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Jodi Arias trial, death penalty under scrutiny before retrial of sentencing

A debate of the death penalty is coming under scrutiny once again, but not the debate that many might be expecting. This time the new event that is getting people talking about the death penalty again are recent botched executions in the states of Oklahoma, Ohio, and Arizona. Advocates for abolishing the death penalty are finding these arguments to be strenuous enough to revisit the humanity of the death penalty in North America. For a family, and a tax paying public that have been wanting the Jodi Arias trial to come to a close for once and for all after six very long years, this raises serious concerns and questions. Will the fact that the death penalty is coming under fire right now affect the outcome that they have been hoping, praying, waiting, crying, and mourning for through the past six years? USA News is reporting today that thus far, it does not look like the recent botched executions are having any bearing on death penalty matters in court at present, or even on death penalty clemency requests citing recent rulings at the U.S. Supreme Court level.

Jodi Arias will be sentenced to Perryville State Prison. If she is sentenced to Death Row, she will be joining 3 other women, Shawna Ford, Debra Milke, and Wendi Andriano.
Troy Hayden

USA News is reporting today on the recent "botched executions" in Oklahoma, Ohio, and Arizona that are putting the death penalty under fire, and starting up a whole new debate on the death penalty America. Those that have been following the Jodi Arias trial have questions about this.

Will this debate, or any of its consequences, have any impact on the lives of the family who became the victims of a lover scorned when she stabbed Travis Alexander 29 times, slit his throat, and shot him in the head?

Jodi Arias was found guilty of murder in the first degree with an element of cruelty last year, but the jury was deadlocked on whether or not she should receive the death penalty, or be sentenced to life in prison. Jury selection for the retrial of the sentencing phase of the Jodi Arias trial will begin September 8, just a few weeks away.

Preparations from both sides of the court for that retrial is occurring right now, as both sides of the aisle consider how to choose potential jurors that are right now reading articles about botched executions and death penalty debates.

That one of the most recent "botched executions" has occurred in the state of Arizona, is something you can certainly expect to crop up from the defense when the retrial of the sentencing phase of the Jodi Arias trial begins. It is raising concerns for those close to the victim, and to the public who has felt like they have become close to the victim by watching every detail of this case pan out.

The family of the victim, and the public, want justice for Travis Alexander. For many that never before even wanted to use the word "death penalty" in every day conversation, due to the very term's ability to inspire very heated discussions anywhere and anytime, they have no problem saying it now.

For many, this is the only way that justice for Travis Alexander will be served, after Jodi murdered him, and then gutted his family for the next 6 years after, and still does today.

If the theme of the current report from USA News continues, there is a good chance that group of people still mourning for Travis Alexander will have nothing to worry about in terms of recent events impacting the outcome of the retrial of the sentencing phase of the Jodi Arias trial.

According to USA News, thus far there are little concerns that recent botched executions are currently having no bearing on death penalty clemency, citing recent U. S. Supreme Court rulings. In Missouri, Michael Worthington, an inmate convicted of rape and murder was executed on Aug. 6 as planned, despite appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court for clemency based on recent "botched execution."

Michael Worthington's execution was the first execution in America since the recent "botched execution" of Arizona inmate Joseph Wood, who took 2 hours to die by lethal injection. In the case of Michael Worthington, the U.S. Supreme Court found that was not enough grounds to stay Worthington's execution, or grant an appeals for clemency.

As USA News reports, Arizona was not the first state this happened in. An Oklahoma case with a similar outcome in April of this year led President Barack Obama to instruct the Department of Justice to conduct a review of all death penalty protocols in America. President Obama, a known supporter of capital punishment, has ordered the Department of Justice to analyze the viability of lethal injection, and all challenges present in both the obtaining of the drugs as well as the administration.

Those that are concerned that these botched executions may have a bearing on any future death penalty cases, like the upcoming Jodi Arias trial, can rest assured. Where in most debates on the death penalty the question is, should it or should it not exist, this is not the argument here. The arguments being posed before clemency judges and the U.S. Supreme appellate courts are not whether to remove the death penalty, but what are we going to do about the administration of lethal injection.

If it were up to one appellate judge on the 9th U.S. Circuit,

"It's time to go back to the firing squad."

Deborah Denno, a law school professor with Fordham University told USA News that it is not about whether or not the death penalty itself is under scrutiny or firing squad per se, but the means of one of the methods that we use is what is under scrutiny. She said,

"It's a mistake to conflate the criticisms with lethal injection with [criticisms with] the death penalty itself. Conflating the two has always been a problem on both sides."

Under this premise, it is reasonable to presume then that if this is indeed the case, whether or not Jodi Arias will be able to avoid the death penalty under the argument that "recent botched executions" are inhumane, she may not. It is not something she will have a very strong argument for at this point in time, when it comes to representing herself in the retrial of the penalty phase of the Jodi Arias trial.

