What is Still Left in the Jodi Arias Trial?

The Jodi Arias trial has been in the news for the past three years, a sensational case about a brutal murder.  Followed closely by the media, the Arias case is unique as the individual who stood accused of the murder of Travis Alexander was a woman.

On May 8, 2013 Jodi Arias was found guilty for the murder of her late boyfriend, Travis Alexander.   Alexander died in June 2008 as a result of multiple stab wounds, a gunshot wound to the head and having his throat slit.   Police were led to charge Arias for the murder based on a large amount of physical evidence including digital images of Arias and Alexander together minutes before photos of Alexander’s bleeding body were taken.

At the time of Arias’ initial conversations with police, she denied being with Alexander at or around the time of his death.  Ultimately, Arias provided three different accounts of how Alexander’s death occurred.  During the trial, the defense attorneys argued that Arias was defending herself during the exchange that ended in Alexander’s death.  Further, the defense argued that Arias had long been subjected to abuse at the hands of Alexander. The only crimes committed were physical and the economic crime investigation turned up no foul play. The prosecutors were able to refute those claims and Arias was convicted of the crime after the jury deliberated for only 15 hours.

Following Arias’ conviction, the jury was tasked with deciding her sentence.  Both the prosecution and defense were allowed to present evidence.  Alexander’s family presented their victim impact statements, where they were able to detail the effect that Arias’ crime had on their lives and to make an emotional plea to the court.  The Alexander family asked the jury to sentence Arias to death.   Arias took the stand to speak for herself, and asked that the jury spare her life.   The jury was unable to reach a consensus, eight jurors voted for the death penalty and four voted for life in prison. Given the inability of the jury to reach a unanimous decision, the judge declared a mistrial in the sentencing phase.

Moving forward, the prosecution has two options.

The first option is that the prosecutors can forgo the request for the death penalty and Arias will be sentenced to life in prison. The difficulty of finding an entire jury who can agree on the death penalty could be quite difficult.

The second option is to seat a new jury for the sentencing phase of the trial who would only be responsible for the decision of sentencing Arias to life in prison or the death penalty.   The prosecuting attorneys have stated publically that they plan to seek a new trial in the sentencing phase, leading most to believe they will attempt to receive a death penalty sentence for Arias.   If the second jury is not able to sentence her to death, the judge would determine her sentence and the death penalty would no longer be an option.

Arias’ attorneys are attempting to buy additional time before the sentencing phase retrial.  The defense attorneys believe Arias was not able to fully present her “life story” during the sentencing phase and are requesting additional time to prepare.

There is a Status Conference and Motion to Continue Trial scheduled for July 16, 2013.

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