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Travis Alexander's friends and family may have a first-degree murder conviction against the person who killed him -- Jodi Arias. However for them, it's a hollow feeling.
A jury convicted Arias for Alexander's 2008 slaying, but that same jury couldn't unanimously agree on whether she should be sentenced to life in prison or death. As a result, the judge declared a mistrial, leaving Arias behind bars awaiting her fate. A retrial of the penalty phase is scheduled on July 18.
During the trial, Arias described Alexander as abusive and a sexual deviant. But Alexander's friends and family -- and his own words -- tell a different story.
Alexander maintained an extensive blog that detailed his tumultuous childhood, his life and his desires for the future.
Despite his difficult start in life, he was able to make something of himself and become a successful businessman.
His family members remember him fondly as a loving and caring young man. His friends say he lit up a room when he walked in.
Contradicting Arias' claims of domestic abuse, Alexander's friends who have stepped forward say he was a kind-hearted man who wouldn't hurt anyone.
“I want people to know that the real Travis was not abusive," said Alexander’s ex-girlfriend Linda Ballard Boss. "He was kind, he was a shoulder to cry on, he was passionate about life, he had more goals than most people would ever dream about trying to accomplish. He inspired people to be better.”
Boss told HLN’s Nancy Grace that Alexander bought her an engagement ring, but she broke up with him because she felt she wouldn’t be a good wife to him. Alexander kept the ring despite dating other women like Arias, according to Boss.
Travis Victor Alexander was born July 28, 1977 in Riverside, California. In his blog, Alexander wrote that his father was never around and while his mother was “a good woman,” drugs made her incapable of raising children.
Alexander recounts growing up amid filth and cockroaches in his childhood home and writes that his mother once “[emptied] a revolver” on his father’s car, while his father took an ax to his mother’s belongings.
Alexander wrote about how his parents neglected him and his siblings when they were children.
“My childhood unfortunately was very much like any child’s that had drug addict parents. My father was never around which left my siblings and I to the fate given by my mother. A good woman, with the intent at an early age to be a loving mom. A few poor decisions changed that."
Parental drug use created a dysfunctional family life for he and his siblings, Alexander wrote.
"As she [his mother] progressively got more involved in drugs she progressively got less capable of raising children. Most commonly was a beating for waking her up. It hurt but we got used to it. I learned how to turn so that when she hit me she would strike my back and arms, the pain was less there. If it was just that I think it would have been relatively manageable. It was not it however. You see when you are high on meth for a week when you eventually come down there is a lot of sleep to catch up on. When you sleep, for four days with a house full of kids, there isn’t any food cooked,” wrote Alexander.
Alexander’s grandmother eventually took in Alexander and his seven siblings. Alexander’s father died in 1997. His mother died in 2005. Just three years later, Alexander would be dead himself -- but not before a spiritual transformation.
Alexander’s grandmother introduced the siblings to the Mormon religion. Alexander embraced the faith in high school. After he graduated, he went on a two-year mission in Denver, Colorado. Alexander chose to move to Mesa, Arizona, because of the strong Mormon community in the area. Alexander credited his faith in helping him become a successful motivational speaker and businessman.
Prepaid Legal & motivational speaker
In Arizona, Alexander started working for Prepaid Legal, a 24-hour legal service for people who can’t afford an attorney. Alexander rose through the ranks in the company, which is now called Legal Shield. He eventually became a motivational speaker.
“The difference between a stumbling block and stepping stone is the character of the individual walking the path," he wrote. "To me this is a lesson learned that any of us no matter what lot we have been given in life, can, like the Phoenix, rise from out of the ash and accomplish absolutely anything that we choose to. All that is required is that we acknowledge what we have and the source of where it comes,” wrote Alexander.
Alexander's speaking prowess attracted fans.
“What I love is when he's speaking from that stage, he's not talking in theory," one of Alexander’s friends, Jacob Mefford, told HLN’s Dr. Drew. Mefford attended Alexander’s last speaking engagement, which happened less than a month before he died.
"He's speaking from somebody who has actually come from hell [and] dealt with it … then turned [his life] around and did something positive with it,” Mefford said.
Looking for Love
Alexander’s wrote on his blog that he had a strong desire to be married. He said he was looking for a woman with “Spirituality, mutual physical attraction, the ability to communicate effectively, wants children, etc.” In one chilling admission on his blog, Alexander describes his frustrations with dating and writes that on dates he often is “[d]esperately trying to find out if my date has an axe murderer penned up inside of her.”
While Alexander was seen by many as a strong pillar in the Mormon religion, he carried on a secret sexual relationship with Jodi Arias, a woman he'd met in the fall of 2006 at a Prepaid Legal convention in Las Vegas.
Alexander was found dead in his Arizona home in June 2008. Arias was arrested a month later and went on trial for his murder in January of 2013.
From the witness stand, Arias painted Alexander as a righteous mentor who had a very dark side. She told stories about their kinky sexual relationship. The defense played a recording of a phone-sex conversation between the two in which Alexander described some of his sexual fantasies. While on the witness stand, both Arias and Alexander’s ex-girlfriend Lisa Andrews said Alexander cheated on them during their respective relationships.
Alexander’s sister Tanisha Sorenson and several of his other siblings attended almost every day of the trial.
Before the trial, Sorenson told HLN she believes Arias should get the death penalty for killing her brother.
"I know this might sound creepy, but I hope to get to watch her die someday after she's on death row. Even if it's in 20 years from now, the death penalty is what she deserves, though she most likely won't get it and instead will get some life sentence," said Sorenson in an email to HLN.