Legally Speaking: Lot of action but few changes going into Jodi Arias retrial

Sep 23, 2014, 7:20 PM | Updated: Apr 27, 2015, 8:39 pm
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Has anything changed with Jodi Arias?

When we left the courtroom in May 2013, Jodi Arias had been convicted of premeditated first-degree murder and the jury had found the aggravating factor, thus putting the death penalty on the table.

However, the jury was unable to reach a unanimous decision as to whether Arias should be sentenced to death. So, where are we now and has anything changed?

A lot has happened but nothing has really changed. We are still at the same place in the proceedings we were last year. Starting Sept. 29, the retrial of the penalty phase in State v. Jodi Arias will begin. Judge Sherry Stephens, prosecutor Juan Martinez, defense attorneys Kirk Nurmi and Jennnifer Willmott, and Jodi Arias herself will be selecting the members of the new jury that will, hopefully, decide whether Arias will be put to death or will be sentenced to prison.

Should they unanimously decide she deserves the death penalty, Arias will be transported to death row at the Arizona Department of Corrections to live out her days until she meets the needle.

If they cannot reach a decision or decide she does not deserve death, then it will be up to the judge to decide whether Arias will be in prison until she dies, or if she will serve a life sentence with a possibility of parole. Either way, she will leave Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s accommodations and I am sure both she and the sheriff are happy about that.

So, as for the proceedings, nothing has changed other than this is the last chance. This is the last chance for either side to convince the jury that their way of thinking is correct. This will be the last time the power that is prosecutor Martinez will have to convince 12 strangers that Arias is a lying, manipulative murderer who deserves the needle.

On the flip side, this is the last time Arias and her team will have to show that she can still be a productive member of society and that her life should be spared. Do or die, this is it. The beginning of the end is upon us.

The only significant change was solidified this week. Judge Stephens denied a motion for reconsideration that was filed by several media outlets requesting she withdraw or change her previous ruling regarding camera coverage.

Previously Stephens ruled that camera coverage would be allowed during the retrial with the caveat that nothing could be aired until the jury reached its verdict. After hearing arguments, Stephens stuck with her decision because the defense was able to convince her that Arias’ mitigation witnesses were hesitant, if not unwilling, to testify if there was a live stream or broadcast.

This was exactly what Stephens needed to support her decision. The defendant’s right to a fair trial trumps almost everything and this is a good example of that.

Finally, there is something else that has happened that may be significant to this trial. There have been some, shall we say “difficulties,” with a couple of the most recent executions in our country.

From Oklahoma to Arizona, executions received air time, and not for any positive reasons. If the 12 deliberating jurors are aware of these recent problems, that could give them pause. Granted, it takes Arizona 12 years, on average, to carry out the death penalty, but it could be enough “doubt.”

Again, a lot has happened, but nothing has really changed. Arias is still a murderer, Martinez is still focused, and cameras will still be in the courtroom. You just won’t be able to see or listen to what is happening in real time. No worries, though, because I assure you KTAR News and I will keep you updated every step of the way on Twitter, Facebook, and at KTAR.com.

Monica Lindstrom

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Legally Speaking: Lot of action but few changes going into Jodi Arias retrial