4am Oscar Sunday

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I keep waking up at 4am. This morning, instead of trying to get back to sleep, I grabbed my laptop and brought it in bed with me and started putting some of my thoughts to paper.

As you can imagine, with this kind of immersion, my brain is constantly spinning words words words about this book.

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I decided to start laying out my 40 plus chapter is some lineup and tweaking some things.

Here is a snippet of what I added this morning to one of my pivotal chapters:

I’d left her a note on my counter with her ticket thinking she had a key to my house and might end up there as some kind of safe harbor.

Why did you leave that note? What did you mean by that? the Detective asked. I had given Debbie permission to let the police in to my home in case they needed to access it for any reason and they had already in their search for Cindy.

Just what I said. That if she’s in trouble, I’ll be there to support her no matter what I replied to his radio silence.

Little did I know, suspicion had already been cast in my direction by Michael Apelt. The cops were more interested in me and where I was going and why at that moment. That’s why they were calling. I thought it was all about trying to find Cindy.

Zombie-like I walked back on to my connecting flight, made it to Chicago where my Dad was waiting for me. We hugged, cried and crawled in to the cold car making our way down the I-57 toward Champaign. The stunned silence during that two hour drive was occasionally punctuated with me trying to convince both of us she had just run off with Mark, was holed up in a motel, had been drinking, was embarrassed; the mantra I’d been working off for the last 12 hours.

Meanwhile, the people of Phoenix were waking up on Christmas Eve day to my sister’s face all over the morning news.

Yesterday I had another two hour working session with my coach/editor. I finally landed on my new working title (not ready to share it yet) and my query letter to sent to agents. That’s my next step and one of my big goals for this month–to get that ball rolling.

I probably have about 10 more chapters to write and do believe I can complete that in the time I have left. I’m kind of editing as I go along too. It’s really coming together.

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Yesterday, I watched the final two episodes of Downton Abbey–what a show! I’d purchased the DVD set for the final season before I left and brought it with me so took a break and watched yesterday. I won’t give any spoilers but man, those last two episodes..they knocked it outta the park!

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I was thinking of going to this Oscar Gala tonight at the historic Cinerama theatre in Seattle and am now deciding against it for a variety of reasons. I think staying here and watching from my cozy studio in the front of the fire is best.

I woke up inspired today so will make today a serious writing day. That’s what I’m here for!

Hope you all have a great Sunday and here’s hoping Leo DiCaprio wins tonight for The Revenant. He deserves it!!

 

diving in

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Happy Saturday Morning from the gorgeous Northwest! A beautiful sunny day here to wake up to after an interrupted night of sleeping. I crashed at around 11:30 reading Juan Martinez’ book in bed and I guess it was haunting me as I woke up again at around 3:30 and read more for another couple of hours then crashed again until 9.  That’s the beauty of being on no one’s time but your own, you can do these kinds of things and not bat an eye. I kind of like being up in the middle of the night when the world is dark and silent anyway, speaking of bats. 😉

A passage in Juan’s book really struck me so I dog-eared it to share here:

“The highlight of the 48 Hours interview was the assertion that she intended to take the witness stand and testify at trial. That told me that she was confident in her public speaking abilities and that she believed she was persuasive enough to make the charges go away just by telling her story. She was masterful in front of the camera, playing the part of someone who couldn’t have committed this murder. The way she could look straight at the camera lens and answer the interviewer’s questions with apparent sincerity was impressive. She clearly wasn’t going to be intimidated.

“I don’t believe that I am going to be convicted, she confidently told 48 Hours Maureen Maher, just as she had advised the interviewer from Inside Edition. “I don’t think that I’m going to spend one day in prison.”

I guess this stuck out to me so distinctly because of what I’m reading on our own trials. I spent much of yesterday combing through the extra materials I’d picked up at Cathy Hughes’ before driving up here. I had two full boxes from last year but thought I’d just take a look. She was kind to remove any terrible photographs that I might inadvertently run in to.

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I was shocked to see how lucky I was in what I grabbed because I opened one file that contained two kind of brief packets of interviews (I have thousands of pages of interviews). In that folder I found something I’d really wanted to lay my eyes on: the actual interviews at the time when both the men were arrested. I jumped to the end to see what this was because frankly I don’t have the time or interest in reading more of their made up bullshit that is in every interview for the two weeks prior to their arrest. The one that really steamed me was the German speaking burglary detective brought in for translation who clearly had sympathy for them and even put in his own personal observation that all three of the killing trio were telling the truth (he had to eat those words pretty quickly, but still).

It was fascinating to read the trap that was set for each of the brothers as the detective make a sharp about face in the curiosity portion of the questioning to the accusing portion.

Like Arias though, especially with Michael who I believe was always the mastermind and true malignant sociopath, they both didn’t flinch. Michael was cocky,demanding to be arrested so he could speak with a Judge who would most certainly agree and set him free. The arrogance oozes off the page as their violence is shoved in their faces and never ceases even when they are handcuffed. Since that day 1/6/1989, neither has seen the light of day outside incarceration. Good. That is satisfying also to reflect on.

