Jurors this week pelted Jodi Arias with more than 200 questions indicating they’re skeptical of her story she killed her lover in self-defense but can’t remember much of it because it was so traumatic.
The grilling Wednesday and Thursday in the Phoenix courtroom is rarely seen in criminal trials; jurors usually sit quietly and are repeatedly admonished not to come to any conclusions or discuss the case.
But Arizona is one of three states that allow criminal juries to ask questions – the others are Colorado and Indiana. Attorneys review the questions, which are asked by the judge.
For Arias, facing the death penalty if convicted of murdering Travis Alexander, the questions offered a potentially sobering clue to whether her memory-lapse defense is resonating with jurors.
“How is it that you remember so many of your sexual encounters, including your ex-boyfriends,” the jury asked, “but you do not remember stabbing Travis (Alexander) and dragging his body?”
The jury has heard Arias testify for a month about myriad experiences and sexual encounters with Alexander and other men.
Arias responded: “I think, actually, that I have a very good memory, but when I’m under a stressful situation, my mind gets like a computer that freezes.”
The jurors mostly seem interested in Arias’s actions the day of the slaying, June 4, 2008, and her behavior afterwards.
“Why didn’t you just run out the door” instead of killing Alexander, the jury asked. “How did you get the gun down from the shelf if he was right behind you?” “Why chance grabbing a gun that might not be loaded instead of just running outside?” And, “If you shot Alexander (before stabbing him), how did the bullet casing land on blood?”
Arias suggested the bullet casing got moved during the struggle.
Prosecutors say Arias planned the slaying out of jealousy after Alexander invited another woman to Cancun, and that she lied about it to avoid the death penalty. Arias first told police she knew nothing about the killing, then said Alexander was murdered by two masked gunmen. She eventually claimed self-defense.
Jurors paid close attention to her answers, looking at her and taking notes.
The jury also asked: “Would you (have decided) to tell the truth if you never got arrested?”
“I honestly don’t know the answer to that question,” Arias replied.
After the questioning, Arias’s defense attorney Kirk Nurmi elicited further testimony intended to clarify her responses to the jury.
His final question: “Why should anybody believe you now?”
“I lied a lot in the beginning,” Arias said as she looked at the jury. “I understand that there will always be questions, but all I can do at this point is say what happened, to the best of my recollection. If I’m convicted, that will be a result of my own bad choices.”