Jodi Arias' Defense Wrecked by "Outlandish Actions" of Sheriff's Office, Lawyers Say

delarosa-with-arias-pool.jpg
Image: Court pool via tamaratattles.com
Jodi Arias and mitigation specialist Maria De La Rosa
Jodi Arias should not get the death penalty due to "outlandish actions" by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office in targeting a member of her defense team, Arias' lawyers argue.

A motion reviewed by New Times -- filed in Superior Court Tuesday by Arias' defense team -- goes into detail about how mitigation specialist Maria De La Rosa was treated by Sheriff Joe Arpaio's shady deputies, and it states that Arias can no longer receive an adequate defense.

In a nod to the corrupt shenanigans of Arpaio's office in his former feud with county leaders, the motion recalls the sheriff's alliance with disgraced ex-County Attorney Andrew Thomas, who was disbarred by a court panel that also found wrongdoing on the part of Arpaio.

See also:
-Jodi Arias: Lawyers Will Withdraw if Jury Finds Out She Wanted Kirk Nurmi Fired
-Psycho Killer: Jodi Arias' Kinky Death-Penalty Trial

Arias' sensational murder trial is still being followed by millions around the globe. She was convicted last May for the 2008 mutilation and slaying of her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, but the jury deadlocked on the death-penalty question, leading to a mistrial.

Tuesday's motion by Arias' defense team notes that a planned March 17 start for the new penalty-phase trial was dropped, with no replacement date yet set by Judge Sherry Stephens. (Stephens has since rescheduled the trial date for September 8.)

If Stephens agrees with lawyers Kirk Nurmi and Jennifer Willmott that Arias' defense has been compromised, as they claim in the new motion, the penalty phase could be avoided.

The problem began when De La Rosa showed up to visit Arias in jail on February 26 -- a visit that resulted in the Sheriff's Office's banning the legal expert from visiting or communicating with Arias or anyone else in the Maricopa County Jail system.

De La Rosa has served as mitigation specialist for Arias' team since January 2, 2012, working to come up with evidence that might persuade the new jury to sentence Arias only to life in prison instead of lethal injection.

Her job's been tough "due to the circus-like media attention this case received" -- (a main theme of our February 2013 feature article about Arias' trial, we'll mention) -- and "many mitigation witnesses were timid about talking to the defense team," according to the motion. De La Rosa was seen as crucial to gaining the trust of Arias' family, friends and other witnesses.

During De La Rosa's visit on February 26, Arias gave her a sealed manila envelope, addressed to Willmott, with a drawing inside that was intended to provide mitigating evidence in the penalty-phase proceedings. The fact that she's an artist, the defense argument goes, is one of several reasons she doesn't deserve execution. Initial media reports about De La Rosa's banishment from the jail described the colored-pencil drawing as that of a pinwheel.

"Here's another drawing for the mitigation case," read an Arias note accompanying the drawing in the envelope. "It should be good for allocution. Of course, I'll let you and my attorneys decide for sure. Thanks! -- Jodi Arias."

alexander and arias 1.jpg
Jodi Arias and Travis Alexander
While the connection of the drawing to Arias' legal defense seems straightforward, the Sheriff's Office appears to have targeted the drawing and De La Rosa's involvement with it for "intentional and purposeful harassment," the motion says.

For sure, it would be no stretch to say the six-term sheriff, known to be the biggest publicity hound in Arizona, simply found another way to get his name in the headlines.

The drawing had been noticed by jail staff in three separate security sweeps of her cell the week before De La Rosa's visit, the motion states, but no one had cared about it then.

Arias first handed the envelope to "Officer Trojanek," who didn't open it but passed it to De La Rosa. As the mitigation specialist was leaving, she was stopped by an Officer Rasmussen, who confiscated it.

That's when De La Rosa entered the Arpaio Zone, a bizarre realm well known to many county employees where sheriff's deputies seem to act more like KGB agents.

On March 13, De La Rosa's neighbors told her that detectives were "snooping around her house, looking through windows in her garage, looking through windows of her car parked in the driveway," and speaking to them about her, Arias' lawyers state. "Ms. De La Rosa was humiliated and harassed by MCSO behavior."

