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Jodi Arias to represent herself at death penalty trial



By BRIAN SKOLOFF

PHOENIX (AP) -- Jodi Arias bathed in the spotlight soon after her arrest for the killing of her ex-boyfriend, and she remained there for years, offering jailhouse interviews, using Twitter from behind bars and spending 18 days on the witness stand during her murder trial.

After having faded from the spotlight for months while awaiting the second penalty phase in her case, Arias again is back in it, this time serving as her own attorney after a judge approved her request Monday to represent herself.

Experts say the move might not be such a bad idea given the gruesome nature of the crime. Arias, 34, admitted killing Travis Alexander at his suburban Phoenix home in 2008 but said it was self-defense. He was stabbed nearly 30 times, had his throat slit and was shot in the forehead. Prosecutors argued it was premeditated murder carried out in a jealous rage when Alexander wanted to end their affair.

She was found guilty of first-degree murder last year but jurors couldn't reach a decision on sentencing. Under Arizona law, while Arias' murder conviction stands, prosecutors have the option of putting on a second penalty phase with a new jury in an effort to secure the death penalty.

"It's actually probably a good idea to represent herself," said San Francisco-area defense attorney Daniel Horowitz. "She looks like a vicious psychopath with a ridiculous defense."

However, Horowitz noted, the jury "may find her pathetic."

"If she can get just one juror to bond with her on some level, even if they hate her, they're getting to know her, and it's harder to kill someone you know," he said.

Arias will have the task of arguing a death penalty case just four weeks from now despite having no legal experience and no college degree or high school diploma. Arias got her GED in jail.

Alexander's family, who lauded her conviction after spending every day of the trial sitting in the front row of the gallery, often sobbing and looking away from horrific crime scene photographs, will now have to see Arias argue her own case in an attempt to save her life.

Her defense lawyers will remain on as advisory council. They declined to comment on the latest developments. Prosecutors also declined comment.

Arias has long clashed with her defense attorneys and tried to fire them previously. The feud only intensified after she gave a series of media interviews following her May 2013 conviction. Her lawyers also have tried to withdraw several times, but the judge rebuffed their requests.

The five-month trial that began in January 2013 was broadcast live and provided seemingly endless amounts of cable TV and tabloid fodder, including a recorded phone sex call between Arias and the victim, nude photos, bloody crime-scene pictures and a defendant who described her life story in intimate detail over 18 days on the witness stand.

Arias told jurors of an abusive childhood, cheating boyfriends, dead-end jobs, her sexual relationship with Alexander and her contention that he had grown physically violent.

"They thought she was a liar. She was narcissistic. She was arrogant, and it made it easy to convict her," Horowitz said. "But that's a lot different than killing somebody."

Phoenix defense lawyer Mel McDonald, a former Maricopa County judge and federal prosecutor, agreed that Arias doesn't have much to lose.

"I think generally that anybody that represents themselves has a fool for a client, but it also gives her a way, if she's out there making a fool of herself, to maybe invoke some sympathy from a juror," McDonald said.

This time around the trial will not be broadcast live after the judge ruled footage may not be used until after a verdict.

If the new jury fails to reach a unanimous decision during the second penalty phase set for Sept. 8, the death penalty will be removed from consideration. The judge would then sentence Arias to spend her life behind bars or to be eligible for release after 25 years.


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Join the discussion

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simplynabil August 04 2014 at 7:12 PM

How can one justify self defense when stabbing somebody 30 times, slitting his throat and shooting him in the forehead ?

The first stab is where self defense ends and the second stab is where cold blooded murder begins.

Flag Reply +39 rate up
8 replies
phil August 04 2014 at 7:02 PM

one bullet from a firing squad could fix this saving the tax payers millions of $

Flag Reply +37 rate up
1 reply
James Zucco phil August 04 2014 at 7:14 PM

OR 20 VOLTS!! THAT'S CHEEP TOO!!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
2 replies
Jerry James Zucco August 04 2014 at 8:48 PM

Are you kidding? My vib.....er ah toothbrush has a 20 volt battery.

