Sex, Lies, And Murder: Lead Prosecutor Juan Martinez Discusses How He Put Jodi Arias Behind Bars

What was it like for you, writing this book? Did you feel like you were reliving those years of your life?

No, it didn’t feel like I was reliving anything because it was more of an exercise of what I thought would be most interesting for people who had already seen what was televised. Because most of the trial, all of the trial was televised. I wanted to give them something more of background of what I was thinking, what I was going through at the time so that the reader could get more of an atmosphere of what was going on in the courtroom.

Did this case affect your life in a negative way during the proceedings?

It didn’t affect my life in a negative way. It did effect my life, but in a positive way. If notoriety would be considered a positive thing. Which I would think it is. Part of the reason it’s so positive is that there seems to be overwhelming support for what was put forth in the trial, and some of the things that they saw. It’s a positive in another respect that people were able to actually see what happens in the trial, it’s not just like you see on TV. It was an educational experience so people could see what happens in trials in Arizona.

You’ve been criticized for your prosecution style. Can you explain why you chose this strategy, even though it’s controversial?

You know, one of the things that probably should be pointed out is that it’s sometimes a compliment when you realize who it is that’s criticizing you. In this case, it seems people who were criticizing me didn’t understand what I was doing. It’s born a little bit of ignorance because they didn’t understand what was going on. There was some criticism and it was about my style, it was all strategic on my part. I didn’t want to go into this cross-examination with the defendant, for example, letting her dictate the story to the jury. What I wanted was to control the tempo because I believed that would be a more effective way of getting to the bottom of this, whatever the truth may be. She did start to get belligerent, play word games. I was able to, using my style, expose Jodi Arias for someone who she really was: she was deceitful and had a problem with the truth.

Was your style influenced in any way by the defendant’s reaction to your questioning?

No, I don’t try to tailor anything that I do to what a defendant may or may not do. It was something that I thought in advance would be a factor, and of course I knew there might be a downside or that it may work against me. Because she did seem to be vulnerable, she had the appearance of a victim. She had the bangs, the dark-rimmed glasses that gave her sort of the librarian look. It could’ve been, someone may have seen it as me sort of beat up a victim but I decided to take the chance because I thought any other way to approach her would be counter-productive.

In 2013 a former cellmate of Arias claimed that the defendant was “obsessed” with you. Do you think there’s any truth in this claim?

I don’t have any idea, I can’t even comment on that. Because when people make comments like that, you don’t really know why they’re making the comment. I don’t know really who this inmate was, and I don’t remember what the background was or what the circumstances were of the person making that statement.

One thing that threw me while reading was the fact that the defense produced YouTube videos of a Daft Punk song as disparaging evidence against Travis. Did they really think no one would look into that?

I’m not sure what the strategy was or what the idea was behind it other than the fact, when I was sitting there in the courtroom and that line of questioning began, it was being presented as Travis was sitting there masturbating to these videos when it was just a rock band. It was effective in the beginning but it became extremely ineffective when presented.

Have you ever had difficulty with a defendant’s memory the way you did in this case?

The defendant was on the witness stand for 18 days. That’s almost unprecedented. I don’t know of any other cases where the defendant has been on the stand for that long. In terms of this defendant, she was by far the most sophisticated person to have ever taken the stand for this kind of crime I’ve ever encountered. She never buckled under the questioning, if she had an issue she would regroup — she was quite sophisticated on the witness stand.

What was the most interesting moment of the trial, in your opinion?

No one has ever asked me that. What did I find to be the most interesting? Because she was not expecting the question, the most interesting part for me was when I asked her about the third gas can and why she filled up in Salt Lake City. For whatever reason she didn’t know I was going to ask her that — there was a look that came across her face, it was the only time I’d seen her react. For once it looked like she thought “What am I gonna do?” But that didn’t mean she didn’t have an answer, and for that it was that she’d never been to Salt Lake City. For her, why did you have a third gas can in Salt Lake City. Of course I could prove by the documentation and I could prove she had been there.

Do you believe Alexander knew what was about to happen when the shower photos were taken?

No. I don’t believe he had any inkling that he was about to be stabbed. We have to remember the context of the attack that he had just experienced the most intimate activity between a man and a woman — I think to know she had gun and a knife would be inconceivable to him, as it would be to most of us.

