The first thing Jodi Arias did wrong – according to an Arizona jury of her peers – was to kill her estranged boyfriend, Travis Alexander in 2007. Her case is a roadmap for an unsuccessful criminal defense strategy in a first degree murder case – how to commit murder and not get away with it. Next – if there was domestic violence in the relationship – she went about getting out the wrong way.
According to evidence at trial, Arias slit Alexander’s throat, stabbed him 27 to 29 times, and shot him. This week another Arizona jury decided Arias will spend her life in prison without the possibility of parole for the first degree murder.
Self-defense story didn’t make the cut with the jury
There is a lot of controversy surrounding Arias’ claim that she had to kill Alexander in self-defense because he was abusing her. Although there are a number of groups that support Arias and her claims, the jury found that there were a lot of holes in her story. Among them – the battered woman/post-traumatic stress syndrome story was the third one Arias told police.
First, Arias told police that she and Alexander had broken up, and she knew nothing. Then, she blamed an intruder. Finally, in 2008, Arias told police she killed Alexander in self-defense because he was abusing her. This is an example of what can happen when a defendant attempts to talk themselves out of accusations with a lie. It’s something the Nebraska criminal defense attorneys at Hightower Reff law would never advise.
Her changing stories are only a part what the jury decided discredited Arias, who spent 18 hours testifying in her own defense during the trial. During that testimony, she repeatedly contradicted herself. Add Arias’ changing stories to contradicting herself on the stand, and then throw in other evidence from the prosecution, and it’s a recipe for a conviction that no criminal defense attorney could reasonably overcome. It all added up in the minds of Arias’ jury to proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Domestic violence & the law in Nebraska
Arias’ sentencing this week has again made domestic violence a trending topic across the country. Whether you believe Arias’ defense or not – domestic violence is a real issue thousands of women face. It happens right here at home – daily.
Here in Omaha, Nebraska, police have a special domestic violence policy and a list of resources. Our state also has State laws intended to protect victims and their children. Nebraska statutes recognize a separate crime of domestic assault that includes not only actual physical harm, but threats as well.
At Hightower Reff Law, we have helped many with domestic violence issues. We know Nebraska domestic violence law – both as attorneys for those who are victims, and for those accused of domestic violence related crimes.
We also know that it can be dangerous and frightening for a domestic violence victim to leave. But, there are many reasons that they must take steps to get out of the abusive relationship before it ends in murder – of them or the abuser. If the victim has children, they have even more reason to leave.
Nebraska law says that if a child is exposed to domestic violence in the home, they are to be removed and placed in State custody for their safety. That means that the children of a domestic violence victim could end up in foster care. If the victim doesn’t get out of the DV situation and stay out, he or she could lose their parental rights.
Help for domestic violence victims and offenders
If you are having legal problems related to domestic violence as a victim or an offender – whether in county court, district court, or juvenile court – call Hightower Reff Law today at 402-932-9550 to find out how we can help.
Resources for Victims
If you are in a domestic violence relationship, get help right away. Click here for a list of places that can help.
Programs for offenders
There are a number of court approved domestic violence programs for batterers throughout Nebraska. Click here for a list.
This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts.