(PHOENIX) — Jodi Arias’ attorney says the convicted murderer is really “very chit chatty and smiley” but was unable to show that side of her personality during the trial.
Jennifer Willmott was one of two attorneys at Arias’ side from the beginning of her trial for the murder of her on-off boyfriend Travis Alexander in December 2012 until Arias was sentenced Monday to life in prison without parole.
Willmott said that in spite of her plea to the court on Monday, where Arias said she viewed the death penalty as a release because then she would be free, Arias was actually fearful of a death sentence.
“I don’t know how she feels about dying but it’s really what comes before that that’s so awful, to be on death row, so yeah, she was afraid of that, she did not want the death penalty,” Willmott told ABC News affiliate KNXV in Phoenix.
Two juries were unable to reach a unanimous decision regarding Arias’ sentencing, meaning that the death penalty was taken off the table and Judge Sherry Stephens was tasked with deciding whether Arias should be eligible for parole in 25 years. After hearing tearful testimony from Alexander’s sisters, as well as Arias’ mother and Arias herself, Stephens ruled that she will not be eligible for parole.
Now, Willmott says her client is coping.
“She’s focused on her future and what she can do potentially in the future,” Willmott told KNXV.
Willmott said Arias’ biggest hope is to be “able to have a contact visit and hug her mom. She hasn’t been able to do that in seven years. She’d like to be able to hug her niece.”
Willmott, who is a public defender and was assigned Arias’ case, said she received death threats throughout the trial and the police had to be involved in contacting one person to have them stop.
When asked whether she would take the case again, she said she would but would change some of the tactics they used during trial, without going into further detail.
“The hard part about that is if you were to see the Jodi that we see, she’s very chit chatty and smiley and she’s very funny and smart but she could never do that in court because that’s completely inappropriate to be in such a serious proceeding,” Willmott said. “All she knows how to do is be deadpan serious.”
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