Phoenix defense attorney: Jodi Arias conviction could come down to 1 juror

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by Catherine Holland

GMAZ interview by Kaley O'Kelley and Scott Pasmore

Posted on February 6, 2013 at 12:07 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 6 at 12:44 PM

PHOENIX -- All eyes are on accused murderer Jodi Arias as continues to testify in her own defense.

At this point, her own lawyers are still questioning her, which means she knows exactly what questions will be asked and how she needs to answer. That will change once prosecutor Juan Martinez begins his cross examination. It's not clear when that will happen.

While several experts have stated unequivocally that Arias had to take the stand, many people are now trying to determine if her words are helping her case or hurting it.

Phoenix criminal defense attorney Jason Lamm has both prosecuted and defended murder cases and has seen how juries react to suspects' testimony.

Just hours before Arias began her third day of testimony, Lamm sat down with 3TV's Scott Pasmore and Kaley O'Kelley to share his professional insight into what's happening in Judge Sherry Stephens' courtroom now that Arias is on the stand.

"It's really necessary for her testimony to come out slowly and methodically to give the expert witnesses a foundation to talk about domestic violence in explaining her behavior," he said. "But in my opinion, it's taking a little bit too long.

"The climax of her testimony is going to be what happened that night with Travis Alexander, when she killed him," Lamm continued. "The jury is just saying, 'Come on, get it over with already. Finish this already. … Just spit it out and tell us what happened.'"

Lamm said Arias' testimony is essential because it illustrates a pattern of abuse and shows that she "gravitated towards men with abusive tendencies -- not just physical, but emotional, as well."

He also said she needs to explain statements she has made up to this point that have contradicted each other.

While there are 12 people are on the jury, the decision could come down to just a single person.

"I think you need one juror to tie up the panel to come up with a hung jury," he said. "That's how it works because a verdict needs to be unanimous whether it's guilty or not guilty."

Lamm believes the defense is hoping to get at least one juror to see the situation from Arias' perspective and perhaps even empathize with her. If that happens, the jury could convict on a lesser charge of second-degree murder, which is what the defense was aiming for in plea negotiations.

A conviction on second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 22 years in prison. A first-degree murder conviction could mean the death penalty for Arias.

Lamm said Martinez is known for his aggressive cross examinations. Because there is no court on Thursday or Friday, the earliest Martinez could start his questioning is Monday.

"That gives him an ace in the hole in preparing his cross examination," Lamm explained. "But he has to be careful because if he is too aggressive, if he is too powerful, that one juror could get the sympathy because he may even liken himself to the men that have abused her [Arias] over the years by pushing her around too much.

"He's walking a real fine line," Lamm continued. "He can get the job done, but, you know, be careful."

You can watch the trial live on azfamily.com as it unfolds.

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