Judge denies defense motion to withdraw during penalty phase in Arias murder case
Lawyers for convicted murderer Jody Arias asked the court to declare a mistrial Monday, on the basis that a key witness was receiving death threats. The judge declined to do so and also denied their motion to withdraw as counsel, which the Associated Press reports was done as a protest of the judge not granting a mistrial.
The Arizona trial is now in the penalty phase. Arias, who is represented by Kirk Nurmi and Jennifer Willmott, is scheduled to speak in front of the jury Tuesday. On May 8, she was convicted of first-degree murder, and the jury will consider whether she receives a capital sentence or gets life in prison.
The panel must reach a unanimous decision under Arizona law, according to the AP. If they don’t, a new jury will be seated to select a sentence.
Arias admitted that she killed Travis Alexander, but maintains it was done in self-defense. Alexander’s body was found with numerous knife wounds, his throat was slit and he was shot in the head, the AP reports. The government argued that Arias and Alexander had a relationship, and she was jealous after he ended it and planned to a trip to Mexico with another woman.
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