Jury selection has begun in Jodi Arias’ penalty retrial. Although the pool included 300 potential jurors, more than 100 have already been excused. A majority of those dismissed admitted that they are unable to make an impartial decision.
In 2013, Arias was found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of her former lover — Travis Alexander. As the jury determined the murder was “cruel, heinous, or depraved,” Arias is eligible for the death penalty under Arizona law.
In May 2013, the jury declared that they were unable to reach a unanimous decision on Arias’ sentence, therefore the penalty phase ended in mistrial. The penalty phase retrial began on Monday morning with selection of a new jury.
During her original trial, Jodi Arias admitted killing Travis Alexander. However, she argued that she was physically and sexually abused.
Prosecutors dismissed Arias’ claim of self defense as Alexander was stabbed nearly 30 times. In addition to the stab wounds, the victim was shot in the head and his throat was deeply slashed.
As the trial was televised live, and included lurid details about Jodi and Travis’ relationship, it soon became a media circus. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens has ordered a media blackout during the penalty retrial.
As reported by USA Today, opening arguments are scheduled to begin on October 20. However, it is unclear whether Arias will maintain legal representation. Defense attorney Kirk Nurmi has asked to be recused, but Judge Stephens denied the request.
In August, Jodi Arias petitioned the court to stand in her own defense. She argued that Nurmi is “curt, rude, and condescending.” Although the court granted her motion, Arias later changed her mind. As reported by ABC News, Attorney Nurmi appeared in Arias’ defense on Monday morning.
Maricopa County spokeswoman Cari Gerchick confirmed the Jodi Arias case has cost taxpayers more than $2.5 million. Those costs are expected to rise throughout the penalty retrial.
Although Jodi has attempted to raise money by selling her personal belongings, artwork, and her story, it is unclear whether she will use the money to cover her defense.
Prior to Monday’s jury selection, Jodi Arias appeared to be in good spirits. According to reports she turned to smile at reporters as the proceedings began.
Jury selection is scheduled to resume on Wednesday and continue for approximately four weeks. The trial is expected to last several months.
Jodi Arias will likely know her fate by the end of the year. If the jury is able to reach a unanimous decision, she could be sentenced to death.
[Image via Huffington Post]