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Arias Attorneys Want Jurors To Disclose Twitter Accounts

Defense attorneys Kirk Nurmi and Jennifer Willmott have asked Judge Sherry Stephens to ask all jurors in the upcoming penalty phase retrial for Jodi Arias to reveal if they have Twitter accounts.  Hmmmm….seems the Arias defense camp is concerned that jurors may send or receive tweets during the upcoming trial.  Isn’t that a little ironic, coming from a defendant who is notorious for sending out tweets out during the guilt phase of her own murder trial? 

In a motion filed by the Arias defense team, they claim one of the alternate jurors, Tara Kelley (Juror #17) used Twitter and had communicated with a member of the media via Twitter. They further claim Kelley made a comment on Facebook about Jodi Arias’ temper.  Apparently Kelley believed she could view social media as long as she didn’t discuss the trial.  I’m not sure what part of Judge Stephens daily admonishment about discussing the case in any manner this alternate juror did not understand, but I’d hate to be the juror who’s action gives Arias grounds for an appeal.

Yes, social media SHOULD include the use of Twitter, and nobody involved in the trial should be engaging in this type of activity during a trial.  Nurmi and Willmott argued in a motion that “Twitter allows those who would like to influence Ms. Arias’ jury  to communicate in a way that could go undetected”. For once, I agree with the defense in that all members of the jury (even the alternates) should be prohibited from using all social media during the trial and deliberations.  This should naturally include Jodi Arias as well.

Jodi Arias Trial - August 26 Status Hearing Approaches

As August 26, 2013 approaches, I’m wondering what we will learn about the next steps in the sentencing retrial of Jodi Arias.  Will this be another 5 minute hearing, where the defense team will ask for another delay?  I can think of several potential issues Kirk Nurmi and Jennifer Willmott have previously raised or could potentially raise in their efforts to put off the retrial of the sentencing phase of their client.  When will this end?

They will more than likely ask for a change in venue, arguing the media publicity of the trial unfairly tainted the potential jury pool – naturally, they will fail to mention their client’s part in the media feeding frenzy that surrounded this trial.  Arias famously scheduled numerous interviews after the verdict was handed down during the guilt phase, and has drawn attention to herself virtually from the start – beginning with the 48 Hours, Inside Edition and other jailhouse interviews back before she admitted to killing Travis Alexander.  Throughout her trial, she assured the spotlight would be squarely on her by tweeting messages to her “supporters” through friend Donovan Bering and hawking her artwork in online auctions.  She taunted and criticized Nancy Grace and HLN News for targeting her.  How dare the media portray her in such a fashion!  The message here is Arias seems to believe in the media, but only when it’s her that’s doing the talking.  Anybody who disagrees or questions her details or lack of details around the murder is a hater.

So will Judge Sherry Stephens forge ahead with a firm date to start jury selection, or will the train derail before it even leaves the station again?  I don’t envy this judge, having her first death penalty trial be THIS trial.  She’s bound to draw criticism and praise with her decisions.  I think most people just want to know that the end to this 5+ year saga is coming to an end.  So what does prosecutor Juan Martinez need to focus on during the penalty retrial?  What could potentially sway the jury to the sentence the state is seeking?  Looking at the problems with the first trial, it seems at least one juror who spoke publicly took some pity on Arias, believing Travis Alexander did in fact verbally and emotionally abuse her.  This was based for the most part on those angry text messages and e-mails from Travis to Jodi.  I think the state needs to do a good job of telling the jury WHAT could have prompted such angry responses from Travis.  I think many people believe Jodi threatened to play that sex tape to the woman Travis was planning to take to Cancun, and potentially other people within his circle of friends.  She had to have known this would have infuriated him, or anybody for that matter.  He had to be outraged and disgusted when he found out she recorded that call in early May.  He absolutely did not ask for a phone sex tape.

