PHOENIX - A judge has declared a mistrial in the Jodi Arias sentencing retrial after jurors deadlocked on whether the convicted murderer should be executed or sent to prison for life for killing her lover in 2008.
The decision on Thursday removes the death penalty as an option and leaves Judge Sherry Stephens to sentence Arias to either life in prison or a life term with the possibility of release after 25 years. After declaring a mistrial, Judge Stephens scheduled the sentencing hearing for April 13.
It marked the second time a jury has deadlocked on her punishment - a disappointment for prosecutors who argued for the death penalty during the nearly seven-year legal battle against Arias.
The 2013 trial of Arias was broadcast live and became a sensation with its tawdry revelations about her relationship with victim Travis Alexander. She shot him in the head and slit his throat so deeply that he was nearly decapitated.
Arias, now 34, was convicted then of killing Alexander. But that jury deadlocked on her punishment, prompting a penalty retrial before a new jury of four men and eight women.
Closing arguments featured dueling images from the defense and prosecution that portrayed the case in much different lights.
The defense showed happy photos of Arias from her childhood and time with Alexander. The prosecutor showed gruesome crime-scene photos of the victim's slit throat.
Prosecutor Juan Martinez called Arias dishonest, questioned her claim that she's remorseful for having killed Alexander, and tried to minimize the role her psychological problems played in the case.
"It doesn't provide an excuse," said Martinez, who later asked jurors to sentence Arias to death.
Prosecutors said Arias attacked Alexander in a jealous rage after he wanted to end their affair and planned a trip to Mexico with another woman.
Arias has acknowledged killing Alexander but said it was self-defense after he attacked her.
Nurmi portrayed Alexander as a man divided between his Mormon faith and sexual desires that led him to have relationships with several women.
The defense attorney said Alexander used Arias to quench his sexual urges, called her demeaning names and told her she was soulless.
Martinez said Arias falsely attacked Alexander's character to draw attention from her own actions.
Arias passed up a chance to address the jury, saying she wanted to make such comments but insisting the courtroom be cleared. The judge said an appeals court has forbidden Arias from making such comments behind closed doors.
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