Defense attorney urges jury to spare Jodi Arias life
PHOENIX (AP) — A defense lawyer displayed a series of happy images of Jodi Arias on Tuesday as he tried to garner sympathy from a jury that is deciding whether to send the convicted murderer to prison or death row.
Lawyer Kirk Nurmi put the Arias photo album on display as he urged jurors to spare her life. He called it a monumental decision as he asked jurors: “Would you kill Jodi Arias for what she’s done?”
“In some ways, the choice before you is simple, right? Life or death,” Nurmi said.
Nurmi showed jurors a series of photos through Arias’ life, including images of her family and victim Travis Alexander. He reiterated that the 34-year-old Arias has borderline personality disorder and suffered physical and emotional abuse from her parents and Alexander — claims that have never been corroborated but have become a centerpiece of her efforts to avoid the death penalty.
Prosecutor Juan Martinez was scheduled to make his closing argument later Tuesday.
Prosecutors said Arias attacked Alexander in a jealous rage after he wanted to end their affair and planned a trip to Mexico with another woman. Arias has acknowledged killing Alexander but claimed it was self-defense after he attacked her.
The closing arguments came as a lengthy trial is drawing to a close.
Arias first went on trial in January 2013 in the deadly stabbing and shooting of Alexander. She was convicted of first-degree murder five months later after a salacious trial that revealed intimate details of her and Alexander’s love life along with gruesome details of the killing.
The same jury could not agree on a punishment for Arias, creating a new penalty phase of the trial that began last year. The trial dragged on for several months amid a series of expert witnesses and the surprising October decision by Judge Sherry Stephens to remove reporters and spectators from the courtroom so Arias could testify in private. A higher court halted the testimony on its second day amid complaints from news organization.
The retrial revealed few new details about the crime and was more subdued than Arias’ first trial, which turned into a media circus. At the retrial, the judge barred the broadcast of footage from the proceedings until after a verdict is reached. She did, however, agree to allow live broadcast coverage of the sentencing verdict.
Arias passed up a chance Monday to address the jury, saying she wanted to make such comments but insisting the courtroom be cleared. She said she wouldn’t make any remarks if she could be seen and heard from a remote viewing room. Stephens said an appeals court has forbidden Arias from making such comments behind closed doors.
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