Jodi Arias Trial Update: Jodi Returns to Court to Face Life or the Death Penalty

By Staff Writer | July 16, 2013 12:40 PM EDT

Jodi Arias returned to court today to begin the penalty phase of the Travis Alexander murder trial. Jodi Arias is waiting on the prosecutors’ decision on how to go forward with her murder case. Jodi Arias and her attorneys plan to ask the judge to throw out the jury's finding that made her eligible for the death penalty. Jodi Arias has steadfastly claimed that she acted in self-defense.

Jodi Arias’ lawyer, Kirk Nurmi and Jennifer Willmott and the state Juan Martinez arrived at court this morning hearing to discuss the penalty phase and a possible retrial. A jury convicted Jodi Arias of first degree murder for the May 8 death of Travis Alexander in his suburban Phoenix home. The jury couldn’t decide whether to sentence Jodi Arias to death or life in prison. Arias told the media that she would prefer death to life in a cage, but later changed her mind for her family’s sake. Two weeks after Jodi Arias’ conviction the judge declared a mistrial on the penalty phase of the trial. The guilty verdict stands.

Prosecutors must now decide whether to go forward with their pursuit of the death penalty or to take that punishment off the table and sentence Arias to a life sentence. Jodi Arias would be eligible for release after 25 years. The judge will decide. The oral arguments will focus on whether Arias killed Travis Alexander in an "especially cruel" manner, which would mean that Arias is eligible for the death penalty.

Arias admitted that she killed her ex-boyfriend. She claimed she acted in self-defense after Alexander attacked her in a sudden rage while they were making a nude video. Prosecutors said she committed premeditated murder because she was in a jealous rage after Alexander told her he wanted to end their relationship and planned a trip to Mexico with another woman.

Jodi Arias Trial Transcript Shows Bullying, Personal Attacks by Prosecution; Martinez Said He Would `Kill Himself’ If He Were Married to Defense Lawyer (Link to Transcript)

Jodi Arias trial transcript shows extremely bitter infighting between defense and prosecution. Some of the comments were personal attacks on Jodi Arias’ defense lawyer, Jennifer Willmott. At one point in the Jodi Arias trial, prosecuting attorney Juan Martinez said he would “kill himself” if he were “married to Ms. Willmott.” The Jodi Arias trial transcripts reveal that defense evidence was blocked by repeated objections by prosecution. The Jodi Arias sentencing phase date is July 16. Read Jodi Arias trial transcript excerpts here:

Jodi Arias trial transcript reads a bullying session at times, even when Martinez was being tongue-in-cheek, there was a hostility not just to the Jodi Arias, but to her lawyer, Jennifer Willmott. Jodi Arias trial transcripts almost read like gender attacks. Jodi Arias resolutely contended that she was acting in self-defense when she stabbed Travis Alexander almost thirty times, shot him in the face and slashed his throat so violently she almost took his head off during a nude photo shoot at his home. Jodi Arias trial transcripts reveal that she did this within two minutes, according to the medical examiner. Arias claimed that Travis had a secret history of violent outbursts and that she was fighting for her life when she killed him.

As Jodi Arias Judge Sherry Stephens unseals more transcripts from the trial, we see that, even though every minute of the five month-trial was broadcast live, the TV audience only saw half the story.

In May, a jury found Jodi Arias, 32, found guilty of premeditated first-degree murder for the June 2008 brutal slaying of Travis Alexander, her former boyfriend. Arias, a waitress and budding photographer, maintained that she was acting in self-defense when she killed Alexander. Arias claimed Alexander had a secret history of violent outbursts, that he was sadistic and had a "nearly predatory sex drive." Arias maintained that she was forced to fight for her life when she triggered one of his violent outburst during a nude photo shoot at his Arizona home.

Because of the extreme violence with which she killed Alexander and her resolute insistence that she was defending herself from repeated domestic abuse, the public was polarized during the trial. The medical examiners’ reports showed that Arias stabbed Alexander 27 times in the torso, chest, heart, and back, shot him in the face, and slit his throat from ear to ear with such violence that he was almost decapitated in less than two minutes.

The jury dismissed Arias’ claims of self-defense and convicted her. But they could not decide on whether to sentence her to death of life in prison. Judge Stephens declared a hung jury, but the guilty verdice stands. The sentencing portion of the trial will begin at a July 16 hearing. Odds are that Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery will announce the state's intentions to continue to pursue the death penalty.

Even though every minute of the five month trial was televised, the public never heard a lot of the action that was going on in the courtroom because of closed hearings and private judge sidebars that were obscured by a white-noise machine. The Arizona Republic was granted access to the unsealed court transcripts, which show that the defense team was out of its weight class when it fought the heavyweight prosecution. The transcripts show quibble over minuscule details of what could be admitted as evidence and witnesses. The transcripts also show that the two teams insulted each other in front of the judge.

At one point Arias' lawyer Willmott was explaining why she was calling psychotherapist Alyce LaViolette, an expert witness for the defense and Martinez grew impatient when hearing that Alexander once told Arias he would commit suicide. In a sidebar Martinez said “There's a lack of trustworthiness there. She's a liar. So, I'm just having a difficult time seeing how she can say that Mr. Alexander attempted suicide,” and continued "But the thing is that if Ms. Willmott and I were married, I certainly would say I fucking want to kill myself. That doesn't mean I want to kill myself. It just means there's a bad relationship and I want you to leave me alone."

Wilmott responded "Judge, just for the record, I think that that was an insult because he's trying to say that if he and I were married ..." and Martinez interrupted "That was a compliment, bad joke." Willmott said "I don't see it as either." Martinez was not admonished by Judge Stephens, who instructed the lawyers to "move past that."

The Jodi Arias trial resumed this morning.

 by Tony Sokol

Tagged :  world news, Jodi Arias, trial, update, back, court, death, LIFE


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