PHOENIX (AP) — Jurors who deadlocked on the punishment for convicted murderer Jodi Arias, sparing her life, said Thursday that they were 11-1 in favor of the death penalty and tried unsuccessfully to get the lone holdout kicked off the panel.
It marked the second time a jury failed to reach a unanimous decision on Arias’ sentence — a disappointment for prosecutors who argued for the death penalty during a nearly seven-year legal battle. It means the judge will sentence Arias on April 13 to either life in prison or a life term with the possibility of release after 25 years.
Arias was convicted of killing her lover Travis Alexander in 2008 by shooting him in the head and slitting his throat so deeply that he was nearly decapitated. Her 2013 trial became a media sensation with its tawdry revelations about her relationship with Alexander and that she had stabbed and slashed him nearly 30 times.
After the judge declared a mistrial Thursday, jurors said that Arias lacked remorse and that her attorneys presented an inaccurate portrayal of Alexander’s life. Defense attorneys said he used Arias to quench his sexual urges, called her demeaning names and told her she was soulless.
Most of the 14 jurors who talked to reporters, including at least one alternate and one woman removed from the panel earlier, said they believed the holdout was biased and not inclined to give the death penalty.
One male juror said he was angry, saying the female holdout indicated that the death penalty would be a form of revenge. The woman did not talk to reporters, and none of the 14 jurors who did would give their names.
Jurors, who deliberated for about 26 hours over five days, said they started with 50 percent voting for the death penalty but eventually reached the 11-1 vote and got stuck. They described having knots in their stomachs and problems sleeping at night during the trial.
Prosecutors say they don’t regret trying again to send Arias to death row after a previous jury deadlocked on her punishment, prompting the sentencing retrial that began in October. Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, who decided to seek the death penalty a second time, told reporters that “regret is a place in the past I can’t afford to live in.”
Alexander’s family members of wept when the judge announced that jurors couldn’t reach a decision, and the victim’s brothers and sisters said in a statement that they “are saddened by the jury’s inability to reach a decision on the death penalty, however, we understand the difficulty of the decision, and have nothing but respect for the jury’s time.”
Defense attorney Kirk Nurmi said Thursday that the killing was a “tragedy” and “no verdict ultimately could repair that sadness.” He said he hoped the outcome could allow Alexander’s family and friends to begin to reach closure.
Prosecutors say Arias killed Alexander as revenge because he wanted to date other women and was planning a trip to Mexico with his latest love interest. Authorities said Arias left his body in his shower at his suburban Phoenix home, where friends found him about five days later.
During closing arguments in the penalty retrial, prosecutor Juan Martinez repeatedly showed jurors gruesome crime scene photos of the victim’s slit throat.
The images were a counterpoint to the happy photos of Arias that her attorney displayed in arguing there was more to her life than her actions in the killing.
Martinez called Arias dishonest, questioned her claim that she’s remorseful for having killed her boyfriend, and tried to minimize the role her psychological problems played in the case.
“It doesn’t provide an excuse,” he told the jury of four men and eight women.
Nurmi told jurors that Arias deserves a second chance because she was the victim of verbal and physical abuse throughout her life. Arias’ problems stem from a personality disorder in which she tries to mold herself to the wishes of the men she dates, the defense attorney said.
Martinez said Arias and her lawyers had falsely attacked Alexander’s character to draw attention from her actions.
Arias initially courted the spotlight after her arrest, granting interviews to “48 Hours” and “Inside Edition.”
She testified for 18 days at her first trial, describing her abusive childhood, cheating boyfriends, relationship with Alexander and her contention that he was physically abusive.
Spectators lined up in the middle of the night to get a coveted seat in the courtroom for the first trial. However, attention was dampened during the penalty retrial after the judge ruled cameras could record the proceedings but nothing could be broadcast until after the verdict.
The proceedings revealed few new details about the crime and dragged on months longer than expected amid a series of expert witnesses and a surprising late October decision by Judge Sherry Stephens to remove reporters and spectators from the courtroom so Arias could testify in private. A higher court halted the testimony on its second day after complaints from news organizations.
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