The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Breaking News

May 16, 2013

Arias lawyers wanted to withdraw but were denied

PHOENIX —  Attorneys for Jodi Arias asked to step down from the case after their client was convicted of first-degree murder, but a judge denied the request, according to court minutes obtained Thursday.

Details about the motion were sealed, but legal experts said Arias complicated efforts for her defense when she gave an interview to Fox affiliate KSAZ minutes after her conviction last week saying she preferred death over life in prison.

"I believe death is the ultimate freedom, and I'd rather have my freedom as soon as I can get it," Arias said.

Arias will return to court Thursday for the final phase of her trial as the same jury that convicted her weighs whether the former waitress should be sentenced to life in prison or death.

Her attorneys must convince jurors she shouldn't be executed. But during a closed-door meeting with the judge on Tuesday, Kirk Nurmi and Jennifer Willmott sought permission to withdraw from the case, the minutes state.

Los Angeles-area criminal defense lawyer Mark Geragos said Arias' attorneys have a conflict of interest with their efforts to keep their client off death row and Arias' assertion that she'd rather die for her crime.

"It's not highly unusual," he said. "There are cases where defendants make decisions that they're better off on death row, but that puts the lawyer in a conflicted position. You've got a duty as a lawyer to bring the conflict of interest to the courts and disclose it."

Added Phoenix criminal defense lawyer Julio Laboy: "It would be something I would do in my major felony cases if I found that a client was actually working against me and not working with her defense."

Arias cannot choose the death penalty. It's up to the jury to recommend a sentence.

On Wednesday, the panel took less than three hours to determine that Arias should be eligible for death in the killing of her one-time lover after prosecutors proved the murder was especially cruel and heinous.

Arias, 32, acknowledged killing Travis Alexander on June 4, 2008, at his suburban Phoenix home after a day of sex. She initially denied any involvement then later blamed the attack on masked intruders. Two years after her arrest, she settled on self-defense.

On Thursday, the penalty phase of her trial begins. Prosecutors will call Alexander's family and others to testify in an effort to convince the panel that Arias should face the ultimate punishment.

Arias' defense lawyers will have her family members testify, and likely others who have known her over the years, in an attempt to gain sympathy from jurors to save her life. It's not yet known if Arias will testify.

Arias showed no emotion Wednesday after the jury returned a decision that was widely expected given the violent nature of the killing. She slashed Alexander's throat, stabbed him in the heart and shot him in the forehead.

The victim suffered nearly 30 knife wounds in what prosecutors described as an attack fueled by jealous rage after Alexander wanted to end his affair with Arias and prepared to take a trip to Mexico with another woman.

 

1
Text Only
Breaking News
Featured Ads
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence NYPD Chief Calls for 'use of Force' Retraining VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress Bush: Don't Worry, Sugarland Isn't Breaking Up US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Raw: First Lady Says `Drink Up' More Water Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Holder Urges Bipartisanship on Immigration Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Obama Signs Workforce Training Law Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City Diplomatic Push Intensifies to End War in Gaza Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Helium debate
Helium
Front page
Poll

Will you be attending Colts camp?

Yes, at least once
Yes, I plan multiple visits
No
     View Results