Arias to represent herself at death penalty trial

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PHOENIX (AP) -- A judge ruled Monday that Jodi Arias can represent herself in the upcoming penalty phase of her murder trial, where jurors will decide whether she is put to death for killing her ex-boyfriend.

Arias, 34, was convicted of first-degree murder last year in the 2008 killing of Travis Alexander, but jurors couldn't reach a decision on sentencing. Under Arizona law, Arias' murder conviction stands, and prosecutors have the option of putting on a second penalty phase with a new jury in an effort to secure a death sentence.

Arias, who has long clashed with her defense lawyers and tried to fire them previously -- asked Judge Sherry Stephens to let her serve as her own lawyer during the second penalty phase, and Stephens granted the request.

Arias will now have the task of arguing a death penalty case just four weeks from now despite having no legal experience and no college degree or high school diploma. Arias got her GED in jail.

Her defense lawyers will remain as advisory counsel as she argues the case. Defense lawyers and the prosecution refused to comment on the latest developments.

Arias' feud with her attorneys intensified after she gave a series of media interviews following her conviction in May 2013. Her lawyers have tried to withdraw from the case, but the judge has rebuffed their requests.

The case captured headlines worldwide and became a cable television staple with its tales of sex, lies and a brutal killing.

Arias admitted killing Alexander at his suburban Phoenix home but claimed it was self-defense. He was stabbed nearly 30 times, had his throat slit and was shot in the forehead. Prosecutors argued it was premeditated murder carried out in a jealous rage when Alexander wanted to end their affair.

A new trial to determine the sentence is scheduled to begin Sept. 8. If the second panel fails to end in a unanimous decision, the death penalty would be removed from consideration. The judge would then sentence Arias to spend her life behind bars or to be eligible for release after 25 years.

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