Arizona judge allows convicted killer Jodi Arias to quit defending herself

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 15, 2014 3:18 PM

By David Schwartz

PHOENIX (Reuters) - An Arizona judge on Monday granted a request by convicted murderer Jodi Arias to stop representing herself in a retrial to determine whether she will be executed for killing her ex-boyfriend at his Phoenix-area home in 2008.

Judge Sherry Stephens ruled that effective immediately Arias' former attorneys will resume taking the lead in the sentencing phase retrial of the closely watched case in Maricopa County Superior Court.

Stephens cautioned that Arias could not change her mind again and that she understands her legal defense would again be in the hands of attorneys Kirk Nurmi and Jennifer Willmott, before the judge approved the request.

Arias, 34, had been her own attorney for about five weeks after repeated conflicts with her legal team. Nurmi and Willmott had remained as advisory counsels.

The judge's decision comes as jury selection is set to start on Sept. 29 in a case that has attracted nationwide interest. The original trial was broadcast live and viewed by tens of thousands of people. That will not be the case with the retrial of the penalty phase.

On Monday, Stephens took under advisement a request by five local television stations to broadcast the proceedings 30 minutes after the Phoenix-based court adjourns for the day. She had ordered that no broadcasts would be allowed until after the retrial had been concluded.

Arias was convicted of killing Travis Alexander in his home last year. His body was found slumped in the shower, stabbed multiple times and his throat slashed. He also was shot in the head.

Jurors found Arias eligible for the death penalty but were unable to reach a unanimous verdict on execution.

If the jury deadlocks again, a judge will sentence Arias to spend either her natural life in prison or life with the possibility of parole after 25 years.   

Also on Monday, Arias put up for auction on her website a pair of the glasses she says she wore during her 2013 trial testimony. Bidding starts at $500 and the sale is to due to end at midnight on Sept. 24.

"Get ready to own a one-of-a-kind piece of history," the website says, adding that all the proceeds will be donated to an undisclosed Phoenix-based non-profit.

(Reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Daniel Wallis)