Jodi Arias trial update: Arias defense team files motion to delay penalty phase

PHOENIX - Jodi Arias' defense team on Wednesday filed a motion to postpone the penalty phase of her trial.

In court paperwork obtained by ABC15 , attorneys asked for the scheduled July 18th hearing to be moved to January 2014.

The motion states that attorney Kirk Nurmi will be out of office for over a week in July prior to the hearing, and will also be out on the date of the hearing itself. Attorney Jennifer Willmott will also be out of office for over a week just before the penalty proceedings.

According to the motion, Willmott also has at least four trials she is working on that are set to start in August, which could interfere with the Arias trial.

The motion also states that, prior to the beginning of the penalty phase, Arias was not able to present a complete mitigation case.

The paperwork alleges that Arias was not able to call any witnesses due to multiple threats made against two experts slated to testify on her behalf. Arias' team claims this left her with an "inability to present a complete picture to the jury."

Read the entire motion.

Arias' attorneys are requesting the penalty phase be moved until January 2014 so Arias can find an alternative way of presenting her case.

Arias is set for a status conference on June 20th.

While her murder conviction will stand, prosecutors have the option of pursuing a new penalty phase aiming for the ultimate punishment or avoiding it altogether, leading to a life sentence for Arias. However, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said Wednesday that his office was preparing to try again for the death penalty.

Under Arizona law, a new panel would have to be seated to determine Arias' fate, something that could take several months as attorneys put on a mini-trial of sorts to get a fresh jury up to speed on the case. Jury selection alone could take weeks, given the difficulty of seating an impartial panel in a case that attracted global attention and became daily cable TV fodder with tales of sex, lies and violence.

If a second panel of jurors fails to reach a unanimous decision, death would automatically be taken off the table, and the judge would sentence Arias to spend her entire life behind bars or life with the possibility of release after 25 years.

See a special Jodi Arias section on abc15.com

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