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Arizona convicted murderer asks for sentencing retrial delay

By David Schwartz

PHOENIX (Reuters) - Convicted murderer Jodi Arias, serving as her own attorney, asked an Arizona judge on Wednesday to delay her upcoming sentencing phase retrial for murdering her ex-boyfriend in 2008.

In her first full court hearing defending herself, Arias said the postponement was needed because of problems meeting with a witness in the headline-grabbing murder case that is scheduled to resume on Sept. 8.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens set a hearing to consider the motion to delay on Aug. 22.

Stephens has warned the 34-year-old former waitress from California that she would reject any delay to the retrial if it is caused by Arias representing herself.

Arias was convicted last year for murdering Travis Alexander in his Phoenix-area home. He was found slumped in his shower, stabbed multiple times, his throat slashed and shot in the head.

The jury also found Arias eligible for the death penalty, but could not decide whether she should be executed.

A new jury will attempt to decide whether she will get life or death. If there is another deadlock, a judge would determine whether she gets natural life in prison, or life with the possibility of parole after 25 years.

Arias took over the case last week after continued disputes with her lead attorney, Kirk Nurmi. But the judge appointed Nurmi and attorney Jennifer Willmott as advisory counsels.

Nurmi has again asked to withdraw from the case, a motion that was argued behind closed doors on Wednesday. No decision was announced.

Arias told the court that she would no longer seek to represent herself if Nurmi withdrew.

The saga attracted widespread attention and the trial was broadcast live on the Internet, taking five months to complete.

Jurors heard graphic and sex-laced testimony and were shown bloody photographs. Arias maintained she acted in self-defense during her 18 days on the stand, a claim which was aggressively disputed by county prosecutors.

(Reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Eric Walsh)

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