Arias contended that she killed Alexander in self-defense when he became enraged and attacked her during a nude photo shoot at his home. (Photo : MySpace: Jodi Arias)
The trial of Jodi Arias stretches on with no clear end in sight. Judge Sherry Stephens delayed a decision about whether Arias would be retried in another penalty phase until July 18 as the circus returned to court Thursday.
A 32-year-old waitress and aspiring photographer from California, Arias was found guilty May 8 in the gruesome premeditated first-degree murder of her ex-boyfriend, 30-year-old Travis Alexander, in June 2008. During four months of testimony, Arias admitted she killed her former lover, but claimed her ex abused her so intensely that it fractured her psyche, and that she was forced to kill Alexander in self-defense because she feared for her life due to his alleged habitual physical and emotional abuse.
However, as the prosecution endlessly hammered, the defense was unable to produce a single piece of evidence to corroborate its claims of Alexander's alleged double life—a pious Mormon virgin on the surface, and an often sadistic, "sexually deviant" manipulative control freak underneath. The state's attorney reminded jurors repeatedly that no police reports or any other documents support Arias' portrayal of the couple's supposedly violent relationship.
In her first appearance in court since being convicted of premeditated first-degree murder, Arias traded her typical conservative business suits for stripes and shackles Thursday as prosecution and defense attorneys met privately with judge Stephens in her quarters. But for a case defined by controversy and salacious scandal, Thursday's proceedings were uncharacteristically calm.
No arguments were made in open court. No live broadcast of the proceedings. No mob-like crowds swarming the courthouse as they had every day since the trial first began in January. And the courtroom was only reportedly two-thirds full. For now, the real drama is behind-the-scenes as both sides prepare to argue July 18 whether Arias should face a new jury for another penalty phase of the trial.
Arias' attorneys, clearly exhausted at this point, having filed various motions for mistrials and even requesting their own removal from the trial, once again asked judge Stephens to delay court until January 2014, filing a motion that said the defense needs the time to find more witnesses to testify for Arias because of apparent scheduling conflicts.
Defense lawyer Kirk Nurmi previously pleaded to Judge Stephens that the case should be thrown out, and Arias retried because her childhood friend, Patricia Womack, who planned to testify during the initial penalty phase, refused to take the stand because she allegedly received "threats on her life if she were to testify on Ms. Arias' behalf," according to the defense's motion.
State's attorney Juan Martinez, and Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery will now either offer Arias a plea bargain, meaning Arias would not receive the death penalty, would serve a life sentence in prison and the trial would be over, or they could push ahead, requiring the selection of a new jury and dragging Arias and her attorneys through the penalty phase all over again.
While the prosecution hasn't officially announced its intentions yet, Montgomery has already said he's preparing for a retrial and is confident impartial jurors can be found despite the trial's pervasive media coverage.
Earlier in the trial, Arias took the stand for a virtually unprecedented 18 days, describing tales of sex and violence involving Alexander in lurid detail, except, of course, the fateful day of his death. Medical examiners found that Arias stabbed Alexander 27 times, primarily in the back, as well as the torso and the heart, slit Alexander's throat from ear to ear with so much force it almost decapitated him, shot him in the face, and dragged his bloodied corpse to the shower where she left him crumpled over-all in 106 seconds. Arias claimed to have little to no memory of the attack, with much of her defense resting on the belief that she suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, an assertion jurors apparently had a hard time swallowing.
Until the tentative trial date in July, Arias will await her sentencing in Maricopa County jail.