I’ve said this before and will again: SOCIOPATHS ARE NOT EASY TO PROSECUTE. Even seasoned prosecutors like Martinez and Cathy Hughes say that and they aren’t kidding or exaggerating!

They almost and do get away with murder! Murder convictions are hard fought and that is all over Martinez’ book as he prepared for this trial. So when people talk about how the “government” has all the cards and blah blah blah it slays me. Death penalty cases are the hardest–high profile the most arduous ! It is NOT easy to get a sophisticated killer their just sentence for many reasons not the least of which, their lack of conscience and really emotion or fear at all, makes them very formidable all the way up to the handcuffs (and beyond which you will read in my book).

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It’s so fascinating to be reading Martinez’ book along side these twenty five plus year old documents though. So much is written about diagnosing personality disorders and when you start to compare them to each other it’s like they were molded from the same cookie cutter–their methods and robotic ways of being coupled with high degrees of intelligence and sophistication. Yet 18 years post conviction, we taxpayers spent over 10 million dollars for their supporters to attempt to prove Cindy’s killers are mentally retarded. Mark my words, had Jodi Arias received the death penalty, we’d be paying for that argument for her too somewhere down the line. But I digress…more on that topic to come.

 

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I’m finally kicking in to productivity-have an appointment with my writing coach and editor next week up by the Canada border so I’ll get to take a little road trip, moved my desk space around and created a new more ergonomic setup which I love, copied some pictures of Cindy from my printer to have around me (can’t believe I forgot those unless they are in one of my boxes I’ve not dug through yet), listened to some Juan Martinez interviews online (Vinnie Politan’s is the best),  read and reworked several of my chapters to send to the editor, read several hundred pages of documents and managed to make myself a delicious dinner in my kitchenette. Oh and I also changed the font on this blog as people were having a hard time reading it–is this better? I have a huge screen so kind of hard for me to tell. Please let me know if I need to tweak it again as that’s so frustrating!

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It’s Saturday and gorgeous outside so I’m guessing most of this area is just that–outside. Which makes me think other than taking a little walk later, I’ll stay in and on my groove today. I have everything I need and mostly this view.

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Yes I’m reading Juan’s book kind of slowly on purpose. It’s become a security blanket for me in an odd way. I’m feeling a camaraderie with Juan while reading it as I dive in the same darkness and remotely, he’s supporting me through his book. Most of you know I’ve met Juan Martinez many times and he’s been nothing but kind and warm to me as well as genuinely interested in me and our case. I have a special place in my heart for him. He’s one of the good guys.

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beginning again

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Today is my first day since arriving in Edmonds of really beginning this book project. My husband graciously drove me here from Arizona (yes he did 100% of the driving as I relaxed co-piloted) and with one fun overnight in Portland for a Portlandia style Valentine’s Day, we basically high-tailed it up here. Gorgeous scenery by the way through Utah and Idaho–States I’d not visited before except SLC briefly as a child. My thoughtful husband even had roses delivered to our table at the restaurant unbeknownst to me–actually I didn’t even realize he knew the name of the restaurant as I’d made the reservations. A fun tapas place showcased on the crazy show Portlandia.

We rested a day and a half here in Edmonds going to see The Revenant (!!!) and eating Oprah’s favorite fried chicken, then John left yesterday to fly back to PA and for me to begin this writing journey again.

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I’m here for 4 solid weeks this time so can work at a more organized and leisurely pace as I truly feel confident I can complete the major parts of writing this book now. Editing will come later but the vast materials I am sifting through and the organizing/writing part will be doable. I’m also working with a writing coach/editor this time and will be sending out some proposals. Wish me luck.

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With the luxury of more time, I decided to start with reading Juan Martinez’ book about convicting Jodi Arias. As I sat in that courtroom nearly every day with the family, this case is near and dear to my heart. I’ll ease in to the horror of our own case through his story telling of that one. Ironically his book was released the day I arrived here so I had it sent to me in WA. Per my plan I woke up before the crack of dawn this morning and began reading by the dim light of my cozy studio.

The sociopathy of Jodi Arias is so astounding and mind boggling as I read it described again through Martinez’ words. Her initial interview, which I’d watched on video many times, still blows me away. “Seamless” is such a perfect word he chooses to describe her velvety style of moving from story to story manipulated to defend herself while showing absolutely zero sign of anxiety. THAT my friends is a hallmark of sociopathy. And, I believe, evil manifested in this world. No shame, no remorse, no guilt, no fear.

I was also struck by the things Arias was interested in during the initial interviews. She desperately wanted to see crime scene photos and to know how Travis’ family was doing.

I believe Arias is far more dangerous than most killers including the Apelts for one reason: she took pleasure in the killing of Travis and by proxy the pain she inflicted on his family. She was demonstrating that from day one. I think she got a taste for that power and pleasure in killing and was setting off at her arrest toward her next victim with her newly purchased gun and two knives. I believe she was a budding serial killer aborted by her arrest. I just wonder who she was headed for next and also wonder if Martinez has speculated on that. Who do you think she was headed for with her concealed weapons when she was arrested?

