The judge turned down that request too, to which Nurmi quickly replied, “We will not be calling witnesses in the defense case.”
Arias’ attorneys also tried without success to quit after she gave the interview in which she said she would prefer death over life in prison.
Arias, 32, initially claimed she knew nothing about the slaying, then blamed masked intruders, then claimed self-defense. Prosecutors argued she killed Alexander in a jealous rage because he wanted to end their relationship.
Experts say the sheer brutality of the killing has probably already sealed Arias’ fate, so any witnesses presented during the penalty phase would have been pointless.
The victim suffered nearly 30 knife wounds, his throat was slit from ear to ear, and he was shot in the forehead. Arias then dragged him into his shower, where his decomposed body was found days later.
“I think they could put Mother Teresa on there and it’s not going to spare her life,” said Phoenix defense attorney Mel McDonald, a former judge and federal prosecutor.
San Francisco-area criminal defense lawyer Michael Cardoza said the request to quit the case and the defense decision not to call any witnesses on Arias’ behalf could very well be a strategic move.
“She could argue ineffective counsel on appeal, but the fact is, it’s anything but ineffective because what they’re doing is handing her an appeal,” Cardoza said. “So it’s actually very effective counsel.”