Jodi Arias Mistrial

The second phase of the “never ending” trial of Jodi Arias in Arizona ended Thursday in a mistrial.  The jury that took nearly five months to convict the 32 year old woman, could not agree on the “punishment phase”.

Convicted of first degree murder, the jury was left with two choices, the death penalty, or life imprisonment.Arias penalty phase mistrial

After her conviction, Arias told a reporter that she did not want to live out her life in prison, and favored the death penalty.

Then she changed her mind on Tuesday, much in the same way she changed her story about the death of her former boyfriend, Travis Alexander repeatedly.  She pled with the jury to remove consideration of the death penalty from their deliberations.  She said that she “lacked perspective” when she told a local reporter after her conviction that she preferred execution to spending the rest of her days in jail. She also told jurors she could bring about positive change in prison by teaching inmates how to read and helping launch prison recycling programs.  She also said she would “cut off her hair and give it to cancer victims”.

Arias was convicted of murdering Alexander by shooting him, stabbing him 27 times, and slitting his throat from ear to ear, nearly decapitating him, in a jealous rage because he had informed her that he wanted to see other people in 2008.

Now an entirely new jury may be vetted and begin debate over the young woman’s sentence.

Judge Sherry Stephens displayed both disappointment and understanding when she declared the mistrial.

“This was not your typical trial,” she told jurors. “You were asked to perform some very difficult duties.”

The jury had deliberated for more than 13 hours without coming to a decision.  As they were dismissed, one female juror mouthed “sorry” to Alexander’s family.  She and two other female jurors were in tears.

A decision by the prosecutors has not been made.  If they choose not to retry the penalty phase, Arias will receive life imprisonment with or without the possibility of parole.

“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,” Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said in a written statement. “As of this point in time, the court has set a status conference for June 20 and we will proceed with the intent to retry the penalty phase. Because, for purposes of a jury determination on punishment, this is still a pending matter, there will be no further comment.”

Prosecutors face a difficult challenge in Maricopa County.  Finding a jury that could be impartial may be almost impossible.  If a jury is seated, they must be able to examine all of the evidence to make their decision.  If a second impasse should occur, Arias would automatically receive a sentence of life in prison.

Judge Stephens would then sentence Arias either to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years or natural life without the possibility of parole.

James Turnage

The Guardian Express

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