What do Jodi Arias and Casey Anthony have in common? Will Arias get away with murder?
Jodi Arias, the young California woman accused of brutally killing her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, will face the death penalty when her case goes to trial later this year in Arizona. Judge Sherry Stephens denied a defense motion in which Arias’ lawyers requested the death penalty be removed as a punishment option for her. The 31-year-old photographer is accused of shooting her former lover, Alexander, in the face, stabbing him 27 times, and slitting his throat. Certainly, the murder was an act of overkill by any analysis of the facts.
Similar to Casey Anthony, Jodi Arias is an attractive young woman with no prior criminal record who is accused of committing an unimaginable murder—in Anthony’s case, the killing of her own daughter. Similar to Anthony, Arias faces the death penalty. And, eerily similar to Anthony, Arias exhibits sociopathic tendencies in both her demeanor and behavior. Specifically, she appears emotionless and detached when she describes her ex-boyfriend’s death. Claiming that Alexander’s death was an act of self-defense, Arias exhibits neither sadness nor remorse. In fact, her demeanor seems almost cold-blooded at times.
Assuming that Arias did act in self-defense, and is a rational, normal person, you would expect her to express some remorse for her lover’s death, if only for the grotesque and extreme nature of her actions that took his life. Instead, Arias manifests an almost smug persona, including a little smile, and she expresses no pity for Alexander, whatsoever. Instead, she seems aloof and self-absorbed. These are classis sociopathic tendencies, similar to those exhibited by Casey Anthony.
In order for the prosecution to be successful in its case against Arias, it must demonstrate that she killed Alexander after careful deliberation and with premeditation—the requirements of first-degree murder. In order for her to receive the death penalty, the prosecution must also prove extreme and aggravating circumstances in the murder. Casey Anthony is free today precisely because the prosecution failed to prove that she killed her own daughter in such a manner.
First-degree murder with aggravating circumstances is a high-risk prosecution and it is very difficult to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. Is Jodi Arias innocent? Will she be executed? Or just like Casey Anthony, is she a sociopath who will get away with murder? Only time will tell in this fascinating case.
Follow criminologist and media expert, Dr. Scott Bonn @DocBonn on Twitter.