Man Could Face Death Penalty

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A former Payson man, charged with a July 11 murder in Tempe, is facing the death penalty.

Jody Cline, 20, who has shaved his beard, made a brief appearance in Mesa City Court Tuesday morning.

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Jody Cline

Cline is being charged with first-degree murder and sexual assault in the death of Virginia Nicole Hall, 20, also formerly of Payson.

The state is seeking the death penalty against Cline and, because the murder is a capital case, Cline needs to be tried within 18 months from the day of his arraignment.

Cline was arraigned in July of this year. So, he must be tried by January 2008, not in April 2007 as initially reported in the Payson Roundup.

Because of speedy trial rights, Cline -- if he doesn't waive the right -- would have to be tried within 270 days of his arraignment, but this timeline does not apply to capital cases.

Judge Sherry K. Stephens on Tuesday asked attorneys to come up with a date they could agree on when Cline needs to be tried.

She also set a trial conference for Feb. 2 at the Mesa City Court, after asking Hall's mother, Jan, if she would be available on that date.

See related story:

Murder trial postponed (Sept. 8)

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