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yes those are the roses my husband had sent to our table

I’m about a third of the way through the book and may make more notes as I go along. The sun came up and I needed a break. It’s very heavy material. I’ll continue to make notes here on it as I go along.

In addition to Martinez’ book, I had some other documents delivered to me here. One key piece of documentation was missing from all the case files I brought with me last time which was Michael Apelt’s testimony. Like Arias, it’s stunning in its display of sociopathy so for the book I have to get the exact quotes. It will leave your jaw dropping as it did all of us in the courtroom that day. Sociopaths think they can convince people by making up reality moment by moment as they go along. The sad thing is this does work for them much of the time. They will use terms like “you heard me wrong” or “you are making that up” or “that’s not what I said”  when confronted on their indiscrepancies and move, seamlessly as Martinez notes, to their next oleaginous fabricated stories. This process is confusing to most people but not to seasoned prosecutors like Martinez and our Cathy Hughes. They are expecting and waiting for it. Martinez was doing this research on her from Day One which is what is required. Sociopaths are generally the best at this game in town so it’s challenging to keep up with their slippery maneuvers.

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I’ll get to this file likely tomorrow. I have to be ready to open it all up again but will likely start there, the newest material I have. Plus I have to pick up some more highlighter pens today as I forgot mine ;).

The weather here is partly cloudy and gorgeous. I love it. I feel so peaceful here as I gaze out at the Puget Sound and breathe this lovely humid air.

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I’m for the most part alone here, as planned, so it helps to know you are all out there reading as I go along. For some reason, this is hurting my heart more to go in to this time than it did last time. Maybe it’s because I know what’s in there. Maybe because I’m thinking of Travis and his family. Maybe because this is just all part of the healing through writing for me.

Thanks for being there. ❤

 

 

back in Edmonds

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Greetings from gorgeous Edmonds, WA where I am again for the fantastic Write On the Sound annual conference which was my entree to this beautiful part of the country that invited me back earlier this year to write 30 chapters of this book.

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30 chapters which I , due to my own naivete and stupidity, nearly lost. I had a mini meltdown when the first day we got here (yes I brought my darling husband this time) I realized I’d forgotten my password for the online site LitLift I’d used to write my book on, without backup (yes, I said stupid). Well, apparently LitLift exists out there with no one at the wheel. The password reset email they generated sent me to an error message and no one ever replied to my emails on their contact form–scary! I sat and sat and finally made a jab at a password that *might* have worked and voila I was in! Whew! My husband stuck his flash drive so fast in to my travel laptop and we got all of my words out of that site as fast as we could. Talk about dodging a bullet!

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Oh and Litlift finally did get back to me–via another “undeliverable email” message. It’s kind of unconscionable to me that no one has deleted that site or their Facebook/Twitter pages or made a notice that it’s defunct. NO ONE is minding the store, obviously. And people are signing up, trusting them. Ugh! I’m just glad I got my words.

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In celebration, I will share some that I just opened to randomly and read to my husband the day I found them. Hope you like them too:

Cindy and I became famous for our spontaneous road trips.  We would look at each other and almost simultaneously say “let’s go”.  We would jump in the car and head to another city to visit a friend in college or in some cases make more dramatic adventures like that one time to Rocky Point Mexico on an impulsive Spring break weekend. 
This trip was where I had the one and only foreshadowing of what was to come several years later.  It was the trip where Cindy went missing and scared the living shit out of me.
“Come on, we’re going to Rocky Point” she called excitedly that day.  “We’ll throw some stuff in the car, grab our sleeping bags, I have some food and we’ll play it by ear”.
As was often the case, this wasn’t a question or even an invitation.  It was a mandate–we’re going.  This was how things often went between us.  Maybe I was having a rough moment, stressed in college, going through a break up or she was just having an itch.  All I knew was she was driving and we were going.  She streamlined it to what I had to bring, told me what time she was picking me up and that was that.
I loved our road trips.  We had so much fun in the car.  We’d make mixed tapes for them and catch up.  Often it would start with “let’s obsess” once we hit the highway.
We were often going through something and with each other, could hash and rehash it to our heart’s content.  It was almost always about boys–a world we were collectively befuddled in and failing at usually.
“Why is it that I’m not so in to a guy, then as soon as I have sex with him, I’m suddenly caramelizing for him and he’s not in to me?”.
Cindy created nicknames for everything and everyone.
Caramels somehow became a derivative of the word “karma” which was used, inaccurately, for being attracted to someone.  “We have the karma” she’d say.
Then it turned to “I have caramels for him” which later became a verb “we were caramelizing, heavily” and on and on.
There was one road trip to LA where Cindy produced a tape recorder she’d borrowed from her work at the school system office.  She’d brought it home for a project then got a wild hair to bring it on our road trip to visit Buddha in Santa Monica. 
“I have a great idea for our trip” she said with a twinkle in her eye.  “We’re going to interview each other”.
She named this interview show, via cassette tape, “The Dan Rather Show”.
For some reason, she spoke this name in in a semi British pretentious accent so it came out “The Dahn Rahthah Show”.
“Welcome to the Dahn Rahthah Show.  Today’s guest will be….Oprah Winfrey!” and then she would interview me, using that five inch microphone tethered to the bulky cassette player while insisting I stay in character as Oprah Winfrey the whole time. Until she decided she was bored with Oprah and needed a new guest.
“Well, thank you for joining us Oprah.  Now on to our next guest on the topic of ‘fame in America’ we welcome…Madonna!” and on and on with her in character questions. 
She would stop the tape from time to time to listen to ourselves back as we laughed hysterically all the way across the boring desert to LA.  Everything was a game with her.
Oh how I miss that.  And how I wish I had those tapes. Even one of them.

