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Status Hearing Today - Jodi Arias Penalty Phase

Well folks, it's already June 20th.  It seems like it's been a long time since Jodi Arias was convicted of first degree murder for the brutal slaying of ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander.  Maybe it was the continuous news coverage that drew us all in for more than five months (some of us for 5 years), but I think everyone who's been following this trial and the tragedy that caused it feels a deep sense of sorrow that this thing is still out there, unresolved.

It was highly dissatisfying to have Arias convicted but not sentenced.  We all watched, read, and listened to the trial and could almost feel the family's pain every time the court cameras panned to their faces. Their grief is heavy, yet they were asked not to react as the horrible photographs of their brother were enlarged and displayed, his wonderful qualities downplayed by the defense who sought to paint him as the bad guy. In the end, Arias got the verdict she deserved and that much was satisfying. It could have been worse, the jury could have bought into her self-defense nonsense and convicted her of something less than what she received. It was never likely to happen, but then again - did anybody believe Casey Anthony or OJ Simpson would walk? 

So here we are again, waiting to hear what will come out of today's status hearing. At least three members of the original Arias trial jury were expected to attend today's hearing. The jurors who were in favor of the death penalty for Arias have been speaking out on the emotional toll the trial had on them, and they really want to see a resolution to this tragedy. 

As you know, the defense is asking the judge to delay the penalty retrial until January of 2014, citing scheduling conflicts and time needed to prepare witnesses to speak on behalf of Jodi Arias.  Juan Martinez objected to the defense's request of pushing this thing out until 2014, rather he suggested the court could accommodate defense counsel's scheduling conflict AND the defendants desire to call witnesses by rescheduling the trial for July 30, 2013.  Seems like a fair compromise to me.

We all know that delays happen, but how would pushing this back another 6 months help?  Does the defense think the jury pool will be any different in January of 2014? "Impartial" means "impartial". They have to find an impartial jury - at this point, people either are familiar with this case or they aren't.  They don't have to have lived under a rock for the last year, the just need to have the ability to be impartial. 

I've been trying to find out what time the status hearing is scheduled for today, but so far no luck.  I'm hoping to see or hear something on the hearing later today.  "Dirty Little Secrets" is set to air on Lifetime this Saturday, June 22, and I've read some fairly decent reviews on the depiction. According to USA Today.com, the movie is better than expected - and only approximately 15 minutes of the movie focuses on the courtroom drama. This movie is about more about the relationship, not the trial.

In other crime news, I just read about the arrest of 44 year old Ana Trujillo in Houston.  Trujillo was arrested and charged with murder for the killing of her former boyfriend, 59 year old Professor Stefan Andersson in early June.  Andersson worked as a research professor at the University of Houston and was reportedly stabbed more than 30 times with Trujillo's stiletto shoe after a late night/early morning argument.  Trujillo is claiming self defense. Is it any surprise this is already being called "the Stiletto Heel Murder"? I'm sure we will hear more on this unusual killing in the weeks to come.

What will today's status hearing bring?  Will Arias refuse to be photographed in her jailhouse stripes? Will Willmott and Nurmi continue to ask to be removed as her attorneys of record? Will Judge Stephens keep this train on time and on the rails? Will Arias finally take her attorneys advice and stay out of the media spotlight, or will she continue to peddle her t-shirts - which in my book is despicable, in poor taste and beyond comprehension? Will her next "cause" be Animal Shelters, after all - we know about that dog she kicked to the point that it ran away from her childhood home, and wasn't there a cat she was supposed to care for but instead left alone for a week?

Let's hope so. Travis' siblings have made it clear that they are ready to go back to trial, calling this a marathon and not a race. They are in it for as long as it takes, for Travis - they know he would do the same for them.  God bless them and may we keep them in our prayers.  More information on the status hearing when it becomes available. Have a great day!

Jodi Arias Attorneys Ask Judge To Delay Retrial Until Next Year!

It's been a while since my last posting - I was out of town for a week, and hadn't seen much in the way of new information. As the June 20th status hearing nears, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery stated during a recent news conference they are still preparing to move forward to retry the penalty phase in the Jodi Arias murder trial. Jury selection is slated to begin on July 18, 2013, however, Jennifer Willmott and Kirk Nurmi are asking the judge to delay the retrial until next year!

