Jodi Arias judge denies motion to dismiss prosecution's pursuit of death penalty



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PHOENIX — The judge in the Jodi Arias case on Wednesday denied a bid by her lawyers to stop prosecutors from seeking the death penalty.

Arias was convicted in May 2013 of murdering her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, at his suburban Phoenix home. But jurors deadlocked on whether she should be sentenced to life in prison or death. A new jury was picked to decide her sentence, and her sentencing retrial is ongoing.

Arias' attorneys had asked Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens to dismiss a notice by prosecutors that they are seeking the death penalty on several grounds.

They alleged that authorities examining Alexander's laptop destroyed thousands of files — including files from pornographic websites — that would have been beneficial in defending Arias. They said the computer files could have helped them argue that Alexander had treated their client in a sexually humiliating manner.

Arias' lawyers also asked the judge to dismiss the death penalty because three witnesses on her behalf have refused to testify in open court for fear they will be harassed.

In a ruling Wednesday, Stephens denied all of the motions to take the death penalty off the table.

"Many of those motions alleged prosecutorial misconduct. The cumulative effect of those allegations does not require dismissal of the charges or the notice of intent to seek the death penalty," Stephens wrote. "There may have been errors made, but those errors were not so egregious that they create concerns about the integrity or fundamental fairness of the trial."

Prosecutor Juan Martinez has denied authorities mishandled computer evidence.

Prosecutors have argued that Arias attacked Alexander in a jealous rage after he wanted to end their affair and planned a trip to Mexico with another woman. Arias has acknowledged killing Alexander, but claimed it was self-defense after he attacked her.

The Arias case has been marked by secrecy since the conclusion of the first trial, where salacious and violent details about Arias and Alexander were broadcast live around the world.

Since then, the judge has held one secret hearing after another and barred the broadcast of footage from the sentencing retrial until after a verdict is reached.

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