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Jodi Arias retrial: What you need to know

NEED TO KNOW
  • Jodi Arias is awaiting a retrial for the penalty phase of her case
  • Arias was convicted of first-degree murder on May 8 for brutally killing Travis Alexander
Jodi Arias retrial: What you need to know

Read 'Exposed: The Secret Life of Jodi Arias'

Read 'Exposed: The Secret Life of Jodi Arias'

Will it be life in prison or death for Jodi Arias? On Monday, she'll be back in court and one step closer to finding out. Judge Sherry Stephens will hear multiple defense motions throughout the day. Stay with HLN for complete coverage of her hearing.

HLN viewers have asked a lot of questions about the Jodi Arias case since a mistrial was declared on May 23. HLNtv.com will answer some of the most-asked questions about the Arias case in this article.

Arias is awaiting a retrial for the penalty phase of her case, since the initial penalty phase ended with a hung jury. Her first-degree murder conviction still stands, and so does the jurors' finding that Arias murdered her former boyfriend Travis Alexander in a "cruel manner."

When the retrial of the penalty phase begins, a new jury will be selected, and they will only decide whether Arias will be sentenced to death via lethal injection or life in prison.

Judge Sherry Stephens said she wants to conduct Arias' retrial in September. A date for the retrial could be set at a hearing scheduled for Monday.

How will the new jury learn about the case?

Arizona law says the new jury in the Arias trial will be able to consider the entire record from the previous stages of the trial. This includes nearly five months of testimony from the guilt phase of the trial.

However, it's not yet clear how the jury will be presented with the record of the trial.

Jerry Cobb, the public information officer for the Maricopa County, Arizona, District Attorney’s office tells HLN that the new jury will be notified early in the proceeding that Arias was convicted of first-degree murder and that Arias committed the murder in a “cruel manner.” Cobb says how the jurors will learn about the details of the previous stages of the trial will be hashed out by the judge and the attorneys. He said the attorneys may get a chance to present evidence, and the jurors may be given transcripts of previous testimony.

There is also a chance Arias could testify again during the new phase of the trial. She will also have the opportunity to give another statement to the jury that will not be subject to cross-examination.

How will they find an unbiased jury?

HLN's legal experts say that just because the Arias trial received a lot of media attention, it doesn’t mean the court will be unable to find a fair jury. 

Each potential juror will be asked about their exposure to the media coverage of Arias’ trial, and they will be asked if they can disregard any information they have heard or any preconceived judgments they may have made about the case. If the jurors say "No," then they will be eliminated from the panel. If they say "Yes," they will be considered for the jury. Of course, people could lie, but they run the risk of committing perjury.

If Stephens is concerned enough about the jury pool being tainted in Maricopa County she could grant a change in venue. This means the new jury could be selected from another county in Arizona, where the media coverage wasn’t as intense.

Some legal pundits say changing the venue really doesn’t fix anything, because information is so easily accessible now.

Can her defense team quit now?

If Arias’ attorneys want to end their representation of the convicted murderer, they will have to get Stephens' permission.

HLN legal experts say it is unlikely that the defense team will be released from the case at this stage because Stephens has already denied defense attorneys Kirk Nurmi and Jennifer Willmott’s requests to leave the case multiple times.

If, for some reason, Stephens lets Nurmi and Willmott off the case, it could delay the trial. New attorneys would need time to prepare for the retrial of the penalty phase.

If new attorneys aren't given adequate time to prepare for the case, it could leave open the possibility of an Arias appeal of ineffective counsel, but only in regard to her sentence.

Stephens could let Arias’ attorneys off the hook, but she might not if she wants to avoid another delay.

Could there be a plea deal?

Yes, a plea deal could happen at any point before the new jury in the Arias trial reaches their decision about whether Arias will live or die.

Arias doesn’t have a lot bargaining chips right now, but it is possible that both sides could agree that she will spend the rest of her life in jail without a chance of parole.