They apparently have some scheduling conflicts with the July 18th date, but also claim to need additional time to gather witnesses to testify on Arias' behalf - so they are asking for a delay until next January in order to "find an alternate means of painting the picture of Arias' life to jurors", according to cbsnews.com.  Umm, didn't they HAVE witnesses lined up and scheduled to testify during the penalty phase?  It's unfortunate that their client muddied the waters so much that many of those potential character witnesses could not testify without exposing something Arias lied about or something they did that could potentially embarrass them or weaken their own credibility, but how is that the court's problem?

I would also argue that after 5 years, these attorneys and Jodi Arias have had plenty of time to prepare for the trial and have been granted numerous delays already.  It's time to see this through and put an end to the horrible legal limbo the Alexander family has been living in! It seems so unfair that the victim seemingly has no right to a speedy resolution to their murder. Outrageous.  Radaronline.com recently reported that Ms. Arias has not been the model prisoner her attorneys would have us all believe.  She may not have had an actual criminal record prior to committing one of the most vicious murders in recent history, but her behind-bars behavior includes at least 14 infractions including attacking another inmate. Apparently the Sheriff's office was very concerned with Arias being able to move freely around the courtroom and into the judges chambers without handcuffs during trial. He was worried enough to voice their concerns to the court about potential escape attempts by Arias.

Tanisha Sorenson's husband Harold recently posted a message to supporters on the Justice4Travis Facebook page.  He wrote that while the family is emotionally drained, they are overwhelmingly grateful to the court, Judge Stephens, the jurors and especially Prosecutor Juan Martinez.  The family will be meeting with Attorney General Bill Montgomery soon and hopefully they will cement their plans to seat a second jury.

Finally, we are hearing from a juror who voted for life during the penalty phase, and I'm talking about jury foreman Bill Zervokos - otherwise known as Juror #18.  Several of the jurors who voted for death have spoken out, but those who voted for life have been relatively silent - possibly fearing their vote was not a popular one.  Mr. Zervokos seems to have fallen for Arias' abuse tales.  He voted for a life sentence citing multiple mitigating factors including Arias' age, lack of criminal history, her dysfunctional family and most notably "abuse"! He said, and I quote "you don't put people to death for being stupid, you don't put people to death for lying".  I'm sorry Juror #18, but if that's all you took away from the five month trial, I question whether or not you were paying close enough attention.

What about Travis Alexander, shouldn't his age, lack of criminal history and dysfunctional family be just as much of a factor? He went through considerably more than Arias did as a child and didn't grow up and butcher another human being. I don't understand our criminal justice system, sometimes it just seems to fail and those committing these heinous acts have more rights and considerations than the person they murdered.  The criminal's rights are protected at all costs, there is a blank check given to defend them and yet they can sit in their jail cell and sell artwork and collect donations from the public.  What's wrong with this system? What value/worth is being put on Travis Alexander's life? He was a very young man. He had potential, he had people who loved him - sure, he wasn't perfect but who is? Why is Jodi Arias' life given so much more value than his was? I know that nothing can bring back the murder victim, but it seems more and more that their rights get buried with them.

What will happen during the June 20 status hearing? Will Arias be granted her delay? Will Willmott and Nurmi remain on as her council?  I hope the judge forges forward and holds them to these dates. Enough with the delays, 5 years is long enough and they should have had their witnesses and strategy in place for the penalty phase a long time ago! Their mitigation specialist billed the state for 100 hours that we are aware of. Isn't that her job specifically, to figure out how to handle that phase of the trial?

That's all for now.  The George Zimmerman trial starts this month - does anybody know if that trial is going to be televised?  Have a great weekend!

Jodi Arias Trial - Will New Jury Be Seated For Sentencing?

As the June 20th status conference date nears, speculation has begun on whether convicted murderer Jodi Arias will be offered a plea or whether the state will forge ahead with seating a new jury to repeat the sentencing phase of the murder trial.  Judge Sherry Stephens set a conference hearing date of June 20 immediately following the mistrial late last month.

