Arias victim’s family makes dramatic statement
PHOENIX (AP) — Steven Alexander stood before the jury, looked up at a family picture and grimaced and cried as he ticked off the list of problems that have befallen him in the five years since his brother was murdered: ulcers, depression, a separation from his wife, nightmares.
Earlier this week, Arias’ attorneys asked to be allowed to step down from the case, but a judge denied the request.
Details about the motion were sealed, but legal experts said Arias complicated efforts for her defense when she gave an interview to Fox affiliate KSAZ minutes after her conviction, saying she preferred death over life in prison.
The interview prompted the judge to issue an order that the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office allow no more interviews with Arias. Less than a week later, Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Thursday gave reporters a tour of Arias’ cinderblock jail cell. The messy cell had a mattress on a lower bunk and the upper bunk cluttered with files and papers.
During a closed-door meeting with the judge Tuesday, Nurmi and Jennifer Willmott sought permission to withdraw from the case, according to court minutes released Thursday. Legal experts say the decision was not a surprising one because the attorneys have a conflict of interest with their own efforts to try and save her life while Arias has said she’d rather die.
“It would be something I would do in my major felony cases if I found that a client was actually working against me and not working with her defense,” Phoenix criminal defense lawyer Julio Laboy said.
Arias cannot choose the death penalty. It’s up to the jury to determine a sentence. Her attorneys’ motion to withdraw will have no impact on the penalty phase of the trial given jurors are not privy to the filing, and not even media have the details due to a court order sealing all such proceedings.
Arias, 32, acknowledged killing Alexander at his suburban Phoenix home after a day of sex on June 4, 2008. She initially denied any involvement and later blamed the attack on masked intruders. Two years after her arrest, Arias said she killed Alexander in self-defense.
The victim suffered nearly 30 knife wounds, had his throat slit from ear to ear and was shot in the forehead. Prosecutors say the attack was fueled by jealous rage after Alexander wanted to end his affair with Arias and prepared to take a trip to Mexico with another woman.
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