Jodi Arias Remains Eligible for the Death Penalty, Judge Rules

By | August 15, 2013

Judge Sherry Stevens ruled against Jodi Arias’ defense motion to “vacate the jury’s finding the aggravating factor that the murder of Mr. Alexander was especially cruel…”

JodiJacket“IT IS ORDERED denying defendant’s Motion to Vacate Aggravation Phase Verdict Pursuant to Rule 24.2 Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure, filed July 8, 2013,” read the ruling.

Jodi’s lawyers argued that the definition of “especially cruel,” as applied to murder, is unconstitutionally vague and therefore “legally meaningless.”

It is their belief that jurors, with no legal experience, can’t properly determine what makes one killing more cruel or heinous than another.

They also argued that it violated the separation of powers doctrine.

Jodi Arias will return to court August 26, 2013 for a hearing. Barring any deals between the prosecution and defense teams, Judge Sherry Stevens will set a new sentencing trial date for September 2013.

A new jury will need to be impaneled for the sentencing trial. If that jury is unable to reach to a unanimous decision, the death penalty will no longer be an option for sentencing.  Judge Sherry Stevens, at that point, would sentence Jodi Arias to either life behind bars or she’d would be eligible for release after 25 years.

The state is still prepared to seek the death penalty but would consider an alternative resolution after consulting the Alexander family.  Since the Alexander family has expressed their desire for the death penalty, it is all but certain that another “mini” trial will take place.

Jodi Arias was convicted of the premeditated murder of Travis Alexander on May 8, 2013 and is awaiting the second penalty phase in jail.

24 thoughts on “Jodi Arias Remains Eligible for the Death Penalty, Judge Rules

    1. Uppity

      Oh hell Don, I’d volunteer to deliver it and administer it – although I imagine I would have to stand in a long line for the pleasure. I daresay I’d meet up with plenty of people from this site while I waited.

      I am so dying to tweet a big “Boo Hoo” to Jodi. I am “this” close to doing it too. I so want to rub this in her face. Can you imagine what the people over at Jodi- Arias- is- Innocent- and- I’m- Cleopatra are saying right now? I bet they all increased their meds tonight.

      Can you imagine the nerve it must take to ask a judge to reverse the jury’s decision that Jodi Arias killed Travis Alexander in a most cruel and depraved way? I feel really sorry for Arizona taxpayers, who are forced to pay for this sub-human’s defense.

      1. Don Osborne

        Good on you, Uppity. I knew all along you really wanted to correspond with Jodi.
        I’m sure now that the proper authorities will make the appropriate arrangements for you and Jodi to become pen-pals.

  1. Elaine

    “It is their belief that jurors, with no legal experience, can’t properly determine what makes one killing more cruel or heinous than another.”

    I don’t know, something about “Death Penalty” and “what makes one killing more cruel or heinous than another” makes me chuckle. Perhaps it’s the suggestion that her counsel have the “legal experience,” yet, appear to me to have a problem with the definitions for cruel and heinous. It’s like saying she only ran him over once but that they’re not capable of comprehending what they’ll see if this goes to the final phase. Doesn’t every picture tell a story? Don’t it? Ladies and gentlemen, these photos are a ‘pigment’ of your imagination.

    I’d be willing to bet all murders are cruel and heinous, especially if I was on the receiving end. “He needed killin” or as in the case of SYG as a recipe for murder with impunity, doesn’t diminish the fact that someone dies, whether they see it coming or not. The “not” being the “cocktail” during the DP. The assumption with the DP is the “cruelty” by hanging or firing squad has been lessened by a delectable injection to the other side. Who says it diminishes the knowledge that it’s coming and that anguish isn’t felt…is that cruel? Maybe I have this all wrong.

    Maybe it’s because I’m not a proponent for the DP. The law is the law, and until other states adopt the No DP, others are tasked with the dilemma to determine someone’s outcome on this earth. Currently, only 16 states have the DP on the books. Do they (jurors) not feel anguish over having to make that determination? Bet they do. At least most.

    There isn’t any escape from the exceptional cruelty by Arias against Travis. She’ll get what she deserves by her peers no matter the outcome. But for her defense to suggest a “legal” dilemma, is ludicrous. I see it as nothing more than a tactic to delay by playing cat and mouse with the prosecution, again. And the prosecution is playing it right back. And winning. I also think the defense is playing with the court of public opinion. Again. Someone is going to have to cave here…September is around the corner.

    1. NERN

      Elaine – good post but I have just one comment.
      Arias continues to run her defense and it is she that would have demanded this motion be heard. Her lawyers would have no other recourse but to do as she bids. It has been the case with her defense from the beginning. Does anyone believe that a defense attorney would want their client on the stand for any length of time let alone 18 days. She would have set the questions Nurmi was to ask throughout her testimony.
      No sane attorney would have made this motion if not told to by their client. And…she, under the law, can aid in her defense.
      She believes she is justified in making these motions. It is her arrogance and narcissism that drives her.
      Again, I believe she will have a very rude awakening if sent to prison. Far different from the jail she has been in since 2008.