Arias attorneys Kirk Nurmi and Jennifer Willmott have been using their downtime attempting to have the death penalty taken off the table, all motions have been denied at the highest levels.  Their next ploy has been to use the states expert's diagnosis of Arias having borderline personality disorder to their advantage - now referring to her as having a "mental illness"! OK let's see - first, they claimed she only killed Travis Alexander in self defense, having been a battered woman who was sexually exploited and abused. That didn't work, so they then tried to sell the heat-of-the-moment "she just snapped" defense.  That didn't work either.  When all else fails, play the mental illness card.  How many more cards does this defense team have in their deck?  Clearly Jodi Arias isn't playing with a full one.

I'm no attorney or a psychologist, but I don't know that BPD is considered to be a mental illness as much as a personality disorder. As far as I know, there is no pill one can take to combat BPD nor is there a treatment per se.  Willmott & Nurmi wrote a statement to one of the largest news publications in Arizona recently, the Arizona Republic.  In their statement, they now raise the concern about expending taxpayer resources in a second trial for sentencing.  They wrote "It is solely for them to determine if continuing to pursue a death sentence upon Ms. Arias, who is already facing a mandatory life sentence, is a good and proper use of taxpayer resources".  Hmmm.  So now they are worried about taxpayer resources?  If Jodi Arias is entitled to a $2,000,000 defense, Travis Alexander is entitled to a similar prosecution! Travis Alexander lived and worked in Arizona, he was a resident of the state. He payed state, local and property taxes in the state. Jodi Arias didn't.  Note to Nurmi/Willmott - quit pretending to care about taxpayer resources. You kept your experts on the stand for WEEKS at $200-$350 an hour!  Travis Alexander, an Arizona resident and taxpayer is entitled to a full prosecution regardless of the cost. To act as if he has less rights than Arias simply because he is no longer living (because of Arias) is insulting.

So what's next in this ongoing saga?  I haven't seen Arias' mug in any recent interviews, thankfully.  She's still taking her message to Twitter, although as I've mentioned many times before - she mostly quotes other people and poets.  Doesn't she have any original thoughts? Her most recent quotes:

"When you learn, teach. When you get, give." - Maya Angelou (May 27)

"I will be sorry for the rest of my life - probably longer". - Me, my allocution on May 21, 2013 (May 29)

Let's hope that Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery will not cave to the financial threats a new sentencing trial may pose. That would not be justice in this case, and Travis Alexander who was an Arizona resident and taxpayer deserves to have his murderer prosecuted to the full extent of the law.  Allowing California resident Jodi Arias a multi-million dollar defense and cutting budgetary corners for the victim would be bad for the state and citizens of Arizona. July 18th is the date the judge set to begin jury selection, but a lot can happen between now and then.  Would life without the possibility of parole be enough for Arias?  I don't think that is the issue here. The issue is the decision should be left to a jury. That's the law in the state of Arizona. If the second jury deadlocks, then the judge can decide if Arias serves natural life or life with the possibility of release after serving 25 years. 

In the latter scenario, Arias could potentially be walking among us when she's 52 years old. That is a day I hope the Alexander family never has to face. What do you think? Has anybody heard anything new relating to this case?

5 Year Anniversary Of Travis Alexander's Murder Passes - What's Next For Jodi Arias?

I was a little saddened yesterday when I looked at the date on the newspaper and noticed the date:  June 4, 2013 - Travis Alexander was murdered by Jodi Arias 5 years ago yesterday.  And still, the justice system has left the fate of Arias up in the air.  Will Maricopa County District Attorney Bill Montgomery follow the wishes of Alexander's family and seat a second jury to decide the penalty phase of this murder trial, or will budget considerations impact the decision and lead to a potential plea deal of life imprisonment for the 32 year old convicted murderer and wannabe-celebrity?

