Apparently the State of Arizona is still debating what to do about executing her. For what it’s worth I do agree about one thing with Kirk Nurmi, Jodi Arias’ lawyer: it’s never going to happen.
But first, a cautionary tale.
There’s a motion to dismiss because of prosecutorial misconduct, and some of the misconduct alleged is a doozy: the defense alleges that the main investigating Detective on the case, named Flores, deliberately altered the hard drive of a computer in order to destroy exculpatory evidence and that the prosecutor knew about it.
Now, if this is true that should not only be the end of the death penalty but the end of the conviction and the end of the state’s case entirely. And it would have seemed from reading the defense motion that there was pretty good cause to believe it was true: they have a record showing that the computer was checked out by Flores for a three hour period on June 19, 2009, and that this was the same period in which numerous files on the computer were deleted:
“Specifically, recent Forensic Analysis has shown that between the times of 13:56:19 and 16:51:34 on June 19, 2009 that (sic) thousands of files were deleted from Mr. Alexander’s computer.”
And to drive the point home, the defense motion connects the dots:
Coincidentally, on June 19, 2009 at 13:56:19 Detective Flores took possession of the … computer to take it to “Forensic Services” and that (sic) on the same day her returned the computer from “Forensic Services” at 16:51:34.
Of course, the word “coincidentally” is used facetiously.
But then the critical error:
At the present time, Ms. Arias [her lawyer, really, but that’s how we write these things sometimes – ed.] does not know who “Forensic Services” is…..
This is probably something you should have some idea about before you go alleging prosecutorial misconduct of the magnitude being alleged in the motion.
So of course, I was anxious to see how the judge would deal with the startling and serious allegation in her ruling, and I didn’t see much of anything about it for about two readings and I thought: “AHA! Another perfidious judge just ignoring evidence and argument that would destroy the State’s conviction!”
But, alas, on the third reading I overcame confirmation bias and spotted a sentence that explained what had occurred since the defense motion was brought:
On June 19, 2009, the laptop computer was turned on and accessed at the Mesa Police Department during a review – of – evidence meeting attended by attorneys representing the defendant. The case agent, prosecutor, and defense investigator were also present during that meeting
That’s right, on June 19, 2009 Detective Flores took the computer to a meeting where the defense lawyers and investigators were present – to review the evidence!
The caution is this: you should always have your ducks in a row when you present anything to the court. Even if you do that, you won’t be infallible and there will be times you turn out to be wrong. But if you’re accusing the prosecution of basically criminal misconduct, you had better make triple sure, and you don’t go alleging that when you don’t know what “Forensic Services” refers to.
Of course, it really shouldn’t matter. The prosecution’s shift from “shot first” when that suited them to “shot last” when that did, is sufficient to overturn the guilty verdict. But you have to make the argument and cite the case: Pyle v. Kansas
Quiz for any budding criminal defense types, or even experienced CDL types: explain why the Pyle case requires overturning the Jodi Arias conviction. Answer in the comments.