      1. Maria Cristina Santana, JD

        Sorry, Nern, but I’m going to have to disagree. This motion on “especially cruel” is a typical motion on an issue that is litigated in many death penalty cases. The defense probably didn’t even need to write it, just print off one from their files, change the names and circumstances, and file. In death penalty cases, the defense has to litigate every potential issue that has any possibility of success.

        Since there’s a controversy in case law on jurors deciding what’s “especially cruel,” they had to raise the issue. The difference with the cases out there and this one is that while jurors may not be equipped to make the legal distinction of especially cruel without guidance on their own, here the jurors got that guidance on “especially cruel” through Dr. Horn’s testimony explaining Travis’ suffering was extreme because of the nature of the injuries. The prosecution complied with what was necessary for the jury to determine “especially cruel” based on specific evidence of the medical examiner rather than left to speculate.

        Other defense motions follow the same lines–issues where there’s a legal debate going which they must raise or they would not be doing a competent job. Another example of this is when they filed a motion asking that Travis not be referred to as “the victim.” As nasty as that may seem, those motions are common where the defendant is making a self defense claim because “the victim” seems to prejudge that the self defense claim is false. It’s a commonly debated issue special to those cases where self defense is alleged.

        And with that, I hope she gets the death penalty she deserves. :)

  2. Linda K

    I’m not surprised to hear Judge Stephens denied the Defense motion. However, I found the argument presented in the motion quite creative and thought provoking.

    When a legislature crafts a law to include intentional vagueness regarding the definition of a critical term used (in this case, the word “especially” was not defined), there’s bound to be an unforeseen danger attached. While the Arias case is not a good test case for this specific argument, I can imagine there could be other, less-cruel cases where the argument might actually work.

  3. George Barwood

    Hi
    I reviewed some of your earlier posts.
    The problem is that your basic premise is wrong.
    Jodi did in fact act in self-defense.
    Not any easy case, but for instance Dr Horn’s testimony on the bullet was completely refuted.
    Only three of Travis’ wounds were deeper than they were wide ( which means that technically there were only three stab wounds ).
    And if you understand domestic violence properly, it’s clear that Travis was the dominant aggressor in this relationship, not Jodi.
    So Jodi is innocent.
    Please let me know if you have any questions.
    If you have questions, please post comments at my site ( http://jodi-arias.wikispaces.com/ )

    1. Don Osborne

      I have a question, George – two actually.
      Was one of the three wounds you refer to being deeper than wide that horrendous slashing of the throat to near decapitation, and how does this constitute self-defense?

      1. Maria Cristina Santana, JD

        Oh, Don, you don’t understand domestic violence. You keep looking at the FACTS of this case!!! You need to stop being so narrow minded, narrowly focused on facts, facts, facts, nitpicking so about the wounds, Jodi’s premeditation, how Travis ran down the hall and bled to death. If you want to understand what happen you need to stop analyzing the facts of the case. You too could see the the truth if you would just let yourself be indoctrinated with the one and true doctrine of domestic violence. If you have any questions, I can hook you up with an indoctrinator, I mean expert. (Just kidding of course.)

  4. Elaine

    Apologies for my error…states that still maintain the DP are at 32 while 18 (now) have abolished the DP. I’m not basing my initial response, only, on the DP being a cruel option per se, that of what the convicted feel just before the process begins, I’m coming more from the perspective of the method as a deterrent to criminal acts and recidivism. Chicago has a moratorium at this point which delays those on death row, but, has it deterred the high crime rates there?

    In the first 6 days of 2013 there were 12 murders. As of August 11th, 250 homicides have been committed. Approximately 10 are on death row right now. Flint, Mich. has an even higher rate and is one of the worse states for illegal weapons. Will it be a matter of time before those living in the most impoverished areas, committing crimes, begin to branch outward? The DP doesn’t seem to change what some choose to do.

    If Arias receives the DP I’m alright with that…but I think the best medicine for her is LWOP…ever. The idea of her feeling she has nothing to lose when she encounters inmates with the same behaviors who have nothing to lose, it will be just desserts. She becomes indistinct.

    1. bellkurve

      actually, Illinois got rid of the death penalty in 2011. It was unworkable and too expensive. There were a few death penalty cases once the moratorium was lifted after the Ryan commission came forward with its recommendations, creating new classes of death penalty offenses, requiring all interrogations to be video recorded, and requiring attorneys to be “death qualified” (minimum number of jury trials under the belt, particular Continuing Legal Education requirements, and other requirements). Further, they tried to take the economic burden off of individual counties by creating a state wide death penalty only team from the Attorney General’s office, as well as creating a State Wide fund for death penalty defenses. They further mandated that a Defendant facing death had to be represented by at least 2 attorneys, at least one of whom was considered “senior” i.e. had already taken a death case to jury, and a mitigation expert.

