Jodi Arias is charged with first-degree murder in the 2008 death of Travis Alexander.
(Photo: Mark Henle, The Arizona Republic)
By Michael Kiefer and Michelle Ye Hee Lee
The Arizona Republic
Phoenix - The Jodi Arias murder trial is still weeks away from going to the jury, but figures released Thursday by a judge's order show that since 2008, Maricopa County has paid out more than $1.4 million for her defense alone.
Much of the trial has been argued out of the public's earshot, to the drown-out accompaniment of a white-noise machine at the judge's bench and in the judge's chambers. Last week, after The Arizona Republic and other media outlets revealed that as of early February, the cost of Arias' defense had already surpassed $800,000, lead defense attorney Kirk Nurmi asked that the defense costs be sealed from the public eye.
Capital cases are inherently expensive. By law, capital murder suspects in Arizona are guaranteed two death-qualified lawyers, an investigator and a mitigation expert in the event that the suspect is found guilty and needs to build a case against execution. The process takes years and requires the research and testimony of psychologists and other experts.
STORY: Arias prosecutor's conduct questioned
But the Arias case has attracted great notoriety, and though no one talks about the exact security risks, it is noteworthy that Nurmi and his co-counsel Jennifer Willmott are escorted in and out of the building and even to lunch by sheriff's deputies or court security officers.
But the ABC and CNN television networks opposed Nurmi's motion for a protection order against revealing itemized billing information, and the issue was argued Wednesday in Maricopa County Superior Court before presiding criminal judge, Joseph Welty. On Thursday, Welty ruled that the following information could be released:
To date, the county has paid $1,402,688.84 to cover 15,582.43 hours of work on the case.
The rates of pay range from $17.72 to $250 per hour.
The information will not be broken down into exactly who is paid how much and when. Costs of prosecution are more difficult to determine because they are buried in county and police salaries.
The Arizona Republic