Jodi Arias Jury Deadlocks on Death Penalty,, Mistrial Declared

The jury has deadlocked on the sentence for Jodi Arias and the court declared a mistrial.

Under federal law, that would mean a life sentence. Not so in Arizona. A new jury will be seated to give the state another shot at killing her.

Under Arizona law, a hung jury in the death penalty phase of a trial requires a new jury to be seated to decide the punishment. If the second jury cannot reach a unanimous decision, the judge would then sentence Arias to spend her entire life in prison or be eligible for release after 25 years. The judge cannot sentence Arias to death.

Arizona has some really misguided laws. If a jury can't unanimously decide on death, why does the state get a second bite of the apple? If there is one person who has a doubt about whether someone should be put to death, that should be doubt enough.

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    Yep, agreed (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by bmaz on Thu May 23, 2013 at 07:04:37 PM EST
    It is a totally bassackwards rule here. Insane may be a better term. Sadly, Juan Martinez, the prosecutor on Arias, is just the aggressive attention seeking kind of guy to put all the people through the hassle, and the state through the insane expense, just to try to kill her. I really have a problem with this.

    Agreed that the rule is backasswards, ... (none / 0) (#30)
    by Savannah on Sat May 25, 2013 at 05:30:35 PM EST
    but not that "[i]f there is one person who has a doubt about whether someone should be put to death, that should be doubt enough."  There's no reason the state should have to incur the (incredibly high) expense of a retrial because a jury hangs on sentencing; in such cases, sentencing should just default to the judge to set (without the death penalty being an option).  But the fact that one juror (whether in this case or any other) refused to vote in favor of a death sentence can't be automatically translated to mean only that the juror has doubt about whether the death sentence may be appropriate; it may be that the juror was entirely against the death penalty in general prior to trial but lied during voir dire.

    Agree but... "second bite at the apple"? (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by gbrbsb on Thu May 23, 2013 at 09:06:01 PM EST
    If there is one person who has a doubt about whether someone should be put to death, that should be doubt enough.

    Agree entirely, but did I miss some meaning peculiar to the US when you note "Why does the State get a second bite at the apple?" because in the UK we say "You don't get a second bite at the cherry", seeing as with a cherry there ain't no second bite to get whilst with an apple there is.

    Well, I am glad that no matter (none / 0) (#2)
    by Slayersrezo on Thu May 23, 2013 at 08:51:14 PM EST
    WHAT happens, she'll  get at least life in prison.
    The evidence at her trial seemed pretty overwhelming, I found the attacks on a dead guy with no evidence whatsoever adduced for them pretty disgusting, and the crime was pretty heinous. No way do I believe for a single second that she doesn't remember the killing, and no way do I not believe it wasn't pre-meditated.

    Would a second trial on the death (none / 0) (#3)
    by MKS on Thu May 23, 2013 at 08:59:36 PM EST
    penalty be constitutional?

    Yes (none / 0) (#9)
    by jbindc on Fri May 24, 2013 at 09:36:40 AM EST
    But it could be challenged.

    Would a death sentence given by a second sentencing jury to Jodi Arias survive constitutional challenges?


    As the question in the title of this post suggests, even if Arias were to be sentenced to death by a new sentencing jury, there will be a wide of array of constitutional challenges that Arias could raise on appeal of a death sentence imposed by that new jury. Critically, there is established precedent from both the Ninth Circuit and the US Supreme Court that suggest the Double Jeopardy Clause permits giving prosecutors another shot at a death sentence through a second sentencing proceeding. But Arias could still reasonably raise a double jeopardy claim by urging these courts to reconsider these precedents and/or by claiming that some unique aspects of her case (e.g., that she presented a self-defense claim at her guilt trial or that Arizona has a unique three-stage capital sentencing process) should call for a different outcome on her behalf.

    Beyond Double Jeopardy claims, Arias might also reasonable pursue Fifth Amendment due process claims and/or Eighth Amendment claims on appeal of a death sentence if imposed after a new sentencing phase trial before a new jury. As the article above suggests, all the publicity surrounding the first trial will make it hard to be confident that any new jury -- especially after jurors are subject to the necessary "death-qualification process" -- will be able to come without having prejudged some critical issues. In addition, the "evolving" nature of the Eighth Amendment means that any and every person sent to death row reasonable can, and usually will, challenge almost any and every novel aspect of the death sentencing process.