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I came here to this Conference the first time three years ago by myself. I’d never been to Seattle and it was such a magical trip, it took me five blog posts over on Two Innocents to write about it. I still feel the magic here but this time it gets doubled with my husband.  We’ve slept well and dreamed here, written, shared, eaten great food, drunk wine he carried from PA, stared and stared at the gorgeous Puget Sound. And he’s teaching me chess. I lose every single time but last night gave him a run for his money holding him off my King for over an hour. VICTORY!

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Today we take a train–the Amtrak Empire Builder–in to Seattle just for the experience of riding the train. We’ll bring our travel chess set and drink coffee and see a movie at the famous Cinerama theatre and then ride back. Not a bad Monday at all.

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Hope you all out there are enjoying your Fall. I’m energized again to finish the book and I have a plan for another Sabbatical this Fall–in another part of the country. I’m ready to take this story to the next level.

Stay tuned…

the final jury – justice for Travis Alexander

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The second, and final, jury in the Travis Alexander murder is out right now deliberating his killer Jodi Arias’ fate.  The first jury hung in deciding her sentence after finding her guilty of first degree premeditated felony murder with the special circumstance of extreme cruelty.  I’ve spoken with some of those jurors and it is my personal opinion after some of those conversations, that they had a stealth foreperson who would not have considered a death sentence for her, although passed the gauntlet to become “death qualified”.  Whether he came in “death qualified” or not, he didn’t end up that way.  Those conversations will remain protected but this is my clear opinion.  It is also my opinion that the first foreperson was in contact with a member of the media, who reported his identity during deliberations and who was notoriously biased toward the defense in the Arias trial.  Again that is only my opinion based on conversations I’ve had and strange dealings I witnessed first hand from attending nearly every single day of that trial up through the delivery of the hung jury in the sentencing phase. 

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Here we are again, a year later with this first degree convicted murderer still unsentenced, still being championed for, still carrying out threats to murder her victim again and again in court, still ruling the courtroom through sophisticated sociopathic manipulation.

And We the People are funding it.  All of it.

Now on the front end here I will admit that I have ambivalence about this sentence, personally.  I will be completely ok for my own reasons with whatever sentence is handed down, hopefully today.  This is a relief for me but not one that Travis Alexander’s family has the luxury of experiencing.  They are invested in this sentence being the death penalty and if I was in their shoes, having been in their shoes, I would feel exactly the same way right now.  This has been a very long arduous road for them and they have endured far more torture after their beloved brother/nephew’s death than anyone I’ve ever seen in a courtroom. And I’ve followed several murder trials very closely.

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I attended nearly every day of the Jodi Arias trial in support of the victim’s family.

Jodi Arias deserves the Death Penalty straight up plain and simple.  In the State of Arizona, she could receive Life Imprisonment or Death.  In our law structure, the Death Penalty is reserved for the worst of the worst crimes.  This is an important distinction.  If there could possibly be any deterrent for evil in our society, there has to be a looming severe consequence that could cause a person to reflect upon before committing that crime.  The problem is of course that those personality disorders such as Arias and the men who murdered my sister don’t often reflect on much of anything.   They feel invincible, entitled and without a conscience so they will basically do whatever they think they can get away with.  And they typically believe they can get away with anything, including murder.  If they get away with it once, they will again so protecting society from this ilk is imperative no matter how you feel about the death penalty.

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The men who killed Cindy, my sister, were sentenced to death in 1990.  They were young men in their  20’s at the time they killed her in a nearly identical fashion to the way Jodi Arias murdered Travis Alexander.  She had a stab wound straight in to her heart severing two ribs and breaking the knife handle as it penetrated her alive body.  She was beaten, stabbed multiple times in the back and nearly decapitated; left like trash in the desert on the day before Christmas Eve 1988.  Trash that was a very high commodity to her killers who wanted it found so they could start collecting on the $400,000 insurance policies taken out on her life.  They manipulated a bank for a $2000 loan, convinced local luxury car dealers, custom home builders, fancy watch sellers that they were anything from international bankers to professional athletes.  They plotted an escape plan from jail before trial and a sophisticated plot to have two more women killed in an identical fashion to Cindy while they were incarcerated to make it seem like a serial killer was on the loose.  One of them got married while on Death Row.

