Jodi Arias, May 21, 2013, pleading to be given a life sentence in prison, after being wrongfully convicted of 1st degree murder.
Some months back, while the first phase of this trial was ongoing, my Mom visited me just like she had been doing every week since trial began. She told me that after leaving the courthouse she was idling at a stop light and she happened to look over at the car next to her and Travis’ siblings were in that car. My Mom and I were silent for a few moments when she finally voiced exactly what I was thinking. She said “I know they’re going through hell.” Yet nothing drove that point home for me more than when I heard them speak last week. I never meant to cause them so much pain.
When Stephen said he read on Travis’s 3 by 5 card that it said “Call Stephen” and that he never got that call, I know that’s because of me. And when Samantha showed us the last picture that she took with Travis I know it’s because of me that will always be the last picture that she’ll ever take with Travis.
Throughout this trial I’ve avoided looking at Travis’ family for a variety of reasons that I won’t go into but I have wondered “Where is his Grandma?” “Is she here?” I didn’t learn until last week what happened to her. Samantha said that Travis was the glue to their family. Around Thanksgiving last — not last year — in 2007, Travis called me. He was really upset. He said his grandmother was ill and frail and that he didn’t know if she was going to make it. He said he didn’t know what his family would do if she didn’t make it because she was the glue to their family. To know now that both are gone and that I may have also inadvertently induced her passing destroys me.
Every time I’ve had the thought or desire to commit suicide there is one element that has always, almost always caused me to waver. They’re sitting right over there (turns and points to her family in the gallery). They’re my family. At times I’ve lost track of that element.
For example, the incident I testified to when I took my razor apart in the Siskiyou County jail I managed to convince myself that they would get over the pain with time and that in the long run I was doing them a favor by unburdening them of my presence in their life.
I wrote a bunch of them goodbye letters, addressed specifically to each person, and in the letters I didn’t focus so much on explanations but on how much and why I loved each of them. Then I wrote a general explanatory letter to help them understand my decision.
At that time I saw it as taking myself off of life support. I didn’t know a lot of anything about prison at that time and I didn’t think it was fair to expect my family to have to support me for the rest of my life.
I didn’t know then that if I got life instead of death I could become employed and self-reliant. I didn’t know that if I got life there are many things I can do to effect positive change and contribute in a meaningful way. In prison there are programs I can start and people I can help and programs that I can continue to participate in. I’ll share a few examples that I thought of. [takes pieces of paper from table].
A few months before the trial, and by that I mean jury selection, my hair was past my waist and I donated it (positions paper on projector to show image on monitor) to Locks of Love, a non-profit which creates wigs for cancer patients who have lost their hair. In fact that was my third donation to that organization since I was arrested. If I’m allowed to live in prison I will continue to donate to that organization for the rest of my life.
[removes image from projector]
Over the years I have spent in incarceration I have received many requests from women to teach them Spanish or American sign language. Because my case was pending I just didn’t have the time. In prison I will. If I’m sentenced to life I will live among the general population of women and I’ll be able to share my knowledge of those subjects with them, the ones who have a desire to learn also. I may even be able to start classes.
If I get permission, I’d like to implement a recycling program. The women’s prison in Goodyear houses thousands of women and each week huge loads of waste are hauled off to landfill. A substantial portion of that could be kept out of landfill and recycled instead. It may even create new jobs for the people there. This is one small thing that could have a far reaching and positive impact on the community and on the planet.
There is a higher rate of illiteracy in prison than in everyday society. I know that reading has enriched my life by expanding my knowledge base and opening my eyes to new worlds and different cultures. I can help other women become literate so that they too can add that dimension to their lives. Along the lines of literacy I’d like to start a book club or a reading group, something that brings people together in a positive and constructive way so that we can share and recommend other good books and stimulate discussions of a higher nature.
Additionally I’ve designed a t-shirt (shows t-shirt with “Survivor” printed on it). This is the t-shirt, which 100% of the proceeds go to support non-profit organizations which also assist other victims of domestic violence. Some people may not believe that I am a survivor of domestic violence. They’re entitled to their opinion. I’m supporting this cause because it is very, very important to me.
