Judge delays start of Arias penalty-phase retrial
PHOENIX (AP) — The judge presiding over the Jodi Arias murder case on Wednesday delayed the penalty phase of her trial until Sept. 29.
The retrial was scheduled to begin Sept. 8, but the judge granted a motion by Arias seeking more time to prepare.
Arias briefly addressed the judge Wednesday morning before the courtroom was closed to the media and public.
Defense lawyers and prosecutors declined to comment.
Arias, who is now serving as her own attorney, argued that she needed more time to interview an expert witness she plans to call during the retrial.
The 34-year-old former waitress was convicted of murder last year in the 2008 killing of her ex-boyfriend, but jurors couldn’t reach a decision on her sentence. Under Arizona law, prosecutors have the option of putting on a second penalty phase with a new jury in an effort to secure a death sentence.
If the new jury fails to reach a unanimous decision, the death penalty will be removed as an option. The judge would then sentence Arias to spend her entire life behind bars or be eligible for release after 25 years.
Arias has acknowledged killing Travis Alexander at his suburban Phoenix home, but she said it was self-defense. He was stabbed nearly 30 times, had his throat slit and was shot in the head.
Prosecutors argued it was premeditated murder carried out in a jealous rage when Alexander wanted to end their affair.
Judge Sherry Stephens previously granted Arias’ motion to serve as her own attorney after conflicts arose with one of her two court-appointed lawyers over trial strategy. Attorney Kirk Nurmi then sought to quit the case, noting in a motion that “a completely fractured relationship between counsel (and client) now exists.”
Stephens denied his request. Both lawyers will remain on as advisers.
A hearing in the case is set for Sept. 4.