“Imposing truth upon those lies is something I really wanted to do because it obviously put my personal safety in jeopardy. My life had been threatened for months during the case.”
In May 2013, when a jury convicted notorious killer Jodi Arias of first-degree murder in May of 2013 for killing her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, in 2008, she was spared the death sentence due to a hung jury.
It was at that time when then-Public Defender Kirk Nurmi first thought about writing a book about the case — not for accolades, but for his safety.
“Imposing truth upon those lies [was] something I really wanted to do because it obviously put my personal safety in jeopardy,” Nurmi said in an exclusive Copper Courier interview. “My life had been threatened for months during the case.”
At the time, Nurmi, an overworked public defender, quickly realized that his assignment to Arias’ case was going to be different than his usual caseload, and time proved him right.
Nurmi said Arias had done an interview with a local reporter, where she suggested it was his idea to paint her as a victim and to portray her victim, Alexander, as a pedophile.
Just by being Arias’ defense attorney, Nurmi became the most hated lawyer in Arizona.
“People still see me as a character: Nurmi the evil defense attorney who supports Jodi Arias,” he said to the Phoenix New Times in 2016. “As opposed to who I am and what my career stands for.”
Fast forward to April 2015, after Arias’ court battles came to an end with a life-in-prison sentence and no chance for parole, Nurmi said he had wanted to separate himself from her as much as he could. Even though he had transitioned from the public defender’s office to private practice, the experience had taken its toll. He wasn’t sure he wanted to practice law anymore.
Then in August of that year, Nurmi discovered a growth under his arm. It turned out to be Stage 3 Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.
He said, “When that reality came to me, one of the things that changed within me was the desire to impose truth upon Ms. Arias’ lies.”
The best way Nurmi thought to do that was to write a book. He said that way the book would exist long after him if “cancer were to win the battle.”
He published Part I of Trapped With Ms. Arias: Part 1 of 3 From Getting the File to Being Ready for Trial (Volume 1) in November of 2015 while undergoing chemotherapy. Arias sued him over the publication, claiming breach of attorney-client privilege. Instead of fighting it, Nurmi requested to be voluntarily disbarred.
And as the five year anniversary of the final trial looms, Nurmi said he realized he still feels stained by the whole thing so he felt it was time to finish the series and write the third and final installment.
Nurmi hopes the final book gives his readers a better sense of who he was and why he was a part of that trial. He also includes behind-the-scenes details viewers didn’t see on TV.
After meeting other infamous lawyers through the years, Nurmi said he realized their most notorious cases have also stayed with them as well.
“All the associations were negative,” he said. “I always said I could cure the type of cancer that I survived and people wouldn’t say Kirk Nurmi cured cancer. It would be Jodi Arias’ former lawyer Kirk Nurmi cured cancer.”
The subtitle of his book is “My Final Words.” Nevertheless, Nurmi said he will always choose to respond if and when Arias decides to speak out against him again.
“Defending the book — defending who I am, my life — is something that I will continue to do; but I also work to inspire others with my story,” he noted.
Taking solace in humor, Nurmi wrote a one-man show called “Overcoming Jodi Arias,” which he performs in comedy clubs. He’s planning to perform next on August 9 at Stir Crazy Comedy Club in Glendale.
“The Jodi Arias trial was seminal in Arizona for such a long time that it’s kind of a pop culture thing, so this gives people a chance to understand that event a little better,” Nurmi said.
He added that with people knee-deep in social distancing, what better time for a good true crime quarantine read?
Nurmi said, “I figure people can fire up their Kindles and get to reading.”
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