    Men brutally murder women every day (none / 0) (#5)
    by Payaso on Fri May 24, 2013 at 12:51:49 AM EST
    and it's not news outside the local area.

    A woman murders a man and the national media is fixated on the case.

    huh? (none / 0) (#6)
    by bocajeff on Fri May 24, 2013 at 07:33:35 AM EST
    OJ, Phil Spector, Scott Peterson, Drew Peterson, Ariel Castro, etc...Watch 48 hours or Dateline and you'll see far more stories on men killing women.

    This case is interesting only because she's good looking and it's got tons of graphic sex.


    women murder men every day (none / 0) (#26)
    by ExcitableBoy on Sat May 25, 2013 at 09:41:17 AM EST
    and no one cares, either. It was all the "other stuff" that made this a national fixation.

    Yes, the brutality (none / 0) (#29)
    by Militarytracy on Sat May 25, 2013 at 10:25:22 AM EST
    Two Questions (none / 0) (#7)
    by ScottW714 on Fri May 24, 2013 at 09:22:24 AM EST
    1. How do they pick a jury for deciding the death penalty case.  I assume anyone against the DP are automatically rejected.  Hardly seems like a impartial jury, especially in a high profile case like this.

    2. What judge would let the guilty be eligible for parole after two DP juries deadlocked.  Seems like an odd option.

    I don't understand why letting them live in prison until they die is isn't enough flesh.  There are far worse than Arias who will never see the light of day who aren't condemned to death.

    I believe (none / 0) (#8)
    by jbindc on Fri May 24, 2013 at 09:33:08 AM EST
    You are automatically excluded if you are anti-death penalty.  Many people are not necessarily rabid "pro-death" penalty people, but could at least keep an open mind about the circumstances in this case to vote for it.

    It's the same thought behind eliminating anyone from a jury who would say "I think if someone got arrested, then they must be guilty."  That's obviously not fair to the defendant, so they would be excluded from a panel.


    Right... (none / 0) (#12)
    by ScottW714 on Fri May 24, 2013 at 10:44:16 AM EST
    ...but if say half the population doesn't agree with the death penalty, just seems odd to filter them from deciding if someone should be put to death.

    Like your example, what if they removed everyone on the other side, whom though there was a chance they are innocent.  

    But more importantly, they aren't determining guilt, they are determining if the state should kill them and removing people who believe the state shouldn't.   But I guess they have to stack the deck or they would never get 12 peers to green light an execution.

    I get that is how these cases are done, it just seems odd to remove the opposition.  Then you aren't really left with impartial folks, you left with people who at the very least, think some people should be put to death.

    And in this case, even after filtering, they still got some people who opposed her death, just not all of them.  So they decide we'll find another group of people whom don't have issues with the death penalty, and see if they can all get together and decide if she should die by the hands of the state.

    And if they can't, the judge could possibly make her eligible for parole in 25 years.  From having her freedom by 50 to being executed by 40 ?  Them is some crazy rules that make absolutely no sense.


    They are filtered out (none / 0) (#14)
    by jbindc on Fri May 24, 2013 at 11:09:57 AM EST
    Before the trial starts to begin with, during the initial voir dire.  If you cannot at least keep an open mind about the possibility of sentencing someone to death, you probably won't get to sit on the jury.

    Whether or not you personally agree with it, the fact is that the law in Arizona, as implemented by the state legislature (whose members were elected by the people to represent them), allows for the death penalty to be adminstered to those convicted of the heinous crime she committed.  

    It does sound crazy to be able to seat a second jury in this case, but that's the law. And actually, this may lead to a brokered deal, so she doesn't (or more importantly, IMO, the Alexander family) doesn't have to go through this again.

    But I also don't believe (again, IMO) that she should get out in 25 years.


    It's no more or less partial than (none / 0) (#10)
    by Anne on Fri May 24, 2013 at 09:59:00 AM EST
    the jury that is seated after potential jurors have been excused because they have personal circumstances or experiences that were felt to render them unable to be objective about the case at hand.

    I believe that in capital cases, jurors need to be "death-qualified" - aware that a guilty verdict could carry a sentence of death, and willing to be objective about imposing it - and not so doctrinaire that they would not consider a lesser sentence.

    What makes no sense to me is how you get a better result in a second sentencing phase when that jury will not have had the benefit of being present for the entire trial.  They're not going to re-try Arias - the verdicts reached in that phase stand - the mistrial is only with respect to the sentencing phase.  At least that is my understanding - someone can correct me if I'm wrong.

