Judge denies motion for mistrial in Arias penalty phase

May 20, 2013

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Maricopa County Judge Sherry Alexander denied a defense motion for a mistrial today during the penalty phase in the Jodi Arias case. Court recessed for the day and will resume tomorrow with Ms. Arias presenting her plea to the jury.

The defense moved for a mistrial when its only mitigation witness, Patricia Womack, refused to testify claiming that she had received death threats and was conflicted about the case.

I couldn’t do it,” she told NBC News in an email. “I feel there is so much good in Jodi to be saved but then also someone’s dear life was taken.

Defense attorney, Kirk Nurmi also alleged a separate ground. He accused the prosecutor of intimidating Ms. Womack by threatening to charge her with a crime. However, the Tribune reports that

Prosecutor Juan Martinez told the court on Monday that, in a prior interview with Womack, she had refused to answer questions about her drug use. He said that her refusal to incriminate herself would have precluded her from testifying.

Defense attorney Kirk Nurmi claimed that Womack’s absence would deny the jury a full picture of Arias’ life prior to meeting Alexander in 2006.

Maricopa County Judge Sherry Stephens ruled there was no basis for a mistrial. She also denied a subsequent request by Nurmi to withdraw from the case, and adjourned the court for the day.

This is an interesting issue because prosecutors are not permitted to intimidate defense witnesses into not testifying for a defendant. Unfortunately for the defense, Ms. Womack appears to have been more concerned about her conflicted feelings and if that is the case, I believe this issue will not get Ms Arias a new penalty phase, assuming the jury sentences her to death.

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Questions for readers about Jodi Arias penalty phase

May 16, 2013

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Good afternoon:

The jury in the Jodi Arias case unanimously agreed yesterday that the prosecution proved the aggravating circumstance beyond a reasonable doubt (i.e., excessive cruelty).

Meanwhile, defense counsel apparently moved to withdraw from the case after they found out that their client had decided to volunteer for the death penalty.

The judge denied their motion.

The case resumed today with the penalty phase.

Defense counsel are in a difficult situation.

Do they ask the jury to grant her request and sentence her to death, or do they ask the jury to disregard her request and sentence her to life without parole?

What would you do, if you were in their situation?

Now, I will up the ante and ask a tougher question. Let us suppose that they have powerful mitigation evidence to present that would likely persuade jurors to reject the death penalty and sentence her to life without parole. If you were representing her, would you present that evidence despite her objections?

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Writing articles every day and maintaining the integrity and safety of this site from people who would like nothing better than to silence us forever is a tough job requiring many hours of work.

If you like this site, please consider making a secure donation via Paypal by clicking the yellow donation button in the upper right corner just below the search box.

Thank you,

Fred


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