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Jodi Arias Trial Update: Death Penalty Retrial Likely Headed for September Start

By Charlie Connell | Jul 17, 2013 12:01 PM EDT

Jodi Arias
Jodi Arias returned to court for a hearing that lasted only a few minutes. A start date for her sentencing retrial was not set, a Sept. 16 hearing should determine the start date. (Photo : Reuters)

Jodi Arias returned to court on Tuesday, albeit for only three minutes, as her attorneys attempted to have Arias' eligibility for the death penalty thrown out, reports ABC News.

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It is unknown what was actually said between the lawyers in yesterday's hearing because the bulk of the conversation took place back in judge's chambers. Arias' defense attorneys were expected to argue that when the jury determined that the manner in which she murdered Travis Alexander to be "especially cruel" that they were not capable of making such a determination, according to ABC News.

"Given the apparent difficulties that judges face (prior to the ruling) in applying the statute in a uniform, consistent manner, juries are understandably less equipped to do so," defense attorney Kirk Nurmi said in a motion claiming that juries are ill fit to determine if a crime is "especially cruel."

Judge Sherry Stephens, who also presided over the murder trial, told attorneys that they should be ready for a second sentencing trial to commence in late September.

"It appears there are a number of issues that are unresolved so I am reluctant to set a firm date for the penalty phase retrial at this time," Judge Stephens said. "Parties should work toward beginning trial in late September. That is my intention."

Judge Stephens will allow defense attorneys until August 5 to file motions and set August 26 as the date of the next status conference, according to USA Today.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery has always said that the state plans on retrying Arias to obtain the death penalty. While Montgomery has announced that the state would consider reasons to not do so saving money would not be one of them; taxpayers have already spent a whopping $1.7 million on Arias' court-appointed lawyers, according to Fox News.

Jodi Arias jokingly apologized to the taxpayers of Arizona on her Twitter account Tuesday. The account is run by a friend of Arias' who speaks on the phone with the convicted murderer regularly, according to ABC News.

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Jodi Arias Trial Update: Details of Phone Sex Tape Hearing Released (VIDEO)

The Jodi Arias murder trial gained national attention in part because of an explicit and steamy recording of phone sex between Arias and her lover, and eventual murder victim, Travis Alexander. Attorneys engaged in a behind-closed-doors fight about whether or not the tape should be admissible as evidence, the transcript of that argument has been released to the public, according to the Arizona Republic.

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