Arizona judge bars same-day coverage of Arias penalty phase retrial

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 22, 2014 2:35 PM

By David Schwartz

PHOENIX (Reuters) - An Arizona judge has rejected another bid by media organizations wanting to air same-day footage of convicted murder Jodi Arias' penalty phase retrial that will decide if she is to be executed for killing her ex-boyfriend, documents showed on Monday.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens ruled broadcasters will only be able to screen the proceedings after a final outcome is reached in the closely watched case.

"The court is mindful of its obligation to allow public and media access to the trial," Stephens wrote in an order made public on Monday. "That access should not include live broadcast of the trial prior to a verdict."

Stephens said her reasons are outlined in previous sealed rulings, and were bolstered by defense attorneys' view that the coverage would have a chilling effect on potential witnesses.

Arias' original five-month trial was broadcast live on the Internet, drawing tens of thousands of viewers with its drama, graphic testimony, and gruesome crime scene photographs.

The 34-year-old former waitress from California testified for 18 days, saying that she acted in self-defense.

The victim, Travis Alexander, was found slumped in a shower at his home in 2008. He had been stabbed multiple times, his throat was slashed, and he was shot in the head.

Stephens' ruling comes a week before jury selection is scheduled to start for the penalty phase retrial. If the new jury is unable to reach a decision on whether Arias should be put to death, a judge would sentence her to life in prison, or to life with the possibility of parole after 25 years.

(Reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Doina Chiacu)