@ the trial: What it's like to hear 'guilty'

NEED TO KNOW
  • Jodi Arias was convicted of murdering her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander
  • Katie Wick, a daily courtroom spectator, tells what it's like to hear the guilty verdict after watching the trial for so long
@ the trial: What it's like to hear 'guilty'
Katie Wick

Editor’s note: Katie Wick was a daily courtroom spectator of the Jodi Arias trial. She explains what it's like to hear the guilty verdict after following the trial in person for months. She is on Twitter.

Three months ago, my passion for law -- specifically criminal prosecution -- finally led me to walk up the steps of the Maricopa County Superior Courthouse. I never imagined that 12 weeks later I would be walking down those same steps with tears streaming down my cheeks. Nor could I have ever imagined the word "guilty" would trigger such an immense amount of emotions on a personal level.

The first day I walked into courtroom 5C for the State of Arizona v. Jodi Arias, I anticipated spending one day watching the legalities of the case. However, I have now seen through both lenses of a trial: From the outside and from the inside. 

I have seen spectators pay big money to get a seat inside the courtroom. I have stared into the eyes of an empty, dark, soulless killer. I have seen the legal game play out several times in hopes of a mistrial. I have watched the changing demeanor and dynamics of a jury. I have spent hours upon hours conversing with true crime aficionados from others states and countries. 

I have experienced the incredible distinction between watching the proceedings on television vs. being inside the courtroom. Most importantly, I have forever bonded and shared many special moments with some of the victim’s friends and loved ones. I went from the outside view to the inside view, and I truly believe when life has you cross over, there’s no going back.

Just 24 hours ago, the built-up anticipation to hear the clerk speak one word -- “guilty” -- reached its pinnacle. Having sat in the courtroom throughout the duration of this trial, I expected no less of this jury. I had watched them pay such close attention to the witnesses. I had listened to their questions, which were thorough, detailed and yes, sometimes sarcastic. Hearing that the jury did in fact find Arias guilty of first-degree murder was such a relief.

As I stood on the second floor of the courthouse and looked down upon the throngs of people amassing outside and cheering on the verdict, I questioned myself whether or not it’s OK to be happy. There are no winners in this. One selfish person has forever destroyed the lives of so many.

Then, a woman I met my first day in court -- who is now a dear friend -- told me yes, it’s OK to be happy. She should know, because years ago her sister was murdered in a manner very similar to Travis Alexander. A guilty verdict will not bring him back, nor will it ever bring full closure to Alexander’s friends and family, but I pray it will bring some solace.

I suspect the jury will in fact render a death sentence for Arias. If they do not, perhaps her 18 days on the stand did in fact personalize her in some ways to the jury. I suspect she will remain camera ready for quite a long time. Regardless, she has come to the end of her manipulation trail. The fork in her road leaves two options, neither of which she truly wants. 

It’s an understatement to say I have forever been changed by sitting in the courtroom every day, watching Alexander’s family and friends yearn for justice. I walk away from this case thankful in so many ways that I was able to see the inner workings of justice come to fruition and to see the scales of justice tip in the right direction.

I’ve never realized it was possible to know someone who is no longer with us through their family and friends. I never knew Alexander. However, during this trial, I heard many personal stories about him. I watched videos and saw pictures of a man who still had so much life to live and so much more to offer. How I wish I would have known him.

If I feel that way about Alexander, a man I never knew, I can’t possibly fathom how his family and friends, who did know and love him, are feeling without him, until they see him again.  

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