Jodi Arias trial: Defense team asking judge to allow lesser charges

PHOENIX - Accused murderer Jodi Arias' defense team is busy with some last minute moves to save her life, including a request to allow jurors to consider lesser charges.

Defense Attorney Kirk Nurmi filed a request on Sunday to add "manslaughter by sudden quarrel" or "heat of passion" charges to the jury instructions.

The manslaughter charge typically carries a seven year sentence for defendants with no prior record such as Arias.

But criminal defense expert Brent Kleinman says because of the numerous stab wounds victim Travis Alexander sustained when Arias killed him, seven years is unlikely.

"That's reserved more for someone who might've accidently killed another person in a traffic accident and is negligent," Said Kleinman.

Kleinman added that manslaughter is a class two felony and the sentencing would range from 7 to 21 years with the presumptive sentence being 10.5 years.

But it is a much lesser charge than the two charges the jury is currently allowed to consider. 

The prosecution is seeking a first-degree death penalty murder charge with the very lightest sentence being life.

The jury could also convict Arias of second-degree murder, which Kleinman said comes with a 15-25 year sentence.

Arias has been in jail since her arrest in July of 2008 and would be given credit for her time served.

According to court documents, if the jury is given the choice of a manslaughter charge, they must decide if a reasonable person in a similar situation would believe that physical force was necessary against the use or threatened use of deadly force.

Arias claims after the gun went off and shot Alexander, he chased her down the hall calling her expletives and threatened to kill her.

But the prosecution alleges Arias stabbed Alexander 27 times, slit his throat and then shot him in cold blood.

The defense is also requesting they be allowed to call another witness to impeach or discredit the prosecution's expert witness.

In court documents, Attorney Kirk Nurmi writes it is "necessary and critical to Ms. Arias' defense after this court allowed the state to present new evidence during rebuttal via its witness Dr. Janeen DeMarte."

Dr. DeMarte told jurors she believes Arias does remember killing Alexander and does not suffer from PTSD or amnesia.

Dr. DeMarte testified Arias told her when she reached the Hoover Dam she saw blood on her hands and immediately knew she had killed Alexander.

But according to Dr. DeMarte, a person with no memory as Arias claims, would not think they killed someone, but rather that they cut themselves.

DeMarte also says Arias has borderline personality disorder.  

It's this diagnosis Arias' defense team cites is new information and gives them the right to call another witness.

Nurmi listed Dr. Robert Geffner as the defense team's surrebuttal witness.

Geffner is a psychologist with 28 years of experience.  

He is also the founder and president of the Family Violence and Sexual Assault Institute in San Diego and often speaks out against domestic violence.

Criminal defense expert Brent Kleinman says typically the prosecution has the last word, but in a death penalty case such as Arias' the judge will likely allow the new witness to avoid appeals.

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