Arias, 34, was convicted in 2013 for murdering her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander. That was in the summer of 2008. His friends found him days later in the shower in his home in Mesa, Ariz., with nearly 30 stab wounds, a gunshot to the head and a slashed throat. He was nearly decapitated, police said at the time. The initial jury deadlocked while trying to agree on Arias’s sentence. The judge declared a mistrial and called new jurors. Juror 17 was among them.
The 11 other jurors voted for the death penalty. Juror 17 refused — giving Arias life in prison by default under the state’s laws, though the formal sentencing hearing isn’t until next month. The decision kicked up a firestorm.
Juror 11 appeared in shadow on Monday during an exclusive three-part TV interview with 12 News, talking about the trial, deliberation and criticism she has faced for her decision to stand her ground.
Since the deadlock earlier this month, she said her name, address and phone number were leaked online. Someone posted a picture of her home. People started digging into her past and threatening her and her family. She has requested security, and police are now watching her house, according to the news station. “It’s scary,” she said. “There’s people that hate me that don’t even know me.”
She said the decision to hold out was hard, with fellow jurors trying at every turn to change her mind. Jurors claimed she had an “agenda.” They said she kept calling the death penalty “revenge.” They said when they asked her whether there was a situation in which she would consider sentencing someone to die, she couldn’t think of one.
“It got to the point where it felt like harassment,” she said. “Like I was being harassed.”
“During breaks I would go in the restroom and hide out in there and just start praying to God,” she added. “‘Show me the right decision to make. Am I wrong? Show me God, please help me with this.'”
After the judge announced a hung jury, her fellow jurors said she had come into the trial with at least some prior knowledge about it. They claimed she had seen some of a made-for-TV movie about it called “Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret.”
“I would hear people talk about it and it wasn’t something I really wanted to get sucked into — not with the problems I had going on at the time,” she told 12 News.
But the bigger controversy was created by a conspiracy theory that surrounds Juror 17 and the prosecutor in the case, Juan Martinez. She said she recognized him from TV. “Nothing beyond that,” she said. “Nothing past that.”
But about 15 years ago, he had prosecuted her ex-husband, who was charged in 1998 with murder and a drive-by shooting — charges that were dropped. In 2000, her ex-husband was charged with burglary, KNXV-TV reported, citing court records. The morning of the mistrial, some spectators made the connection and decided she was a plant plotting to save Arias from death to get even with the prosecutor.
Finally, last week, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery released a statement in her defense, insisting attacks on Juror 17 “must cease.”
“Anger and frustration at suspected actions inconsistent with our jury system does not provide justification for death threats or disgusting characterizations of what should happen to someone’s person,” he said in the statement, cited by the Arizona Republic. “Instead, the same fidelity to fairly assessing available information as expected in the underlying criminal trial should be observed in this matter.”
Juror 17 told 12 News that she never wanted any part in the Jodi Arias trial.
“It wasn’t easy. I didn’t ask for it. I didn’t want it,” she said.
But, she said, she was given a job and she took it seriously.
“It is something I got a lot of thought to,” she said. “I didn’t vote for life on a whim.”