During her closing argument during the penalty phase of the Jodi Arias trial defense attorney Jennifer Willmott said, “The simple question that’s before you is, do you kill her? That’s the question … It is an awful, awful thing that she did, but your conviction of first-degree murder is how [Alexander’s family] will get peace … We are asking you to find mercy.”
The penalty phase of a capital murder trial is not about killing an individual who has been found guilty of first degree murder and it is not about retribution. It is about following the law to reach an appropriate punishment for heinous crime based on evidence, mitigating and aggravating factors.
Nobody is asking the jury to kill Jodi Arias. Instead, the state is asking the jury to punish Jodi Arias for the atrocious crimes she committed against Travis Alexander. Their decision should be based on their interpretation of the evidence presented at trial and the jury instructions provided by the judge. It should not be based on mercy: particularly the very mercy that Arias denied her victim. The appropriate and legal punishment based upon Arias’ conviction of first degree murder with special circumstances is: the death penalty; life without the possibility of parole; or a life sentence with the possibility of parole after twenty-five years.
“Jodi took Travis away. She took him away from his family and she took him away from this world, but two wrongs do not make a right … You have a choice … We are asking you to find that Jodi’s life is worth saving,”
What is the second “wrong” that Willmott is referencing? The death penalty is legal punishment in Arizona and it is supported by a majority of the citizens of Arizona. Perhaps she is suggesting that the law of the land and the will of the people are wrong, and that her skewed philosophical point of view is somehow superior and correct.
How dare Jennifer Willmott invoke the name of Alexander’s family in her plea for mercy! The jury rejected character assassination as a defense tactic when Arias was found guilty of first degree murder. That should have been a clear signal to Arias and her defense team that Travis’ character and family are off limits as defense tactics moving forward. Ms. Willmott’s argument was as tone deaf as it was offensive.