Arias is expected to be back in court today, but it's doubtful we will learn anything meaningful about if or when her sentencing retrial will move forward. Since the last delay back in mid September, it has been reported that a settlement conference between prosecutor Juan Martinez and Kirk Nurmi, Jennifer Willmott and Jodi Arias has been scheduled for October 24, 2013. Is this something that is routinely done in cases where a mistrial has been declared in the sentencing phase, after a defendant has already been found guilty? I wouldn't call anything that has happened with this case "routine".
Jodi Arias may be the most chatty murder defendant America has ever encountered. She has appeared before the media before and immediately after her high profile murder trial, she has used people to get her message out via social media despite being jailed since her arrest on July 15, 2008. She has doggedly pursued the media, immediately following her guilty verdict she picked and chose which media outlets she would allow to interview her and had some diva-like demands on how the cameras should shoot the footage. She refused to allow them to show her leg chains and requested makeup and hair products before telling the viewing public that she preferred death to life behind bars.
Later, she would have an apparent change of heart - but not for herself, for her family. At her original penalty phase, she told jurors sentencing her to death would only serve to hurt her family - and she laid out a multimedia-like presentation on all the good she could do if allowed to live in prison. It's hard to know for sure if this has been her plan all along, to delay the trial long enough to let the public sentiment towards her settle down. She may have done just that, although I don't personally feel any differently now about what kind of punishment her crime is worthy of than I did 6 months ago.
So the million dollar question is, why the settlement conference? Why now? If the Alexander family has any input into whether they forge forward with their pursuit of capital punishment for the woman who killed their brother Travis, it's hard to imagine how difficult that decision has been for them. I'm sure they want to move on with their lives, the best that they can considering their worlds have been forever changed by the actions of Jodi Arias. Has Bill Montgomery decided that life in prison is enough punishment to put an end to the circus this trial has become? Does anybody out there believe that Juan Martinez would be FOR settling with Jodi Arias? I don't. But it's ultimately not his call, it's Montgomery's call.
In today's court hearing, Judge Sherry Stephens was expected to rule on several motions that have been pending for the retrial. The defense wants a change of venue, a sequestered jury, disclosure of juror Twitter accounts, limited televised media coverage and individualized voir dire during jury selection. Kirk Nurmi has been arguing that it will be difficult to find an impartial jury given the widespread media coverage during her 5 month long trial in Phoenix this year. Jodi Arias isn't the only murder defendant to become a household name as a result of a criminal trial. It's so disappointing that the original trial jury wasn't able to see this thing through to the end. Had they known how long justice would be delayed, maybe they would've kept deliberating a little longer? Maybe it's not fair to say that, I wasn't in the jury deliberation room. But it seems the jury had questions as to what would occur if they didn't reach a decision, and they never really seemed to get a straight answer.
It would've been nice either way to have a sentence. But we didn't, and now we are left with this mess that keeps getting pushed farther and farther into the future. It doesn't seem fair, certainly not for the victim and his family. The jury found her guilty, it would seem half the battle was won - but a very important piece of the puzzle is missing. This brings me back to the gender bias in death penalty cases. I feel certain if Travis had killed Jodi in such a savage manner, I wonder if the jury would have had a difficult time sentencing him to death. Like it or not, the death penalty exists in the state of Arizona. And it's there for a reason. For the worst of the worst crimes. Yes, I know studies seem to question whether it's an effective deterrent against these crimes, but it's reserved for murders that meet certain criteria. This murder met the criteria, the defendant lied to the police, she lied to the jury under oath - there was a mountain of evidence that pointed to the cruel and heinous nature of Travis' murder. If this isn't worthy of capital punishment, why not abolish it? Is it only reserved for people who look, talk or act a certain way?
I'm beginning to wonder.
Today's hearing will not be televised. The previous two court hearings lasted only minutes before being pushed back on the calendar. Will this be more of the same? I'd be hopeful if Judge Stephens actually RULED on some of the pending motions. She's certainly had time to ponder the issues, let's get the ball rolling Judge Stephens. Take control of your courtroom, hold all attorney's feet to the fire and let's start picking a jury already. It's time to see this trial through to the conclusion, further delaying it isn't going to alter the aggravating or mitigating circumstances. This photo captures Arias' interest during her own trial. She couldn't look more bored or disinterested.