Should the judge in the Jodi Arias trial ban or limit media coverage of the penalty phase retrial?
PHOENIX – Convicted killer Jodi Arias is scheduled to be in court this morning for a hearing that is closed to the media.
Friday’s hearing was originally slated to take place on Sept. 16, but Judge Sherry Stephens continued it.
The last hearing was Aug. 26, and lasted only minutes as Stephens announced the continuance to Sept. 16. Arias did not even have the chance to sit down before being escorted from the courtroom and back to jail.
Just days before Sept. 16, Stephens delayed the hearing again. She did not give a reason.
The media is not permitted in the courtroom for Friday's proceeding.
It’s possible that Stephens could set a date for Arias’ penalty phase retrial. She also is expected to rule on defense motions relating to media coverage and access to the prospective jurors' Twitter accounts.
After a trial that went on for more than four months, a jury convicted Arias of first-degree murder in May. While they found her eligible for the death penalty, they could not unanimously agree to sentence her to it.
The plan now is to seat a second jury to decide Arias’ fate. Her conviction on first-degree murder is not in question and will stand. The new jury, which the defense wants sequestered, will deal only with her sentence.
The issue of a retrial, however, could be moot. A little more than a week ago, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office confirmed that a settlement conference is on the calendar. That should happen Oct. 24.
The outcome of that conference could determine whether Arias lives or dies.
In order for Arias to be sentenced to death, there has to be a retrial of the penalty phase. In Arizona, only a jury can impose the death sentence.