Jodi Arias appeared ‘friendly’ after Travis Alexander’s brutal murder, expressed remorse for his death: doc

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EXCLUSIVE: Dr. Robert Geffner was surprised when he met Jodi Arias, who was accused of murdering her ex-lover Travis Alexander in a jealous rage.

“When I first interviewed her, she was friendly and cooperative,” the defense expert recalled to Fox News. “But when it came time to discuss the case, she seemed more cold, more aloof, much more distant. She showed little emotion. The only time emotions would surface was when she talked about her mother or Travis.”

The case that quickly transformed into a media circus is being revisited in a new documentary streaming on discovery+ titled “If I Can’t Have You: The Jodi Arias Story.” It features Arias’s personal diaries, as well as interviews with the defense, prosecution, friends and family.

Jodi Arias (left) was found guilty of ex-lover Travis Alexander’s murder (right).

Prosecutors said Arias, now 40, attacked Alexander, 30, at his Mesa, Arizona home in 2008 after he wanted to end their affair and planned a trip to Mexico with another woman. The California native acknowledged killing Alexander but claimed it was self-defense after he assaulted her. The salacious and violent details surrounding their relationship made headlines and were broadcast live around the world. 

Geffner, a psychologist and founding president of the Family Violence and Sexual Assault Institute in San Diego, Calif. participated in the documentary. His testimony aimed to counter a prosecution witness’s contention that Arias has borderline personality disorder.

Geffner believed it was clear Arias suffered from trauma that stemmed from her childhood.

Dr. Robert Geffner spoke out in a new documentary streaming on discovery+ titled ‘If I Can’t Have You: The Jodi Arias Story.’
(discovery +)

During her trial, Arias alleged her parents abused her starting at age 7.

“She would say it was harsh discipline,” said Geffner. “[She described] bruises, being choked, thrown against the wall, beaten with a wooden spoon and all sorts of things. It was certainly a dysfunctional dynamic. She later started using marijuana to essentially escape her trauma, block out her emotions. She eventually escaped the family and got into a very abusive, dangerous relationship, which was corroborated by friends at the time.”

“She had no history of violence, even though she was portrayed as such,” Geffner shared. “Her level of violence as a teenager was she would kick a wall occasionally that sometimes left dents if she got into an argument with one of her parents. But there is no evidence to prove that prior to Travis, she had a history of being violent.”

Jodi Arias alleged she had a turbulent childhood.

Arias was born in Salinas, Calif., where she lived with her parents until the family moved north when she was 12, KSBW reported. She dropped out of high school and moved back to the central coast where she lived in Big Sur for several years.

While being interrogated, Arias’s parents told police they believed their daughter may have bipolar disorder and was a “strange person,” the outlet shared. They also described Arias as being “secretive.” They weren’t aware she ever had a relationship with Alexander until after his murder. 

“Jodi has mental problems, Jodi would freak out all the time,” her mother is heard saying on tape, as quoted by the outlet. “I had quite a few of her friends call and tell me I needed to get her some help.”

Travis Alexander was a devout Mormon.

Arias said she first met Alexander at a Las Vegas convention in late 2006 after years of bad relationships, working multiple jobs and struggling to make ends meet. She was enamored by his charm and drive as a successful businessman and motivational speaker. But despite his Mormon faith, the relationship became sexual quickly. 

Another claim Arias made was that Alexander became increasingly aggressive towards her in the weeks leading up to his death. She alleged Alexander would frequently demean her and call her derogatory terms like “whore.” During one argument, she alleged Alexander broke one of her fingers. She said the relationship was plagued by physical and mental abuse. 

Throughout the trial, defense attorneys depicted Alexander as a liar with a double life. While he described himself as a devout Mormon, he was having sex with other women. Arias claimed they dated for five months, broke up but continued a sexual relationship. Alexander’s friends said she stalked her ex after the breakup and became possessive.

“If you look at their emails, text messages, and her journal entries, they were pretty consisted,” said Geffner. “He was pretty controlling. He used a lot of coercion and manipulation. He was not this saint that everybody portrayed him to be. She was the one who broke off the relationship and he was the one who later invited her to his home. She knew about the other women and she was the one who moved away.”

Jodi Arias alleged Travis Alexander became increasingly aggressive.
(David Wallace-USA TODAY NETWORK / discovery+)

“She described the events that took place, but she didn’t have the labels,” said Geffner. “That’s much more typical of somebody who has been abused. Testing indicated she was a much more submissive, passive person with low self-confidence. Nothing that matches a violent predator. She wasn’t dominant at all.”

Arias was accused of stabbing and slashing Alexander 27 times, slitting his throat and shooting him in the head. She initially denied any involvement and then later blamed it on masked intruders before eventually settling on self-defense. She claimed Alexander invited her to his home for a day of sex, but turned violent, forcing Arias to fight for her life. 

Authorities said Alexander was shot in the head with a .25 caliber gun, the same one Arias’ grandparents reported stolen from their Northern California home about a week before the killing.

Geffner claimed Arias expressed remorse for Alexander’s death.

Jodi Arias murdered Travis Alexander in June 2008

“They had a very strong, emotional bond,” he said. “Sometimes people call that ‘trauma bonding.’ But they had a very intense sexual interaction and they were obsessed with each other. She really showed emotion and described missing Travis. She talked about their bond and expressed remorse for his death. Even though their relationship wasn’t healthy, she still described missing him. She expressed remorse in his life being lost. That’s when some of the emotions came out during our interviews.”

Jodi Arias is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Arias was convicted of first-degree murder in the stabbing and shooting death of Alexander. In 2015, she was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Geffner said he hopes the documentary will show a different side to the Arias case – one that goes beyond the tabloids and talk shows.

“You only have to look at the history to finally put the picture together,” he said.

“If I Can’t Have You: The Jodi Arias Story” is available for streaming on discovery+. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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