These are only a handful of examples. I’ve never been to prison. I don’t know from personal experience what it’s like there, but I’m certain that after I arrive I’ll likely find many other ways in which I can contribute to the women there.
I’d like to share with you now a few things about me and a few things about my family. [takes remote control begin a presentation of photos]
When I was little my Mom took a lot of pictures of me. I’m the first child. She almost…she, she had her camera everywhere and she would take a lot of pictures of me when I was first born. Selinas is near the coast and it seems that many were overcast days but when it was sunny she would take me out to the backyard and turn on the sprinkler so I could play. That’s me attempting to dress myself.
A few years later, um, Carl came along. My little brother. And we became inseparable. When we were little my parents took us everywhere, including Sea World here and Hawaii. But my fondest memories with him are of us sneaking off at home on a lazy Saturday, just making a mess of the living room in our pajamas.
When I was 11 years old and the slide is background I apologize, when I was 11 years old my little sister Angela was born 4 weeks early. [indistinct] possibly came here. I was so excited to have a baby sister. I watched my Mom study(?) growup I watched Angela come into this world and after the doctor swaddled her he turned to me and he said to my Mom “Do you want to hold her first?”.
These are various school pictures and on occasion my family and I would get together for family portraits such as these. In ninth grade my family and I moved back to Yreka but I still went back to Santa Maria periodically to visit friends.
This is Patti. She was my best friend for years. She was here last week to testify on my behalf, as you heard Mr. Nurmi tell you in opening statements, but she didn’t return today because she and her 9 year old daughter were threatened and harassed if she came back to the state.
I’m 21 years old here. After I moved out of my parents house at the age of 17 my relationship with my Dad improved a little. This is my Grandma and her twins. My aunt is on the left and my Mom is on the right.
These are my parents when they were just a little bit younger. This is Bobby and I. It’s a little out of order chronologically. We’re hanging out in our dirty little rundown house in Montague that I have mentioned previously. At times we lived there without power and phone. The winters were freezing, we could see our breath inside the house.
My parents did not support this relationship and we were young and just trying to figure out life on our own. When this picture, when I see this picture I’m reminded of that quote by Charles Dickens when he says “they were the best of times, they were the worst of times.” We’re smiling here in this picture taken by [indistinct]. It was a difficult relationship but Bobby will always always be special to me.
I’m 21 here. This is a photo of Matt McCartney and I taken a few months after we broke up, a few months after he moved down to Big Sur where I was working at Vintana. As you know we remained friends and on this day we realized Vintona’s company passes to tour the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Darryl and I began seeing each other a little over a year after that. In this photo I’m coming out of a red-headed stage that I went through for a few years. This is one of my favorite pictures of Darryl and me. We were at Chinos a restaurant in Monterey where our friend Tony and his band were playing blues and regae live. He dedicated songs to us and we danced. Darryl was a good dancer.
When we began dating we started a yearly tradition in which we’d go camping every summer at this remote little campground, it’s called Kirk Creek. It’s south of Big Sur in an area that the locals call south coast.
This is Darryl, Jack and I at Vintana. It’s hard to see in this photo but the ocean is in the background. It’s on the terrace.
After we bought our house in Palm Desert we sought out some snow in the nearby mountains that first winter. We settled in and made a little life for ourselves for that span of time. Jack was always with us on the weekends. He took that picture of me. I made friends with my co-workers and sometimes we’d go out after a shift just to chill and hang out. Darryl, Jack and I did a lot of things together. Here we rode the aerial tram in Palm Springs at the top of the San Jacinto Mountains. Darryl’s ex-wife took this picture. We were all at Chucky Cheese’s celebrating Jack’s seventh birthday. Jack and I bonded, he’s a great kid. I haven’t seen him since June 3rd 2008. I hear he’s much bigger now, taller than me.
My family and I still got together periodically for group portraits. These were taken at a park in Yreka. In 2010 my little sister gave birth to this beautiful little girl on the right. The tiny premature baby that I witnessed come into this world now has a baby of her own. She’s a mature, responsible, dedicated mother. She’s also engaged to a wonderful man and his daughter, this gorgeous girl on the left is my niece’s new big sister.
I’ve met these girls only through a thick pane of glass. They get along like they have always known each other. I won’t be at my sister’s wedding when she ties the knot next year. And I won’t be at, I won’t be her wedding photographer like we had always talked about.
