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Jury in Arias trial brought to tears by testimony

By Brian Skoloff

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, May 16 2013 4:50 p.m. MDT

Details about the motion were sealed, but legal experts said Arias complicated efforts for her defense when she gave an interview to Fox affiliate KSAZ minutes after her conviction, saying she preferred death over life in prison.

"I believe death is the ultimate freedom, and I'd rather have my freedom as soon as I can get it," Arias said.

During a closed-door meeting with the judge Tuesday, Nurmi and Jennifer Willmott sought permission to withdraw from the case, according to court minutes released Thursday.

Los Angeles-area criminal defense lawyer Mark Geragos said Arias' attorneys have a conflict of interest with their efforts to keep their client off death row and Arias' assertion that she'd rather die for her crime.

"It's not highly unusual," he said. "There are cases where defendants make decisions that they're better off on death row, but that puts the lawyer in a conflicted position. You've got a duty as a lawyer to bring the conflict of interest to the courts and disclose it."

Added Phoenix criminal defense lawyer Julio Laboy: "It would be something I would do in my major felony cases if I found that a client was actually working against me and not working with her defense."

Arias cannot choose the death penalty. It's up to the jury to determine a sentence. Her attorneys' motion to withdraw will have no impact on the penalty phase of the trial given jurors are not privy to the filing, and not even media have the details due to a court order sealing all such proceedings.

Arias, 32, acknowledged killing Alexander at his suburban Phoenix home after a day of sex on June 4, 2008. She initially denied any involvement and later blamed the attack on masked intruders. Two years after her arrest, Arias said she killed Alexander in self-defense.

The victim suffered nearly 30 knife wounds, had his throat slit from ear to ear and was shot in the forehead. Prosecutors say the attack was fueled by jealous rage after Alexander wanted to end his affair with Arias and prepared to take a trip to Mexico with another woman.

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