Jury Reportedly Cannot Reach Sentencing Decision

By: CBS/AP (Posted by Kion Hudson)
By: CBS/AP (Posted by Kion Hudson)

(CBS/AP)-- The judge in the Jodi Arias murder trial declared a mistrial in the penalty phase late Thursday afternoon after the jury reported it was deadlocked on whether to sentence her to life in prison or death for killing her lover Travis Alexander in 2008.

The jury began deliberating Tuesday afternoon. Late Wednesday morning, they announced they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict, and the judge instructed them to keep trying.

The judge scheduled a retrial for July 18. A new panel likely will be seated to try again to reach a decision on a sentence - unless the prosecutor takes death off the table agrees to a life sentence.

Under Arizona law, a hung jury in the death penalty phase of a trial 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 more 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 then sentence Arias to one of the life in prison options, and the trial would come to a conclusion.

CBS affiliate KPHO reported via Twitter 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."

The Alexander family cried in the courtroom as the jury announced they could not reach a decision.

The judge dismissed the jury panel and thanked them for their service on the high-profile trial, which launched in early January.

"This was not your typical trial. You were asked to perform very difficult responsibilities," the judge said. "... I will be back shortly to personally thank each of you for your service."

The judge told the jurors they could speak or not speak about the case as they chose.

Complete coverage of the Jodi Arias trial on Crimesider


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