Jodi Arias’ penalty phase retrial is scheduled to begin on March 17. During the initial sentencing phase, jurors were tasked with deciding whether the convicted killer should receive the death penalty or life in prison. However, they were unable to reach a unanimous decision. Although prosecutors had the option of waiving the death penalty, they chose to pursue a retrial with a different jury.
Several jurors, who served during the initial penalty phase, said Arias’ past made it difficult to reach a unanimous decision. The defense argued that Arias was abused both as a child and by the victim — Travis Alexander. As reported by CBS News, Jury member Diane Schwartz said several jurors believed “that mitigating factor outweighed the aggravating factor.”
On June 4, 2008, Travis Alexander was brutally murdered inside his Arizona home. His body was found by friends the following day. In addition to a single gunshot to the head, the 30-year-old was stabbed at least 27 times.
The investigation into Alexander’s death led authorities to Jodi Arias. Although she initially denied involvement, Arias eventually admitted killing her former lover. However, she claimed it was in self-defense.
Throughout the highly publicized trial, the defense painted Alexander as a sexually, emotionally, and physically abusive pedophile. Arias testified that she was forced to perform sexual acts against her will on multiple occasions. She also testified that Alexander was obsessed with juvenile boys and girls.
Prosecutors said Arias’ accusations were fabricated to avoid conviction. Huffington Post reports the jurors agreed with the prosecution, finding Arias guilty of first-degree premeditated murder on May 8, 2013.
Although Arias was found guilty, prosecutors had to prove the murder was “cruel, heinous, or depraved” to qualify for the death penalty. The jury determined that the crime was in fact aggravated. However, another jury was tasked with deciding whether to sentence her to life in prison or death.
The initial jury was unable to reach a conclusive decision. However, on March 17, Jodi Arias’ new sentencing trial will begin. As the previous trial turned into a media circus, the judge ruled that media access will be limited.
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