May 16, 2013

Victim's family asks for Jodi Arias to be executed

The same jurors who convicted the Phoenix woman of first-degree murder last week must decide whether she should be put to death.

The Associated Press

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Steven Alexander, brother of murder victim Travis Alexander, looks back towards Jodi Arias as he reads a statement to the jury Thursday during the penalty phase of the Jodi Arias trial at Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix.

The Associated Press

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Jodi Arias cries as she listens to Steven Alexander, brother of murder victim Travis Alexander, speak to the jury Thursday during the penalty phase of her trial at Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix.

The Associated Press

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

The interview prompted the judge to issue an order that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office allow no more interviews with Arias. Less than a week later, on Thursday, Sheriff Joe Arpaio gave reporters a tour of Arias' cinderblock jail cell. The messy cell had a mattress on a lower bunk and the upper bunk was cluttered with files and papers.

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 determine a sentence. Her attorneys' motion to withdraw will have no impact on the penalty phase of the trial given jurors are not privy to the filing, and not even media have the details due to a court order sealing all such proceedings.

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

The victim suffered nearly 30 knife wounds, had his throat slit from ear to ear and was shot in the forehead. Prosecutors say the attack was fueled by jealous rage after Alexander wanted to end his affair with Arias and prepared to take a trip to Mexico with another woman.

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