Jodi Arias Back in Court Trying to Get Death Penalty Off Table

Image: Jodi Arias Back in Court Trying to Get Death Penalty Off Table

Tuesday, 16 Jul 2013 12:31 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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Jodi Arias, convicted in May for first-degree murder in the death of her boyfriend in Arizona, will try to escape the death penalty Tuesday when her attorneys ask the judge to throw out the jury's finding that made her eligible for the punishment.

A jury convicted Arias in the stabbing and shooting death of Travis Alexander in his suburban Phoenix home. The jury determined that Arias murdered Alexander in an "especially cruel" manner, which made her eligible for the death penalty in Arizona.

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But the jury failed to reach a unanimous decision on whether to sentence Arias to life in prison or death, bringing her sentencing phase to a screeching halt. The case is on hold until prosecutors decide whether to put on another penalty phase with a new jury in pursuit of the death penalty — or take the death penalty off the table, a move that would put Arias behind bars for the rest of her life or make her eligible for release after 25 years, according to The Associated Press.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery is seeking the death penalty for Arias again but left the door open to resolving the case without another trial after consulting with the victim's family and defense lawyers.

Montgomery told the AP that the case's cost would play no role in his decision. Maricopa County residents have paid nearly $1.7 million in taxes for Arias' court-appointed attorneys, and the costs will continue climbing with the retrial of the penalty phase.

Arias' lawyers plan to argue Tuesday that the "especially cruel" definition was too vague for jurors with no legal experience.

Today's arguments in Maricopa County Superior Court could lay the groundwork for getting a new jury in place for another penalty phase hearing.

Reuters reported prosecutors have asked Judge Sherry Stephens to begin the new penalty phase on July 30.

Arias' attorneys, though, are asking for a delay in the penalty phase until January because of conflicting scheduling and arranging for new witnesses on Arias' behalf.

The trial gained momentum in January and quickly became a fixture on news stations, with graphic testimonies and bloody photographs.

Arias' testimony was particularly grabbing. She took the stand for 18 days, fielding questions from attorneys and jurors while maintaining she killed Alexander in self-defense.

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Related stories:

Arias: 'I'll Donate My Hair': Convicted Murderer Pleads for Life

Jodi Arias Denied Mistrial in Death Penalty Hearing

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