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Arias' Jail Perks - By Representing Herself, Visits & Calls Increase

Kirk Nurmi (LET ME OUT!)

I found this photo of Kirk Nurmi and am wondering how old the photo is.  He is sporting a bit of facial hair, and that looks like a wall clock he's wearing on his wrist.  It appears to me that he's begging Judge Stephens to let him off this case!  I have no clue what he's really saying or when the photo was taken but we haven't seen or heard much from or about Jodi Arias' lead attorney in some time.

It's such an outrage that Arias is flip flopping on who will represent her and how the trial will proceed.  The taxpayers have already shelled out probably close to $2,000,000 to pay for her defense - here's a look back at a letter her mother Sandy wrote to Judge Duncan back when Kirk Nurmi was trying to withdraw as her attorney:


Hon. Sally Duncan,
My name is Sandy Arias, the mother of Jodi Arias. I am writing to you to plea for my daughter's case. I feel for Mr. Nurmi to quit her case at this point would be detrimental to her defense. He has been helping with her case for the past eighteen months and knows everything about her and her circumstances. As you know, Jodi had some issues with Maria [mitigation specialist] and wasn't able to communicate with her.
She has come to trust Kirk. To bring Victoria in as head council and someone new to work with her would not be fair to Jodi. Jodi deserves a fair trial. Kirk has a lifetime to start his own practice where Jodi only has a few months that will determine whether she has a life at all. Where do his legal and moral obligations lie?
Our family circumstances will not allow us ot be able to hire legal council for her. Jodi's father's health is not good. He is a dialysis patient, has been through treatment for lymphoma and just had open heart surgery. I work two jobs to keep up with our bills.
Jodi doesn't deserve to be tried for the death penalty. The evidence against her will prove that. She has been an exemplary inmate for the entire time she has served in jail. She has been able to help other inmates with various things such as her signing for them, writing poems, doing drawings for them and also helping with reading and writing.
I am only hoing that you will step in and make sure that she gets the fair council that she deserves and needs. Also, that you will be willing to work with Kirk to retain him for the remainder of the time that she needs. As her mother, I am begging you to help save my daughter.
Sincerely,
Sandy Arias

What issues was Jodi having with mitigation specialist Maria de la Rosa? I hadn't heard anything about that before.  Interesting how Jodi Arias feels entitled to a defense team of her choosing, and if they don't agree with her ideas on how to keep her off death row she files Motion after Motion after Motion.  Judge Sherry Stephens has made it clear she will not allow this trial to be delayed any further.  If you ask me, the last year has been a gift to Arias and her defense team.  Maybe she should spend less time peddling her goods and raising funds for her appeals and more time on working with the defense team she already has?

Since Arias was granted the right to represent herself, she has been given more time out of her cell and has had more time to make phone calls - the Sheriff's office is aware that Arias may be trying to manipulate the system with this move and they are keeping a close eye on her, according to the Examiner.com.  Arias can now get 6 visits a week, as opposed to 1 prior to her move to act as her own attorney.  5 of those visits need to be court approved, so she doesn't have complete free reign but still....she also will have no limits to the time she spends on phone calls now, but she will have to provide a court approved list of phone contacts. 

An officer for the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said:

"She's still a close custody inmate which is the highest we have, and we are going to continue to treat her that way. She's been convicted of a crime, and one of the most serious crimes that you can think of, and we will continue to think and treat her that way."

It also appears that Jodi Arias has been writing to a reporter at the Houston Chronicle about her experiences in jail and her artwork. We all wonder how an inmate in close custody is able to run a business from a jail cell - and where is the money she's making going.  She had the following to say:
The money goes to other causes, including charity. Some goes to my family, who is struggling badly like so many. There is a mistaken believe that me selling my art is somehow unethical or unlawful. That's false. Everything I do with regard to my art is well within the law.
As for ethics, were it unethical for convicted people to lawfully earn money, there would be no employment opportunities within the nation's prisons. I was an artist for decades before I derailed my life. I had a business, Jodi Arias Fine Art & Photography, now defunct. What I do now is the same concept. Marketing my art is completely lawful and not connected with the deeply regrettable things I've done."

Need I say more?  The fact that people are still talking about her is probably her point.  In stark contrast, the family of Travis Alexander recently held a fundraiser in his honor, where all proceeds raised were donated to help the homeless.  "This is exactly what Travis would have wanted", they said.  

Cold Justice - TNT Signs On For A Third Season!

