Jodi Arias hearing: Will judge set date for penalty retrial?

MGN Online
Sunday, August 25, 2013 - 2:21pm

Jodi Arias will return to court Monday for a hearing that could set the stage for her penalty-phase retrial.

Judge Sherry Stephens could set a date for Arias' upcoming retrial. Arias was convicted on May 8 of first-degree murder in the death of her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander.

A jury found Arias acted in a "cruel manner" in killing Alexander, who was found stabbed multiple times, shot once in the head and with his throat slit from ear to ear. However, that same jury deadlocked about whether Arias' sentence for the murder should be life in prison or the death penalty. Eight jurors wanted Arias to get the death penalty while four jurors voted for life in prison.

At a status hearing in July, Stephens said she would like to start the retrial in late September, but Arias' defense team is pushing to have it start sometime next year. Defense attorneys said they requested a later date to allow them to gather more witnesses to testify in the penalty-phase retrial.

Arias' defense attorneys filed a motion Thursday asking Stephens to limit or ban live TV coverage of her upcoming retrial, citing concerns for her right to a fair trial. They argued in the motion that live coverage during her first trial led to death threats against them and their witnesses.

Arias' attorneys also filed a motion last week asking the judge to force prospective jurors to hand over information about their personal Twitter accounts. Arias' attorneys say that, even if new jurors refrain from discussing the trial, nothing is stopping other people from reaching out to them on social media with information that may influence their decisions. The attorneys say the only way to monitor this influence is for them to know about the jurors' accounts.

It is not yet known whether Stephens will take up both defense motions during Monday's pretrial hearing.

The retrial will only apply to the penalty phase of Arias' case. Her first-degree murder conviction still stands. When the new penalty phase begins, a new jury will be selected, and it will only decide Arias' sentence.

If the second jury cannot reach a unanimous verdict, Arias would automatically get life in prison. However, Stephens would ultimately decide whether the convicted killer will get life without parole or life with eligibility for parole after 25 years.

Since her murder conviction, Arias has launched a book club with a website that showcases her reviews of books she has read in jail. She is also trying to sell her "Survivor" T-shirts, which she showed to jurors as she pleaded for her life. Arias said all proceeds from the T-shirt sales will go to domestic violence organizations. 

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