The Stink Test!

APTOPIX Boyfriend SlayingDuring 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.

Jodi Arias: Endgame

Travis Alexander

Travis Alexander

This morning the jury will recommend to the court whether Jodi Arias should spend the rest of her life in prison without the possibility of parole, or be executed for murdering Travis Alexander. Before that happens Alexander’s family will hear Arias address the jury and the Court. It will be her last opportunity to sway the jury before the sentence is handed down.


Some say that everything rides on what Arias says. Will she be defiant and stand by her declaration that she should be executed, or will she fall on her knees and beg the court for mercy? I doubt that there is anything she can say that will sway the jury. I have no doubt that Travis’ family wants the death sentence imposed, and her execution carried out as soon as possible.


Travis’ family has been in the courtroom since the day the trial started in January. They have remained stoic and dignified despite the daily onslaught of horrific revelations. If it wasn’t gruesome crime scene photographs, or vivid expert testimony, it was Arias and her team assassinating Travis character.


In her description of the crime Travis was the aggressor: on the verge of killing poor Jodi. She says that self-defense was her only recourse. Minutes later Travis lay slumped in his shower. He had been stabbed twenty-seven times, his throat had been slit from ear to ear, and he had been shot in the head. Arias emerged from the death match without a scratch.


When Arias called Travis a pedophile, all her family could do was grip their chairs, grit their teeth and stare straight ahead. There was no evidence to confirm her contention that Travis beat her. When the verdict was read the so-called abuse victim who held Travis’ perverted secret was finally exposed as nothing more than a psychopathic savage willing to engage in character assassination to make her case.


And now, we await the endgame. Whatever happens, Arias will eventually slip from the public consciousness as did Casey Anthony before her. However, Travis family has images and testimony seared into their brains that will remain forevermore. So, how should they respond?


My advice, and I went through a similar ordeal back in the day, is to find a way to put Arias behind them. Do not let them continue to dominate their lives. She has held sway for nearly five years now, since the day that she slaughtered their beloved Travis. She ruined his life, don’t let her ruin yours as well. She is going to spend the rest of her miserable life in prison. She will either die from natural causes or the executioner’s needle. Her influence should end the minute the warden closes the bars behind her. Do something to honor Travis memory. Create a foundation, a scholarship or even plant a tree in his honor. It is what he would have wanted.


Embrace your anger. It can be overwhelming, but it need not be destructive. Anger fueled me for years after Polly was murdered. It drove me onto the national stage where I was able to lobby for laws, concepts, and a national child safety agenda. Because of the work that I and others did we accomplished many good things. Every law enforcement agency in America now has a missing child protocol when before none existed. Megan’s Law requires the states to register convicted sex offenders and provide the community with a means of knowing who and where they are. In 1993, nobody was talking about missing kids or child safety: now everybody is. I believe that anger can be an agent of positive change if it is challenged correctly. I believe that Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, and Mahatma Gandhi were all driven by anger over the way their constituents were being treated.


Finally, don’t forgive. There are many who say that one cannot move forward until they have forgiven for transgressions or crimes. I believe that forgiveness is way over rated. I also believe that it is presumptuous to forgive someone for crimes committed against someone else. The rape victim can forgive the rapist, because that is her choice. However, the only person who should be able to forgive Arias is Travis Alexander, but unfortunately she took his life in the most savage and unimaginable way possible.


When you get to Hell say hello to Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Tim McVeigh.


Kidnap Super Lotto

Amanda Berry

Amanda Berry

The missing person world so often ends in tragedy and heartbreak. Human remains are delivered to the morgue in body bags, or go uncollected in the wilderness, go undetected in shallow graves, or tossed callously down steep embankments. Perverts are arrested and charged with crimes so heinous that they defy description or understanding. So, when a child who was taken by a sexual predator turns up days, months, or even years later it is a time to rejoice and reflect.


The miracle in Cleveland is akin to the kidnap super-lotto! Amanda, Gina, and Michelle are apparently healthy. All have been released from the hospital; have returned home to their families, or into seclusion, away from the glare of cameras and the probing questions of aggressive reporters. They have expressed their thanks and gratitude, and they have asked for privacy as they attempt to heal from the sadistic torment and torture inflicted upon them at the hands of a despicable monster. We should all honor their wishes, step back and hope that they are able to successfully re-enter a world that rushed past them at breakneck speed.


The defining moment, the one that changed everything for the three young women occurred when Amanda Berry took advantage of her first opportunity to escape the dilapidated hovel on Seymour Avenue. She demonstrated remarkable courage and poise in effecting her desperate and daring escape. Had she failed her prospects would have been grim and terrifying at best. Instead, with the help of hometown hero Charles Ramsey, she was able to say the words that are still reverberating around the world, “I’m Amanda Berry. I’ve been kidnapped and I’ve been missing for ten-years, and I’m here now. Now I’m free!!!”


Amanda found something profound stirring in her soul last Tuesday. She found the will to power. Parents should be talking to their children about how Amanda’s desire to live on her own terms, and not those of her tormentor, catapulted her through the broken door and into the light. He was bigger than her, he was stronger than her, but he lacked her patience, intelligence, and desire.

Midsi Sanchez

Midsi Sanchez

Midsi Sanchez also had the will to power. In 2000, after nearly three days of being chained inside her kidnapper’s car in Northern California, seven-year-old Midsi was able to free herself and make a frantic run for freedom. It was subsequently discovered that he had kidnapped and killed children prior to snatching Midsi off of the street as she walked home from school, so her courage and grace under pressure not only saved her own life, but also the lives of countless future victims.

Elizabeth Shoaf

Elizabeth Shoaf

In 2006, fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Shoaf was kidnapped while walking home from the school bus. She was forced into an underground bunker where she was held prisoner for ten-days. This remarkable teenager outsmarted and outfoxed the creep who took her. Elizabeth directed the authorities to her underground prison. When the kidnapper realized that he was under pursuit by watching the news on a battery-powered television in the bunker he asked Elizabeth for advice. She told him to run away and stepped through the hatch into the light.

Jeanette Tamayo

Jeanette Tamayo

Jeanette Tamayo was only nine-years-old when a sexual predator pummeled her brother and mother and then kidnapped her from her home in 2003. Within two days, she gained his trust, and then convinced him that she had asthma and a contagious disease. When he let her go he didn’t realize that she had taken trinkets with his fingerprints on them. The authorities arrested him hours later.


These cases did not make national headlines, but the stories are huge and parents should be talking to their children about these kids who used intelligence and courage to defeat brute force, fear and intimidation. Because they were able to dig deep down inside these girls beat the devil and earned the right to say, “Now I’m free”!!!