PHOENIX – Jodi Arias’ attorneys want a judge to allow them to monitor the Twitter accounts of the jury seated in her murder trial to be certain jurors aren’t communicating details about the case on social media.
Arias was convicted of first-degree murder May 8 in the 2008 death of boyfriend Travis Alexander in his suburban Phoenix home, but the same jury failed to reach a decision on her sentence. Her case is now in limbo as prosecutors decide whether to seat a new jury in pursuit of the death penalty.
While neither side has publicly discussed any negotiations toward a plea deal, the motion filed Wednesday indicates the parties are on a path toward a second trial as her attorneys wrote in a motion Wednesday that Arias will “endeavour to paint a complete picture” of who she is and why she deserves a sentence of life.”
Attorneys Kirk Nurmi and Jennifer Willmott want the court to compel all jurors eventually seated for the second penalty phase to provide their Twitter accounts and handles if they use the site.
They note the details would serve as a “crucial tool with which Ms. Arias can work to ensure that her jury are either not communicating about the case via Twitter or considering information that was sent to them via Twitter as opposed to what is presented to them in court.”
The attorneys argue that without the ability to monitor their accounts, there would be no way of knowing whether jurors are communicating or receiving information about the case.
Jurors already are warned to avoid media coverage during the proceedings, and not to discuss the case with anyone until they have been dismissed.
“If every juror were to understand and follow this warning … there would be no issue with a juror choosing to ‘tweet’ information about the case,” the attorneys wrote. “However, even a juror that follows this admonition could still receive a tweet containing extraneous information.”
The Arias case prompted a frenzy of activity on Twitter since she went on trial in January. With the trial streamed live on the Internet around the world, Twitter users communicated with each other and journalists and TV personalities covering the case. Arias herself was believed to be Tweeting during the trial through a third party.
Arias’ attorneys say that after the jury in her first penalty phase failed to reach a decision, they learned that an alternate had communicated via Twitter with a journalist, explaining that she was allowed to use social media during the trial, but just couldn’t discuss the case. The lawyers also wrote that the alternate juror had a conversation on Facebook during which someone else commented about Arias’ temper.
Prosecutors had not yet filed a response to the motion and declined comment on Wednesday. A hearing is set for Monday.
Arias, 33, admitted she killed Alexander, but claimed it was self-defence. Prosecutors argued it was premeditated murder carried out in a jealous rage after the victim wanted to end their affair and planned a trip to Mexico with another woman.