Options are limited when someone is accused of murder. Total denial (“I know nothing about it”); deflecting the blame (“I was there, but someone else did it”) or self-defense (“I did it to save myself”) are all decent strategies – but not simultaneously. Jodi Arias, currently on trial for the murder of her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander, has tried all three.
When she was initially suspected of killing Alexander, in June 2008, Arias told police she wasn’t anywhere near the crime scene in Mesa, Arizona, when Alexander was killed. Then, she changed her story. Oops – she was there, but two burglars broke in and murdered Alexander, and she escaped with her life, she said.
Finally, she arrived at a third story, the one she’s telling at her high profile murder trial happening now:
Arias admits she killed Alexander, but claims it was in self-defense.
“Mark my words, no jury will convict me,” Arias told the TV show Inside Edition before her trial began last month. (Like many criminal defendants, she had the right to remain silent, but not the ability.)
Photos of Arias and Alexander having sex, and of Alexander’s dead body, have been introduced in court, and the media has jumped on the salacious, graphic testimony at the trial so far. Alexander’s ex-girlfriend testified that Alexander had cheated on her. Jodi Arias herself has taken the witness stand and described the “Bill Clinton” sex she says she and Alexander engaged in, which she claims Alexander said would not violate his Mormon oath of chastity.
I’ve analyzed this case on various television shows, and my view is that the titillating details have distracted us all from the most outrageous aspect of the case: based on the testimony so far, Jodi Arias appears to be lying about being a battered woman. As I write, she is still on the stand, and there remains a possibility that she will have some surprise, earth-shattering testimony or evidence to back up her current story, that Alexander attacked her and she killed him only to save her own life. But so far, a month into the trial, not a scintilla of evidence has been introduced to support that claim.
Domestic violence is a real, urgent problem in America. Victim’s rights and women’s advocates have struggled for decades to raise consciousness on the issue. And every time someone lies about being a battered woman, that work is undermined. Faking victimhood is shameful, a slap in the face to true victims.
Jodi Arias could face the death penalty if convicted, so I’m willing to wait until all the evidence is in and the jury has spoken before reaching to any conclusions. She’s entitled to put on a full and fair defense.
But so far, she has yet to prove her central claim in the case – the one it took her three stories to tell to the police.
The opinions expressed here represent my own and not necessarily those of Avvo.com.