Judge maintains camera restrictions in Arias trial
PHOENIX (AP) — A judge Monday refused to lift restrictions on camera coverage of the penalty phase of Jodi Arias’ retrial.
Judge Sherry Stephens rejected a request from local television stations to allow video footage to be broadcast 30 minutes after the end of each day’s proceedings.
Instead, Stephens is sticking by her previous order that no footage can be broadcast until after the verdict.
Arias last year was convicted of murder in the 2008 killing of her ex-boyfriend at his suburban Phoenix home, but jurors couldn’t reach a decision on her sentence. The retrial of the penalty phase begins Sept. 29. Jurors will determine whether Arias receives the death penalty or life in prison.
A media lawyer had argued Stephens’ video restrictions deny the public their constitutional right to witness criminal proceedings, but the judge said in her latest order that she is protecting Arias’ right to a fair trial.
Stephens said her restrictions “provide for the least restrictive media access to the trial that will protect the defendant’s right to fair penalty phase retrial.”
A delay of 30 minutes until after each day’s court session ended “will not diminish or eliminate the likelihood of harm,” the judge said.
Arias’ lawyers had argued that daily broadcasts of the trial might lead to defense witnesses backing out for fear of being harassed or threatened.
Defense lawyer Kirk Nurmi said during a Sept. 15 hearing that the motion to allow the release of video footage was simply a desire by the media “to exploit this trial for profit.”
Prosecutor Juan Martinez did not object to daily video releases, noting that Arias has sought media coverage herself, offering interviews before, during and after the trial.
Martinez said Arias’ defense is just seeking “to manage or attempt to control what’s going out on the air waves.”
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