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Jodi Arias Trial Update: Arizona Surpeme Court Keeps Trial Open To Public, Declines Her Secret Testimony

( [email protected] ) Feb 11, 2015 08:52 PM EST
The Arizona Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from convicted murderer Jodi Arias in regards to testifying in secret at her sentencing retrial. As for the retrial itself, two computer experts went on the stand Wednesday and talked about what was found on Travis Alexander's computer.
Jodi Arias (Photo: Reuters)

The Arizona Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from convicted murderer Jodi Arias in regards to testifying in secret at her sentencing retrial.

According to the Associated Press, Arizona's highest court denied Arias' petition for review without comment on Tuesday. That means a previous ruling by the Arizona Court of Appeals will stand.

"The appeals court overturned the trial judge's ruling that barred the public from being present during testimony from a witness that later was revealed to be Arias," the Associated Press wrote. "A transcript of the testimony was released last month."

Laurie Roberts of the Arizona Republic provided some background information that led to the Arizona Supreme Court's decision.

"In October, poor Arias felt she couldn't possibly explain to a jury why her life should be spared if she had to do so in public, so Maricopa County Superior Court Sherry Stephens closed the courtroom and kicked out the public and press," Roberts wrote. "All the public knew was that a mystery witness for Arias would not testify in public."

Roberts reported that the mystery witness turned out to be Arias herself. Arias told the judge that she received death threats in the mail, rendering her unable to "fully communicate what she wants to say."

"While we do not discount the volume or nature of Arias' mail or the fact that some people may wish he ill, her concern does not, as a matter of law, amount to an extremely serious substantive evil warranting closing the trial to the public and press," Judge Maurice Portley wrote for the three-judge panel.

Roberts stated that her paper, alongside other media outlets, sued to get access to the secret testimony. In the end, the Arizona Court of Appeals ordered Stephens to unseal the testimony transcript and end the secrecy.

As for the retrial itself, Steve Stout and Jason Berry of CBS 5 AZ reported that two computer experts from the Mesa police department took the witness stand on Wednesday and talked about the Internet pornography they found on the computer of Travis Alexander, the man Arias was convicted of murdering. According to Jen Wood of Jen's Trial Diaries, the experts believed that a virus brought up most of the porn sites found on his computer.

"Detective Brown said most of it was generated from the Spybot program that was put on there to fight off pop-up ads," Wood said. "The defense's claim that there was an aircraft carrier worth of porn on there - it's not so."

According to Stout and Berry, the defense team spent months trying to prove that Alexander was a frequent visitor to pornographic websites. However, legal expert Beth Karas thought that the jury is getting tired hearing all the testimony about computer porn.

"I think the jury is suffering from a little bit of porn fatigue," Karas said. "Enough already."

Stout and Berry also reported that one of Arias' defense attorneys demanded that the judge remove three court watchers from the courtroom Wednesday, claiming that they were taunting a member of his staff.  

"Attorney Kirk Nurmi said the court watchers had directed racial comments towards a member of the defense team, outside the courthouse Monday afternoon, prompting the judge to launch an investigation and possible hearing," Stout and Berry wrote.

In response to that allegation, the court watchers told CBS 5 that they never taunted anyone.

The retrial will resume on Thursday.

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