Is it likely? That’s hard to say.

A lot of factors will have to be considered by both sides when deciding whether to enter a plea deal.

Ultimately, on the prosecution's side, the decision to accept a plea deal will be up to the Maricopa County, Arizona, Attorney Bill Montgomery.

Montgomery will likely consider prosecutor Juan Martinez’s recommendation, the desires of Travis Alexander’s family and what is best for the community of Maricopa County.

Where is Arias now?

HLN legal experts say Montgomery is an elected official, and there is a chance he could make a political decision to save the county the added expense of an ongoing trial and accept a plea deal.

As of April 25, taxpayers have paid $1,687,328.21 for Arias' defense costs, the Maricopa County, Arizona, director of communications confirmed to HLN.

The first jury couldn’t reach a unanimous decision about whether to sentence the convicted murderer to death or life in prison. Arias is now facing a retrial for just the penalty phase of her trial, and a new jury will be selected to decide what her fate will be.

Joe Arpaio, the Maricopa County sheriff, says Arias will remain in his custody at Estrella Jail until the Arizona judicial system renders its final determination in her case.

Here is some information on Arias' life in jail from the Maricopa County public information officer:

  • Jail contains approximately 1,000 inmates.
  • Each housing area contains general-purpose day rooms with bathroom/shower areas.
  • Inmates have 16 hours of day room access.
  • In the day room, inmates have access to phones and cable TV (Food Network, Weather Channel and ESPN).
  • Inmates have an hour of outside recreation at least four times a week.
  • Inmates can sign up for religious services or other programs, including GED, ALPHA, AAA, etc.
  • Inmates can access the library, however they have to request the books via an inmate request form.
  • Arias is housed in the high-security unit.
  • Arias is locked in her cell from 10 p.m. - 6 a.m. daily.
  • Arias sleeps on a bed with pink sheets.
  • A cell includes writing desk, toilet and sink.
  • All inmates incarcerated at the Maricopa County jail receive two meals a day totaling 2,600 calories.
  • The morning meal at the facility arrives just after 7 a.m. and the evening meal takes place around 6 p.m. 

Will the new jury see her media interviews?

Martinez may be allowed to show a new jury Arias' post-verdict interviews if the defense team brings up an issue that makes them relevant.

However, HLN legal experts say it's unlikely that a new jury will see these interviews because they weren't used in the first penalty phase.

The post-verdict statements Arias made to reporters about wanting the death penalty instead of a life sentence may not be that important to the case anymore, because of a later statement Arias made in open court.

"The worst outcome for me would be natural life. I would much rather die sooner than later," Arias told a Fox TV station in Phoenix after she was convicted of first-degree murder. "I don't want to spend the rest of my natural life in one place. I am pretty healthy. I don't smoke, and I would probably live a long time."

Arias gave a statement to the jury during the first penalty phase, during which she explained how she changed her mind. She said she lacked perspective when she gave the interview, and has since realized her life in prison would still have value, and it would cause her family even more pain to see her executed.

However, Martinez may argue that the interviews Arias gave after her verdict show that she is not apologetic about killing Alexander and lacks remorse. If Martinez makes this argument, Stephens will likely determine whether the interviews are admissible by weighing their relevance against how much they could potentially prejudice the new jury.

What delays are possible?

It is very difficult to say what could delay the Arias trial at this stage, because anything could happen.

At the hearing Monday, either side could ask for more time to prepare their case for the retrial, and it will be up to the judge to decide if the attorneys should be given more time to prepare.

Another possible delay -- unlikely as it is -- could occur if Stephens releases Nurmi and Willmott from the case.

Ultimately, though, delays happen in trials all the time, and they are very hard to predict. For example, one of Arias' attorneys could become sick, delaying the trial. There could be scheduling issues with other cases, because Arias’ trial is not the only one going on in Maricopa County right now.

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