The Jodi Arias trial is over for the third and final time: the convicted killer has officially escaped the death penalty due to yet another mistrial in her sentencing phase. This comes as result of the non-decision rendered Thursday by the second Arizona jury impaneled to sentence Arias to life or death for the June 2008 murder of her on-off boyfriend, Travis Alexander.
Final sentencing will now be carried out by Judge Sherry Stephens on April 13; see courtroom video below of Judge Stephens in court Mar. 5 declaring a mistrial and negotiating a sentencing date with both sides. Warning: the Alexander family’s reactions is heart-wrenching, especially for those familiar with the case and those of us who reside in Arizona.
As was the case back in 2013 with the first jury in the Jodi Arias trial, a mistrial was declared Thursday because the jury could not agree on either the death penalty or life in prison for the convicted killer. A single female juror is reported to have held out for life as opposed to death during the past week’s deliberation. What mitigating factors did she see or what issue did she focus on? According to interviews several other jurors gave to the media immediately following the hung jury announcement, the holdout juror was focused on journals Jodi Arias kept at various points in her relationship with Travis.
Asked how their inability to reach a unanimous decision made them feel, several of the jurors were candid: “Devastating,” a female juror said. “Knots in the stomach,” a male jury member replied. Of the deliberations, one jury member explained, “Most of us have not slept this week. This has been an emotional toll on us, our families, our jobs,” one juror explained. “We all looked for [remorse in Jodi] constantly, and we did not see that.”
In the video below, Arias is seen showing remorse during her July 2008 police interrogation, which took place just five weeks after she stabbed Travis Alexander nearly 30 times, shot him in the face, and left his naked body to decompose inside his shower stall. But her remorse is over her appearance, not for brutally killing her one-time lover. “This is going to reveal how shallow I am, but before they book me, can I clean myself up a little bit?” she asks Det. Flores, who informs her she may not. Later, she murmers to herself, “You should have at least done your makeup, Jodi. Gosh.”
When asked what steps the other jurors took to convince the holdout to change her mind, one answered, “We laid out all the crime scene photos, all the autopsy photos and she definitely had an understanding. Everybody had a clear understanding of the premeditation and the brutality.” The retrial jury was made up of eight women and four men. They deliberated for 26 hours, as opposed to the first jury who spent roughly 14 hours deliberating before announcing they were deadlocked.
A jury member who was dismissed prior to deliberations said that she was never kicked off the jury, as had been reported in the media. “I was released the Monday before final statements were given. I was not kicked off the jury. My mother suddenly passed away,” the tearful woman explained. The rest of her response indicated she was very upset that the jury hung and she expressed a wish that she had been part of deliberations as originally intended. Without saying so directly, she inferred she would have been the final death penalty vote, suggesting the holdout juror was possibly her alternate.
When asked if they believed the holdout had her mind made up from day one, the other jurors replied, “Yes, we do.” One juror specified, “There were very minimal deliberations and comments from her.” The other jurors did not say the holdout juror violated her duty, though they admit they reached out to the court for an alternate. “We raised a concern about potential bias and ineffective deliberations. We did try to voice that concern in writing.”
“We felt they put Travis on trial,” one juror said. When asked for a message for the Alexander family, one female juror spoke clearly, but with a voice that shook with its honesty and humility. “We’re sorry. We tried. We made a huge effort toward what we thought was deserved.” She continued, her emotion raw and apparent, “I cannot say enough how sorry I am.”
A female juror said that the holdout had watched part of the Lifetime Jodi Arias movie and was bringing information not available to the jury during the retrial into their deliberations, making everyone uncomfortable and perhaps exposing a bias. She opined this woman thought Travis Alexander was a “monster” based on opinions formed before ever joining the jury.
Judge Sherry Stephens will now take over sentencing in the Jodi Arias trial, per Arizona state criminal code. Judge Stephens will hand down an order sentencing Arias to either life (which carries a possibility of release after 25 years) or natural life (defendant remains in custody until death) on April 13, 2015, in her Phoenix courtroom.