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Will alleged Arias revenge plot spur venue change?

NEED TO KNOW
  • A former cellmate alleges that Jodi Arias is plotting revenge attacks against key players in the case
  • Defense attorney Kirk Nurmi filed a new motion for a change of venue in Arias' retrial
Will alleged Arias revenge plot spur venue change?

When attorneys in the Jodi Arias case meet Tuesday morning, the list of talking points could include concerns over allegations that the convicted killer intends to exact revenge by ordering a mafia-style hit on lead prosecutor Juan Martinez.

Allegations by a former cellmate that Arias is plotting revenge attacks against key players in the case are being described as the “salacious ramblings of a mentally incompetent woman,” by Arias attorneys in court documents filed Monday.

Defense attorney Kirk Nurmi filed a new motion for a change of venue for the retrial of the sentencing phase of Arias' case in response to remarks made by Cassandra Collins in a November 26 interview with Fox Phoenix affiliate KSAZ.

A jury convicted Arias in May of aggravated murder in the death of her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander, but could not decide if she should get the death penalty.

Collins, who is charged with aggravated harassment, shared a cell with Arias in February and March of 2012 for approximately six weeks.

“Ms. Collins asserted that Ms. Arias claimed to know former inmates who are now out of custody that would help her exact her revenge… Mrs. Collins, went on to describe one of the heinous crimes contemplated by Ms. Arias was giving Mr. Martinez a 'mafia bowtie' meaning having someone slit his throat,” Nurmi wrote.

Juan Martinez was not available for comment, but according to Jerry Cobb, a spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, threats of this type are not uncommon. Cobb stated, “This individual making this particular claim has a history of mental illness and was ruled not competent and not restorable…this person also has a history of fabricating information.”

The lead detective in the case, Esteban Flores -- who was also named as a potential target -- said he was aware of the allegations, but expressed no concern.

“I take it with a grain of salt, it doesn’t concern me at all,” Flores said. “She (Arias) has some followers, but I’m not concerned about them, they’re kind of whack-jobs.”

While it appears that Collins’ comments are being dismissed as the musings of a mentally ill woman -- her mental health problems were determined to be so severe, she was involuntarily committed by a judge in June 2012 -- Nurmi hopes to persuade the judge to move the case out of the Phoenix area. Nurmi argues that Collins' claims have poisoned the minds of potential jurors in Arias' retrial, who will have to decide if Arias should be put to death Alexander's murder.

Arizona Judge Sherry Stephens rejected the same motion earlier this month and ruled that the sentencing retrial will remain in Maricopa County.

Tuesday’s hearing is sealed. The judge has banned TV coverage of Arias' impending sentencing retrial. 

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