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Jodi Arias Trial Update: Hung jury in convicted killer's sentencing phase, new panel must be chosen

CBS

Jodi Arias reacts to being found guilty of first-degree murder, May 8, 2013, in a Maricopa County courtroom, in the death of her onetime lover Travis Alexander.
CBS

Updated 9:27 PM ET

(CBS/AP) PHOENIX - The jury in the penalty phase of the trial of convicted killer Jodi Arias was unable to reach a unanimous decision on sentencing, and was dismissed by the judge in a Maricopa County courtroom late Thursday afternoon, in Phoenix, Ariz.  The judge said the retrial of the penalty phase only will commence July 18 with a new panel of jurors.

READ: Jodi Arias: A timeline of a sensational murder casePICTURES: Jodi Arias pleads with jurors for life sentence

The same jury that convicted Arias of first-degree murder for the killing of her onetime boyfriend Travis Alexander was weighing whether the 32-year-old former waitress should be sentenced to life in prison, or to the death penalty.

CBS affiliate KPHO reported that some jurors were crying as they left the courtroom late Thursday after being unable to determine a sentence, including mouthing the words "I'm so 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 panel began deliberating Arias' fate late Tuesday afternoon. Around noon Wednesday, the panel announced that they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict, but a judge ordered them to continue deliberations.

Watch video of Jodi Arias in court giving her statement on why she contemplated suicide and how she plans to help others if she spends her life in prison:

Arias said publicly after her conviction that she would rather die than spend the rest of her life in prison. But appealing to the jury Tuesday, she reversed her request, asking for life in prison for the sake of her family.

"Either way, I'm going to spend the rest of my life in prison, whether it will be shortened or not," Arias said. "If it's shortened, the people who will hurt the most are my family. I'm asking you please, don't do that to them."

Arias said she didn't intend to cause pain to the Alexander family and called Travis Alexander's death "the worst mistake of my life."

Prosecutor Juan Martinez countered the defense's plea for life in prison, arguing that death, though a difficult choice, was the only appropriate sentence.

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.


Complete coverage of the Jodi Arias trial on Crimesider

  • Crimesider Staff

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