Read about my sister’s murder here.

Yet 17 years after murdering my sister, an appeal was launched for them claiming they were both mentally retarded at the time of her murder.  Yes you read that right.  These men who had lengthy rap sheets in Germany from multiple burglaries, assaults, prostitution, violent gang rape and insurance fraud–all before the ages of 26 and 27–were being claimed as poor victims of the system with mental retardation.  Well, right after the Supreme Court issued a ruling we can’t execute the mentally retarded that is.

Read about the mental retardation appeal here.

judgeArellanoSilviaRBiased Death penalty opponent Judge Silvia Arellano

And it worked for one of them.  That hearing alone lasted seven years, cost AZ and Federal taxpayers (meaning ALL of you out there reading) over 10 million dollars to pull off.  It included digging up elderly witnesses who had not laid eyes on these violent killers for over four decades and flying them and their spouses to Arizona and forcing my father and I to testify again.  There was one finder of fact–a Judge Silvia Arellano who was notoriously against the Death penalty personally but a sitting Judge in a Death Penalty appeals process–who favored the murderers at every single turn.  In one of her most bizarre and dangerous rulings, she deemed that nothing could be admitted in this sentencing hearing–the hearing which would determine the sentence for the murder of my sister Cindy–that involved their lives after the age of 18.  Let me emphasize this.  There was no jury in this appeal–just one biased Judge who ruled nearly every argument in the favor of these murderers and who was the only finder of fact.  You think we weren’t terrified?   We were.  For the first time since her killers were arrested, we were abjectly terrified of their release and rightfully so.

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Let me spell this out, as they were both in their mid 20’s at the time they slaughtered my sister, any element of the crime could not be entered as evidence for the sentence for their crime.  Not one iota of evidence could be considered related to their CRIME.  How convenient for a retiring Judge who, in my opinion wanted to let her final swan song include releasing a killer from Death Row to make some kind of political statement.  She set it up that way and followed her own rules through the entire hearing.  I’ve said many times that the worst treatment my family ever received in the entire process of my sister’s murder aside from her death itself of course, was from Death penalty opponents in the name of life.  And we are nothing but grieving 100% innocent family members of a murder victim.

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Hence lies my ambivalence about Jodi Arias’ sentence.  I know what’s coming for the Alexanders should she receive what she deserves.  Arias is truly, in my opinion, the worst of the worst killer I’ve ever seen.  I’m comparing her to Scott Peterson who’s trial I attended, Dan Willoughby who was also released from Death Row in my State on a lengthy appeal/new trial( that I attended) after plotting a violent murder of his wife Trish, Michael Peterson who is also out of prison now on appeal after beating his wife Kathleen’s head to smithereens in a staircase, David Westerfield, a child killer who’s trial I followed online closely and of course Cindy’s killers Michael and Rudi Apelt.  Jodi Arias is scarier than all of those killers to me.  She is more dangerous and more vicious than any of those men from where I stand.   She has tortured her victim’s family far after killing him and from where I observe, she enjoys it.  Without a doubt, her crime fits the criteria for our worst of the worst penalty in the State of AZ:  death. Her crime is what the Death Penalty was designed for.

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Yet, once she is sentenced to death, she will be afforded the best of the best legal assistance like all the other death row killers.  Lawyers who oppose this sentence will use her as a pawn in their larger game of abolishing the death penalty and will soak up millions of taxpayer dollars fighting for anything for her.  Issues will be appealed for decades, the family will receive notices from the State for years documenting her latest strategies, she will receive worldwide attention from bleeding hearts who believe her to be the victim in all of this and Travis’ name will almost never be brought up in any of it.  She will be far more a burden on society financially and she will scheme and manipulate it to every inch of her life–which will be spared as she maneuvers there–having I believe a 1% chance of being executed, ever.

Do-gooders in her name will harass her victim’s grieving loved ones as happened to me on a cold December morning just three weeks before the anniversary of Cindy’s death. An investigator for her killers’ appeal showed up, uninvited and unannounced on my doorstep pleading for my help in the mental retardation appeal.  I asked her in to my house assuming she was someone representing our side, the side of right and justice, as I know the AZ Victims Bill of Rights details how someone siding with the murderers cannot approach me, legally.  Yet this woman knew that too because once I sort of came to and realized what she was there for, soliciting my help to release these murderers from death row, I pointed this out to her.  “You are not allowed to approach me legally” to which she replied “yes but I’m working under the Federal law so it doesn’t apply”.  She came prepared to justify her unconscienable invasion in to my space should I call the police on her.

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I kicked this doe eyed woman out of my living room but not after she was reduced to tears.  “I don’t know why I’m crying” she said, tears rolling down her face after I let her know that I was intending to decorate my house for Christmas that day which was why all the boxes were around her.  And reminded her that my sister’s bloody body was found in the desert on Christmas Eve.  “You are crying because you do have a conscience and you are looking in to the face of a real victim, not these murderers you are championing” after she tried her best to convince me that these sophisticated life long criminals were mentally retarded.

