Arias jury deadlocked: Ghouls live another day

It is drama. But showing up as if your own life depended on it, that's sick Photo: jack engelhard

NEW YORK, May 24, 2013 — The world waited and finally here came the jury. The news was not good. They were deadlocked. Judge Sherry Stephens declared a mistrial for the penalty phase. Convicted murderer Jodi Arias would have to await another date in court, set for July 18. That is when another jury is supposed to decide if Arias is to spend the rest of her life in prison, or spend the rest of her life appealing a death sentence.

For the hundreds in attendance in Phoenix, and for the millions in attendance by means of HLN-TV, Arias Central, the news was not so bad. There was more of this to come. That means springtime for lawyers and an extended season for trial groupies.

Some trials, like Broadway, close after opening night. This one’s a hit. People keep coming and they want more.

Earlier, the jury found Arias guilty of murdering her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander. Next came the life or death decree, where the jury found itself at odds.

Late word, from HLN, has it that the jury was split eight for death, four for life.

Most people on the scene want death for Arias, or so it seems, given the heat coming from professional observers and amateur rubberneckers. People here and around the world remain focused on this one crime. They want that woman to pay the ultimate price. They shout their rage against Arias for every camera and microphone.

Meantime, that surviving brother from Chechnya, who wanted to kill everybody in Boston, this punk has admirers, even a teenage fan club.

He is so cute.

Arias is not cute. People hate her and for good reason. She did not just murder her ex-boyfriend. She slaughtered him.

Justice will run its course, but where is the symmetry? From one big city to the next, the crime Arias committed happens every day. Hardly anybody notices because it is not televised, that is one reason. The other reason is somewhat disturbing. Some people are attracted to the smell of blood.

There is a ghoulish scent to all of this.

Following it on TV is one thing. It is riveting. It is drama. But showing up as if your own life depended on it, that is something else.

Hundreds have been coming to that courthouse in Arizona to watch and to commiserate. They share the injured family’s grief. They express sorrow for people they do not know.  They care for people they will forget when the next circus comes to town.

They fight and jostle to gain access to the bleachers in the Maricopa County courthouse. They need to get close to the show, the action, maybe the entertainment. They arrive from all over the country and from some parts beyond, to be there and wait for something bad to happen to somebody.

They e-mail, text and twitter the emotional ride they are taking, as if any part of this means anything to them personally. As though it is really their business.

Who are these people? Do they not have jobs? Or is this the job? Do they have a life? Or have they chosen a trial to substitute for whatever they are missing?

Who shows up when more American caskets arrive from Afghanistan? These events come and go.

Genocidal murderers, like those who came for us in Boston, New York and Fort Hood, get nothing like the fury and hatred that is being parceled out for Arias.

Maybe that is it. In Jodi Arias, we have all of the world’s atrocities gathered and planted in one basket.

If the system puts her to death, will that take care of everything?

There are more where she came from.


Jack Engelhard, a novelist for such moral dilemma bestsellers as The Bathsheba Deadline, The Girls of Cincinnati, and the classic Indecent Proposal, his memoir Escape From Mount Moriah, and Slot Attendant – A Novel About A Novelist, Engelhard’s partly autobiographical expose about the trials of making it as a writer, brings his words to the Communities page covering all topics, with special focus on the absurdity of human behavior and reaches around the globe.

Read more Jack Engelhard, A Novelist’s View of the World

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Jack Engelhard

Jack Engelhard enjoys international fame as a novelist for such moral dilemma bestsellers as The Bathsheba Deadline, The Girls of Cincinnati, and the classic Indecent Proposal, which was turned into film starring Robert Redford and Demi Moore. His memoir Escape From Mount Moriah has been acclaimed for excellence and a movie version was an official selection at CANNES. Slot Attendant – A Novel About A Novelist is Engelhard’s partly autobiographical expose about the trials of making it as a writer. Engelhard’s journalism covers all topics, with special focus on  the absurdity of human behavior, and reaches around the globe. He can be contacted at


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