The next day, a Friday, detectives knocked on De La Rosa's door and said they wanted to talk to her about her work as Arias' mitigation specialist. When she told them she'd feel more comfortable with her lawyer present, the detectives told her "it wasn't a criminal matter," the motion states.

She answered a couple of general questions, then got lawyer Dan Raynak on the phone. With her lawyer listening, the detectives read De La Rosa a letter informing her she was no longer allowed to visit the jail and that her phone number was no longer considered a "legal number," which meant she couldn't talk to her jailed clients.

If she tried to visit the jail, they warned, "she'd be trespassing." A detective reportedly told her the reason for the ban was the "non-legal document" she'd received from Arias.

ball-lucille-arias.JPG
A drawing of Lucille Ball by Jodi Arias.
Yet as already pointed out, jail staff had no problem with the drawing in her cell. After De La Rosa's visit, Arias was written up for a possible violation because of the incident. But, as the motion says, Arias was absolved of any wrongdoing in a hearing held at the jail a couple of days later.

The antics of the sheriff's officials are "reminiscent of times under Andrew Thomas," the lawyers wrote.

With De La Rosa "necessarily" removed from the defense team because she's banned from visiting Arias, "without a mitigation specialist, defense counsel cannot provide effective assistance," the lawyers say.

Stephens should remove the death penalty as an option at this point, they argue.

The judge had yet to rule on the motion as of Wednesday afternoon.

UPDATE 5:30 PM -- Jodi Arias' Mitigation Specialist, Maria De La Rosa, to be Allowed Back in Jail, Says Lawyer; Agreement Reportedly Reached With Sheriff's Office

Got a tip? Send it to: Ray Stern.

Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX.
Follow Ray Stern on Twitter at @RayStern.


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36 comments
chidi11
chidi11

Only in America can someone get convicted and 18 months later still not sentenced. Judge sherry ( #JodiArias has rights don't you know ) stevens should be ashamed of herself her attitude seems to be who gives a fcuk about the victim stabbys rights must be upheld. I don't care it has cost over 2 million and rising stabby doesn't want to go to Perryville so that is that. I will allow the defence to file motion after motion so poor stabby doesn't get upset.

pvalemont
pvalemont

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turnoffnancygrace
turnoffnancygrace

HLN is who to blame..  This trial was made into a circus before it ever began. Nancy Grace, Jane Valez Mitchel, Vinnie Politan, Joey Jackson, the whole HLN crew, did nothing but cause this mess.  Guilty until proven innocent. HLN's, Trial by Media, caused this to be one of the most controversial cases in history. This girl was guilty before they ever picked a jury. She will get a new trial with the first appeal.  First of all, the jury should have been sequestered,  You had 24 hour a day coverage of this trial. You couldn't turn the channel without hearing about the Jodi Arias trial.  Judges that were questioned, during the trial, on television, admitted that there was no way the jurors had not seen something about the trial on television.  What was being televised?....Mobs of Jodi Arias haters from around the globe (caused by HLN's Trial by Media), flying in to get a seat in the court room, and for what? How many people are murdered every day?  What made this case different from any other case?  HLN's trial by media, guilty until proven innocent. Why do you think they keep delaying it? They're hoping people will forget.  It's too late for that.  This lady deserves a fair trial, without the media present.  I doubt she will ever be able to get one now. There's been too much publicity already.  Give me a break people.  If you think this lady got a fair trial, put your own child in her position.  I think I'd want my child to have a fighting chance, A Death Row Case shouldn't be aired on HLN, 24 hours a day, as a Reality Television Show.  And to think, most of Americans and people around the world love those reality television shows. Well, that's what kind of trial Jodi Arias got.  Her trial was a Reality TV Show that jumped HLN's ratings to the top.  What people will do for the mighty dollar....sickening!

salmo60
salmo60

This circus would have been ended months ago if Bill "I want to be Governor" Montgomery would have agreed to life without parole for Arias. But no, Monty wants to hang Arias' scalp on his belt and when he runs for Governor, he can tell the voters in Arizona how tough on crime he is.

If Arias would have gotten a death sentence, it would have taken at least 20 years to appeal the sentence and another 10 to carry it out. Just stick her in an 8 by 10 cage for the rest of her live and be done with it. In a few years only her few sycophants would remember her.   

potentate101
potentate101

Sadly everyone is right, the court system is milking this for everything they can to keep her in their custody for as long as possible.

