A prosecutor on Thursday admitted “some instances” of prosecutorial misconduct in the murder trial that put away convicted killer Jodi Arias, 39. The state’s position is that it wasn’t as much as the defense made it out to be, and nothing that resulted in jury prejudice, according to Terry Crist of the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.
Arias’s current legal team sees an opportunity in the ongoing misconduct allegations against Juan Martinez, the Maricopa County prosecutor who got her convicted. He has fielded allegations of harassment and sexual misconduct for a while. Martinez was even accused of having a relationship with a trial blogger and telling her a juror’s identity. Acting Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell announced in September that he would be reassigned from death penalty cases to auto theft prosecutions because he needed a “more flexible” caseload while facing Arizona Bar proceedings, according to The Phoenix New Times.
Asked about the more egregious misconduct, Arias attorney Cory Engle said Martinez’s actions were cumulative across the trial. According to Engle, Martinez made out the defense experts as hiding and changing evidence based on their “feelings” for Arias; he alleged the defense was fabricating their case, and that everything that came from one of the witnesses was nothing but “contaminated filth.” Martinez’s theme in the case was that no one in the case should be believed but him, according to Engle.
Assuming the allegations against Martinez are true, what bearing does this have on Arias’s trial? Crist on Thursday asserted that under the case law, courts shouldn’t reverse convictions in order to punish a prosecutor. He said that disciplinary sanctions were appropriate in such instances, especially if there was overwhelming evidence against the defendant and the jury wasn’t prejudiced. It would be a “greater miscarriage of justice” to let the defendant go.
The three-judge panel also questioned Engle over the defense’s assertion that the prosecutor made the case a media circus. They pressed her on the interviews Arias gave to the press. Two were only given before the defendant had counsel, and the third was on the day she learned she faced the death penalty, Engle said.
Arias is serving out a life sentence at a state prison in Goodyear, Arizona for the 2008 murder of her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander, 30.
[Screengrab via CNN]