Jodi Arias' Lawyer Asks for Jurors to Be Sequestered

Jodi Arias' parents told police their daughter had "mental problems."

April 4, 2013, 2:46 AM

PHOENIX, Ariz. April 4, 2013— -- Jodi Arias' lawyer asked the judge presiding over her murder trial today to sequester the jury claiming it is a "fairy tale" that the jurors are not seeing news reports about the trial.

The request was made on the day that news outlets, including ABC News, reported that Arias' parents were recorded telling police that their daughter had "mental problems." The comments by the parents had not been entered into the trial as evidence.

The parents' conversation was made to the detective who was investigating Arias for the alleged murder of her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander.

"This case must be tried in the courtroom, not in the media," defense attorney Kirk Nurmi told Judge Sherry Stephens while the jury was out of the courtroom.

"The court asks the question of the jurors every morning, 'Have you seen anything on the media?' No one raises their hand... To believe that to be true is to believe an absolute fiction. It is a fairytale to assume that this jury is not hearing any of this. It is all over the news, be it local or national," Nurmi said.

Clearly angry, Nurmi added, "It is a fiction that is beyond belief."

The lawyer said the information was being released by the prosecutor's office and it was damaging Arias' right to a fair trial.

"I'm asking the court to no longer rely on this fiction that this jury is not seeing any of this media and sequester the jury immediately," Nurmi said.

The judge rejected the motion.

The trial, which began in January, is expected to last until the end of April. If the jury decides Arias is guilty of first degree murder, Arias would be liable to the death penalty. The jury would then continue to sit through a penalty phase to decide whether Arias should be executed. That could last another three weeks.

The interview that prompted Nurmi's comments today was an interview with Arias' parents with homicide detective Esteban Flores two months after Alexander was killed with a barrage of stab wounds and a bullet to the head. During the interview, the parents earned she was about to be charged with murder.

Arias' father, William, gave a tough assessment of his daughter's behavior.

"She was a strange person because some, you know after she left the house, she was just kind of acting a little strange, you know," William Arias said.

Arias described the sometimes volatile relationship between his daughter and wife.

Catching Up on the Trial? Check Out ABC News' Jodi Arias Trial Coverage

"Sometimes she'd call real sweet, and 10 minutes later, she'd call in a rage, you know, just screaming at my wife. She did that over the last year and a half," William Arias said.

Sandy Arias backed up her husband's claim about the rocky relationship she had with her daughter.

"Jodi has mental problems. Jodi would freak out all the time," Arias said.

Sandy Arias told Flores that her daughter was troubled, but not capable of shooting and repeatedly stabbing Alexander.

"I asked her. I ask her because that's the first thing I ask her. She swore she did not go to Arizona. So, of course I believed her. You know, but I questioned her about it," Sandy Arias said.

Arias said her daughter told her she went to Utah at the time Alexander was killed in his Mesa, Ariz., apartment.

"How could somebody... how could she come back and just be normal?" sobbed Arias.

Jodi Arias, 32, has admitted to killing Alexander, 30, after lying for nearly two years about it, but insists she killed him in self-defense.

Timeline of the Jodi Arias Trial

Sandy Arias admitted that her daughter's friends would call and warn that Jodi needed help.

"I had quite a few of her friends call me and tell me that I needed to get her some help. One called me in the middle of the night and told me that she needed help," said Sandy Arias.

When Flores asked Arias how she was holding up, she told him, "I feel like I'm going to puke."

On the witness stand, Jodi Arias claimed she was abused by her parents as a child.

Despite her daughter's accusations, Sandy Arias has been present in court every day during the marathon murder trial. William Arias' health issues have prevented him from appearing for most of the trial.

Later today, the jury will hear more testimony from domestic violence expert Alyce LaViolette, who spent 44 hours interviewing Jodi Arias in jail.

LaViolette, hired by the defense, testified that Arias' relationship with Alexander was "domestically abusive."

On Wednesday, LaViolette testified about a fight that Arias claims ended with Alexander breaking her finger in January 2008, the day after she claims she saw him looking at nude photos of children.

"During this argument, he grabs her and throws her to the floor," LaViolette said. "And when she hits the floor she makes a sound and he says, basically, 'Don't act like that hurts b----. This hurts.' And he kicks her. Then he kicks her a second time and she's trying to block that kick and he kicks her finger and breaks it."

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