I wonder how much the town itself is making off the general outside public who goes there, in hopes to see her looking out her cell window.


What a horrible circus this has become and why the heck is the penalty phase stalled for almost a whole new year again?

Are they really claiming that her paint by numbers "art" should be considered in if she should get the DP or not?

I don't care if she was so talented that she is considered the next Da Vinci, who cares? She brutality murdered someone and that should be the only relevant factor.

Our courts have such a twisted sense of reality.


Considering that it was completely obvious the previous jury failed to come to verdict because a few of them felt sorry for her, proves that they shouldn't even get to have a somewhat personal relationship with those on trial.

We all know full well, if she would have been a homeless unshaven drug addict male, they would have had no problem agreeing on the DP, but because men think with their penis's they couldn't convict her to die.


I think juries should not get to see the defendant, nor should anything unrelated to the crime be allowed to be discussed and they should be tried on their crimes only, not on their looks, what they do for a living, etc.

Plus, allowing them to dress up, wear non prescription glasses to look like a school teacher should not be allowed and they shouldn't even visible to the jury what so ever.

Ever watch Judge Judy?

She constantly judges people on their looks and what they are wearing, and have no problem openly commenting on it, which is completely irrelevant to the facts of the actual crime.

kdnola
kdnola

I blame the Judge for dragging her feet.

She should be benched.

Dave Smith
Dave Smith

I want Jodi to have my love child

Marco Cruz
Marco Cruz

Lol, i knew it was only a matter time before this would somehow be linked to sheriff joe.

cassityg32
cassityg32

I realize I probably missed something here but could someone explain why jodi almost received a violation & Due La Rosa was banned as a result of this drawing of Lucille Ball? don't get me wrong I think Jodi Aries is a violent nutbag who deserves to be considered for the death penalty. I just don't understand the whole drawing situation and why no one above Arpaio has said give me a break this is absurd or something to that effect. Butagain I admit I may have miss something in the article.

Shelley Rayford
Shelley Rayford

That's all smoke and mirrors... She brutally murdered a man in cold blood and deserves the sentence the jury gives her. These attorneys need to stop wasting our tax payer dollars and let's get this case resolved!

Dustin Agahi
Dustin Agahi

Shes wasting MY money, can I just off her myself?

david_saint01
david_saint01 topcommenter

as much as i think she deserves what she gets, it sounds like joe and MCSO screwed the pooch yet again and could very well have put the case in jeopardy..

pvalemont
pvalemont

@potentate101  "allowing them to dress up, wear non prescription glasses to look like a school teacher should not be allowed"


You really are a stupid person, aren't you? I assume you have been led to believe people who are myopic can simply dispense with their glasses or contact lenses and walk around able to see their way without bumping into walls and of course, read print unaided.  You have fallen hook, line and sinker, in your naivety, for that old storybook line where the heroine is a plain Jane who is suddenly transformed into a beautiful princess simply by removing her specs.  Superman and Clark Kent are the male equivalent. 


I have worn glasses since I was 11 years old. I also, when young, wore contact lenses, as young, beautiful women usually prefer to do. 


Has it not occurred to you that Jodi would have to revert to wearing glasses in prison?  Has it also not occurred to you that she would no longer be able to dye her hair blonde while an inmate in Maricopa County Jail? The result is the Jodi you now see before you.  


Truly, Pamela Valemont Author of A Mormon Murder - Jodi Arias and the Killing of Travis Alexander. 

Deelah
Deelah

@kdnola  I hope her name Stephens, shows on the next election ballot. So we can take her out of her bench!. She has no guts to do what's right. 

ray.stern
ray.stern moderator

@cassityg32  FYI -- the Lucy drawing is just an example of her "artwork." As mentioned, the Arias drawing that got the mitigation specialist in trouble was that of a pinwheel.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Hot Mormon on Mormon action !!

vickireneenc
vickireneenc

Maybe you should be in a jail cell waiting for execution since you're so eager to "off her yourself"...! Travis wasn't the little choir boy the prosecution has made him out to be...he brought a lot of this on himself. I know Jodi and she's only human...had Travis left her alone the first time she left, instead of breaking her heart in a million pieces again, this may have never happened. He was controlling, he was a liar, he was a freak...all his friends knew that, and I'm so sick of everyone thinking he was so innocent...leave Jodi alone...she's suffered enough!!!

