Another status hearing has come and gone, with no new trial date in sight for convicted murderer Jodi Arias. Judge Sherry Stephens concluded the brief court hearing by setting the next status hearing for September 16, 2013. The judge stated she was not ready to set a firm retrial date without first reading through the many motions filed by Arias’ defense team Kirk Numi and Jennifer Willmott. Will this trial ever happen? Will a sentence ever be rendered in this case? Here’s the burning question in my mind. I understand these things take time, but at the last status hearing Judge Stephens instructed attorneys on both sides that all motions must be filed by August 5th, 2013. What’s been happening between August 5th and August 26th? I know the judge likely has a full court schedule, but this is reaching a point where I’m beginning to wonder IF a conclusion will ever be reached.
The defense seems to be using these stall tactics on the penalty phase retrial, arguing over everything from the issue of cameras in the courtroom, change of venue, witness intimidation and jurors use of social media tools. They are hoping that with the passage of time, the public outrage over this murder will dissipate and perhaps the state will fall back on some sort of plea deal. I doubt the Alexander family will sign off on any proposed plea deal that allows Arias to escape a potential death penalty after what she did to their brother. Let a jury decide. I have to wonder if Jodi Arias was a man who butchered and shot an ex-girlfriend if we would be still discussing this case. It is my opinion that if Arias were a male, a death penalty would have been easier to reach by Jury #1. Gender bias does exist in death penalty cases, and this is a prime example.
How much longer will the family have to endure living in this legal limbo? The Alexander’s have reportedly hired attorneys to handle a wrongful death civil suit against Arias, however that will not likely move forward until the conclusion of the criminal trial – as is standard operating procedure. Criminal trials take precedence over civil trials. This has got to be beyond frustrating. I’d like to know, don’t victims of violent crime have a right to a speedy trial? Do murder victims deserve swift justice, or is that a right that is reserved for living victims? Although I’m not completely surprised that today’s status hearing came and went without any major decisions or dates being set, but at some point this has got to come to an end!
With so many outstanding issues left to deal with before we even get to choosing Jury #2, will the penalty retrial happen before 2014? Now we are seeing the witness intimidation's issues coming up again, with domestic violence “expert” Alyce LaViolette and Arias’ childhood friend (her name escapes me now, but she is the one who reportedly had substance abuse issues and had potentially failed to report income received from selling childhood photos of herself and Jodi Arias) talking about the threats they have received from members of the public. Ad to that, cameras in the courtroom, potential change of venue, sequestering the jury, requests from Jodi Arias’ defense for individual voir dire of potential jurors and all I see in the foreseeable future are delays and more delays. Aren’t there any guidelines to sentencing following the verdict in a murder trial? Is it standard operating procedure to let these things linger on without any real end in sight? There should be. A person convicted of 1st degree murder should be sentenced in a reasonable amount of time. I feel Judge Stephens, had she stuck to her firm deadline on when all motions had to be filed (August 5th), she should have already reviewed the motions filed and had some rulings during this mornings status hearing. Instead, Arias reportedly made a 5 minute appearance before a new status hearing date was set for mid September and she was led out of the courtroom and presumably taken back to her digs at the Estrella jail – where she has 16 hours to meander outside of her cell, use of the telephone and cable TV, a library and has time to create more “artwork” to sell. I guess I have a different idea of how a defendant who claims to be indigent should behave, especially given the state of Arizona has spent over $1.6 million bucks on her defense. Judge Stephens, please set some firm deadlines and force each side to stick with them. We already know the jury selection process is going to be time consuming. Can we get through the motions filed by Nurmi and Willmott and get the show on the road already? Enough is enough.