Jodi Arias Mistrial Motion Highlighted Stalker Claims

PHOTO: Attorney Kirk Nurmi stands during Jodi Ariass trial in Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix, Jan. 17, 2013.
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The murder trial of Jodi Arias has been punctuated with increasingly angry calls for a mistrial and the arguments have cited a woman's claim of being stalked and menaced, suggestions of ethnic bias and personal jibes among the lawyers.

The prosecution rested its case Thursday and the defense will begins its arguments on Jan. 29. In the meantime Judge Sherry Stephens will consider the defense's request to dismiss the case outright as well as the motions to declare a mistrial.

Arias, 32, is charged with killing ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander in a jealous rage in June 2008 following a tryst in his Mesa, Ariz., home.

The most recent and most testy mistrial arguments came Wednesday after defense lawyer Kirk Nurmi asked Detective Esteban Flores whether Alexander's roommates "were warned against this so-called stalker?" Nurmi gestured towards the defense table where Arias sat as he spoke.

The objection by prosecutor Juan Martinez was overruled, but it set the stage for an ensuing argument between the lawyers.

The jury left the courtroom moments later and Nurmi resumed his request for a mistrial, arguing that he had not been allowed to vet a potential witness, Lisa Andrews, who was involved in the stalking claim.

In defending himself, Martinez said he has purposefully not introduced the stalking claims to avoid a mistrial or an overturned verdict since Arias is not charged with stalking.

But he went on to state that Andrews was seeing Alexander in 2007 after Alexander and Arias broke up. While Alexander was visiting Andrews, he found his car tires slashed, Martinez told the court with the jury absent. He replaced the tires and visited Andrews again the next evening and found his new tires slashed, the prosecutor said. Martinez never said who was responsible for cutting the tires.

Andrews' tires were also subsequently slashed and she received a "John Doe" letter accusing her of "a number of religiously based sins, you're a whore, things like that," Martinez told the judge.

Martinez recommended that Andrews not be called as a witness to avoid tainting the record.

"I believe the state's so-called concerns to be disingenuous," Nurmi replied. "First of all, I don't need advice from him," he said nodding towards Martinez.

Nurmi added that there was "evidence that Andrews was dating Mr. Alexander while he was sleeping with my client."

"We fully intend to call her as witness," he said. "Let the chips fall where they may."

The most personal comments between the lawyers have included suggestions of an anti-Hispanic bias.

Earlier in the week, Nurmi had suggested during cross examination that Flores and another detective Mike Melendez were not truthful in their testimony. At the time, Martinez pointed out that both officers accused of lying were Hispanic. "Maybe because they're Hispanic, I don't know," Martinez said.

On Wednesday, Nurmi indignantly raised the comments before the judge.

"In terms of misconduct, prosecutor said something about all Hispanic names sounding alike, saying I must be racist or insincere or not smart enough," he said. Nurmi called Martinez's remark "an additional instance of misconduct and was inappropriate on the part of this prosecutor."

Nurmi has also called for a mistrial after the two sides clashed over the speed with which the prosecution has handed over evidence, and interpreting forensic evidence about whether Alexander was shot or stabbed first.

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