Austin Sarat, author of the book "Gruesome Spectacles: Botched Executions and America's Death Penalty" also provided an expert opinion on the matter to USA News. Not on the Jodi Arias case, but on death penalty in general. After examining every U.S. execution between 1890 and 2010, he found that only 3% were considered "botched" and he told USA News,

"Botched executions did not play a significant role in the overall question about whether we should retain capital punishment."

USA News is also citing the "recent surge" in botched executions to be due to the lack of availability of the drugs needed for the procedure. The drugs are now only available through the European Union, which has heavy restrictions on what companies and countries can and can not export capital punishment drugs to the United States.

This has led execution labs in the United States to create their own concoctions and is being speculated as the cause of the "recent surge" in botched executions.

Jodi Arias will be sentenced to either life in prison, or life on death row until an execution date is set. Legal experts have said that attorneys that have been defending inmates on death row have been using "botched executions" in arguments for clemency, freedom of information, cruel and unusual punishments, and so on for decades.

In other words, if Jodi Arias attempts to use these arguments in her plea to avoid the death penalty, now or in the future, she will not be the first inmate in America to have used botched executions as reasons not to sentence her to death. Those that believe that the examples of recent botched executions will play a role in any sentence that may or may not be carried on Jodi Arias, need not worry.

Experts seem to agree that if the recent botched executions have any effect at the legislative level on the death penalty, it will not be on whether or not to do it, but how to do it.

Michael Rushford, President of the Pro-Capital Punishment Criminal Justice Legal Foundation said,

"There is a way the states could avoid all of these problems with lethal injection – that would be to switch to some other method."

Appellate judge for the 9th Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski agrees,

"If we as a society, cannot stomach the splatter from an execution carried out by firing squad, then we shouldn't be carrying out executions at all."

It was previously reported by the Toronto Relationships Examiner that Jodi Arias will be taking on a fool for a client and representing herself come Sept. 8 when jury selection for her sentencing phase begins. This means that Jodi Arias will be able to hand select to some extent, who will be determining her fate when she fights for her life to avoid the death penalty. From the sounds of it, the news of the recent botched executions, even in the state where she is being tried in, will have little strength if offered as an argument in her case.

Fox News reported this week on Aug. 5 that a defense attorney from San Francisco, Daniel Horowitz said that representing herself may still be a good idea. He said,

"It's actually probably a good idea to represent herself. She looks like a vicious psychopath with a ridiculous defense. [The jury] may find her pathetic. If she can get just one juror to bond with her on some level, even if they hate her, they're getting to know her, and it's harder to kill someone you know."

According to Daniel Horowitz, building relationships may be just the key that Jodi Arias has in mind when it comes to trying to avoid the death penalty. Many think that Jodi Arias thinks she is good at charming people, and that this is one of the reasons she has elected to represent herself.

Will Jodi Arias be able to build a relationship with just one person in her efforts to avoid the death penalty?

If today's information from USA Today is accurate, botched executions will not play a role in this death penalty case. If anything the recent botched executions should concern Jodi Arias, because that may take lethal injection off of the table should it ever come to that time for Jodi Arias.

That would be good news for the family members of Travis Alexander who have been gutted from this entire process emotionally, in almost the same way that their beloved brother Travis Alexander was physically. Even if lethal injection is off the table however, the family of Travis Alexander would still be waiting for a long time for justice if Jodi Arias gets sentenced to Death Row.

If she is sentenced to Death Row, she will be moved from the Maricopa County Estrella Jail to the State Perryville prison to carry out her sentence. She will then become one of only 4 women in Arizona on Death Row. She will join Debra Milke who has been serving on that Death Row for 23 years for allegedly shooting her son. Debra Milke maintains despite her conviction that she is innocent.

Wendi Andriano is also on Death Row in Arizona for poisoning her husband who had been diagnosed with cancer. Prosecutors alleged that she was tired of caring for an ailing man. Unfortunately her plan of poisoning him went awry when the poison began to take too long, and so Wendi finished the job by beating him to death with a stool.

Prosecutor Juan Martinez was the prosecutor on that case, when Andriano was convicted and sentenced to death row in 2004.
Shawna Forde is the last of the other 3 women now on Arizona Death Row. She was involved in a drug deal slash immigration deal gone wrong that ended up killing a man and his 9-year-old daughter.

There is currently no execution date for any of these women, and the state of Arizona has not executed any women since 1930 according to KSAZ Arizona. In that case, a woman named Eva Dugan was executed in a "botched execution." Eva Dugan was sentenced to death by hanging, and the hangman made an error in the noose and she was accidentally decapitated by it when she fell through the hangman's trap door during the execution.

What do you think? Is it possible Jodi Arias will find one person on her jury to like her?

Do you think the botched executions will play any role in what kind of sentence she will be given?

If you were a citizen of Arizona, and reading about the botched executions in Arizona, would this sway your decision if you became a member of the jury in the next Jodi Arias trial?