Arizona court hears appeal of Jodi Arias murder conviction
PHOENIX – The Arizona Court of Appeals heard arguments Thursday from lawyers trying to overturn the murder conviction of Jodi Arias, claiming prosecutorial misconduct interfered with her rights to a fair trial.
Arias was sentenced to life in prison for the 2008 stabbing death of former boyfriend Travis Alexander in Mesa.
The hourlong proceeding was livestreamed from Division One Courtroom 2 at the Arizona State Supreme Court.
Arias, 39, did not make the trip to the 15th Avenue and Washington Street building.
The court was not making a decision, but planned to post the verdict online at a later date.
The appeal was filed in May 2015, two years after Arias was found guilty of first-degree murder.
“Almost everybody appeals their conviction, especially when they’re going to be in prison the rest of their life,” KTAR News 92.3 FM legal analyst Monica Lindstrom told Arizona’s Morning News hours before the trial got underway.
The conviction could be thrown out, “and (Arias) is allowed to walk free … or she just gets a new trial,” Lindstrom said.
Arias’ two attorneys and a special counsel argued that Maricopa County Attorney Office prosecutor Juan Martinez improperly questioned witnesses and allegedly had an affair with a blogger covering the trial.
“(Martinez) alleged that the defense was fabricating the case,” Cory Engle, one of Arias’ attorneys, said at the hearing.
“He even went so far as to argue that everything that came from one of the witnesses was ‘contaminated filth.'”
Judge Sherry Stephens was another focus of the Arias team’s issues with the conviction.
The attorneys said Stephens’ inability to control news coverage during the headline-grabbing case had also deprived their client of the right to a fair trial.
A lawyer defending the conviction on the state’s behalf said overwhelming evidence of Arias’ guilt should outweigh mistakes the prosecutor made.
Arias is serving a life sentence for her first-degree murder conviction at the state prison in Perryville, about a half-hour drive west of downtown Phoenix.
The guilt phase of Arias’ trial ended in 2013 with jurors convicting her but deadlocking on punishment.
A second sentencing trial ended in early 2015 with another jury deadlock, leading a judge to sentence Arias to prison for life.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.