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Jurors deadlock on Jodi Arias penalty; retrial set

PHOENIX — Jurors who spent five months determining the fate of convicted murderer Jodi Arias couldn't decide whether she should get life in prison or die for killing her boyfriend, sending prosecutors back to the drawing board to rehash the shocking case of sex, lies and violence to another 12 people.

Judge Sherry Stephens gave a heavy sigh as she announced a mistrial in the penalty phase Thursday and scheduled a July 18 retrial. "This was not your typical trial," she told jurors. "You were asked to perform some very difficult duties."

As the panel filed out of the courtroom, one female juror looked at the victim's family and mouthed, "Sorry." She and two other women on the jury were crying. None of the jurors commented as they left court.

Arias, who first said she wanted to die and later that she wanted to live, looked visibly upset about the mistrial and sobbed in the courtroom before it 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.

A new jury will now be seated to try again to reach a decision on Arias' sentence — unless the prosecutor takes execution off the table and agrees to a life term.

As the proceedings continue, Arias will remain in the Maricopa County jail system, where she has spent the past five years. Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Thursday she will be confined to her cell 23 hours a day and not be allowed to give interviews.

Jurors began deliberating her sentence Tuesday and first reported they had failed to reach a unanimous decision the next day. Stephens instructed them to keep trying.

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.

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.

Jurors deadlock on Jodi Arias penalty; retrial set 05/23/13 [Last modified: Thursday, May 23, 2013 10:54pm]
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