We can only pray that cost does not play a role in this very important decision.  Cost was not a consideration in ensuring the defendant received a fair trial including two defense attorneys, several paid expert witnesses and the mitigation specialist - the victim deserves the same considerations in seeking justice for this crime.  I think it would be a huge mistake on the part of Arizona's top brass to make a deal with the devil in offering her life.  If a second jury cannot reach an unanimous decision, then the decision would fall to the judge, which would involve a sentence of natural life or life with the possibility of release after serving 20 years. However, there have been changes in how those convicted of first degree murders can be sentenced. In 1994, the state discontinued their parole system. And since 2012, those convicted of first degree murder receiving a life sentence do receive a natural life sentence, no getting out ever! Since the murder occurred in 2008, Arias could potentially receive a life sentence with the possibility of release after 25 years, however it is unlikely she would be released unless her sentence was commuted by the Governor.  Arizona certainly has some unique characteristics to their criminal justice system.

Arias attorneys Kirk Nurmi and Jennifer Willmott, having failed at getting the death penalty taken off the table arguing lack of aggravating factors proven are now playing the mental illness card!  Using Dr. DeMarte's assessment of Arias with borderline personality disorder and a lack of Jodi Arias' prior criminal history as factors they have argued Arias should not be executed.  I'd argue that just because Arias hasn't been convicted of any crimes, that doesn't mean she has no criminal history.  Many people (myself included) are certain she perjured herself on the witness stand, staged a break-in at her grandparents house and therefore STOLE the 25 caliber gun used to shoot Travis Alexander as well as other items taken in the staged burglary.  Add to that the call she recorded between her and Alexander without his knowledge, which may or may not be illegal and slashing his tires - doesn't sound like an upstanding citizen to me! And those are just the things we know about.  We also learned from her mom and dad's interviews with Detective Flores that Arias tried to grow pot on her family's rooftop.  Sure, these may be considered petty crimes, but I have a feeling she does in fact have criminal tendencies.  It may or may not be illegal to access someone's bank account records online and access their personal social media sites without their consent - it's the pattern of disregard for other people's privacy that we've seen evidenced throughout the criminal trial.

Travis Alexander's siblings are in favor of Arias receiving the ultimate punishment. They deserve their day in court.  No deals should be made with this murderer, period!  Let the citizens of Arizona decide what punishment she receives, and if they give her life at least the justice system will have played out for Travis and his family and friends and they will have the satisfaction of knowing the state did everything they could for Travis Alexander who was the true murder victim here, despite Arias' continued claims that she was a victim of domestic violence.  I don't know about you, but every single time I see that damned "Survivor" t-shirt, I want to vomit.  Her latest campaign is for women to document the violence inflicted on them - does she really believe this would have changed the outcome of her case and she would have been justified in slaughtering this young man even IF she were abused?  The injuries to Travis and lack of injuries to Jodi tell the story of the ambush that happened in that bathroom and bedroom.

I've heard some new versions of theories around that last text message Travis sent to Jodi, where he called her the worst thing that ever happened to him, calling her evil etc. - many people are speculating that perhaps Jodi played the secretly recorded audio tape for Travis after he wouldn't change his mind about taking Mimi Hall to Cancun. Perhaps she threatened to play that tape for Mimi Hall or send a copy to his Bishop? That would certainly make a person mad enough to send that scathing text message to him.  If she did play the audio tape for him, there's no way in hell he would've invited her to stop by on her way to Utah, as she claimed.  If Arias was as smart as her attorneys want us to believe she is, she should have claimed she played the recording for Travis while he was in the shower - that seems like a better reason to have provoked an attack instead of the dropped camera scenario.  But that would've required her to admit to being slimy enough to record that conversation and then using it to blackmail him. Who knows where she came up with the stories he ultimately testified to.  She WASN'T the smartest person in the room, nor was she a good enough actress to fool the jurors. They saw through her lies for the most part.  I still believe they couldn't agree on the death penalty because she is a young woman.

I don't necessarily believe in the "an eye for an eye" system of justice, but as I've said many many times there are some crimes that are so brutal and unspeakable in the pain inflicted that death seems to be the only appropriate sentence - and if this murder doesn't fit that, I'd be hard pressed to think of one that does.  All I know is the thought of Arias walking out of prison at age 52 would be the biggest travesty of justice since OJ Simpson strolled out of that LA courtroom with his dream time at his side.

What's next for Arias? What will happen during the June 20th status conference? 

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