I then told her to vacate my house after walking in to my kitchen leaving her alone in my living room so not allowing her to see my full body shaking and my own tears out of pride.  “I’m leaving my card if you want to use it” she said before following my orders to use the same door she came in and I replied “Oh I will be using it–to report you”.

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And report her I did.  I contacted our prosecutor who immediately put me in touch with a Victims Rights attorney who wrote me right back on that very day, a Sunday.  She was seeking a specific case to use to argue to close a loophole these abusive death penalty opponents were slipping through to approach victims and this was it.  She educated me on another case where they ambushed a grieving mother of a murdered child in her own home similarly yet upped the ante saying if she didn’t cooperate with them, perhaps this murderer would be freed from prison and “if we can find you, he could find you”.  That was all I needed to hear to get on board.  Yes, this is the reality of what families face years later from these “do-badders” who champion our worst of the worst.  I went to lunch with a friend that December day who said, hours later “you’re still shaking”.  And I’m a badass strong woman but I was shaking for hours after this assault to my peaceful space.

My attorney, Keli Luther, and I succeeded in closing up that loophole that these murderer supporters were slipping through to accost victims’ families blindside in their homes so in the State of Arizona what happened to me will never occur to another victim’s family.  But really, why do we need to keep fighting for ourselves in the face of those who murdered our loved ones?  Really?

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Rudi Apelt, the man who wielded the knife that slit my sister’s throat from ear to ear on December 23 1988 for money, the man who served 5 years in Germany for a violent gang rape of a woman who was also left in a remote rural area, luckily alive but beaten as was Cindy, was deemed “mentally retarded” and released from Death Row in 2009.  He lives now in General population which is fine with me because we finally got one blessing in our favor–no one is fighting for his release anymore, unlike his brother who still remains on the Row.  We still get the letters monthly and they are still appealing the mental retardation decision although it was supposed to be “final”.  The State doesn’t get to appeal Rudi’s decision from that biased Judge but Michael gets to keep appealing it.  The scales swing far to the side of murderers at this stage and We the People pay for it.

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I was so disgusted after years of dealing with this mental retardation ridiculous agenda’d appeal that I wasn’t going to attend the final sentencing.  I was convinced Arellano would rule in their favor as she did every single other thing through her choreographed biased agenda and she would generously deem this throat slitting rapist/murderer a Life WITH Parole sentence as aw, bless his little sociopathic heart, there was no Life WITHOUT Parole when he committed this crime so he gets grandfathered in.  What this meant was this man had the chance of going from Death Row to parole in 5 years.  He had served 20 years of his sentence and it would be a 25 to Life resentence.  How special.

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Luckily, this now “mentally retarded” violent criminal was also convicted a conspiracy to murder.  Yes take a moment to let that sink in.  He’s “mentally retarded” yet still, legally deemed able to conspire to commit this heinous murder.  As topsy turvy as that is, thank God we had that conviction as well.  That meant 2 LwOP sentences but it wasn’t over yet.  His supporters decided in consistent fashion to push the envelope and ask those sentences to run concurrent so , still, he could be up for parole from Death Row in 5 years.

It was six simple words that got me back down to the Pinal County Courthouse on that empty desolate drive that day in 2009–“I think you should be there” my attorney encouraged.

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I stayed up until 2am the night before writing my Victim Impact Statement for this biased Judge who had truly assaulted my family herself through the legal system for years siding with these murderers.  I walked in to that courtroom flanked by my attorney and no one else and saw Rudi Apelt for the first time in two decades.  I began uncontrollably shaking all over as I sat there and endured a bizarre apology levied at me by his attorney claiming none of this was personal. Right, like the murder of my sister was somehow not personal to me.  It was personal allright and was getting ready to get far more personal to him having to listen to me letting him know what he had, personally, forced my family to endure.  I sat there stoned faced staring straight ahead resisting my own natural urges to accept apologies knowing this man was still strategizing, trying to break me down before I went up to that witness stand and kicked his ass all over the courtroom.  Which I did and you can read it below.

I was later told by the new AG representing our case at this time that Arellano’s ruling to run his sentences consecutive vs. concurrent was “all you”.  That if I hadn’t appeared and checked her on this decision as is what happens most of the time, she would have done what she wanted to do all along:  release a Death Row inmate back in to society or at least get him as close to it as she could.

Pardon my French when I say , just how fucking bizarre is that?

Hence, this is where my ambivalence on the Jodi Arias sentencing comes in. 

I know what’s coming. 

Not only will she have the best of the best legal help for the rest of her life on Death Row, she is smarter and more cunning than most killers and she will manipulate the system and continue to torture Travis’ family all on her own from prison. I mean what else does she have to do and she lives for the pain inflicted, that’s obvious to me.