      When applied in practice, this turned out to be very expensive to the State. Further, there were still problems, so Gov. Quinn got rid of the death penalty in the state of IL altogether.

      Oh, and for those of you interested in injecting Ms. Arias, you might want to follow the cases dealing with the expiration of lethal drugs, and the DOC’s inability to find appropriate drugs. Texas’s last lethal dose is expected to expire in September and they have no real idea what they are going to do about it. The expiration problem is real: countries and companies who produce these drugs have been reluctant to be associated with executions, and have been refusing to supply drugs for the purposes of lethal injection.

    2. Uppity

      I never really saw the intent of the death penalty as a deterrent. I see it more as a final deserved punishment that removes from the planet some evil people who don’t deserve to inhale and exhale any longer. Nothing ever seems to deter evil or violently vicious people from doing terrible things. However, the DP might serve a secondary purpose as a deterrent if the process were expedited instead of dragging on for decades while horrible people look for ways to avoid their just desserts.

      1. Penny

        Uppity I agree to some extent that the DP is not a deterrentbut then why should it stop criminals as it is not used and they know that. If I was going to kill someone I would be thinking life in prison would be better then death. My father in law was a cop and has told us many stories about Chino prison. Criminals do adapt to prison life and for some it is better then the outside world. Why do you think we do not have as much crime in foriegn countries? They carry through with their laws. You steal your hand is cut off. Bet it makes many people think before they steal. I’m not saying to go that far but we do need to put the DP in place. Why should someone like Jodi be allowed at some point go into general population? So we can pay for her health, food, bed, cards, and electricity to watch a T.V. that someone will bring in for her and don’t forget about the social hours she will have. Jodi will make sure that there will be some big bad woman to watch over her.

  5. Tracy

    It boggles my mind how this Judge has delayed the trial and allowed it to go on for so long. That in itself has given the defense team plenty of opportunities to come up with Motions to delay it further – so much wasted money! It also gives the convicted murderer ample opportunity to peddle her artwork, DV shirts, book club, tweet, etc. Disgraceful!

    I sincerely hope Judge Stevens sets a trial date for September to complete this sentencing phase. Stevens said at the last hearing that it was “her hope” – I personally don’t have faith that will happen.

    This final phase should take priority over everything else on the docket – the murder took place over 5 years ago!

  6. Tracy

    I followed every second of the Arias trial and reviewed every piece of evidence. I also read every one of Dr Randle’s articles on the subject. Having been a DV victim myself, I understand the nature of the abuser, “I understand DV properly”.

    I never comment or respond to Jodi supporters however I love Dr Randle’s blog and appreciate her analysis, I’m a Dr Randle supporter. I won’t go into detail or waste my time debating Arias supporters but do want to leave a brief comment.

    I personally do NOT visit pro-Jodi websites, ever. George, perhaps you may want review Dr Randle’s complete list of Jodi Arias articles, including “How do you Explain the Supporters” Great insight there!

    http://kristinarandle.com/blog/jodi-arias-trial-how-do-you-explain-the-jodi-arias-supporters/

    Read the whole article but I’ll highlight one paragraph from that post that reads:

    “What we can say, without fear of contradiction, is there is no logical explanation for the behavior or thinking of Jodi supporters. By definition, when you believe something to be true in spite of clear evidence to the contrary, you are mentally ill. You can think of that statement as a layman’s definition of psychosis. There is no mental illness more severe than psychosis. All of the personality disorders that you’ve heard discussed, borderline, antisocial, narcissistic, etc., are neuroses. A psychosis is far more serious and severe and debilitating than is depression or a personality disorder.”

    Dr Randle, I look forward to your book.

  7. bellkurve

    For those interested in why this motion was filed -it’s standard. While it may be quite evident in this case that the murder was especially cruel, it is a vague term. Terms that are vague and difficult to apply evenly are ripe for appeal, all the way to SCOTUS. While this case may be the poster child for “especially cruel”, an overturned verdict in another case where the “especially cruel” part wasn’t so clear cut (excuse the pun), could result in overturning her case later on down the line.

    JA was not dictating this move. Current trends in death penalty law and the need to make damned sure the issue is preserved for appeal is what drove this motion.

  8. Tee Vawter

    True, there is no way the book reviews are being quoted from jailhouse phone calls. They are transferred via USP mail. But the mail is not private; the staff reads what goes in and out. Arias was denied, under Sheriff Joe’s orders, internet access post conviction. These website contributions are a way round the prohibition and directly flout it. To continue this forbidden behavior defies the rules for prisoners in transition to the Big House and spotlights an excursion from the justice her jury delivered. The sheriff and his staff should confer on their monitoring of her output. She has proven devious in many past and present acts so strict monitoring is deserved, reasonable and necessary.

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