Jodi Arias listens as the verdict for sentencing is read for her first degree murder conviction at Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix. Photo: Reuters

Arizona jury fails to decide if Jodi Arias should be executed

An Arizona jury failed on Thursday to reach a unanimous verdict on whether Jodi Arias should be put to death for the murder of her ex-boyfriend, prompting the judge to order a rerun of the sentencing phase of the trial.

Arias, a former waitress from California, was found guilty this month of murdering Travis Alexander, whose body was found slumped in the shower of his Phoenix-area home in June 2008. He had been stabbed 27 times, had his throat slashed and been shot in the face.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens, who had told the jury on Wednesday to resume deliberations after the panel indicated it was struggling to reach consensus, ordered a retrial of the penalty phase on July 18 and a status hearing for June.

Arias, a petite figure dressed in black and wearing glasses who had earlier pleaded with the jury to spare her life, appeared to breathe a sigh of relief. Alexander’s relatives wept and hugged in court.

The four-month-long trial in Phoenix had included graphic testimony and photographs, and attracted the attention of US television audiences with its tale of a soft-spoken young woman charged with an unspeakable crime. Arias, 32, had argued the killing was in self-defence.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said in a statement that his office appreciated the jury’s work and would now “assess, based upon available information, what the next steps will be.”


“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,” Montgomery said in a statement.

A retrial would require the selection of a new jury to consider the death penalty issue.

Should a second jury also fail to reach a consensus on sentencing, the death penalty would be taken off the table.

Alexander’s family, including his younger siblings Steven and Samantha, regularly attended the trial. The family declined to comment through an attorney until after a sentence is handed down.


“The new penalty phase will begin in July. The family looks forward to speaking once the case is settled,” attorney Jason Beckstead told Reuters.

The jury had been given a clarification on Wednesday on whether a life sentence meant Arias would spend the rest of her life in prison, or whether she would have the possibility of parole.


Defense attorney Jennifer Willmott told jurors that if they sentenced Arias to life in prison, they were “sentencing her to die in prison,” and there was no procedure in place to grant parole after 25 years.

Prosecutor Juan Martinez countered that while there was no mechanism now to grant Arias parole, one could be put in place later.

During her trial, Arias said she had killed Alexander, 30, in self-defence after he attacked her because she dropped his camera while taking snapshots of him in the shower. She said she did not remember stabbing him.