Jodi Arias Jury Nears Final Decision on Death Penalty; Court Resumes Today for Penalty Phase of Trial
The jury in the sensational trial of boyfriend-slayer Jodi Arias is expected to hear testimony today from Arias' defense attorneys, who'll try to argue that Arias doesn't deserve execution.
Image: Court pool photograph Jodi Arias appears mildly upset after being found guilty of first-degree premeditated murder.
Arias has said she prefers life in prison. As we reported last week, state officials say Arias could be executed in just four years if she fails to fight a death sentence. She also said in an exclusive interview with Channel 10 News (KSAZ-TV) that defense attorney Kirk Nurmi told her she has no mitigating factors, although Maricopa County Judge Sherry Stephens instructed the jury that they could find mitigating factors such as Arias' alleged childhood abuse. Arias' attorneys, Nurmi and Jennifer Willmott, tried to quit the Arias case after the guilty verdict and Arias' death-wish interview with Hayden, but Stephens wouldn't let them.
Arias is expected to address the jury to spare her life, though it's unclear whether that will happen today or whether she'll plead with jury members to spare her life -- or ask them to deliver her to the executioner.
Millions of trial watchers worldwide will tune in this week to find out what happens.
On Friday, Arias' attorney filed yet another motion for a mistrial. Michael Kiefer of the Arizona Republic reports this morning that Nurmi claims a defense witness expected to testify in the mitigation hearing has withdrawn due to death threats. From the article:
"However, after returning home Ms. Womack began receiving threats, threats that included threats on her life if she were to testify on Ms. Arias' behalf," attorney Kirk Nurmi wrote in the motion. "On May 19, 2013, Ms. Womack contacted counsel for Ms. Arias that she is no longer willing to testify due to these threats. It should also be noted that these threats follow those made to Alyce LaViolette, a record of which was made ex-parte and under seal."
If true, the people threatening the life of a potential witness should be found and prosecuted. When 18-year-old LaQuint Cherry tweeted a bomb threat in connection with the Arias case earlier this month, it took authorities just 10 hours to find and arrest him.
The same jury about to decide whether Arias lives or dies convicted her on May 8 of first-degree murder in the June 4, 2008, murder of 30-year-old Mesa businessman Travis Alexander. In finding that the murder was premeditated, the jury seemed to agree with theories by police and prosecutor Juan Martinez that Arias planned the murder long before she drove from California to Mesa to carry it out.
Last week, members of Alexander's family gave emotional testimony about their loss and their feelings about the murder.
Arias has given conflicting statements about her childhood, saying a few years ago she had a good childhood, then claiming her parents sometimes beat her after she changed her account of the slaying to the failed self-defense claim.
Her parents haven't testified in the case, but told cops after the slaying that their daughter was "strange" and had mental problems.