Arias attorneys seek to bar live coverage of trial
PHOENIX (AP) – Jodi Arias has sought the spotlight at every turn, granting national television interviews in the months after her arrest, another on the day of her conviction, and about a half dozen the day jurors began deliberating whether she should live or die for her crimes.
Now facing a retrial to determine her sentence, Arias’ lawyers are asking a judge to bar live TV coverage inside the courtroom, an irony not lost on prosecutors and a lawyer representing CNN.
“She has voluntarily thrust herself into the vortex of this public controversy,” the news network’s attorney, David Bodney, told the judge at a hearing Friday. “It is unfair to deprive the public … because someone can’t control her own speech.”
Arias was convicted of first-degree murder May 8 in the 2008 stabbing and shooting death of boyfriend Travis Alexander in his suburban Phoenix home. The same jury failed to reach a decision on whether she should get the death penalty, setting the stage for a second penalty phase.
Arias’ attorneys are arguing that the same intense publicity that enveloped her trial will no doubt come in the second penalty phase as well, hindering her ability to get a fair trial. They also are seeking to have the new jury sequestered, citing thousands of television news shows and newspaper articles about Arias throughout her roughly five-month trial, as well as a Lifetime movie about the case that attorneys said attracted 3.1 million viewers.
In addition, Arias’ lawyers want the retrial moved out of the Phoenix metropolitan area because of excessive publicity, and they want the judge to compel all jurors eventually seated to reveal their Twitter user names so the accounts can be monitored to ensure jurors aren’t communicating about the case.
Arias herself has operated a Twitter account, even throughout the trial, using a third party to post comments on her behalf as she remains jailed. As of Friday, she had more than 78,000 followers.
In one recent motion, prosecutors shot back, noting that the defense efforts fail to acknowledge Arias’ “own role in creating publicity about the trial.”
“She cannot create what she now considers a problem and then expect the court to change its procedure to solve the problem,” the motion read.
The judge excluded the press and the public from the remainder of Friday’s hearing, despite objections from various media outlets. No rulings have yet been issued on any of the defense motions.
Under Arizona law, while Arias’ murder conviction stands, prosecutors have the option of pursuing a second penalty phase with a new jury in an effort to get a death sentence. If the second jury fails to reach a verdict, the death penalty would be removed as an option, and the judge would sentence Arias to ether spend her entire life behind bars or be eligible for release after 25 years.
Arias, 33, admitted she killed Alexander but claimed it was self-defense after he attacked her. Prosecutors argued it was premeditated murder carried out in a jealous rage after the victim wanted to end their affair and planned a trip to Mexico with another woman.
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