What We Know About Jodi Arias, Whose Gruesome Killing of Her Ex-Boyfriend Travis Alexander Captivated America

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Jodi Arias became a household name after she was convicted in 2013 and sentenced to life in prison in 2015 for killing her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander. There's no question that she killed Alexander, but is Arias a sociopath who carried out a murder or misunderstood and in jail after acting in self-defense? That's the question being posed in a two-hour special, “If I Can’t Have You: The Jodi Arias Story,” set to stream on Discovery+ on Friday. 

Ahead of the documentary's release, here is what we know about Arias.

Arias was a carefree aspiring photographer from Palm Desert, California when she met Alexander, a motivational speaker, salesman, and devout Mormon from Mesa, Arizona. The pair had met at a company convention in Las Vegas in September 2006. At the time, Arias was looking for opportunities in network marketing. The pair seemed to have hit it off and started a long-distance relationship for a few months. Friends of Alexander said the pair were smitten with each other and had “a potent chemistry.”  Alexander had been deeply involved in his faith and Arias was not Mormon. Unbeknownst to friends, the two were having premarital sex, going against one of the most important principles of the Mormon faith. Friends said he felt guilty about their relationship and that it began weighing on him. Soon after friends told ABC News that they were concerned when their relationship became volatile. One friend said that Arias showed “obsessive” signs early-on.

After five months together, they broke up. Despite their break-up, Arias moved to Mesa, to be closer to Alexander, but friends told ABC they were baffled. They said she’d show up to his house because she knew the code, without him knowing. At one point, Alexander revealed to friends that Arias had snuck into his house through a doggy door, according to Brian Skoloff, co-author of ”Killer Girlfriend: The Jodi Arias Story."  Despite his complaints, one friend said “he would be angry and other times jump into bed with her.”

During the same time this was happening, Alexander began dating another woman. Soon after, Alexander had his car tires slashed and the new women would get random knocks on her door with no one being there. Friends later would learn that while Alexander was dating his new love interest he was allegedly still communicating with Arias and engaging in intimate behavior over texts and phone. And, in one episode they were in the midst of a fight, recalled a friend.

Alexander had plans to attend a company retreat in Mexico with a Mormon woman he was pursuing. Alexander never got to Mexico. Five days later, on June 9, 2008, friends found him in his Mesa, Arizona home. His throat had been cut ear-to-ear and he had been shot and stabbed 27 times, ABC reported.

Arias's accounts of her whereabouts on the day Alexander was killed varied, including that she was not in Mesa the day the murder happened, that she and Alexander were attacked during a home invasion at his home, which led to his murder, and that she had been a victim of domestic violence and killed Alexander in self-defense, The Hollywood Reporter reported. 

In 2013, Arias was convicted of first-degree murder and is serving life in prison without parole in the death of her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander.

Tracy Brown, a former cellmate of Arias told Inside Edition during a 2018 interview that Arias confessed during a quiet moment in their cell to killing Alexander, but said she claimed he was not the intended target. "She went there hoping to find this other woman and kill her because she took her place,” Brown said. 

Prosecutor Juan Martinez told Inside Edition that Arias killed Alexander because he wanted to break up.

“Jodi Arias wanted to have Travis for herself. He didn’t want to see her anymore. So what she decided was, he wasn't going to be able to do that to her,” said Martinez, who wrote a book on the case, "Conviction - The Untold Story Of Putting Jodi Arias Behind Bars."

“Killing somebody is not love," he told Inside Edition. "It's just a show that this person belongs to you and that if you can’t have them nobody else will.” 

Discovery+'s documentary will feature Arias’ personal diaries, unseen police interviews, exclusive testimony, and interviews with the defense, prosecution, and friends and family of those connected to the case. 

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