Mistrial declared in Jodi Arias penalty phase

6:44 AM, May 24, 2013   |    comments
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PHOENIX  - A mistrial in the penalty phase of the Jodi Arias' murder trial has been declared, and the jury was dismissed after failing to decide if she should receive the death penalty.

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. The judge scheduled a retrial for July 18.

One female jury mouthed "sorry" to the family of the victim, Travis Alexander, as they cried.

Arias looked visibly upset with the jury's decision. Before it was announced, she sobbed in the courtroom. In announcing the mistrial, Judge Sherry Stephens gave a heavy sigh.

The same panel on May 8 found Arias guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Alexander in his suburban Phoenix home.

If the second panel deadlocks, the judge will 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.

The prosecutor could decide to take the death penalty off the table and agree to a life sentence. The judge would sentence Arias to spend the rest of her life in prison. Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery issued a statement Thursday saying: "As of this point in time ... we will proceed with the intent to retry the penalty phase."

Jurors originally found Arias guilty of first-degree murder May 8 and later determined the killing was cruel enough to merit consideration of the death penalty.

In the penalty phase Arias earlier pleaded with jurors to spare her life. She said she "lacked perspective" when she told a reporter after her conviction that she preferred execution to spending the rest of her days in prison.

Arias says she killed Travis Alexander in self-defense. Prosecutors contend she did it in a jealous rage.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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