Convicted killer Jodi Arias to represent herself at penalty hearing

Jodi Arias faces a second death penalty hearing next month because the jury that convicted her of murder could not agree on the sentence.
By Frances Burns  |  Aug. 5, 2014 at 4:44 PM
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PHOENIX, Aug. 5 (UPI) -- With her life on the line, Jodi Arias has been given permission to act as her own lawyer at a hearing in Phoenix to determine if she should be sentenced to death.

Arias was convicted last year of the 2008 murder of her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, but jurors were unable to agree on the penalty. Under Arizona law, Judge Sherry Stephens had to schedule a new penalty phase, set to begin Sept. 8.

Stephens, possibly considering the old legal adage that anyone engaged in self-representation has a "fool for a client," warned Arias at a hearing Monday that she was on a risky path. But the judge granted Arias' request.

"I do not believe it is in your best interests," Stephens said. "I strongly urge you to reconsider."

The news media was barred from the courtroom while Arias explained why she did not want her lawyers, Kirk Nurmi and Jennifer Wilmott, to handle the penalty phase. They will be on hand to give her advice.

Arias briefly acted as her own lawyer in 2011 during a dispute with the legal team on whether to use letters that appeared to show Alexander was a pedophile. Prosecutors said the letters were fakes.

After Stephens refused to allow the letters in to evidence, Arias acknowledged she was not up to serving as her own lawyer and requested the return of Nurmi and Victoria Washington, his partner on the case at the time.

Friends found Alexander's body with multiple stab wounds in his shower in his apartment in a Phoenix suburb. Arias eventually acknowledged she killed him but said it was in self-defense.

The case attracted extraordinary media attention during the years of legal wrangling and the trial.

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