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Arias jury deadlocked over death penalty: Retrial set (+video)

Arias jury deadlocked over whether to give life in prison or the death penalty. Jodi Arias was convicted of murdering her one-time boyfriend, but the judge ordered a mistrial on the sentencing hearing. A new jury will consider the question of the death penalty on July 18, unless the prosecutor agrees to life in prison.

By Brian Skoloff and Josh HoffnerAssociated Press / May 22, 2013

Judge Sherry Stephens looks at a question from the jury with prosecutor Juan Martinez (l.) and defense attorneys Jennifer Wilmott and Kirk Nurmi (r.) on May 22, during the penalty (sentencing) phase of the Jodi Arias murder trial in Phoenix. After the jurors could not decide on the death penalty, the judge ruled a mistrial.

Rob Schumacher, Pool / The Arizona Republic / AP

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Phoenix

Jurors who spent five months determining Jodi Arias' fate couldn't decide whether she should get life in prison or die for murdering her boyfriend, sending prosecutors back to the drawing board to rehash the shocking case of sex, lies and violence to another 12 people.

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Judge Sherry Stephens gave a heavy sigh as she announced a mistrial in the penalty phase of the case Thursday and scheduled a July 18 retrial.

"This was not your typical trial," she told jurors. "You were asked to perform some very difficult duties."

The panel then filed out of the courtroom after 13 hours of deliberation that spanned three days, with one female juror turning to the victim's family and mouthing, "Sorry." She and two other women on the jury were crying.

None of the jurors commented as they left court.

The mistrial set the stage for a whole new proceeding to determine whether the 32-year-old former waitress should get a life sentence or the death penalty for murdering Travis Alexander five years ago. Arias stabbed and slashed him nearly 30 times, slit his throat slit and shot him in the forehead in what prosecutors described as a jealous rage after the victim wanted to end their affair and planned to head off on a trip to Mexico with another woman.

A new jury will be seated to try again to reach a decision on Arias' sentence — unless the prosecutor takes execution off the table and agrees to a life term. Jury selection for the next phase could take weeks, given the difficulty of seating an impartial panel in a death penalty case that has attracted global attention.

Arias, who first said she wanted to die and later pleaded to the jury for her life, looked visibly upset about the mistrial and sobbed before it was announced. Her family didn't attend Thursday but has been present for much of the trial.

Alexander's family cried as they left the courtroom.

The same jury on May 8 found Arias guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Alexander, who was nearly decapitated in the bathroom of his Mesa home. The jury later determined the killing was cruel enough to merit consideration of the death penalty.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery thanked the panel in a statement after the mistrial was announced: "We appreciate the jury's work in the guilt and aggravation phases of the trial, and now we will assess, based upon available information, what the next steps will be."

A status hearing has been set for June 20, "and we will proceed with the intent to retry the penalty phase," Montgomery said.

Under Arizona law, a hung jury in a trial's death penalty phase 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.

A new jury would have to review evidence and hear opening statements, closing arguments and witness testimony in a condensed version of the original trial. Attorneys will also have to find prospective jurors willing to issue a death verdict.

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