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Jodi Arias Trial Update Today: Jodi Arias Settlement Conference Scheduled for Oct. 24; Standard Procedure?

By Tony Sokol | October 03, 2013 11:02 AM EDT

Jodi Arias
(Photo : Screen Capture)

Jodi Arias Trial Update Today: Lawyers for Jodi Arias announced that they have scheduled a settlement conference for October 24. Jodi Arias, her defense team and prosecutors will all meet to discuss a possible settlement.

It is not yet clear whether the latest wrinkle in the Jodi Arias trial is standard procedure or if an out of court deal might replace a retrial of the penalty phase.

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Maricopa County Attorney spokesman Jerry Cobb said "The court asked if the parties would be willing to discuss a potential settlement. Consistent with what the County Attorney has said all along, the State is always willing to discuss possible resolutions to the case. Neither side has presented an outline of an agreement or an official position to the court."

According to her case calendar on the Maricopa County Superior Court website, Jodi Arias is scheduled to sit down in a settlement conference with prosecutors on Oct. 24. Lawyers for Jodi Arias have not disclosed what they will be talking about.

Jodi Arias, who was convicted of first-degree murder on May 8 for the brutal death of Travis Alexander

Usually, settlement conferences are handled by a different judge than the one who presides over the trial. Maricopa County Attorney spokesman Jerry Cobb said the Jodi Arias settlement conference will be made in front of retired Maricopa County Superior Court Judge James Keppel. Cobb said “The court asked if the parties would be willing to discuss a potential settlement. Consistent with what the County Attorney has said all along, the State is always willing to discuss possible resolutions to the case. Neither side has presented an outline of an agreement or an official position to the court.”

In May, the jury found Jodi Arias, 33, guilty of first-degree murder. In the penalty phase a new jury will have three sentencing options: death, natural life in prison, or life with a chance of release after 25 years. To get a death penalty, under Arizona state law, prosecutor Juan Martinez and County Attorney need a jury. But not to give Jodi Arias a life sentence. If the prosecutors drop the intent to seek the death penalty, the decision will be made by Judge Sherry Stephens. If the Jodi Arias judge imposes a sentence of 25 to life, there is no mechanism for a shorter release unless she gets clemency by the governor.

In 1994, the option of parole for first-degree murderers was eliminated in 1994 but “life with chance of parole” is still part of court language.

Jodi Arias may be given the opportunity to waive appeals in exchange for a life sentence, but she can immediately appeal her sentence is she is sentenced to death. Death sentences go directly to the Arizona Supreme Court for review. They then can be taken directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. If Arias is sentenced to life in prison, her appeals would go to the Arizona Court of Appeals, then to the Arizona Supreme Court and then back to Superior Court for what is referred to as “post-conviction relief.”

On May 8, 2013 Jodi Arias was convicted killing her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander in an “especially cruel” manner, which carries a possible death sentence. Jodi Arias’ lawyers want the court to set aside the earlier determination that Travis Alexander’s killing was done in an "especially cruel" manner. This was the aggravating factor that the State of Arizona required for the prosecution to pursue the death penalty. The Jodi Arias trial lasted about five months. Jodi Arias was convicted of first-degree murder May 8 in the 2008 stabbing and shooting death of boyfriend Travis Alexander in his suburban Phoenix home. The jury convicted Jodi Arias of first-degree murder in May. The Jodi Arias jury found her eligible for the death penalty, but could not unanimously agree to sentence her to death.

The Jodi Arias settlement hearing will be sealed.

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