The same is true for my brother Carl. The boy I grew up with became a family man. He and his wife married in 2010. I wasn’t there to celebrate with them and I wasn’t there to take their pictures and I have no one to blame but myself. A few weeks before trial they welcomed this precious little baby into the world. I haven’t met her yet.
Until a few weeks ago I had huge hopes of becoming a part of these girls lives someday. My nieces are the closest I’ll ever come to motherhood because I’m not going to have children of my own. I’m not going to become a mother. Because of my own terrible choices I’ve had to lay that dream to rest.
You’ve heard before that I’m an artist. As it now stands I’ll never create another oil painting but these are some of my drawings. I’m pretty good with hands and nature but I’m best with portraits. There’s Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Elizabeth Taylor. This picture is a little distorted. This is my niece where she was a bit younger, playing the piano. Well, attempting to play the piano.
My family and I have a lot of memories, especially ones like this at Christmas. We won’t be creating any more of these kinds of memories together. This is how I used to spend the holidays with my family. It was Carl’s idea to hold my portrait in this Christmas family photo taken a few years ago. My parents were there, my siblings were there, my brother’s wife was there. From now on this is how my family is going to spend the holidays with me.
Following my arrest I wanted so much to avoid trial. Not necessarily the outcome, although that’s naturally not something I was looking forward to, but trial. All of the graphic, mortifying, horrific details paraded out into a public arena. Instead I was hoping to go quietly into the night, whether off to prison or the next life. But with the amount of attention my case received early on I felt, in my ignorance, that it was necessary to speak out.
I got on TV and I lied. I lied about what I did and I lied about the nature of my relationship with Travis. It’s never been my intention to malign his name or character. In fact it was a goal of mine to preserve his reputation. I didn’t want to drag out Travis’ skeletons or mine or explain my experiences with them. I didn’t want to unveil all of those ugly text messages and emails and that awful tape. All these things which now stand as public and permanent testimony to the darker aspects of our relationship. To 18 strangers, in front of Travis’ family, in front of my family, in front of what feels like the whole world. It’s never been my intention to throw mud on Travis’ name. When I took the stand I was obligated to answer the questions posed to me and if you’ll remember many times I was quick to defend him in the same breath. I loved Travis and I looked up to him. At one point he was the world to me.
This is the worst mistake of my life. It’s the worst thing I’ve ever done. It’s the worst thing I ever could have seen myself doing, in fact I couldn’t see myself doing it. Before that day I wouldn’t even want to harm a spider. I’d gather them up in cups and put them outside. To this day I can hardly believe I was capable of such violence, but I know that I was and for that I’m going to be sorry for the rest of my life. Probably longer. I was horrified by what I had done and I’m horrified still.
In many ways my family has also suffered a great loss. Their pain is fresh because they only learned about it two weeks ago, the moment the verdict was read. The moment their hopes of ever welcoming me home someday were dashed. My Dad who is here today lives in California awaiting anxiously in front of the TV. My Mom came to visit me after court that dark day. She had spoken to my Dad on the way over and she told me that in 34 years that they had been together she’s never heard him cry the way he did that day. I’ve caused that pain. I’ve caused them to hurt that way.
And I will concede that with Travis’ family their’s is a much greater loss and I can never make up for it. It is my hope that with the verdict you have rendered thus far that they will finally gain a sense of closure. Stephen said he doesn’t want to look at his brother’s murderer any more. If I get life he won’t have to.
I have made many public statements that I would prefer the death penalty to life in prison. Each time I said that, though I meant it, I lacked perspective. Until very recently I could not have imagined standing before you all and asking you to give me life. To me life in prison was the most unappealing outcome I could possibly think of. I thought I’d rather die, but as I stand here now I can’t in good conscience ask you to sentence me to death because of them [Jodi points to her family]. Asking for death is tantamount to suicide. Either way I’m going to spend the rest of my life in prison. It will either be shortened, or not. If it is shortened, the people who will hurt the most are my family. I’m asking you please, please don’t do that to them. I’ve already hurt them so badly along with so many other people.
I want everyone’s healing to begin and I want everyone’s pain to stop.