TNT recently announced that they've renewed their hit reality crime show Cold Justice for a third season. At least 10 new episodes are on deck and expected to begin airing in January of 2015. Man I love this show!  There are so many reality crime shows out there nowadays - the staples, such as Dateline, 48 Hours, 20/20, The First 48 in addition to the onslaught of new shows on Investigation Discovery and Oxygen's popular Snapped.  Cold Justice is in the same genre of some of these shows, yet to me it's in a league of it's own. Not many crime shows have the impressive and very real statistics they have gotten.  In the first two seasons since the shows inception:


  • 15 arrests
  • 8 indictments
  • 4 confessions
  • 2 guilty pleas
  • 1 22- year prison sentence
Those are real results, in addition to being a very informative show that shows the inner workings and challenges that detectives face when re-opening cold murder cases.  The chemistry between veteran former prosecutor Kelly Siegler, former Las Vegas CSI Yolanda McClary and their team of veteran homicide detectives is outstanding.  You get the sense these people truly like and respect one another, and there is no doubt in my mind they feel a real sense of duty and accomplishment in trying to get justice for these murder victims.  I get the feeling they would be loving doing this even if it wasn't being televised by the huge network TNT.  To them, this isn't about television, this is all about the victims and their families.  It shows, it comes across when you watch them working these cases and it's admirable what they are doing.

I'm a big fan of Kelly Siegler's work, and I've come to really admire Yolanda McClary as well as I see how her years of experience is paying off when they arrive at these crime scenes.  These ladies are sharp, smart, independent yet team-oriented - it seems Siegler and McClary and team go to great lengths to ensure the credit for indictments goes to the local cops and not Cold Justice. Many of these cases may not have ever been solved without the help and financial resources the show has brought to Small Town USA.  The Season 2 finale which aired on Friday, August 15th did not disappoint.  This was a 29 year old murder case with virtually no evidence, half of the potential witnesses were deceased but the team was determined to work through it, and did they ever!

In episode "Fool Me Once, Fool Me Twice?", the Cold Justice team traveled to Vigo County, Indiana to re-open the suspicious death of 23 year old Kathy Taylor.  Kathy Taylor was reportedly found dead by husband Earl Taylor when he got home from work on April 2, 1975.  This was pre-911, so Taylor originally went to his father's house and the two of them went to the police station to report the death of wife Kathy. When police arrived at the Taylor home, they found the 23 year old lying nude on the bathroom floor beside an empty bathtub - an electric clock radio was reportedly found inside the bath tub and Earl Taylor told police he returned home from work at 4:30PM and found Kathy inside a full bathtub of water with the clock radio submerged. She was dead. 

He unplugged the clock radio, drained the tub and removed her from the tub and placed her on the floor.  Police were suspicious of the death scene for many reasons, one of which was the fact that the clock radio's cord had obviously been altered to a 10 foot cord when an exact replica bought by the police proved it came with a 6 foot cord.  In addition, they didn't understand or believe that Kathy would have set the clock radio on the side of the tub when the bathroom counter was a more logical place for it to sit.  They were suspicious but at the time they didn't feel there was enough evidence to support a murder charge. Earl Taylor remained free and eventually remarried. As a result of his freedom, his second wife was eventually killed in what appeared to be a tragic car accident - later found to be a staged scene.

Mrs. Taylor #2's car was found in a lake, the scene was staged to make it appear she veered off the road and drove into the lake.  This episode didn't get into the details of that case, but it was disclosed that Earl Taylor was in fact convicted of killing her and staging the scene - he was sentenced to 60 years in prison but served only 27 before being released on parole.  While the Cold Justice team was setting up the Kathy Taylor case at the police headquarters, Earl Taylor was seen walking into the police department!  Apparently he was there to register as a violent offender, he was not aware at the time that they had re-opened his first wife's case.

The challenges of this case were basically time elapsed and lack of physical evidence. Because it was nearly 30 years ago when Kathy was killed, many of the original witnesses, detectives and even the medical examiner who did her autopsy were deceased.  They called in another medical examiner to interpret the report done by the original coroner and they found that Kathy did not die from electrocution, but rather drowning.  Her lungs were full of fluid, and electrocution stops the heart - if she died by accidental electrocution, there shouldn't have been so much water in her lungs.  Secondly, her stomach contents revealed corn and peas.  This is consistent with a dinnertime meal, not breakfast. Earl had told the police that when he left at 7AM that morning, Kathy was asleep and she must have taken a bath when she woke up.  Not true.

Another red flag - the time of death was believed to be night before she was found due to the stage of rigor her body was discovered in.  In addition, when a neighbor called Kathy the night before her body was found Earl told her that Kathy was taking a bath.  It seems unlikely she would take a bath at night after dinner and then take another bath in the morning when she woke up.  Another neighbor reported seeing Earl come home with the dog around 10AM the day the body was found, yet he told police he didn't return to the house until he got home from work around 4:30PM.  Perhaps the biggest red flag was the multiple life insurance policies Earl had taken out on his wife - many were forged and taken out without her knowledge.  At the time, he was working for an insurance agency so that may not have been suspicious if it wasn't for the forgeries and the other evidence they uncovered about the true cause of death, her stomach contents and the tampered with clock radio.

Earl was also having an affair with a 19 year old woman, the Cold Justice team found her and interviewed her. She told them that Earl never told her he was seeing Kathy until the day before he was set to get married to Kathy! He kept in touch with her after he married Kathy, and when it became clear they were heading for a divorce he mentioned something about getting more life insurance on Kathy.  He also told co-workers that the 23 year old Kathy had terminal cancer and she only had 2 weeks to live.  A short time later, she was found dead.  Sounds like a good case to me!  The local police and Cold Justice team caught up with Earl Taylor towards the end of the episode - as soon as they told him what they wanted to talk to him about, he abruptly got out of the car and wouldn't talk.  They didn't need Earl to say a word.  He was indicted and charged with capital murder for killing Kathy.

