PHOENIX (AP) — The judge in the Jodi Arias murder trial threw a juror off the case and denied a defense bid for a mistrial Tuesday as a domestic abuse expert resumed testimony about the defendant’s volatile relationship with the victim.
Judge Sherry Stephens met behind closed doors with lawyers in the case and announced the move from the bench to oust juror No. 5. Defense lawyers say the juror made comments about the case to a fellow panelist that raised questions about her impartiality. They did not provide specifics.
The move leaves five alternate jurors, in addition to the 12 who will decide the case.
The development came three months to the date since testimony began in a trial that has attracted an international following among people who have taken advantage of streaming Internet video of the case to keep tabs on the salacious details coming out of the Phoenix courtroom. Arias testified at length about what she described as a twisted sexual relationship with Travis Alexander before she killed him in his Mesa home in 2008. Arias said it was in self-defense.
She faces the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murder.
Psychotherapist Alyce LaViolette returned to the witness stand Tuesday and described her impressions of the relationship between Arias and Alexander after spending more than 40 hours interviewing the defendant. She also described emails she analyzed between the two, including from a friend of Alexander who described him as a flirt with other women.
She has testified previously about why some battered women don’t leave their partners, due to fear and shame. Arias has testified that Alexander was physically and emotionally abusive.