Jodi Arias: Sparring Over Legitimacy of Sex Letters Bogs Down Death Penalty Re-Trial

Pam WrightLife

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Jodi Arias has claimed that ex-lover Travis Alexander wrote letters to her apologizing for an alleged incident in which she said she caught him masturbating while looking at pictures of young boys.

Attorneys on both sides are sparring over whether the letters are legitimate and should be included as evidence in the penalty phase of the re-trial, which is slated to begin this week.

On Thursday, prosecutor Juan Martinez said the letters were phony. Arias’ head lawyer Kirk Nurmi countered, saying the prosecution’s “own [forensic] expert did not say those letters were forged” and said they were impossible to authenticate since they were copies, AzCentral.com reported.

The dispute, among others tied to possible evidence in the case, has caused the penalty phase retrial to be delayed until Tuesday. On Monday, Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens will hear arguments on the issues at a hearing.

Stephens said the new jury that will decide whether the convicted murderer is sentenced to death, or whether she will spend the rest of her life in prison, will hear the case at Arizona’s Maricopa County Superior Court on Tuesday.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for the 34-year-old, who murdered her former boyfriend Alexander in June 2008 via stabbing and shooting, after an initial attempt ended with a deadlocked jury.

Before the new jury can start hearing the case, the judge will hear from the defense, which believes the death penalty should be taken off the table.

"The defense has challenged the death penalty," said azfamily.com's Mike Watkiss. "They want it thrown out. I think bear in mind the defense is now playing to appellate courts. They're no longer playing to Judge Sherry Stephens. They want to set a record that they can later appeal on."

The judge has also ruled that there will be no live streaming video like there was for Arias' first trial and no broadcast video until after the verdict.

"I think it's sort of a suspect judgment on the part of Judge Sherry Stephens [to ban video until the verdict], but here we go," Watkiss said. "These are the rules."

The waitress-photographer was convicted of first-degree murder in May 2013.

Pam Wright