ABC News (PHOENIX) — About 300 potential jurors arrived at an Arizona courthouse Monday for the start of the final phase of Jodi Arias’ marathon murder trial.
The selected jurors won’t determine whether Arias, 29, is guilty or innocent in the 2008 slaying of her sometime-lover Travis Alexander. She has already been found guilty by a different jury. The new jury’s decision will be whether to sentence Arias to death.
Arias’ first trial in 2013 lasted five months, was streamed live and had so much raunchy sex in the testimony, evidence photos and text messages that it would have gotten an X-rating if it were a movie.
The former Arizona waitress admitted shooting Alexander, but claimed he was an abusive lover who slammed her to the bathroom floor after she dropped his expensive new camera while taking nude photos of him in the shower. She claimed she ran for a gun and shot him as he charged her. She didn’t remember, however, stabbing him 29 times, slashing his throat and making a stealthy getaway.
The jury that found Arias guilty then deadlocked on whether to condemn her to death. If the new jury also cannot decide on the death penalty, she will automatically be sentenced to life in prison, although she would be eligible for parole after 25 years.
Here’s what to expect:
Even jury selection for the trial is anticipated to take up to three weeks. The testimony will likely drag on until mid-December, the court has said. That could be an optimistic assessment. During the first trial, the lawyers for both sides objected constantly, requiring numerous and lengthy sidebars.
WILL SHE TESTIFY?
It’s unclear whether Arias will take the stand in her own defense this time around. She spent 18 tear-soaked days on the stand during her first trial recounting in cringe-worthy detail the sexual demands that Alexander allegedly made of her and why she could not remember stabbing him numerous times, disposing of the gun and then driving hundreds of miles with her cellphone turned off.
If her legal team listens to the jury that convicted Arias, they may want to keep her off the stand. William Zervakos, the foreman of the jury that convicted Arias, met with the defense team later and told them Arias “was her own worst enemy” and a “terrible defendant.”
Arias and her legal team, however, rarely agree. Arias, who said she wanted to die after the guilty verdict, has changed her mind and is fighting for her life. She may decide to take the stand anyway.
THE ARIAS LEGAL TEAM
Arias and her top lawyer do not like each other. Kirk Nurmi, charged with her defense, has tried to quit the case, but the court has refused to let him off. Arias tried unsuccessfully to fire Nurmi, complaining in a handwritten motion to the court that he was “curt, rude and condescending.” When that didn’t work, she was granted permission to represent herself. As the court date neared, however, she changed her mind and Nurmi is again her lawyer.
Prosecutor Juan Martinez was aggressive, prompting one of Arias’ lawyers to plead with the judge to make him stop yelling at a witness. Several of Arias’ expert witnesses have refused to come back because testifying the first time was too traumatic.
Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens has ruled that this trial will be much different. The daily stream of lurid testimony and Arias’ emotional behavior that filled tabloid reports will be stopped. While cameras can record the trial, no video is to be aired until after the verdict is delivered.
ARIAS FOR SALE
Jodi Arias has been churning out paintings from prison and sells copies online, with the money going to her defense fund. She has also sold some of her personal effects. Earlier this month she auctioned off the glasses she wore during her first trial. The money, according to her site, went to charity.
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