Arizona court to release convicted killer Jodi Arias’ secret testimony

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 09, 2015 1:38 PM

By David Schwartz

PHOENIX (Reuters) - An Arizona judge ordered the release of testimony made behind closed doors by convicted murderer Jodi Arias as she seeks to avoid the death penalty, following a ruling by the state’s supreme court, court documents showed on Friday.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens ruled that transcripts for Oct. 30 and Nov. 3 be unsealed after the Arizona Supreme Court denied a bid by defense lawyers to block the move, claiming it would hurt Arias' right to a fair trial.

Arias, who faces the death penalty for killing her ex-boyfriend in 2008 in a widely followed case, was allowed by Stephens to shield her testimony from the public and press because of fears for her safety and that media coverage would adversely affect her ability to make her case.

The 34-year-old former waitress was known to have testified on Oct. 30 before jurors in Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix. But it had not been previously made public that she also testified on Nov. 3.

A court spokesman said on Friday that it was not immediately clear when the transcripts would be released.

News outlets have been aggressively pushing for the release following Stephen’s decision to close the courtroom doors.

In November, an Arizona Court of Appeals panel ruled Stephens had erred and ordered the testimony made public. An appeal by the defense to put the release on hold was rejected on Thursday.

Arias was found guilty in May 2013 of killing Travis Alexander, 30, in his Phoenix-area home, claiming she acted in self-defense. Prosecutors said it was a jealous rage.

Jurors who convicted her deadlocked on her sentence and a new jury is hearing evidence. If this jury cannot decide, Stephens will sentence Arias to life in prison or life with the possibility of parole after 25 years.

(Reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Bill Trott)