Jurors deadlock on Jodi Arias penalty; retrial set
PHOENIX (AP) — The jury in Jodi Arias’ trial was dismissed today after failing to reach a unanimous decision on whether the woman they convicted of murdering her one-time boyfriend should be sentenced to life or death in a case that has captured headlines worldwide with its sex, lies, violence.
A new panel will be seated to try again to reach a decision — unless the prosecutor takes execution off the table agrees to a life sentence. The judge scheduled a retrial for July 18.
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.”
Later, as the jury filed out of the courtroom, one female juror looked at the victim’s family and mouthed, “Sorry.”
Arias, who first said she wanted to die and then that she wanted to live, looked visibly upset about the jury deadlock. She sobbed in the courtroom before the mistrial was announced. Her family didn’t attend Thursday but has been present for much of the trial.
Family members of the victim, Travis Alexander, also cried in court.
Jurors began deliberating Arias’ sentence Tuesday and first reported they had failed to reach a unanimous decision the next day. Stephens instructed them to keep trying.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery on Thursday thanked the panel in a statement: “We appreciate the jury’s work in the guilt and aggravation phases of the trial, and now we will assess, based upon available information, what the next steps will be.”
He said a status hearing has been set for June 20, “and we will proceed with the intent to retry the penalty phase.”
The same jury 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. It later determined the killing was cruel enough to merit consideration of the death penalty.
Under Arizona law, a hung jury in a trial’s death penalty phase 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 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 sentence Arias to one of the life term options, and the trial would conclude.