New Jodi Arias book by ASU grad in stores today

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX – A new book about convicted murder Jodi Arias and her victim, on-and-off lover Travis Alexander, hit store shelves Tuesday.

Arizona true crime writer Shanna Hogan, the author of “Picture Perfect: The Jodi Arias Story: A Beautiful Photographer, Her Mormon Lover and a Brutal Murder,” told 3TV’s Jill Galus that she became intrigued with the story when she started covering the case in 2009, several months after Alexander's murder.

“I was just really fascinated by the story,” she said.

One of the things that caught Hogan’s attention was that some of the key evidence against Arias -- photos of Alexander's bloody body -- came from the aspiring photographer, herself.

As she continued reporting on the story, Hogan learned that it went much deeper and was more twisted than anyone initially thought. She was captivated by the backgrounds of Arias and Alexander and the events that brought them together, ultimately leading to Alexander’s murder in June 2008.

Alexander had been stabbed dozens of times, his throat was slit and he had been shot in the head. Arias first said she had nothing to do with his murder. She then blamed two fictitious intruders. She struck with her third story, saying she killed Alexander in self-defense.

Arias’ trial went on for nearly five months and when all was said and done, the jury did not buy her account of the events that led to her killing Alexander. The jury convicted Arias of first-degree murder on May 8, 2013. They also found her eligible for the death penalty, but were unable to unanimously impose that sentence.

The lack of sentence means the story is far from over. The next chapter will unfold later this month, when the judge is expected to set a date for the retrial of the penalty phase.

Arias and her trial have been the center of a media storm, garnering national and international attention. The fascination with Arias seems to be never-ending, but Hogan believes something has gotten lost in the frenzy – the victim.

“I really wanted to tell Travis’s story, which I felt was definitely overlooked throughout the case,” Hogan said. “Everyone has been focusing on Jodi, and I feel like the most interesting thing that she did in her life was … killing someone.

“Travis has a really interesting backstory that made him the person that he was,” Hogan continued. “He wanted to change the world in his life. He really didn’t get that chance. But in his death, he kind of did.”

Hogan said that while she doesn’t think she could vote for the death penalty herself, she believes that’s what Arias deserves.

“I think that maybe she does deserve the death penalty, if at least to be on death row and have that type of lifestyle where she’s cut off from the publicity and cut off from being able to tweet. … I think she needs to sit there and think about what she did.”

The first book about the Arias trial was released before the jury even reached a verdict.

Brian Skoloff and Josh Hoffner, both journalists for The Associated Press, released their e-book, "Killer Girlfriend: The Jodi Arias Story,” in early May.

Just last month, Jane Velez-Mitchell, who also covered the Arias trial extensively, released “Exposed: The Secret Life of Jodi Arias.”

An award-winning journalist, Hogan, a graduate of Arizona State University, released her debut book – chronicling another sensational murder case -- in 2011. "Dancing with Death: The True Story of a Glamorous Showgirl, Her Wealthy Husband and a Horrifying Murder," is about the 2004 murder of Jay Orbin, whose headless limbless body was found in the Phoenix desert. Orbin’s wife, Marjorie, was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison in 2009.

“Picture Perfect,” which Hogan's website calls, "the definitive true crime book on the murder of Travis Alexander and the high-profile Jodie Arias trial," is available in bookstores and online.