The next status hearing for Jodi Arias’ sentencing retrial is on the Superior Court of Maricopa County’s court calendar at 8:30AM on Monday, August 26 2013. It’s been nearly 4 months since the jury found Arias guilty of first degree murder and eligible for the death penalty, but a mistrial was declared after the same jurors were unable to agree on the appropriate sentence for this crime. We know the wheels of justice move slowly, but in this case the wheel seems to be flat. Although nobody is quite sure what to expect going in to this new “mini-trial” one thing seems certain – this is going to take a long time.
With so many unresolved issues at hand such as the venue for the retrial, finding potential jurors who can be impartial following the media saturation and how the information from the 5 month long trial will be presented to these jurors are just a few of the questions that we don’t know the answers to. Jerry Cobb, the public information officer for the Maricopa County District Attorney’s office told HLN News that the new jury will be informed that Jodi Arias was found guilty of first degree murder and that she committed the murder in a cruel manner. Cobb said the judge and attorneys will need to figure out how the testimony and exhibits from the first trial will be presented to the new jury. It sounds like negotiations will be necessary, and if we learned anything from trial #1, the prosecutor and defense attorneys are likely to fight tooth and nail over the smallest detail! I can’t even imagine how long this process is going to take.
HLN News also reports there’s a chance Arias could testify again during this phase of the new trial, and she will have another opportunity to give a statement to this jury without being subject to fierce cross examination from prosecutor Juan Martinez. I’d say if past behavior is any prediction of future behavior, there is no way Jodi Arias passes up a chance to speak to the new jury. Remember how she made it a point during trial #1 to turn her head and upper body towards the jury and carefully answer each question from her defense attorneys, doing her best to make eye contact and connect with the people who held her fate in their hands? Arias has had time to look back on her previous court performances, I’d bet money that she has read much of what has been written about her in the media and will present a refined version of herself to the new jury.
The jurors that spoke to media after the first trial seemed to confirm what we speculated on from hearing the jury questions to Arias – many of them didn’t believe her testimony, many of them believed she lied under oath. Those jurors opinions and notions don’t matter in the retrial. Did the state miss their best chance at capital punishment when the mistrial was declared? We’ll have to see how this pans out. The first thing that they probably need to address is where the trial will be held, and if Judge Stephens feels the potential jury pool in Maricopa County is tainted, she could grant a change of venue. But let’s be realistic – this trial was covered nationally and nightly. It’s hard to blame the media for the over saturation of coverage when Jodi Arias was holding her own press junkets, even talking to Fox’s Troy Hayden in the hours after her conviction. “Do as I say, not as I do” seems to be the defense mantra, especially as hypocritical as the defense’s recent motion to have all members of the new jury disclose any Twitter accounts and the names they use. It’s not that it’s an unreasonable request, but given that their client took to the Twitter airwaves before, during and after her trial – using her own name, it seems a little laughable that she is concerned what people are saying about her on Twitter. Arias used social media to smack down Nancy Grace, Juan Martinez and even her own defense attorneys. What Arias has done could be construed as attempting to taint the jury pool, the tainting of the pool can go both ways!! It’s anyone’s guess if there will be a change of venue in the retrial, but if I were a betting gal, I’d say Judge Stephens keeps the trial in Maricopa County.
Another issue that remains unresolved from trial #1: Kirk Nurmi and Jennifer Willmott’s repeated requests to withdraw the attorneys of record. I honestly don’t know if their requests were because they couldn’t seem to control the actions of their client and they wanted off out of sheer frustration, or if this was just another ploy to buy Jodi Arias more time – to perhaps give the public a cooling off period? They made several motions to withdraw, but Judge Stephens wisely did not allow them to retreat at such a late stage in the trial. Will they renew their motion to withdraw when they appear in court, or will they do the right thing and see this case through? Having new attorneys probably wouldn’t be in the best interest to Jodi Arias. These two attorneys have fought for her, and they know the case inside and out. They may not have gotten her the acquittal she was looking for – but hey, they couldn’t change the facts and evidence of this case. Hopefully Nurmi and Willmott stay on as defense counsel of record. I still don’t know what happened to Maria DeLaRosa, the mitigation expert. A new name appears on court minute entries for mitigation expert on this case. Many people out there are wondering why Arias chose to NOT put on any mitigation witnesses in trial #1. They had to realize there was a very good chance she would be convicted, and they should have been ready for that likely scenario – yet when it was time to call their witnesses, their case seemed to fall apart. They fell back on blaming the prosecutor, for what they referred to as “prosecutorial misconduct” or bullying Arias’ childhood friend into not testifying on her behalf. Mitigation witnesses are something I’ve rehashed too many times so I won’t go there!
As of April 25, 2013 – the tab for Arizona v. Arias was estimated to be $1,687,238.21, according to information posted on HLN News’ website. DA Bill Montgomery has repeatedly said the cost of the retrial would not be taken into consideration when discussing any potential plea deal with Arias. Instead, Montgomery has said he would only consider a plea with considerable input from Travis Alexander’s family and prosecutor Juan Martinez. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind saving the taxpayers some money, but I strongly hope any decisions are not made on cost-considerations. The victim deserves a full trial, with the same budget afforded to the woman who killed him. The Maricopa County public information officer also revealed what a day in the life of Arias is like. I was surprised to see how many hours of time she has outside of her cell, given that she’s now housed in a high security cell after her conviction. According to the information posted on HLNTV.com, Arias is locked in her cell from 10:00PM to 6:00AM daily. Inmates have up to 16 hours in the day-room area, where they have access to telephones and (limited channels) cable TV, an hour of outdoor recreation up to 4 times per week. Inmates have access to a library, although have to request books through an inmate request form and the number of books they can have at one time is limited – there are also many programs inmates can sign up for including religious services, GED and other educational programs. Arias sleeps in a bed with pink sheets, and her cell contains a writing desk, toilet and sink. Breakfast is served after 7:00AM and dinner is served after 6:00PM.
It seems she has a lot more freedom than you’d expect, only being locked in her cell for 8 hours a day and having access to other areas and services for 16 hours per day. It’s no wonder she has had the time to start online book clubs and communicate so freely with the outside world. Will Travis Alexander ever have his day in court? That’s all people really want here. Justice. This trial was supposed to be about the life of a promising young man being cut short, but it turned into something much different. It’s time to remember who the real murder victim is and sentence the person convicted of killing him. Jodi Arias had her day in court, and she lost.