turnoffnancygrace
turnoffnancygrace

More reality television in most of the above responses. What's wrong with the world? Open your eyes! You're looking forward to killing another human being. Is that really up to you or me? I can't say if I'm a religious person or not at the time.  But, are any of you? If so, do you actually believe in killing another person? And, just because someone else does it, does it make it right for us to do it? Think real hard about what you're all saying. Everyone has good and evil in them. Just hope that none of you get in a situation in your life time where your evil side out ways your good side. Also, if you're ever in a similar situation, I believe you would hope that someone would have mercy on you.....it's called forgiving. Yes, easy for me to say because I'm not the one in the victims, families shoes.  But, I do know, I would never be able to live with hate in my heart all of my life. I guess the lesson here is that, this isn't a Reality Show, it's Real Life. Bad things happen like this every day and of course it's not right. But, its life and families have to learn how to move on, they have to learn how to live again after a terrible loss. I don't know how they do it. But, sitting in a jail cell the rest of your life, isn't much of a life. The way I look at it, that's worse than the death penalty.

david_saint01
david_saint01 topcommenter

or at least the sentencing phase...

kdnola
kdnola

@reina39 @kdnola  If I lived in Arizona, I would refuse to pay taxes. The Judicial System is milking taxpayers while Arias runs a scam/business behind bars without any overhead. Paid for by taxpayers. Arias beat the SON OF SAM LAW by using a 3rd party to sell her T-shirts, mugs, bracelets, books & art. Twas not the first time they smuggled a drawing out of prison. She's got lots of new drawings on herwebsite. Google Jodi Arias T-Shirts, etc. You will find so many items for sale it's disgusting! She's made a FOOL out of Arizona!

bbrown61
bbrown61

@ray.stern @cassityg32  how does the fact that she can trace pictures, have anything to do with mitigating factors in the death penalty phase.  If she couldn't draw then she should be put to death?  Drawing is not a mitigating factor. This is crazy. Enough already. 

cassityg32
cassityg32

OK regardless, that doesn't really answer my question. But thanks, you are right.

merideth_gibson
merideth_gibson

@vickireneenc you are delusional . Travis was not a saint but a man tempted by a temptress. Jodi knew exactly what she was doing sexually and you know it. Jodi's death will not bring back Travis's life or will it erase or diminish the pain of loss his family is going thru and will continue to suffer thru for the rest of their lives. Only God has the Right to claim and Take some ones life and one of his commandments are thou shall not kill. My feeling is that Jodi should be given a life sentence without the possibility of parole in a death sentence cubicle where she would be detained 23 hours a day only looking at videos and pictures of the destruction she has caused this family. She should never be allowed to see or speak to any of her family for the rest of her life, Her family should be allowed to forget she ever existed.


kdnola
kdnola

@reina39 @kdnola  Commit a crime. Go to jail in Maricopa County where you can have all your expenses paid, open a business & have federal employees working for you for Free!  SHAME ON ARIZONA! BENCH THAT JUDGE!

Deelah
Deelah

@kdnola @reina39 I live in Arizona and really this is getting old. I am so tired of us tax payers money paying for her scams. Bad thing is no one is doing anything. Judge , JA defense teams are sucking the tax payers money dried. in the mean time...we have schools that had been closing because of state deficit. Oh and no to mention jobs. I've been out of work for two years and nothing on the area where I live. Its hard to find a decent job even at min wage.

ray.stern
ray.stern moderator

@cassityg32  Sorry for not answering your question. :) Fact is, I don't know why the sheriff's office wrote Arias up for discipline or De La Rosa banned because of this. Perhaps the drawing was considered "contraband" by some individual, though why it would have been considered contraband is unclear.

chidi11
chidi11

Only in America can someone get convicted and 18 months later still not sentenced. Judge sherry ( #JodiArias has rights don't you know ) stevens should be ashamed of herself her attitude seems to be who gives a fcuk about the victim stabbys rights must be upheld. I don't care it has cost over 2 million and rising stabby doesn't want to go to Perryville so that is that. I will allow the defence to file motion after motion so poor stabby doesn't get upset.

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