    I get that Arias is entitled to a fair trial, and that she had the right not to agree to any lesser pleas that may have been offered to her, but this entire production - that I have been kept up-to-speed on by an Arias-obsessed co-worker - seems like the very definition of "sh!tshow."


    They get to (none / 0) (#11)
    by jbindc on Fri May 24, 2013 at 10:09:39 AM EST
    bring in all her media interviews - the one where she said she wanted the death penalty rather than live a long life in prison (and then turned around in court and said she didn't want to die), the one where she blamed her attorneys, the jury, and everyone else (except herself), etc.

    And yes - her conviction stands.  This is only a retrial of the penalty phase (as opposed to other jurisdictions where in the case of a hung jury in a sentencing phase, the sentence determination is made by the judge).


    Seems To Me... (none / 0) (#15)
    by ScottW714 on Fri May 24, 2013 at 12:24:18 PM EST
    ...the original jury would be more likely to vote yes since they got all the gruesome, 'blow-by-blow' details, not to mention her wrangling of the events.

    I don't care one way or another, never really opposed the DP, why I appose it because it forces the rest of society to spend a  lot of energy figuring out how to kill someone.  Which in my opinion is not good for society as a whole.

    Whether someone spends their life and dies in prison versus being killed earlier by the state is a horse appease.  I can't imagine a worse death that dieing with sub-standard health care in cold dark cell all alone.  Seems like death for people stuck in real hell holes like Angola, is probably more humane.


    From what I've been reading (none / 0) (#16)
    by jbindc on Fri May 24, 2013 at 12:36:50 PM EST
    A new sentencing trial could take months, because they will have to have a  "Cliff's Notes" version of the original trial to tell the jury.

    I've always been pretty agnostic about the DP too. But in this case, I don't know if she'll get it or not, but I do feel that she should definitely get LWOP.


    I was surprised they were locked (none / 0) (#13)
    by Militarytracy on Fri May 24, 2013 at 10:51:19 AM EST
    I am not a fan, just a rubbernecker at times.  I thought that things looked very bad for her going into sentencing.  Without a whole trial to weigh, will the next group see things in the light that I do?  Because it isn't a good light.  Because I am surprised they locked, I'm guessing it isn't a fair light.

    Unfortunately, I have seen enough of Arias (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by bmaz on Fri May 24, 2013 at 01:20:45 PM EST
    The trial is in the court and courthouse I generally practice in. It has consumed the place literally all year. A friend of mine has covered it as a reporter and been in the courtroom every second. I have been up there a few times, but it is a zoo and crowded (often there were lines and lotteries to get in to the courtroom for the public). I am glad it is over.

    That said, I do not think pre-meditation was established by any elevated burden standard, and certainly not by beyond a reasonable doubt. It was a heinous and despicable crime, but I always thought the proper verdict was 2nd degree. But the jury spoke and 1st degree it is. I do NOT want to see the court turned into a freak show again though, and I would rather my state's money be used to warehouse her for life than go through the expense and all the appeals necessary to kill her - it would be cheaper and, frankly, more moral.

    Also, the only reason this case has gone the way it has is because the prosecutor is a narcissistic aggressive glory seeker, and my guess is he will keep doing so to keep the attention on him. It is disgusting. It should end right now with a stipulated deal for life.


    Isn't Arias (none / 0) (#18)
    by jbindc on Fri May 24, 2013 at 01:45:50 PM EST
    Also a "narcissistic aggressive glory seeker"?

    I was thinking the same thing, that this (none / 0) (#19)
    by Anne on Fri May 24, 2013 at 01:48:35 PM EST
    was like a battle of egos...and those don't usually end well.

    Especially (none / 0) (#20)
    by jbindc on Fri May 24, 2013 at 01:50:34 PM EST
    When one large ego has some power over the fate of another.

    I would think that in a nation of laws (none / 0) (#21)
    by Militarytracy on Fri May 24, 2013 at 02:00:23 PM EST
    Such personality traits would have little to nothing to do with sentencing.  She isn't guilty of that.  If that were a crime Paris Hilton and the Kardashians would be doing time.

    Hell, Nancy Grace might be doing (5.00 / 2) (#22)
    by Militarytracy on Fri May 24, 2013 at 02:01:27 PM EST
    Life if that were a crime.

    So would (none / 0) (#23)
    by jbindc on Fri May 24, 2013 at 02:05:19 PM EST
    Many defense attorneys.

    Big egos are not limited to the prosecution side of the fence.