Flag +1 rate up
accordmee James Zucco August 05 2014 at 5:31 AM

You need to quit posting and go back to school. What do you think 20 volts will do to her? Jump start her car maybe. And Jerry please be a woman!

Flag 0 rate up
barbara.diane August 04 2014 at 7:36 PM

She thinks she is so much smarter than everyone else & no one can resist her.
Hopefully her self representation will be
her down fall & the jury will see thru it &
do the right verdict.

Flag Reply +26 rate up
3 replies
James Zucco August 04 2014 at 7:13 PM

HOW ABOUT WE STRAP HER INTO OLD SPARKY & SHE PLEAD HER CASE FROM THERE! THAT WAY WE
SAVE TIME!!

Flag Reply +26 rate up
2 replies
tdiplaci James Zucco August 04 2014 at 9:00 PM

Let me flip the switch.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Toray99 James Zucco August 04 2014 at 11:23 PM

yep. sorry we have a water restriction in place....no water on your sponge today.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
desmoi225 August 04 2014 at 7:05 PM

Well, she will just seal the death penalty by representing herself. Wow, talk about a narcissist. Now she believes she knows more than an attorney?

Flag Reply +20 rate up
4 replies
jmslotnick August 04 2014 at 8:30 PM

When a person is as guilty of brutally murdering someone as this woman has done, this country needs to change it's way of giving and doing death penalities.
There should be no additional trials and the court and only the court hand down how and when it should be done. When a person murders, rapes etc. there should be no leniency, no long jail time just a quick and fast end to those demons lives. This is one area where if absolutely proven guilty the USA is far too easy.

Flag Reply +19 rate up
2 replies
silverngold543 jmslotnick August 04 2014 at 11:32 PM

I fully agree. Self defense? I saw no wounds on her. He didn't attack HER she attacked him with intent!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
kjmjr4848 jmslotnick August 05 2014 at 1:18 AM

Thank the idiots that we call politicians for making a mockery of the complete justice system........the criminals have more rights than the poor victims.....dead or alive!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
kjanisme kjmjr4848 August 05 2014 at 4:11 PM

It's not the fault of the politicians...thank the ACLU. They excuse every bad behavior--there's always a "reason" why someone does wrong, as far as they're concerned! The ACLU is another one of those special interest groups who gather 'round the wagon every time they see big bucks out there. What we need do is get rid of the special interest groups that float around Congress all day with the big bucks to pay to our politicians for votes on their projects. The ACLU has turned into an evil entity.

Flag 0 rate up
beniehill August 04 2014 at 7:21 PM

the knife went off by accident!

Flag Reply +16 rate up
1 reply
barbphen60 beniehill August 04 2014 at 11:43 PM

ROFLMAO! Outlaw knives! And hammers as they kill more people than guns each year! I didn't even know you had to load either of them so obviously I shouldn't own one.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
2 replies
aaldrew barbphen60 August 05 2014 at 8:21 AM

LOL

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aaldrew barbphen60 August 05 2014 at 8:21 AM

LOL

Flag 0 rate up
donnagiovane1 August 04 2014 at 7:30 PM

I hope all guys out here content to 'f*k-buddy' their way through life will take note of what can happen if you screw around w/ the wrong broad.

Flag Reply +13 rate up
5 replies
williamfrensley August 04 2014 at 8:26 PM

a person who represents himself in a court of law has a fool for a client

Flag Reply +9 rate up
1 reply
Harold williamfrensley August 04 2014 at 11:26 PM

If she get the death penalty, then she will appeal saying she made a mistake not having a lawyer.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
1 reply
mpheonix Harold August 05 2014 at 7:33 AM

actually, she can't do that. She cannot claim misrepresentation nor inept lawyer etc......she was approved by the judge to represent herself, and has to accept t

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donnagiovane1 August 04 2014 at 7:40 PM

She's obviously nuts, how can ppl b so anxious to see a mentally unstable person killed?

Flag Reply +8 rate up
15 replies
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