I'm not sure why this case took so long - it seems to me that the evidence was there all along.  They didn't uncover any substantially new evidence during the Cold Justice investigation, but they did put it all together in a way that showed the overwhelming evidence that Earl Taylor killed wife Kathy Taylor for life insurance proceeds.  Had he been taken down earlier, his second wife wouldn't have met the fate that she did.  That just compounds this tragedy.  Another great episode, and add another indictment to their stats.  Great job Kelly & Yolanda!  You ladies rock.






Jodi Arias' Motion to Have Kirk Nurmi Removed is Denied

The news surrounding the Jodi Arias penalty phase retrial has started to pick up as the September 8th start date approaches.  Jodi Arias Motion to represent herself was granted by Judge Sherry Stephens recently, the second such request Arias has made during her time in the legal system - however, it appears she is having second thoughts about her strategy as she has told Judge Stephens she is willing to "stand down" and not act as her own attorney if they allow Kirk Nurmi to withdraw from the case.

Arias wants to keep Jennifer Willmott on, who she apparently has a better rapport with and if Nurmi were released that would mean the Court would have to assign another attorney to her case - death penalty cases require that the defendant have two qualified attorneys as well as a mitigation specialist. Prosecutor Juan Martinez's interactions with Arias in non-pubic court hearings have made it clear he does not intend on making things easy for Jodi Arias either way.  He has aggressively objected to her requests for delays in starting this trial - citing the fact that when Arias argued in favor of representing herself, she agreed to the time schedule and knew what she was up against.  It's time for this trial to resume and this case needs to come to an end!

Here is the latest minute entry from August 13, 2014 denying Arias' request to have Nurmi removed:

Court and counsel discuss matters.

Advisory counsel Kirk Nurmi’s Motion to Withdraw is heard.
IT IS ORDERED setting Evidentiary Hearing on Defendant’s Motion to Continue Trial on 8/22/14 at 1:30 p.m. in this division.
Filed Under Seal: State’s Objection to Defense Request for Deposition
9:01 a.m. Matter concludes.

This case is eFiling eligible: http://www.clerkofcourt.maricopa.gov/efiling/default.asp. 
Attorneys are encouraged to review Supreme Court Administrative Order 2011-140 to determine 
their mandatory participation in eFiling through AZTurboCourt.
Later:


IT IS ORDERED denying Advisory counsel Kirk Nurmi’s Motion to Withdraw.

Judge Sherry Stephens has been thought of as being very lenient to this defendant and her defense team - but on this point, I'm happy that she is standing firm and not allowing Arias' shenanigans to dictate how this trial is going to play out.  What is said to be at the heart of the discord between Arias and Kirk Nurmi is trial strategy - Arias says Nurmi has a "utter poverty of people skills" and she says he hasn't visited or talked to her since they lost the case in chief.  I don't know if that's true, but I'm sure Jennifer Willmott has been working with Arias and we all know the lead attorney doesn't necessarily always do all of the legwork.  Whatever works for that particular defense team is usually sufficient.

Apparently when Arias decided she was the best person to represent herself in the penalty phase retrial, she wasn't thinking of how difficult it would be for her to interview witnesses from behind bars.  This is true, but she had to have known this wouldn't be easy.  I think this is like a chess game to her.  She probably knows that it is generally not a good idea for defendants to self-represent at trial, even when you aren't going up against a tough veteran prosecutor who knows this case like the back of his hand and is seeking to send her to Death Row.  Was this all a ploy, to get the Judge to let Nurmi withdraw - since she has stated she would end her bid to represent herself on those terms?  Is she thinking about the appeal potential with the Judge allowing her to represent herself versus keeping on a "qualified" attorney who has been on the case all along but doesn't necessarily like her as a person?

Arias is all over the map here - it seems she's trying to work the system but there's no way Judge Stephens is going to allow Nurmi to walk away because of the time and resources it would take to get another qualified attorney up to speed on this case would be outrageously high.  The taxpayers have already shelled out $1.7MM for Jodi Arias' defense!  What about the victim's rights? Doesn't Travis Alexander have the right to a speedy trial, or does the defendant have all the rights in this country? Let's get this trial back on track and stop the delays.  Jodi Arias is playing a dangerous game of chicken by trying to force the Judge into letting Nurmi off the case.  It seems like a transparent attempt to me.

Let her act as her own attorney.  It probably won't be pretty!  Even if she's spend every waking minute since she's been in custody reading law books, there's not a chance in hell that she would be prepared for going up against Juan Martinez or any other experienced prosecutor.  Law school is tough for a reason - she's no attorney, and she's certainly not death penalty qualified but if that's what she wants to do that's her right.  The Judge has ruled she is legally competent to make that decision, so let her live with it and let's get the show on the road!!


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