- (Photo: Reuters/Charlie Leight)
The Jodi Arias case has entered the sentencing phase, and in a series of twists and turns, will not address the jury today but instead tomorrow morning.
Arias' lawyers first filed a motion for mistrial, saying that the prosecutor, Juan Martinez, had harassed their witnesses. The judge later denied their motion, and the Arias defense team immediately stood and requested to be recused from the case, citing differences with their client. Arias has made the claim that she wants the death penalty, but her lawyers want to fight for her life.
The judge would not accept the lawyers' motion and ordered them to continue representing Arias. The lawyers then said that they would no longer be calling any witnesses at all, and when the judge asked if Arias would allocate, they asked for an immediate recess. Now they are all in chambers, and it is anyone's guess as to whether Arias will take the stand.
Arias was found guilty of the first-degree, premeditated murder of Travis Alexander by the same jury that will recommend either life in prison or the death penalty. Arias reportedly stabbed Alexander nearly 30 times, slit his throat from ear-to-ear, and shot him in the head.
Last week the jury ruled that she was eligible for the death penalty, given the "especially cruel manner" of death. They heard testimony from Alexander's family and the medical examiner, who testified that Alexander suffered greatly during the attack.
Patricia Womack, a friend of Arias, was supposed to testify on her behalf but dropped out because of threats against her life. Womack was one of two witnesses scheduled to testify today, but she found the pressure too intense and asked Arias' lawyers to pull her from the witness list.
"After returning home [from court], 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 to the judge. "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 treats follow those made to Alyce LaViolette, a record of which was made ex-parte and under seal," Nurmi added.