Prosecution has completed its summary of the evidence against Jodi Arias

October 29, 2014

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Good morning:

The prosecution has completed its presentation of a summary of the evidence against Jodi Arias who was previously convicted by a jury of the premeditated murder of Travis Alexander, her former boyfriend, in a cruel, heinous, or depraved manner.

Arias is back in court for a new penalty phase hearing because that jury was unable to unanimously agree that she should be sentenced to death. The prosecution was unwilling to settle for a life-without-parole sentence, even though four jurors voted for it. Instead, they decided to try and convince another jury to sentence her to death.

Court is in recess today. Tomorrow, the defense will begin to present its mitigation case.

There is no television or livestream coverage of the retrial.

For particulars on the lurid details of this case, go here.

Frankly, I think this retrial is an aggravated waste of time and money. Arias will not be a danger to anyone in prison. Executing her is ridiculous.

DISCLOSURE: I am opposed to the death penalty in all cases, regardless of the circumstances.

Why the Jordan Davis murder was not a death-penalty case and update on Jodi Arias

October 2, 2014

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Good morning:

Several readers have asked why the prosecution did not seek the death penalty in the Michael Dunn case.

It is not a death-penalty case.

The death penalty is reserved for the most egregious premeditated murders. In other words, it applies to premeditated murders with “aggravating circumstances” that are listed in the death-penalty statute.

For example, a premeditated intent to kill a witness to a crime you have committed in order to conceal the crime you have committed is an aggravating circumstance that qualifies for the death penalty. A rape murder qualifies where the purpose of the murder is to prevent the victim from reporting the rape and identifying the rapist.

Other examples are premeditated murders of certain people such as police officers, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and children under age 12.

Another example that might have applied to Dunn, if he had killed the other boys in the Dodge Durango, is multiple victims. This statutory aggravating factor also would apply to terrorist bombings, such as the Oklahoma City and Boston Marathon bombings.

The Jodi Arias case provides another example. She is charged with killing her former boyfriend, Travis Alexander, with premeditation and the aggravating factor alleged in the indictment is that she killed him in a “cruel, heinous, or depraved” manner. Wikipedia describes the killing:

The killing of Travis Alexander occurred on June 4, 2008. On June 9, 2008, Alexander’s body was discovered by his friends in a shower at his home in Mesa, Arizona. Alexander had been stabbed repeatedly, with a slit throat and a fatal gunshot wound to the head. There have been conflicting reports over the number of stab wounds; some reports state that Alexander had been stabbed 29 times, while others state 27 times. Medical examiner Kevin Horn testified that Alexander’s jugular vein, common carotid artery, and windpipe had been slashed. Alexander had defensive wounds on his hands. Horn further testified that Alexander “may have” been dead at the time the gunshot was inflicted, and that the back wounds were shallow. Alexander’s death was ruled a homicide. He was buried at the Olivewood Cemetery in Riverside, California.

Arias was convicted of premeditated murder, but the jury was unable to unanimously agree that death was the appropriate penalty.

The parties are now attempting to select a new penalty-phase jury. ABC News is reporting that more than half of the 400 prospective jurors have been dismissed because they were too familiar with the case and could not fairly and impartially evaluate the evidence in deciding whether she should be sentenced to death or life without possibility of parole.

The effort to select a jury continues today.

Unfortunately, there is no television or live-stream coverage.

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Thank you.

Jodi Arias resentencing scheduled for St. Patrick’s Day

January 14, 2014

Tuesday, January 14, 2013

Good morning:

Following a closed-door session, a spokesperson for the Maricopa County Superior Court announced that the resentencing hearing in the Jodi Arias case will commence on March 17, 2014.

A jury previously convicted her of the capital murder of her boyfriend, Travis Alexander, but was unable to unanimously agree on whether to sentence her to death or to life without parole. I believe the jury deadlocked at 8 for death and 4 for LWOP.

The sensible and cost-efficient resolution would have been to sentence her to LWOP. Alexander’s family and friends could have begun the process of moving on with their lives and forgetting about Jodi Arias. Instead, they want more spectacle and blood. So does the prosecutor.

Given the split, there is little likelihood that a new jury will unanimously agree on the death penalty. Nevertheless, here we go again.

Judge Sherry Stephens, who presided over the first trial, will preside over the resentencing. She has already decided to ban livestream and live television coverage, so we will not get to watch any of the proceedings. The resentencing will take place in Phoenix, so you will have to go there to see it.

To refresh your recollection of the case, go here.

During jury selection, the defense will try to eliminate every potential juror who would automatically vote for death, regardless of any mitigating evidence, and the prosecutor will attempt to do the same to every potential juror who might have difficulty imposing the death penalty.

Any potential juror who is opposed to the death penalty will be excused on the ground that they cannot follow the law if they are unwilling to consider imposing the death penalty.

Keep in mind that the issue of guilt has already been decided. The new jury will only be tasked with deciding the penalty.

Nevertheless, the prosecutor will be permitted to introduce evidence about the murder since it’s relevant to consider in determining the sentence.

All defendants in criminal cases have the right of allocution, which means she can ask the jury to spare her life or sentence her to death.

To refresh your recollection on the procedure the court will follow and the jury instructions that the court will give to the jury, please go here to read my article from last May.


This is our 852nd post. We posted 3 articles yesterday and covered the atrocious verdict in the Kelly Thomas case late into the night. I was going to go to bed when I saw a news report about the Arias resentencing. I decided to hell with sleep and wrote this article instead. My article (to which I linked) about the penalty phase procedure and jury instructions is comprehensive and easy to read. I was a death-penalty lawyer so I know how it works.

We had 620 visitors to the site yesterday and only received 3 donations. That is not encouraging and I am not the least bit ashamed to say so.


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