I'm so glad that the Jodi Aries murder case has finally gone to the Jury, but I was surprised to learn by the Judge's instruction to the Jury that there are three different types of murder in the first degree. I had thought that Murder One always involved premeditation, but apparently that's not the case. One can have Murder One without premeditation.
Now as to the case against Ms. Aries. Having watched much of the trial and listened to the closing arguments for both sides, I naturally have to ask how I would vote were I on the jury. The first thing to note is that Jodi Aries is guilty of murder. She has already admitted that. But was it self-defence as she suggests? Under the best circumstance I can conceive of, which requires me to believe her version of events, I am forced to conclude that it was not a self-defence killing as defined by law, nor was it a case of provoked manslaughter, though I do believe that Travis Alexander did say or do something that pushed her into action.
Why was it not a case of self-defence? Because in order for a case for self-defence to hold up, the one making that claim 1) must use only a measured amount of force equal to, or just barely greater than, the force being used by the attacker, and 2) the use of said force must cease when the attacker either disengages willfully or is disabled to the point where s/he no longer presents a credible threat. (As to this second requirement, the law does not make any exceptions for simply snapping under stress.) Since Jodi Aries' own account of the event clearly does not fall within the legal requirement, it could not be classified as a case of self-defence.
But might it have been a case of manslaughter as her attorney tried to suggest to the jury in his closing argument? After all, Travis Alexander was a pretty big guy compared to her own much smaller frame. I think not, simply because after having stabbed him 27 times (including one wound that would have ultimately been fatal in and of itself if not quickly treated), she then took the time to cut his throat by severing not just his juggler, but also his carotid artery and his trachea. Again, the law does not allow for a person to be so out of control that they can't stop. If it did, people could do all kinds of slaughter and get away with it in the name of passion. Jodi is, therefore, guilty of Murder Two at the very least, for which she could receive a life sentence.
Now about premeditation. Had she simply shot Travis as soon as the opportunity presented itself, there would be little doubt of premeditation. But she didn't do that. Instead, she let several opportunities pass without shooting him, making me wonder if her intent really was to kill him when she drove to Arizona. It took me a few minutes to realize that premeditation was demonstrated not by the fact that she had a gun in her purse, but by the fact that she shot Travis Alexander after stabbing him and cutting his throat.
Once his throat was cut, he was finished. He may have struggled to pull himself up to the level of the sink while holding his neck, but if so, it was only briefly before falling to the floor again. People whose throats have been cut don't move more than one or two feet at most before they are down for the count. And while he lay bleeding out on the bathroom floor, she went into the next room, perhaps the closet, and retrieved a gun. (Whether it was his or hers really doesn't matter). She then returned to the bathroom. In that interval (the time it took to leave the bathroom and return with a gun), Jodi Aries had ceased her attack on Travis. The rage has passed, and she now deliberately sought out the means to make certain he would die. She returned to the bathroom and shot him in the head from a distance of at least 2 to 3 feet. And that shot was as cold blooded and premeditated as any shot ever fired.
How ironic. If she had left that gun at home, she might have been able to beat the Murder One charge simply by leaving the house after cutting his throat (depending on the Jury). But as it is, she is definitely guilty of Premeditated Murder.
I suppose that some would argue that Jodi Aries didn't actually shoot Travis Alexander until after he was already dead. Therefore, since you cannot kill someone who is already dead, premeditation at that point doesn't matter, and maybe they would be right, but I doubt it; and I don't think the jury would be swayed by that argument either. That argument would hold up better if she shot him an hour later than she did, but doing it as part 'n' parcel of the original crime is enough in my mind to make it part of the original intent.