What else could have prompted him to tell Arias that she was absolutely the worst thing that ever happened to him?  Two days before the 25 caliber gun was reported stolen from Arias’ grandfather’s home, Travis sent Jodi a text message calling her evil.  The sequence of events seems fairly clear, although somewhat circumstantial – I don’t see Jodi Arias as a victim of emotional or verbal abuse.  Juan Martinez needs to drive these points home, that Jodi Arias seems to be the only person Travis Alexander spoke to in this manner and there was a reason behind it.  Without delving into these reasons more, and with the defense focusing on these angry exchanges it didn’t make Travis look good.  I believe it took a great deal of deceit and disgust for him to get to that point with Arias, and by the time she started to threaten to use his own words against him he had probably had it with her.  He undoubtedly regretted letting the relationship go on as long as it did, and she played on his guilt like she played Jury #1.  The defense also went to great lengths to portray Arias childhood as traumatic and difficult.  Her mom carried a wooden spoon in her purse and beat her with it, and her father was an imposing figure who was critical of Arias from an early age.  We never heard from anybody in the Arias family during the trial, and you really have to wonder why.  All we have to go on is the parents (concerned) behavior during the police interviews, and comments from those who knew the family growing up.  I personally don’t recall hearing anybody even hint that her parents were abusive.  I heard “strict”, but I think any parents who caught their child growing marijuana on the roof of the house would have reason to be strict.

There’s no doubt that Jodi Arias murdered Travis Alexander.  She’s been found guilty of first degree murder, and the jury found the manner in which she killed him was cruel and depraved.  These factors have been decided.  I hope the next jury panel will look at the totality of this case, and remember that Travis Alexander was a real man with a family and friends who loved him.  Too often the victims seem to fade into the background as all focus is placed on the defendant in an attempt to understand why this happened.  What could have possibly caused Arias to unleash such fury, anger and utter violence towards a man that she loved so much?  People seem to need to believe there was a triggering event, that somebody who outwardly appears “normal” and incapable of such savage actions must have been pushed beyond her limits.  I suppose it helps us to believe that something like this could never happen to ourselves or somebody we love.  But sometimes the person is the problem. I think Jodi loved Travis so much that the rejection she faced from the planned June 9 trip to Cancun was too much for her to mentally and emotionally handle.  But make no mistake, she planned this.  Why else go to the trouble of stealing and concealing a gun?  The May text messages, e-mails and the phone sex tape are the key.  Without Travis Alexander’s angry words to Arias, what does the defense have to explain Arias’ alleged abuse?  They have next to nothing.  Take away those angry words by Travis and you also take away the sympathy for Jodi.

No doubt Juan Martinez is a seasoned pro in the courtroom.  When Judge Stephens declared a mistrial, the look of complete disappointment and total frustration was all over Juan Martinez’s face. He wants to get justice for Travis and his family.  You can tell he takes his cases very seriously, all of them – not just the high profile cases.  I think taking away the sympathy factor in the re-trial will be on his to-do list.  Hopefully he has listened to media interviews given by those jurors who spoke out following the mistrial and has learned from their words and their points of view. Arias’ post-conviction media blitz may be another damaging piece of evidence to be used at the retrial.  She would be wise to lay low.  But I seriously doubt that is going to happen!  By now she’s a fame junkie, looking for her next fix from behind bars while she should be seriously considering the possibility that she may end up on Arizona’s Death Row.  If Jodi Arias truly wants to live, she should give some serious thought to showing remorse, being humble and taking full responsibility for the wake of destruction she left in her path.  She still hasn’t offered a real apology.  She continues to sell “Survivor” t-shirts.  She just doesn’t seem to get it.

What will happen during the next status hearing on August 26th?  Will we get a firm date to begin the jury selection process?  Will there be a change of venue?  Will this jury be sequestered?  Will Jodi Arias put on real mitigation witnesses this go around?  Will Jose Baez join Nurmi & Willmott at the defense table?  Anything is possible with this trial!  Have a great week.  

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