Jodi Arias Trial Update today: Reports Find Death Penalty Is Sexist In America; Can Jodi Arias Get a Fair Trial?
By Staff Writer | September 09, 2013 01:56 PM EDT
Jodi Arias trial update today: Jodi Arias attorneys are asking a judge to make potential jurors turn over information about their Twitter accounts. A jury will decide whether to give Jodi Arias the death penalty for life behind bars in a few weeks. A new report says a Jodi Arias death penalty decision is unlikely when you factor in that the United States only put 13 women to death in the last 40 years.
But the Jodi Arias trial also garnered excessive coverage. TV viewers were hypnotized by the millions as the Jodi Arias trial went on for five months. Because of the excessive publicity, Jodi Arias attorneys are asking that that sentencing phase of the trial be moved out of the Phoenix area. Jodi Arias’ lawyers filed a motion for a change of venue after finding that 70 percent of the media coverage in the state started in Maricopa County. Lawyers also want Jodi Arias trial live stream television coverage prohibited for the retrial.
A Wall Street Journal analysis of crime data found that, between 2000 and 2010, women committed less than 10% of all murders in the United States, but a recent report by the NAACP found that women defendants only make up 2% of death row. Death Penalty Information Center executive director Richard Dieter told Business Insider that even fewer women actually get executed. He said "There's just less enforcement of the death penalty at almost every stage for females."
The studies found that fewer women get capital punishment because of the nature of the crime and how juries view women in general. Law professor Victor Streib told the LA Times the death penalty is often used for killers who also commit other felonies like robbery or rape. When most women commit murder it involves involve people they're related to. On June 8, 2008, Jodi Arias stabbed Travis Alexander 27 times, shot him in the face and slashed his throat from ear to ear so violently she almost took his head off.
Doeter said women commit about 10% of murders but were responsible for the murders of 35% of intimate partners crimes between 1980 and 2008. Most juries see these as crimes of passion arising rather that will not be repeated, one-time offenses. Men don’t get the same benefit of the doubt due to the high rate of domestic violence against women. Jodi Arias admitted she killed Travis Alexander, but said she acted in self-defense because he was given to bouts of rage. Prosecutors said the killing was premeditated and fueled by jealous rage after Alexander said he wanted to break up with Jodi Arias and go to Mexico with another woman.
However, most states consider killing a child an aggravating factor and state prosecutors will seek the death penalty. On June 16, 2008, Casey Anthony killed her child, Caylee Anthony. Casey Anthony's lawyer, Jose Baez suggested Casey Anthony had been sexually abused by her father, George. The prosecution painted this as a trick to to make Casey Anthony more sympathetic.
Hiring someone to do the work could also land a woman on death row. Barbara Wu, a former University of California, Riverside student will have to stand trial on charges that she plotted to have ex-boyfriends murdered. Barbara Wu pleaded not guilty to six felony counts, including solicitation of murder and stalking.
Dieter said, "If a woman hires someone, there's a coldness, a calculation. It's different than something that arises out of an argument." The Washington Post reported that Teresa Lewis plotted to kill her husband and stepson for the insurance money. Prosecutor David Grimes told a judge at the time "Instead of pulling a trigger on a gun, she pulled a couple of young men in to pull the trigger for her." Teresa Lewis was the first woman in Virginia sentenced to die in more than 100 years.
The trials of Jodi Arias and Casey Anthony, and years ago the trial of Lorena Bobbitt, kept the nation glued to its TV. The trials of violent women have captivated America since the days of Lizzie Borden. These femme fatales will all go down in history as villainous, conniving women whose crimes boggled the imagination.
However the jury's perception of the "fragile" female psyche can outweigh the aggravating factors. Streib told the LA Times "It's just easier to convince a jury that women suffer emotional distress or other emotional problems more than men." For example, Dieter said Susan Smith killed her two sons by backing her car into a lake while they sat in the backseat. The jury took pity on her after hearing about her her abusive childhood, they took pity on her and only gave her a life sentence with the possibility of parole. Dieter said "These 12 people [the jury] are asked to see if this person has any redeeming qualities. And they often see their own mother or wife or grandmother, not someone who will continue to be a threat to society. Jurors just see women differently than men."
Dahlia Lithwick has written in Slate that most women won’t try for gender parity when it comes to the death penalty. A 2013 Gallup poll found that only 59% of women favor the death penalty compared to 67% of men.
Dieter said "For equality's sake, you think that women would want the death penalty pursued more often. But of course, they don't."
The new jury will only rule on whether or not Arias will be put to death. If they cannot reach a decision, a second hung jury will be declared and Judge Stephens will sentence Jodi Arias to either life in prison with parole or life in prison without parole. A Sept. 16 hearing has been set for Judge Stephens to hear arguments on the defense's request regarding jurors' Twitter accounts and other motions.
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