Jury selection in the second penalty phase of Jodi Arias’ murder trial is scheduled to begin March 17, a spokesperson for the Maricopa County Superior Court told CBS News’ Crimesider Monday.
The date was set Monday during a hearing in the case, in which Arias was found guilty of murdering her one-time boyfriend Travis Alexander in his suburban Phoenix home.
Arias, 33, was convicted of first-degree murder on May 8, 2013 in the June 2008 death of Alexander. But when it came time for sentencing the jury failed to reach a unanimous decision on whether she should get life in prison or the death penalty. Her fate has since been in limbo.
Under Arizona law, prosecutors had the option of taking the death penalty off the table, which would have meant Arias would either spend the rest of her life behind bars, or be eligible for release after 25 years. That decision would have been up to the judge.Instead, prosecutors decided to pursue another penalty phase with a new jury. Once seated, the new jury will be tasked with weighing whether Arias should be sentenced to death or life in prison.
In the event that a second panel fails to reach a unanimous decision, the death penalty would automatically be removed from consideration, and the judge would sentence Arias to life in prison or allow her to be eligible for release after 25 years.
In July, a member of the jury who found Arias guilty told Crimesider she believes the jury could not reach a unanimous decision on sentencing because some jurors could not get past certain mitigating factors.
"Some individuals [on the jury] looked at some of the mitigating factors - for example, that Jodi had been abused - they felt that she had been abused by Travis and as a child. They didn't feel she had the best family life," Diane Schwartz told Crimesider. "They felt that mitigating factor outweighed the aggravating factors. That was the biggest concern."
In Arizona, mitigating circumstances include "any aspect of the
defendant's character, propensities or record and any of the circumstances of
the offense." Arias'
defense team introduced eight "mitigating circumstances" in
court, including her age, troubled upbringing and artistic talent, in an
attempt to save her from a death sentence. Prosecutor Juan Martinez argued
during the trial that none of that matters in regard to the brutal
Marilou Allen-Coogan, another former Arias juror who also voted for the death penalty, previously told Crimesider she feels as though it will be difficult to pick a new, impartial jury due to the complexity of the initial trial, which spanned nearly five months, and the fact that the case was so widely publicized.
"I think it's going to be extremely difficult to seat a jury that is impartial," Allen-Coogan said. "However, I think it's absolutely a possibility that Arias could receive the death penalty depending on what's presented."
Schwartz wasn’t so sure that a new jury will be able to make the decision that Arias should be sentenced to death.
"Individual choice is what it comes down to and the makeup of the jury," she said. "It will be very hard. They won't have all of the emotional ties that we had. They won't have the four-and-a-half months of testimony. They will be given a capsulated version."
In November, a judge ruled live television coverage of Arias’ penalty phase retrial will be banned and the case will remain in Phoenix despite arguments from the defense, which wanted it moved.