Jurors deadlock on Jodi Arias penalty; retrial set
Thursday, May 23, 2013
PHOENIX (AP) — The jury in Jodi Arias’ murder trial was dismissed Thursday after failing to reach a verdict against the woman they convicted of murdering her one-time boyfriend in a case that captured headlines worldwide with its sex, lies, and violence.
A new panel likely will be seated to try again to reach a decision on a sentence — unless the prosecutor takes death off the table and agrees to a life sentence. The judge scheduled a retrial for July 18.
“Sorry,” one female juror mouthed to the family of the victim, Travis Alexander, as they cried.
Arias, who has said both that she wanted to live and wanted to die, looked visibly upset with the jury’s decision. Before it was announced, she sobbed in the courtroom. Her family didn’t attend Thursday but has been present for much of the trial.
In announcing the mistrial, Judge Sherry Stephens gave a heavy sigh and said: “This was not your typical trial. You were asked to perform some very difficult duties.”
The jury began deliberating Tuesday and first reported it had failed to reach a unanimous decision the next day. Stephens instructed the jurors to keep trying.
The same panel on May 8 found Arias guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Alexander, who was stabbed and slashed nearly 30 times and nearly decapitated at his Mesa home. The jury later determined the killing was cruel enough to merit consideration of the death penalty.
Under Arizona law, a hung jury in the death penalty phase of a trial requires a new jury to be seated to decide the punishment. If the second jury cannot reach a unanimous decision, the judge would then sentence Arias to spend her entire life in prison or be eligible for release after 25 years. The judge cannot sentence Arias to death.
Former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley has said the case could drag on for several more months as the new jury reviews evidence and hears opening statements, closing arguments and witness testimony in a “Cliffs Notes” version of the trial.
However, if the prosecutor decides not to pursue the death penalty a second time, the judge would then sentence Arias to one of the life in prison options, and the trial would come to a conclusion.
The verdict came two days after Arias spoke directly to jurors and pleaded for her life. She said she “lacked perspective” when she told a local reporter after her conviction that she preferred execution to spending the rest of her days in jail. She told jurors she could bring about positive change in prison by teaching inmates how to read and helping launch prison recycling programs.
That night, Arias gave a series of media interviews from jail, telling reporters out about her many fights with her legal team and her belief that she “deserves a second chance at freedom someday.”
Arias, 32, contends she killed Alexander in self-defense when he became enraged after a day of sex, forcing her to fight for her life. Prosecutors say she attacked him in a jealous rage because he wanted to end their relationship and go to Mexico with another woman.
Her case became a sensation from the beginning as Arias gave a series of jailhouse interviews following her 2008 arrest in which she blamed the killing on armed, masked intruders.
She went on trial in January, and the case provided endless amounts of cable TV and tabloid fodder, including a recorded phone sex call between Arias and the victim, nude photos, bloody crime-scene pictures and a defendant who described her life story in intimate detail over 18 days on the witness stand.
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