Jury says cannot decide if Arias should get death; judge says keep deliberating
PHOENIX (Reuters) - Convicted killer Jodi Arias feels betrayed by an Arizona jury that found her guilty of murdering her ex-boyfriend, according to an interview aired on Wednesday shortly before that same jury became deadlocked over whether to sentence her to death.
The jury, which has already ruled Arias eligible for the death penalty, told the presiding judge on Wednesday morning on the second day of deliberations to decide her fate that it was unable to reach a unanimous sentencing verdict.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens directed the jurors, eight men and four women, to resume deliberations. If they remain unable to reach a decision, a new jury could be impaneled to decide if Arias should be sentenced to death.
Arias, 32, was found guilty this month of murdering Travis Alexander, whose body was found in his Phoenix-area home in June 2008. He had been stabbed 27 times, his throat had been slashed and he had been shot in the face.
The sensational trial, which featured graphic testimony and photographs, captured the attention of U.S. television audiences with its tale of a soft-spoken woman charged with an unspeakable crime.
In an interview with ABC that aired on its "Good Morning America" program on Wednesday, Arias said she felt betrayed by the jury, which quickly found her eligible for capital punishment and must now decide her fate.
"I feel a little betrayed by them. I don't dislike them; I was just really hoping they would see things for what they are, and I don't feel that they did," she said.
On Tuesday, Arias pleaded with jurors to spare her the death penalty for the sake of her family and to sentence her instead to life in prison. In so doing, she reversed statements she made after being found guilty that she would rather the death penalty than incarceration.
In an attempt to help jurors reach a decision on Wednesday, Judge Stephens suggested they might identify areas of agreement and disagreement and discuss the law and evidence as they relate to those disagreements.
"If you still disagree, you may want to tell the attorneys and me which issues, questions, law or facts you would like us to assist you with," she said.
Arias told the Arizona Republic newspaper late on Tuesday that she was not going to "think too much" about the looming sentencing verdict in her case, but would just "take what's coming to me."
Should the jury impose a death sentence, she said she would wait for the mandatory appeals process "just taking it day by day."
PAROLE POSSIBLE? -JURY
Shortly before the jury said on Wednesday that it was deadlocked, it was given clarification on whether a life sentence meant natural life in prison for Arias or included the possibility of parole.
Defense attorney Jennifer Willmott told the panel that if they sentenced Arias to life in prison, they were "sentencing her to die in prison," and said there was no procedure in place to grant parole after 25 years.
Prosecutor Juan Martinez countered that just because there was no mechanism now did not mean there never would be.
"It doesn't say that automatically if you say life it's going to be a natural life sentence," he said.
During her trial, Arias said she had killed Alexander in self-defense after he attacked her. She characterized their relationship as physically and emotionally abusive.
"To this day, I can hardly believe I was capable of such violence, but I know that I was, and for that I'm going to be sorry for the rest of my life ... I was horrified by what I had done, and I am horrified still," Arias told jurors on Tuesday.
She told them she could lead a productive life in prison, and that she had already donated her long hair to a charity that provides wigs to children, including cancer patients, who have lost their hair.
A small number of women are on death row in the United States. If Arias is sentenced to death, she would join two other women and 122 men currently on death row in Arizona.
While women account for about one in eight U.S. murder arrests, less than 2 percent of death row inmates are women, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Of the more than 1,300 murderers executed nationwide since 1976, only 12, or fewer than one percent, were women.
Only one woman - convicted killer Eva Dugan - has ever been executed in Arizona. Dugan was hanged in 1930. Another woman sentenced to death in the state, Debra Milke, had her conviction overturned in March.
(Additional reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Toni Reinhold)