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Jodi Arias wants lead defense attorney off case

  • Arias writes in letter that Kirk Nurmi 'has little to no tolerance for my emotional and psychological shortcomings'
  • Arias: 'I am left feeling like crap about myself and my future every time I interact with him'
Jodi Arias wants lead defense attorney off case
Kirk Nurmi

Catching up: The evidence that convicted Arias

Catching up: The evidence that convicted Arias

Photos: What the Jodi Arias jury didn't know

Photos: What the Jodi Arias jury didn't know

Jodi Arias, who was convicted in May of killing her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander, has filed motions to have her lead defense attorney removed from her case. 

Arias writes in a 12-page handwritten letter dated October 14 to Judge Sherry Stephens and obtained by HLN, that she had not spoken to Kirk Nurmi since May 23.

READ MORE: Jodi Arias' letter and motion to court

Arias went on to say Nurmi “has little to no tolerance for my emotional and psychological shortcomings.”

In her letter, Arias detailed that she had an emotional reaction when her defense attorneys turned down an option offered by the court to have a phone sex recording between her and Alexander played in a closed hearing. The explicit phone sex tape was later played in open court.

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Arias writes Nurmi "has an utter poverty of people skills” and claims he once told her: “You’re not going to get your way just because you throw a tantrum.”

She wrote in the letter, “This was a full blown emotional meltdown. I wasn’t throwing a fit, I was falling apart. Having known me for 3.5 years at that point, Kirk Nurmi should have easily discerned this, but his failure to do so shows he lacks the capacity for empathy and chooses anger over attempting to understand any impairment his client may be experiencing in direct relation to the case and court proceedings.”

Arias goes on to write about Nurmi that “I am left feeling like crap about myself and my future every time I interact with him."

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Conversely, Arias had kind words in the letter for co-counsel Jennifer Willmott.

“Jennifer treats me with kindness and dignity. Her manners don't run off when I ask questions. She takes time to explain what’s going on,” Arias writes in the letter.

READ MORE: How is Arias tweeting from jail?

Nurmi could not be immediately reached by HLN for comment about Arias' court motion. During closing arguments in the trial, Nurmi told jurors, "It's not even about whether or not you like Jodi Arias. Nine days out of 10, I don't like Jodi Arias," which elicited a smile from the defendant.

On May 8, a jury found Arias guilty of first-degree murder in Alexander’s slaying, but those same jurors couldn't agree on either a sentence of life in prison or the death penalty.

Alexander's body was found by his friends in June 2008 in the shower of his home. Authorities say he was stabbed multiple times, shot in the head and his throat was slit from ear to ear.

READ MORE: Jodi Arias retrial: What you need to know 

Since no deal was reached during a settlement conference on October 24, the case will proceed to a retrial of the penalty phase. Arias' murder conviction still stands, but a new jury will decide her sentence.

If the jury in the retrial cannot reach an unanimous verdict, Arias will automatically get life in prison. The judge would ultimately decide whether Arias will get life without parole or life with the eligibility of parole after 25 years.

Stephens has denied prior requests from Nurmi and Willmott to leave the case. The attorneys sought to withdraw after Arias gave an interview to Phoenix TV station KSAZ shortly after the jury delivered a guilty verdict. Arias told KSAZ's Troy Hayden she would "rather get death than life." 

READ MORE: 5,400 questions: The Arias trial by the numbers

Both attorneys asked to withdraw from the case again on May 20 during the penalty phase of the trial after their request for a mistrial was denied. They sought a mistrial after one of their witnesses, Arias' childhood friend Patricia Womack, declined to testify, alleging she received death threats. 

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

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