Jodi Arias to represent self in Arizona death penalty sentencing retrial

PHOENIX Mon Aug 4, 2014 8:27pm EDT

Jodi Arias talks with her defense attorney Jennifer Wilmott (L), during a hearing in Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix, Arizona, July 16, 2013. REUTERS/Mark Henle/The Arizona Republic/Pool

Jodi Arias talks with her defense attorney Jennifer Wilmott (L), during a hearing in Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix, Arizona, July 16, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Mark Henle/The Arizona Republic/Pool

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PHOENIX (Reuters) - An Arizona judge agreed on Monday to allow convicted murder Jodi Arias to represent herself during a sentencing retrial to determine if she will face the death penalty for killing her ex-boyfriend in 2008, a court spokesman said.

    Judge Sherry Stephens granted the request by Arias during a hearing in Maricopa County Superior Court, allowing her to act as her own lawyer when the retrial begins in September, said spokesman Vincent Funari.

    Stephens issued the ruling from the bench after cautioning the former California waitress that she felt it would not be in her best interest to take over from her current attorneys, Funari said.

    Arias was convicted last year of murdering Travis Alexander in his Phoenix-area home six years ago in what authorities said was a bloody crime scene. He was found slumped in his shower, stabbed multiple times, his throat slashed and shot in the head.

    The same jury that convicted Arias in a high-profile trial that was live-streamed on the Internet to tens of thousands of viewers found her eligible for the death penalty, but deadlocked on whether she should actually be put to death.

    The sentencing phase retrial will see a new jury impaneled next month to weigh her fate, but will not be broadcast live. If the new jury also deadlocks on capital punishment, a judge will sentence Arias to spend either her natural life in prison, or life with the possibility of parole after 25 years.    

    Monday's decision came during a rare open session in the case, which has mostly been argued in recent months behind closed doors. Funari said while Arias will represent herself, her current attorneys will act as advisory counsels.

A county attorney spokesman declined comment on the new development.

     Arias has clashed with her legal defense team in the past and has previously tried to fire them. Her attorneys also have unsuccessfully asked to be removed from the case.

    The original trial took five months to complete, with jurors given a heavy dose of graphic testimony, bloody photographs and sex-laced situations. Arias testified for 18 days, proclaiming that she acted in self-defense.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Walsh)

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