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PHOENIX – Defense lawyers and the prosecutor in the Jodi Arias trial had a series of sharp exchanges Monday over allegations of attorney misconduct and whether digitally enhanced photos of the victim should be presented for the jury as it decides whether to convict the former waitress and aspiring photographer of murder.
The arguments between prosecutor Juan Martinez and defense lawyer Kirk Nurmi showed how acrimonious the trial has become between the two sides after more than three months of testimony.
Nurmi claimed that the prosecutor committed misconduct by bullying a key defense witness. Martinez used the words "voodoo" and "fantastical" to describe a last-minute defense effort to admit digitally enhanced photos of the victim.
"This isn't second grade. It's a court of law," Nurmi said.
The jury was not present as the judge heard arguments on several issues.
The one that elicited the most colorful response was a defense effort to allow jurors to see enhanced images of Travis Alexander just before he was stabbed and shot to death.
Arias took several photographs of Alexander on the day he was killed in 2008. A defense expert claims that he can see a reflection of a person in the eye of Alexander in one digitally enhanced image. Nurmi said the image shows Arias with both hands on the camera — and not holding a knife that she used to kill Alexander.
The splotchy image is impossible to interpret with the naked eye, and Martinez ripped the defense team for trying to introduce it as evidence. He said he sees what he thinks is Alexander's dog in the reflection. He said other people might see completely different things, whether it's different breeds of dogs or even gophers.
"It's the state's position that this is really voodoo," he said.
The judge did not immediately rule on whether to allow the images.
Arias has said that she killed Alexander in self-defense, fearing for her life.
Prosecutors claim it was premeditated murder that should result in a death sentence. The defense is hoping to spare Arias' life, and get an unlikely acquittal or a conviction on a lesser charge and a prison term.
The lawyers went at it again later in the day as the judge denied another defense mistrial motion. Nurmi said Martinez engaged in misconduct by posing for photos with fans who have been gathering at the courthouse on a daily basis to witness a trial that has a large global following with its many salacious elements. Nurmi also claimed that Martinez bullied a key defense witness with an aggressive line of questioning.
Martinez ridiculed Arias' team for repeatedly pressing for mistrials in a case that has already cost taxpayers more than $2 million for her defense.
"Perhaps they can add a few more pennies to the kettle that they have," he said.
The focus of the trial this week is expected to be rebuttal witnesses put on the stand by the prosecution.