Jodi Arias’ defense attorneys motion to vacate the jury’s finding of an aggravating factor in her murder trial has been denied by Judge Sherry Stephens. Kirk Nurmi’s motion challenged the landmark 2002 Ring v. Arizona Supreme Court ruling finding that allowing the sentencing judge, without a jury, to find aggravating circumstances necessary for the imposition of the death penalty violated the Federal Constitution’s Sixth Amendment right to trial by jury.
The motion was always a stretch, but the defense’s motion argued that the jury lacked the legal knowledge and expertise to recognize what made a particular murder more cruel and heinous than another. With the motion denied, the trial jury’s finding of the aggravating factor stands – making Arias eligible for the death penalty when her sentencing retrial begins. The next status hearing is scheduled for August 26, 2013.
As Arias sits in jail waiting to learn her fate, she continues to promote books and magazines she has received from her “supporters”. Her latest tweet says she’s maxed out on the number of books she’s allowed to have, so if you were considering sending her one, don’t! Yeah, that was meant to be sarcastic. The murderer turned humanitarian says “when Jodi finishes reading, at her request, every book, periodical and newspaper she receives are donated to less fortunate inmates”. Potential jury pool, did you hear that?
It seems people are at odds at whether the State of Arizona should go through with the time and expense of choosing a new jury for sentencing. I feel that since expense was not a consideration in Arias’ defense during the guilt phase, it’s only fair that Travis Alexander have the same consideration in sparing no expense to ensure a jury decides his killer’s fate. It’s the law in Arizona, like it or not – a jury, not a judge decides. Unless the second jury deadlocks, at which time the death penalty is taken off the table since a judge cannot impose it. I suppose we should take some solace in knowing the most lenient sentence she could receive is life with the possibility for release after serving 25 years. Having the possibility of release doesn’t mean she will be released, it just makes it a possibility.
The decision will ultimately come down to the decision of County District Attorney Bill Montgomery’s office and the Alexander family’s input will be of great importance. I think the defense is hoping these delays in sentencing will serve as a cooling off period in the court of public opinion, and they hope people will lose interest in this case and it’s outcome. I don’t think that is going to happen. While it appears Arias has people who support her while in jail, the public’s shock and sorrow over what happened to Travis Alexander is not going to fade until Arias has been sentenced and sent to prison.
What will happen at the next status hearing? Will Judge Stephens set a firm date to begin jury selection? Will the prosecution do anything differently during jury selection to ensure they have a death penalty qualified jury? I’m not going to criticize the first jury on their decision, mostly because I wasn’t in the jury room and didn’t hear their arguments. It can’t be easy to sentence somebody to death, but they clearly knew it would be a possibility in this trial. I don’t know what prosecutor Juan Martinez could have done differently. The State put on a great case, the defense offered no REAL mitigation – yet the jury deadlocked. Sentencing can’t be put off forever. There will be justice for Travis.