This crime is a particularly violent one, especially considering the size difference between the defendant and the victim. Do you have any other theories on why Arias killed Travis Alexander, or do you think it truly was just because he was taking his friend to Cancun?

His going to Cancun was a part of it, but the bigger reason was he had indicated in no uncertain terms that she was not the person for him. And that’s rejection. So it wasn’t just because he was taking this woman to Cancun, it was his view of their relationship. If she couldn’t have him, nobody else would. And what made it graphically different is that she wanted to have him one last time. Because she ended the relationship in the most total way you can. She picked the time, she picked the day, she picked the manner. She ushered him off the mortal coil, as they say. Not my line.

You cite the discovery of the gas cans as being the lynchpin in this case. If you hadn’t come across that information do you believe Arias would have still been found guilty?

It certainly would’ve been much more difficult because without the gas cans, they’re not only important with what they show — that she was deceitful and had planned it — it was part of the whole case that she had, in fact, had planned this. It wasn’t in and of itself that they were important, if she had done that then the other things I had presented. I think the jury was more receptive then to hear that she had died her hair before going to Arizona. Why did she go 90 miles out of her way to get gas? Why did she take the license plates off her car? To know that she had planned it made it all the more real.

Do you think Arias will ever admit she planned to kill Travis?

Knowing what she said on the witness stand, she has admitted she killed Travis. I don’t think because of the way that she is, she can be deceitful even in the face of being confronted with unequivocal facts, she didn’t tell the truth. Do you think if she is asked years down the road would she admit it? I think that’s unrealistic.

Why do you think she made any effort to clean up the mess and then still leave so much behind?

In her mind, it didn’t look like she was leaving any evidence behind. She thought she good a job, and I think she did a good job. She cleaned up very well. She took the knife, took the gun. She deleted the three sets of photographs, the sexual encounter, the shower, and the three inadvertent ones. She did quite a good job of that. And then when she put the camera in the washing machine she put some bleach in there and ran the cycle, it appears just looking at it that she did a great job and the police were just fortunate that they were able to recover the photographs.

What do you think about the fact that there’s a Twitter account dedicated to giving updates on Arias’s life in prison?

You know, America’s a great country, people are allowed to express their opinions — if they want to continue to express their support, they’re entitled to it. I admit, I don’t have a computer so I don’t really ever see it, but they’re entitled to do that. As long as they understand there has been a conviction for first degree murder and that it was premeditated they can continue to do anything they want.

Why do you suppose she has such an outpouring of support, considering the gruesome nature of the crime?

That’s interesting. She does have her supporters, other people have had their supporters, I think it’s just par for the course. Some people are drawn to that. If you can become fascinated by her, it can get to an obsessive level, if you decide you like them — you always know where they are, what they’re doing. And that’s comforting. I’m not a psychologist but I think that’s part of the attraction there. No matter what goes on in their life, they know this person will always be there.

Do you think any of her emotion during the trial was genuine?

It’s difficult to believe that any of her emotions or any of her words were genuine, because of the way she conducted herself after the killing. Throughout the whole process of the trial, she kept changing her story. I don’t think anything that she says, based on that, that she’s genuine about things that she might say.

The magazine that was handed to her friend from prison with the numbered pages circled — that was unbelievable. Have you ever seen anything like that in a case before?

No. That really was unbelievable. Not only were the numbers circled, she gave her two magazines — one with the numbers circled and one with the messages. That was very sophisticated. I have never seen that before. It points to an individual that when push comes to shove will attempt to influence others. If somebody has to do that, they’re making things up.

What do you believe was the defense’s biggest mistake or oversight?

I really can’t comment on that because I wasn’t walking in their shoes. Maybe they were dealing with things that I don’t know about, but in my view, philosophy of prosecution: I never worry about what they’re going to do. Starting out, the facts are there. The premeditation is there. The situation was, I was able to put the evidence out there for the jury that she did plan the murder of Travis Alexander.

Do you have any final thoughts on the outcome of the case or your experience as you wrote this book?

The experience of writing the book was very difficult. It was probably, in terms of work or my professional life, the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. Because it’s easy to vomit everything that’s already been heard or said, and I wanted to present the truth. I hope when people read it they know I wasn’t just vomiting back what I saw, but I’ve actually added insight. Thought Catalog Logo Mark


About the author

M.J. Pack

Horror writer for Creepy Catalog, ESFP, Kylo Ren advocate, Slytherin, sassbasket.

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