Arias judge bars public from witness’ testimony
PHOENIX (AP) — The judge in the Jodi Arias trial has barred the public from watching the first witness called by the convicted murderer in her bid to be spared the death penalty for the brutal 2008 killing of her former boyfriend.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens says that the witness would not testify unless the hearing was closed to the public.
She declined Thursday to reveal the witness’ identity.
The judge says her decision to close the courtroom and seal the witness’ testimony until the sentencing trial’s conclusion is necessary for “the administration of justice.”
The discussion among the attorneys and judge over the issue was conducted in private.
Chris Moeser (MEE-sir), an attorney for The Arizona Republic, argued that the First Amendment allows reporters to attend the hearing.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
Siblings of the man murdered by Jodi Arias tearfully told a jury Thursday how they are still traumatized by his killing six years ago, recounting a litany of nightmares, ulcers and family troubles brought on by the loss of their beloved family member.
The family members spoke to the jury that is deciding whether the 34-year-old Arias should get the death penalty or a life sentence in the 2008 killing of Travis Alexander. He was shot and stabbed numerous times, and his body was found in his shower. Prosecutors say Arias killed him in a jealous rage after he wanted to break off their relationship and see other people. Arias says it was self-defense.
Steven Alexander described nightmares, ulcers and constant trauma from losing his brother, including locking the doors when he showers. Tanisha Sorenson called it a “living hell.”
“When I lay down at night, all I can think about is my brother’s murder,” Steven Alexander said as other family members could be heard crying in the gallery.
A jury last year convicted Arias of murder but deadlocked on whether she should be sentenced to life in prison or death. A new jury was seated to decide the punishment again. The defense is expected to begin its case later Thursday.
The family statements came after several days of prosecution testimony, primarily by the Mesa detective who investigated the case and interrogated Arias. Jurors also saw gruesome crime-scene photos and heard an X-rated phone call between Arias and the victim in the weeks before the killing.
Much of the testimony and evidence was a repeat from the original trial, which attracted a global following as it was televised live. The retrial is not being broadcast live, however.
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