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Yet I stand firm believing this is the correct sentence for her for two big reasons.  First, it’s the law.  Her crime fits this punishment like no other.  Killers should not be allowed to shuttle around their crimes by manipulating the system no matter the crime and this is the sentence she deserves under the LAW.

She and her team–including paid experts who lied under oath for money and were willing to twist the truth for some kind of retirement plan ridden on the backs of murder victims and one member of the media this defense team used throughout–have unconscienably attacked this victim’s reputation and his family for the benefit of this murderer.  The Judge has allowed the worst treatment of victims I’ve ever witnessed in a court of law through the six years this has taken to get to justice.  The victim blaming and bashing allowed born solely from the mouth of his murderer, an admitted pathological liar and CONVICTED KILLER is a phenomena that We the People should never see again, much less pay for.  And still her crime qualifies for the ultimate sentence clear as day.

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And, perhaps more important to me, it’s what Travis’ family wants to see and I stand with them in pure solidarity.  And if they need me as appeals pull them through the ringer here in AZ as they have my family, I still stand strong with them then in solidarity.  In the meantime I will keep shouting to the rooftops that this victim trashing/blaming strategy has to end sometime.  It’s so far beyond an adequate defense or fair trial.  That has been long gone and bloated beyond recognition here.  The collective fear of the Death penalty in our culture has created a monster and the only ones suffering, the absolute ONLY ONES SUFFERING are the loved ones of the victim.  Oh and the taxpayers who foot the bill for the murderer to the tune of millions and millions of dollars in legal fees–not housing or execution fees–legal fees. 

The very ones who cry about how expensive the death penalty is, are the ones making bank off it it–at our expense.  When does it end? 

I say right now. 

I say this trial be used as a pivot point.  Enough is enough.  When will some politician come forth and claim Travis Law that limits the amount a victim can be blamed for their violent death at the hands of another.  That fiction can be sold as fact while murderers are protected and coddled through the court system.  I don’t have a clear solution, I just know that clearly what’s happening is wrong.  And it needs to end.  Now. No grieving families need to be retortured over and over again by the system.  It’s not what our Founding Fathers intended I am completely sure.

May justice come today for Travis Alexander.  And then may the healing process, finally, not end but begin for his family and loved ones.  Let’s be clear, it never ends, there is no closure.  But at least they can begin to heal once this bitch is sentenced to anything.  And I’m also a testament to the fact that healing is possible.

May Travis Alexander’s killer’s name be forgotten as soon as possible.  In fact, let’s let the forgetting begin today.

Rest in peace Cindy and Travis–your lives meant something to me.  And to many others.  We will forget your killers but we won’t forget you.

cindytravis

My Victim Impact Statement which was published here:

Why have I chosen to take time out of my busy schedule once again to drive to Florence to give this impact statement? I ask myself the same question as I honestly don’t think anything I have to say will make much difference or cause much impact toward the decision on resentencing this defendant but the question always is “can I live with myself if certain decisions are made and know I’ve said nothing?

So, here I am with a few things to say.

I don’t intend to get in to the impact this crime itself has had on me personally or on my family. Partly because I don’t think it’s necessary at this stage and partly because I think it could potentially do more harm than good. I’ll let you fill in the blanks on how losing your only
sister/ your oldest daughter on the day before Christmas impacts on a family. To a vicious senseless murder for money.

I will tell you the impact of this particular hearing and decision over the last several years has had and has the potential to have on me and my family.

When the men who murdered my sister in this cold blooded plot were sentenced to death, we were told there were two options in the State of AZ — Life with the possibility of parole in 25 years and Death which meant they would never get out of prison. Of course, no matter how we might have felt politically about the death penalty, we knew these were young men and would still be as violent and dangerous in 25 years, perhaps more so and the Death Penalty was the only sentence that insured the public’s and our safety from them forever. We were
warned that in time, the tables would turn, the victim would be forgotten and the murderers would be seen as victims. Well that time has come, over 20 years after the loss of my sister. It’s still hard to fathom but it’s the absolute reality now.

I am here to remind the court who the true victim of this crime was, and still is. It was my sister Cindy who was my only sister, fourteen months older than me, whose life was taken for one motive: money. On the day before we were to fly home for Christmas on Christmas eve 1988. I was 29 years old and she was 30. We grew up together with each other to lean on as we lost our mother at a very young age. She was kind and truly an innocent and the defense in both trials could produce no evidence about her in a derogatory way — there simply was none. She was like a lamb to slaughter with the men who murdered her — Rudi and Michael Apelt.

The victim was not and still is not the man, Rudi Apelt, who is being resentenced today. The man who wielded the knife that slashed Cindy’s throat from ear to ear leaving her to be discovered by a young boy in the desert on Christmas Eve.. Rudi Apelt, who has served another prison sentence for a violent rape of another woman in Germany. Rudi Apelt
who conned many women throughout the Phoenix area during the months prior to the murder of my sister for money, use of their car, a living situation in their home, procurement of goods, all of these actions performed ALONE and not in the presence of his brother or any other familiar person to him. All of these facts are clearly documented in the trial transcripts. He is a violent man, a repeat offender and took the life of my sister for money. I do not believe he demonstrates any signs of mental retardation in the commission of this crime–quite
the contrary, in fact. Sophisticated, calculated and cold-blooded homicide are not adjectives I would ascribe to the mentally retarded.

