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ADJOURNED: Court abruptly called off in Jodi Arias trial

HLN/CNN
Monday, May 20, 2013 - 1:20pm

Court was abruptly canceled in the Jodi Arias trial Monday. Judge Sherry Stephens adjourned Monday's proceedings without giving a reason and simply told the jurors court was unable to proceed. Stephens said Arias will address the jury Tuesday.

A possible reason for the delay may be that Arias's defense team may have asked for more time so Arias could prepare the statement she will give to the jury.

In what promises to be an emotional finale to a nearly six-month courtroom drama, Jodi Arias is expected to make a statement Tuesday to appeal directly to the jurors' sense of humanity to spare her life.

Arias was convicted of first-degree murder for the grisly slaying of her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander on June 4, 2008. Last week, jurors reached their second verdict in the case, deciding that Arias murdered Alexander in a "cruel manner."

This week could be the dramatic conclusion to the Arias' trial. Jurors will deliberate a third time to determine whether she is sentenced to life in prison or death via lethal injection.

In an atypical move, the defense has told the jurors they intend to display some of Arias' art to illustrate that her life behind bars may have value to society. It could be one of the most memorable moments of the trial.

Defense attorney Kirk Nurmi has asked the jury to consider a wide variety of mitigating factors, including the fact that Arias has no prior criminal history, that she suffered abuse and neglect as a child, and that she is a “talented artist.”

Prosecutor Juan Martinez, however, told the jurors that Arias’ art -- among other things -- is irrelevant when it comes to her murderous actions on June 4, 2008.

In mentioning Arias' artistic value to society, HLN’s Ryan Smith says the defense is trying make Arias seem more human to those who might regard her as a monster capable of a brutal murder.

“It’s all about showing that she is a human being. A human being who has likes and dislikes. ... They can maybe get one member of the jury to look at her and say ‘Hey, she is just like me. Yes, she did something horrific, but am I ready to end her life?’” said Smith.

Arias testified at trial that she enjoys art and photography. She also said she had aspirations of becoming a professional photographer, before being arrested on murder charges.

If the jurors decide not to sentence Arias to death, Judge Sherry Stephens will either sentence her to life in prison without parole or life in prison with the eligibility for parole after 25 years.

HLN is live-blogging the Jodi Arias trial. Click here to read HLN's live blog of the victim impact statements of Alexander's siblings. Click here to read about the moment Arias was found guilty of cruelty, and click here to read about the first-degree murder verdict. Read below for minute-by-minute updates from the trial (Best read from the bottom up):

1:59 p.m. ET: Judge Stephens said court will adjourn for the day, and Arias will give her statement to the jury tomorrow.

1:49 p.m. ET: Arias and her attorneys have gone into the judge's chambers.

1:48 p.m. ET: HLN's producer in the courtroom says there appears to be some discussion going on between Arias and her team about whether she will make a statement to the jury.

1:45 p.m. ET: The judge has left the bench, and the Arias' mitigation specialist is conferring with her.

1:43 p.m. ET: Judge Sherry Stephens has denied the defense's motion for mistrial. In response, Nurmi has asked to be withdrawn from the case. Judge Stephens has denied the motion to withdraw. Nurmi said the defense is not going to call any witnesses at this stage of the trial. Arias may make a statement to the jury. The attorneys are at a sidebar with the judge.

1:39 p.m. ET: "He can cast dispersions all he wants, but the court is not allowed to endorse that," said Nurmi.

1:36 p.m. ET: Martinez is explaining that Womack asserted her Fifth Amendment right to not self-incriminate herself before the trial hinting that may be the real reason why she is refusing to testify now.

1:34 p.m. ET: Prosecutor Juan Martinez is explaining how Womack failed to answer his questions to different times before the trial began.

1:31 p.m. ET: Nurmi said Arias' childhood friend Patricia Womack will not testify, because she is being intimitated.

1:29 p.m. ET: Nurmi is saying, because cameras were allowed in the courtroom it was not a fair trial.

1:28 p.m. ET: The judge is on the bench, and she is addressing the defense's motion for a mistrial.

1:09 p.m. ET: Arias and her attorneys have gone into the judge's chambers. Martinez is still in the courtroom.

12:56 p.m. ET: A source with ties to the case tells HLN that Arias' attorneys have filed a motion for mistrial. We expect the attorneys will argue this motion, behind closed doors this afternoon before the penalty phase resumes. If the judge declares a mistrial at this stage of the trial it will only apply to the penalty phase. Therefore, Arias' conviction first-degree murder and cruelty would still stand.
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