Jodi Arias Trial: Judge Denies Defense Request to Sequester Jury; Damning Video of Arias' Parents; Booted Juror Watches Trial From Courtroom
The most interesting developments in the sensational trial of man-killer Jodi Arias this week had nothing to do with the boring, skepticism-inducing testimony by a domestic-violence expert.
Two other key events had the public's attention: The booting of Juror #5 from the jury panel and her subsequent return to the courtroom today as a trial watcher; and the release of a video showing Arias' parents being interviewed in 2008 by police.
The video, fascinating in itself because of the way the 32-year-old murder defendant's parents describe her "mental problems," appears to have also spurred defense attorney Kirk Nurmi to ask the judge to sequester the jury for the remainder of the trial.
"It is a fairy tale to assume that this jury is not hearing any of this. It is all over the news, be it local or national," Nurmi told Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens today, ABC News reports.
Judge Stephens denied his request, which came two days after Stephens agreed with Nurmi to boot Juror #5 from the trial, possibly for being impartial.
The details of why the juror was ousted were sealed, but a motion by Arias' lawyers accuses her of making statements in front of other jurors that amounted to misconduct. In a good scoop by ABC-15 News, (KNXV-TV), a court record was discovered that detailed a February 23rd complaint left on Judge Stephens' voicemail about the juror.
"The one with multi-colored hair is attempting to coach Arias from the jury box. She shakes her head no, no, no to tell Jodi not to answer a question," the caller said.
At least one juror, it now appears, is sympathetic toward the young killer who's facing a possible death sentence.
Juror #5, whose name hasn't been revealed, told ABC News in a written statement that she would say nothing to the news media until the trial's over.
Today, in an unexpected move that sparked an explosion of Twitter reports, the juror with pink and blue hair returned to the courtroom galley as a visitor, at one point drawing a look from Arias.
Arias-watchers will find the video of Arias' parents a must-see. According to the Huffington Post report, the police video was first obtained by HLN. It was released to the news station by the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, that office confirms.
Arias' dad tells Mesa police in his interview that his daughter was very secretive about her personal life.
Sandy Arias explains that her daughter had mental issues, describing how she'd be ebullient during one part of the day, but an hour or so later might be crying and upset over something.
One of the most damning parts of the interview video comes when Sandy Arias relates how -- after ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander's decomposing body was discovered -- she'd asked her daughter if she'd gone to see him.
"No," her daughter told her. "I was nowhere near Arizona and I have the gas receipts to prove it."
What an odd thing to say -- if Arias was innocent of premeditated murder. That was back when she was sticking to her original story to police -- namely, that she wasn't even in the state when Alexander was killed.
Jodi Arias looks back toward the courtroom galley at Juror #5, the woman who was booted from the jury panel on Tuesday and who reportedly has some sympathy for the accused murderer.
Image: Court pool camera, as posted on Twitter by RobynD323.
As our cover story pointed out last month, Arias' original concoction is the only one of her three accounts of the killing that matches up with her actions just before and after the slaying. Jodi Arias' statement to her mother about having gas receipts seems like one more piece of evidence that Arias had a plan to murder Alexander and get away with it.
Prosecutor Juan Martinez, during his cross-examination of Arias, made sure the jury heard every possible detail about Arias' borrowing of two gas cans, purchase of a third, and large gasoline buy just before crossing the Arizona border.
After Arias shot, stabbed and nearly decapitated Alexander, she drove to Utah for a planned rendezvous with a romantic interest, Ryan Burns. After arriving in Utah on June 5, the day after the slaying, she told Burns -- prior to a hot-and-heavy make-out session -- that she'd gotten lost for a day on her way from California to Utah.
When police the found photographic and DNA evidence that tied Arias to the murder scene, Arias changed her story, admitting she had been with Alexander but claiming that masked intruders were responsible for killing him. When that story didn't hold up, Arias switched to the defense she's currently using -- that she killed Alexander in self-defense after he grew angry with her for dropping a new camera.
The trial won't be over for at least a couple more weeks. With no court on Friday, Martinez won't get his chance to cross-examine psychotherapist Alyce LaViolette until next week. Other witnesses may still be called before the attorneys make their closing arguments.
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