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Jodi Arias Trial: Defense attorneys move to withdraw; won't call further witnesses in penalty phase

Jodi Arias looks at her family after being found of guilty of first-degree murder in the gruesome killing her one-time boyfriend, Travis Alexander, in their suburban Phoenix home, Wednesday, May 8, 2013, in Phoenix. AP/The Arizona Republic, Pool, Rob Schumacher

Jodi Arias looks at her family May 8 after being found of guilty of first-degree murder in the 2008 killing her one-time boyfriend, Travis Alexander. The trial is entering its penalty phase, during which the same jury will decide whether Arias should be sentenced to death.
AP/The Arizona Republic, Pool, Rob Schumacher

(CBS/AP) -- Attorneys for convicted killer Jodi Arias argued for a mistrial in court Monday and said they would not call further witnesses in the trial's penalty phase after they said a key witness withdrew because of threats.

PICTURES: Inside the jail cell of Jodi AriasTIMELINE: Jodi Arias murder case

The murder trial has wrapped up for the day and will continue Tuesday with the defendant speaking to the jury. The brief day was marked by a series of legal arguments in which defense lawyers asked for a mistrial and to withdraw from the case and said they would put on only one witness: Arias herself.

The judge denied both the motion to withdraw and the motion for a mistrial.

Patricia Womack, a friend of Arias, had been one of the witnesses set to testify for the defense during the high-profile trial's penalty phase, in which the jury will decide whether Arias will be sentenced to death. Arias was convicted by the same jury of first-degree murder in the 2008 killing of her lover, Travis Alexander.

However, Womack told Arias' defense team on Sunday that she had received threats on her life and was no longer willing to testify, reported azcentral.com, citing the motion.

The defense is seeking to prove "mitigating factors," or evidence about Arias' background and character, in order to convince the jury that the 32-year-old should be spared a death sentence.

"Now we're in a situation where a key mitigation witness has been intimidated...who feels her life has been threatened to the point where she can't come forward and testify on Ms. Arias' behalf," Arias' defense attorney Kirk Nurmi said in court Monday morning, arguing for a mistrial. "This is completely unacceptable."

Nurmi moved to withdraw from the case and said the defense would not call witnesses during the penalty phase, citing the "incomplete picture" without Womack.

Court was set to resume at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday with Arias addressing the jury.

Complete coverage of the Jodi Arias trial on Crimesider

  • Erin Donaghue

    Erin Donaghue covers crime for CBSNews.com's Crimesider.

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