I am here also to tell you the impact that just this one hearing lasting several years has had on my family. My 78-year-old father was required to testify and cancel a prepaid trip to China because the Court would not consider a 2-week postponement of the original hearing
for this which he was required to testify at. This postponement was the one and only thing my family ever asked of this Court in the many YEARS leading up to this hearing and it was not granted. This was perhaps my father’s only opportunity to go to China for the rest of his lfe.
Yet the defense in this case was granted delay after delay over a period of years causing me and my family to be inconvenienced, put plans on hold, prepare ourselves emotionally only to be told yet another delay for the defense for years upon years.

I opened my door one December day, 3 years go, ironically the same day I was planning to decorate my house for Christmas which you can imagine what a task that is for me year after year seeing my sister’s bloody body was discovered in the desert on Christmas Eve morning, only to find an advocate for Rudi Apelt misrepresenting herself to me and asking for my cooperation with this very issue–the mental retardation hearing. And this advocate bald-faced lied to me in my own home assuring me that this murderer, if reversed in sentence, would be
resentenced to life WITHOUT parole. Yes of course she knew this was impossible due to sentencing guidelines yet chose to manipulate me in this way. What did I or my family ever do to deserve this kind of treatment? Laws have been changed now to disallow the abuse of victims in this manner in the State of AZ because of this heinous situation I endured.

My father and I endured sitting in a courtroom often being the only representatives on the side of the State while onlookers filled the side of the defendant hoping obviously to glean some kind of clues for arguing their murderer clients were also mentally retarded to avoid the ultimate penalty.

I have personally learned that in addition to the tides of sympathy swinging away from the murder victim to the murderer over the years that the “worst of the worst” in our society, once on Death Row, receive the “best of the best” when it comes to legal assistance. I am
convinced that a death row inmate has a greater chance of being released from prison than a “lifer” serving a term for a nonviolent crime, simply because more people care about those on Death Row. The murderers also receive free websites which read like singles ads soliciting donations, penpals, wives and the like. When the “serial shooter” claimed to desire the death penalty in his sentencing hearing this year, I completely understood what was motivating him — and it most certainly wasn’t a possibility of execution.

My one consolation with this preposterous ruling/resentencing is that finally Rudi Apelt will receive what he deserves. Which is to be forgotten, finally. I have no doubt that those helping so fervently over the years will drop him like a hot potato once he no longer holds the prestige of Death Row status and he will fade in to the woodwork with all the other violent common criminals in the general population. Until of course we are asked to appear at parole hearings. Then we will be forced to remember him and his violence once again. When do we ever
get to let this go? Do we?

Finally, I did not come all the way down here with any delusions that my words would have any true impact whatsoever on the outcome of this hearing. Biases have been shown throughout and I hold no fantasies that my family’s feelings and wishes will fall in to consideration. Yet let it be known, we all have a certain degree of terror at the thought of
Rudi Apelt ever being released from prison due to a possible switch to concurrent sentences where he could have the possibility of actually being paroled. Yes that terrifies my family and me personally. This again is the man who took my sister in to the desert, and among other
violent acts, slit her throat. Then enjoyed a celebratory meal with his co-murderer/conspirators at a restaurant using her credit card right after commiting the murder. Call it what you want, but I call that nothing but a DANGER TO SOCIETY. His sentences, at the very least,
need to remain CONSECUTIVE to protect society from his violence. Call him mentally retarded, call him an imbecile, call him an idiot savant, whatever you wish. But call his behavior what it has been: VIOLENT and DANGEROUS.

The reason I did come though is in hopes that down the road, whatever decision is reached as a result of this resentencing hearing is REVIEWED by hopefully a non biased individual who has no political agenda at stake. Then that a sound decision will be made then that will prohibit this dangerous individual Rudi Apelt from ever being released from prison again. And to allow me and my family to finally move forward without ever having to worry about him again. And to hopefully get to begin to live a life where we get to focus on remembering my sister’s life and not her violent death.
Dandelion blowing in the wind
 

it begins

Paired at the Writing on the Sound conference we were asked to interview each other.

“As a middle child, I’m sandwiched between homicide and schizophrenia” was my answer to the question.

My partner laughed, naturally.

Out loud.

“No really, that’s what I write about” I clarified.

Her face fell, with some flash fire amalgam of emotions impossible to read on their own simply due to the instancy of gravity. In half a second her gaze landed squarely on to mine in that way kind people do when they know an immediate remedy is required.

“I thought you were kidding” she exhaled in a whispered apology typically reserved for this kind of stranger intimacy.

“No, that is my life” I breathed back, feeling once again the unique bond that is formed only by tragedy inviting compassion through it’s longing door.