Jodi Arias: Lawyers Will Withdraw if Jury Finds Out She Wanted Kirk Nurmi Fired
Jodi Arias doesn't want her new jury to know what she thinks of her lawyer, or about a former cellmate who claims Arias wants prosecutor Juan Martinez killed.
Two motions filed in Maricopa County Superior Court today ask Judge Sherry Stephens to stop the information from coming out in the upcoming sentencing-phase trial.
If the new jury hears about an October 22 handwritten motion Arias made for a change of counsel, both of her lawyers will have to withdraw from the case, one of the new motions states.
Arias was convicted in May of killing her former boyfriend, Travis Alexander, in his Mesa home in 2008. After watching Arias in court for four months, jury members deadlocked on the question of whether Arias should be executed. A March date for the new trial, which will determine only whether Arias will receive death or life in prison, has been postponed and Judge Stephens has yet to schedule a new date.
The first of the two fresh motions by Arias' defense team asks the judge to withhold from the jury any information about the 15-page handwritten letter, in which she told the judge she doesn't trust defense lawyer Kirk Nurmi, he doesn't like her, and that he has an "utter poverty of people skills."
Letting jury members hear testimony about Arias' motion would unfairly prejudice them, Nurmi states in the motion filed today.
But that's not the only problem with allowing the testimony.
"Ms. Arias draws the Court's attention to this rule because if she claims and/or assertions contained in Ms. Arias' Motion to Change Counsel are somehow deemed relevant and in turn admissible, both of Ms. Arias' attorneys would then become witness as they would then have relevant perspective on the claims and/or assertions Ms. Arias' made in this motion," the motion states. "Thus...both of Ms. Arias' attorneys would be ethically bound to withdraw. This withdrawal then would interfere with the rights due Ms. Arias..."
Nurmi points out in the new motion that Judge Stephens allowed Arias to suppress information about how in 2011, she asked the court "to retain her lead counsel against his wishes and the letter her mother Sandy Arias sent to the court in support of her daughter's contentions..."
The second motion filed by Nurmi today on behalf of Arias seeks to prevent any news of Arias' talkative ex-cellmate Cassandra Thea Collins from reaching the jury's ears.
In an interview with Fox-10 News (KSAZ-TV) on November 26, then on Headline News Network on January 8, Collins said that while she was Arias' cellmate before the trial, Arias told her she was considering asking a hit-man to give Martinez "a 'mafia bowtie,' meaning having someone slit his throat." Collins also said Arias had no remorse for her murder of Alexander.
Arias reportedly later tweeted that Collins' allegations were false.
The motion notes that no evidence that Collins' claims has been found, and that Collins "was found criminally incompetent to stand trial and had mental health problems of such severity that she was involuntarily committed to a mental health facility."
Any assertions Collins has made or will make in the future should be precluded, Nurmi wrote.
Got a tip? Send it to: Ray Stern.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.