Jodi Arias Vs. Gavin Macfarlane: Tale of Two Death Penalty Cases

Thumbnail image for arias jodi first mug shot.jpg
Even the police mug shots of Jodi Arias and Gavin Macfarlane seems to show the difference in the accused murderers' respective mental states.
Something's wrong with Jodi Arias, that much anyone can tell.

Her lack of emotion combined with the brutality of her crime -- stabbing, slashing and shooting her victim -- have led some to call her a sociopath, or psychopath. Not that most people could give a medical definition of the terms. But by legal definitions, she's as sane as the judge and prosecutor she now stands before.

Gavin Macfarlane also caused deep pain and suffering in the Phoenix metro area; he shot and killed two people and severely wounded a third at a local strip club, the Great Alaskan Bush Company. Like Arias, he is accused of premeditated murder. But Macfarlane's no longer facing the possibility of execution.

A couple of weeks ago, Bill Montgomery, Maricopa County Attorney, quietly withdrew the death penalty notice against Macfarlane. The office has not returned phone calls about the matter. In a February 25 guest column in the Arizona Republic by Montgomery about the death penalty, the elected prosecutor states that such decisions are his responsibility.

See also: Gavin Macfarlane, Strip-Club Shooter, Won't Get Death Penalty Because He's Insane; Bond Raised After Tearful Plea by Victim's Family

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery didn't return calls about the reason he withdrew the death-penalty notice in the Gavin Macfarlane case. Family members of a murder victim say it's because Mcfarlane has been found insane.
After the state filed its notice to withdraw the death penalty, a bail hearing was held on February 21 before Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens' courtroom, just prior to the day's Jodi Arias proceedings held in the same courtroom.

Family members of one victim, Adam Cooley, told New Times on February 21 that they would have preferred the death penalty for Macfarlane. They say he was found to be insane. A 1986 U.S. Supreme Court ruling forbids the execution of insane or mentally incompetent people. The ruling has influenced numerous high-profile cases, such as the one against Tucson shooter Jared Loughner.

Arias is accused of plotting her ex-boyfriend's murder, stealing a gun from her grandparent's home and driving to Mesa on June 4, 2008, with several gas cans in her car to avoid leaving any record of being in Arizona. Then, after having sex with the 30-year-old victim, Travis Alexander, evidence shows she attacked him in the shower, stabbing him 27 times, slashing his throat from ear to ear and finally shooting him with the gun.

Macfarlane, who has a history of mental illness, is accused of plotting to shoot people just to "test" himself -- to see if he could do it, testimony on February 21 revealed. He went to the strip club, watched the show for a while, then went to his car, got a handgun, and started shooting people indiscriminately. Cooley, 34, a well-liked bouncer who'd worked for the club for 10 years, was killed. So was 20-year-old Antonio Garcia. A third victim was rendered a paraplegic by a bullet. A fourth was left with non-critical injuries.

The anguished voice of Cooley's father while reading a statement to Judge Stephens was as emotional as any of the testimony in the Arias case, the suffering by Macfarlane's victims and their family members no less than that in the much more high-profile Arias case.

But the rules say that Arizona can execute one, and not the other.

The main difference is that Macfarlane, theoretically, didn't know what he was doing.

Arias did, and so deserves to die, according to Montgomery's office -- and, apparently, millions of trial watchers.

Last week, the state Supreme Court affirmed Arias' eligibility for the death penalty based on the idea that the murder of Alexander was "cruel" and that he suffered -- a short news tidbit that was covered by news media across the country.

The canceling of Macfarlane's death penalty wasn't covered by any news media, (except for our short blog post on the 21st). True, it's a violent town and there are many murder cases going on, but family members openly wondered during our brief interview with them about the difference in news coverage between the Arias and Macfarlane cases. One timely aspect of the case is the fact that Macfarlane, despite years of documented mental issues, was able to come into the possession of a handgun.

We promised the family we'd write more about it.

But, we have to admit, the Arias case will take precedence for at least a few more days. Arias is expected to discuss the day of Alexander's murder starting this morning, in her fifth day of intense cross-examination.

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I like the above picture of Jodi Arias. I think she is really pretty and this is whole affair was just so freaking needless, senseless and stupid.

Why was Jodi so enamoured with the guy that she killed? What was so special about him? He was an average guy with average looks who made an average salary. Dude was average. Guys like him are out there in the millions. But Jodi even had a TV made with the boyfriend's name on it

All Jodi had to do was get her cute arse down to the pub or places to meet men and hook up, and I guarantee you that she could of had a man eating out of the palm of her hand within a week, or gotten a "booty call" anytime she wanted from any cowboy in any redneck bar in the great state of Arizona.I would have been happy to been her boyfriend, I saw the naked picture...........I would have stabbed the s*** out of her vagina with my penis.

There is something mentally wrong with this woman and it could be that she is a sociopath or psychopath. If she is, and she is born with these traits, how can she be legally culpable for her behavior?

All that is left from this stupidity is a dead man who was a contributor to the society and an intelligent, beautiful young woman's life totally ruined who will more than likely spend the rest of her life in prison. I do not think that she deserves the Death Penalty, but she deserves Life without Parole and watch that pretty face quickly get wrinkles and white hair from the hell of fear she had to put up with fending off bull dykes at every turn. This to me is a worse punishment than having a single person cell awaiting for the state to put one out of their misery.

Theresa Urquidi
Theresa Urquidi

I don't see premeditation at all and the prosecution is horrible to listen to.. he just keeps rambling and trying to put words in her mouth. It will just take one juror to possibly believe he was indeed an abuser. She for sure killed this guy but I have not been presented any evidence of premeditation.

Stephanie N. Rotondo
Stephanie N. Rotondo

yeah I gotta go for her. I understand and feel for the families of Macfarlane's victims, for sure, and understand why they would want the death penalty. But I think she's the one they should go after.

Vincent Tyrell
Vincent Tyrell

jodi shows no real emotions and shows sighns of being a sociopath


@Theresa Urquidi 

When Alexander finally had enough of Arias and vehemently told her so, Arias staged a break-in at her grandparents' home, stole her grandfather's .25 semiauto handgun.  She rented a car from an out-of-town Enterprise, removed the license plates, borrowed gas cans from an ex-lover and bought another at Walmart, turned off her cellphone, and then began her covert trip to Mesa. 

If you don't see premeditation in that, then nothing anyone can say will convince you.


@Theresa Urquidi No premeditation? She lied about where she was going, even going so far as to buy something like 20 gallons of gas, AND rent a car to come to Az. That's not a booty call.

Also, when you use 2 different weapons on someone, there's an issue. Besides, it was in the bathroom. If it had been in the kitchen, I could see that she grabbed the knife because it was in the kitchen, and the gun 'could' have been on the counter. Instead, she transported both weapons to the bathroom from different rooms. It's like claiming self defense when you chased the bad guy for 2 blocks, it doesn't fit.

He may have been an abuser, but everything about this screams premeditated.


@Vincent Tyrell  

That's the act she's performing to appear as if she has PTSD, or some warped version that Dr. Richard Samuels has coached her to portray.  She's certainly not emotionless in her mug shot, or her TV interviews, or the police interview, or even when the jury is out of the court room.  Today, when the prosecution's "expert" psychologist testified, Jodi had the flat affect.  As soon as the jury was out of the room, she smiled, joked with her defense team, and smiled as she left the courtroom.  


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