Convicted killer Jodi Arias in court for settlement conference
Judge Sherry Stephens has closed a settlement conference Oct. 24 in the trial of convicted murderer Jodi Arias. (Source: CBS 5 News)
Travis Alexander and Jodi Arias
PHOENIX (CBS5) -
Convicted killer Jodi Arias will be back in court Thursday where her penalty phase retrial will be discussed.
Her attorneys could offer up a deal to spare her the death penalty.
A judge ruled that the public and media will not be allowed at the settlement conference.
Judge Sherry Stephens issued the written order Monday morning, citing intense media coverage in her ruling.
"The court finds there is a compelling interest that overcomes the right of public access," Stephens said in her ruling.
Stephens said an open proceeding "presents a clear and present threat to the due administration of justice, specifically, the right of the parties to a fair penalty phase trial by an impartial jury."
Stephens said, "Specifically, there is a substantial probability that publication of information provided during this settlement conference could taint the jury pool and significantly impact the parties' ability to effectively present matters at trial."
Stephens also said the presence of the public or media might inhibit the free flow of information, "including statements by the victims and/or the defendant.
"This is especially important here since the only issue for the jury will be penalty," she said.
Maricopa County Attorney spokesman Jerry Cobb said the settlement conference will be made in front of retired Maricopa County Superior Court Judge James Keppel.
Settlement conferences are usually handled by a judge other than the one who presides over the case.
Arias' attorneys filed a motion to block live video cameras from the sentencing phase, which would be a radical departure for the case that drew interest from around the world.
The death penalty trial was broadcast live on cable news networks and streamed online, including on cbs5az.com/live.
Arias was found guilty May 8 of first-degree murder in the death of her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, but jurors couldn't agree on a sentence, and Stephens declared a mistrial in that portion.
A new jury could decide if Arias will serve life in prison or receive a death sentence.
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