Former cellmate reflects on 10 year anniversary of Jodi Arias’ conviction

A jury convicted Arias of brutally murdering her lover, Travis Alexander, after hearing intimate details of the couple’s relationship.
Published: May. 8, 2023 at 4:08 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Monday marks the 10th anniversary of the guilty verdict in the Jodi Arias case, a trial that captivated the country and the world. A jury convicted Arias of brutally murdering her lover, Travis Alexander, after hearing intimate details of the couple’s relationship. Arizona’s Family Investigates took a look back at the case.

Donavan Bering was one of Jodi Arias’ first cellmates at a Maricopa County jail. She said Arias initially came across as naïve, even overwhelmed by all the attention. However, over time, Bering eventually saw Arias as a cold-blooded killer. “I don’t know how he was killed,” Arias originally told investigators.

She quickly became a prime suspect in the 2008 murder. “That’s because you killed him. No. Jodi you did. I did not,” she continued. Arias claimed she had nothing to do with his death, that two intruders broke into Travis’ Mesa home and attacked both of them, eventually killing him.

A month later came the first-degree murder indictment. In a subsequent TV interview, Arias boasted a jury would never convict her. “We became friends almost instantly. She became roommates with my girlfriend,” Bering said. She met Arias while in custody at the Estrella Jail. Arizona’s Family Investigates what drew Bering to her. “She was so innocent, she seemed so meek and scared and she just didn’t have a hard side to her at all,” Bering said.

That she said, soon changed. “The male guards really liked her. But then she flirted a lot,” Bering explained. “She was very sexual, very sensual. She would always pose in certain ways… She got a lot of stuff, that the other inmates didn’t get,” she continued.

Donavan was behind bars for arson. She took a plea deal and got probation. After being released, she said she stayed good friends with Jodi and her family and attended the trial. “It was hard because I went there with her and her mom was a very nice lady. I had to sit there while her mom, her mom and her aunt, or whoever in her family came and they had to hear all the stuff and see all the pictures,” Bering said.

Prosecutor Juan Martinez showed the court photos of the bloody crime scene and Travis. Arias shot him in the head and stabbed him 27 times. Jurors and family members were in court and heard intimate details of the couple’s sex life. That included a phone call Jodi recorded. “You cannot say I don’t work that bootie,” Alexander said.

Arias’ attorney, Kurk Nurmi, then put her on the stand. Arias changed her story. She testified for 18 days. “The simple answer is he attacked me and I defended myself,” Arias said on the stand. Following a five-month trial, it took jurors 15 hours to reach a guilty verdict. It brought media attention to the Valley from across the country and around the world.

Bering said she agreed with the jury’s verdict. “Because of all the evidence and just all that I knew about all the different stories, and stuff, and the way that she acted. And she had no remorse,” Bering explained.

Jurors deadlocked twice on the death penalty. The judge sentenced Arias to life behind bars. Arizona’s Family Investigates asked if Bering thought she should have gotten the death penalty. “That’s a hard one, because sometimes I do. Because I don’t think the punishment she’s going through, cause it’s really not a punishment to her, she still has a life,” Bering responded.

Bering carries with her reminders of Arias everywhere she goes in the form of tattoos. “She did this one and she did this one,” she said. “This is a scorpion and a Gemini, attacking each other. This is a cross,” she continued. Bering said she doesn’t understand all the attention the case has received. “I just hope that people would eventually let it go, because it keeps going on and she keeps getting money and she keeps getting all the fame,” she said.

Arias continues to sell her artwork through a website. It claims it’s using the profits to appeal Arias’ conviction, maintaining that she’s a victim of domestic violence.