(PHOENIX) — Jodi Arias’ attorneys petitioned the judge overseeing her murder trial this week to be let off the case, a motion they’ve made at least once before during the five month trial in Arizona.
Arias, 32, was convicted of first degree murder last week for killing her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander during a bloody knife and gun attack in 2008. She is facing her sentencing phase this week in front of the same jury that convicted her, and who will decide whether she gets the death penalty.
Her defense team, attorneys Kirk Nurmi and Jennifer Willmott, met with Judge Sherry Stephens on Tuesday morning and asked to withdraw from the case, according to court minutes documenting the meeting.
The documents do not shed any light on why Nurmi and Willmott wanted to withdraw from the case.
The request came after Arias’ conviction and a TV interview in which Arias said she would prefer death to life in prison. That created the irony of Nurmi and Willmott arguing on the next day for the jury to not sentence her to death.
Stephens denied their request and it was at least the second time she’s denied Nurmi and Willmott the opportunity to walk away from Arias during the case. During the prior request, Arias and her mother wrote to the judge asking that Nurmi and Willmott be ordered to continue serving as her attorneys.
The attorneys have not publicly said why they want off the case. Nurmi made a half-joking comment during his closing argument about how unlikeable Arias seems. He conceded to jurors that they might not like Arias very much, and added, “Nine days out of ten I don’t like her.” Arias smiled at the comment.
On Thursday, Nurmi and Willmott will be back in court with Arias for the first day of the death penalty phase of her case. During this phase, both Arias and Alexander’s survivors will have the opportunity to make statements to the jury.
The defense can also present witnesses to testify on Arias’ behalf about why she should be spared the death penalty.
The jury will then deliberate and decide whether to condemn her to death row.
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