Death row case mistrial

Last updated 13:56 24/05/2013

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A judge has declared a mistrial over the sentencing of Jodi Arias after a jury couldn't unanimously decide whether she should be executed or sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering her ex-boyfriend.

The jury, which had spent five months listening to graphic details about the 2008 murder of Travis Alexander, was dismissed by Judge Sherry Stephens today, meaning a new jury will now have to decide Arias's fate.

However, the new jury, which won't be called until July, will not be able to override Arias's guilty verdict.

Part of the selection process will be asking potential jurors if they have a moral objection to handing down a death sentence.

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.

Judge Sherry Stephens had been stern with the jury yesterday after they told her they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict after only about two and a half hours of deliberations.

However, she complimented them today: "This was not your typical trial. You were asked to perform some very difficult duties."

The Arizona court heard emotional comments last week from the family of victim Travis Alexander as the prosecutor argued that the 32-year-old Arias should be executed for the gruesome killing.

Arias responded by pleading for mercy, saying she can become a model prisoner who teaches inmates how to read and speak Spanish, and helps the prison launch recycling programmes. She also wants to be an advocate for domestic violence victims.

Arias was convicted of first-degree murder two weeks ago in the death of Alexander, who was stabbed and slashed about 30 times, shot in the forehead and had his throat slit in what authorities said was a jealous rage. Arias claimed it was self-defence.

She gave jailhouse interviews just hours after the jury began deliberating her fate.

She talked out about her murder trial, her many fights with her legal team and her belief that she "deserves a second chance at freedom someday".

Arias said her lawyers let her down by not calling more witnesses who could have bolstered her claims that she was a victim of domestic violence at Alexander's hands.

Arias acknowledged it was unlikely she would ever be released if the jury sentenced her to life, but believed she deserves another chance.

Following her conviction last week, Arias told a local TV station that she preferred the death penalty. She said in interviews onTuesday (local time) that she changed her mind after a tearful meeting with family members the same day, realising her death would only cause them more pain.

"I felt like by asking for death, it's like asking for assisted suicide, and I didn't want to do that to my family," she said.

Arias said she fought from the beginning to keep cameras out of the courtroom to limit the media spectacle, and believes the jury should have been sequestered. She stated flatly that she did not receive a fair trial.

"The prosecutor has accused me of wanting to be famous, which is not true," she said.

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However, Arias has sought the spotlight at every turn, providing TV interviews and even using a third-party to tweet throughout the trial.

Arias repeated her claims that she never wanted to go to trial in the first place but instead wanted to reach a deal with prosecutors on a second-degree murder count that would have carried a maximum of 22 years in prison. However, she said, "no deal was offered".

- AP

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