Arias to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

In March 2020, after she appealed to the court stating arguing that the media coverage and publicity and a prosecutor's alleged misconduct deprived her of a fair trial and impartial jury.

The three-judge panel agreed that the prosecutor did engage in misconduct by being hostile and aggressive "with each witness whose testimony was inconsistent with the state's theory of the case."

Nonetheless, they also stated that Arias will be denied a new trial since the evidence included that she had "planned" the killing and heavily pointed out that she is guilty.