The sentencing trial of Jodi Arias took another turn today as the deadlocked jury forced the exclusion of the death penalty as an option for the convicted murderer. But it was the alleged agenda of one juror that changed the course of the trial, and Arias' ultimate punishment, forever.
As of now, the only two possibilities for Jodi Arias' punishment are life in prison or a life term with the possibility of release in 25 years. That final decision is now up to a Superior Court judge during another sentencing trial on April 13th as today's mistrial removed the jury's participation.
The family of Arias' victim, Travis Alexander, wept as the decision was announced. "Justice will be in the afterlife when Jodi burns in hell," Travis Alexander's sister said after the mistrial was official. The family is understandably frustrated as this is the second time a jury was unable to reach a sentencing decision and the first time the death penalty was eliminated as an option as punishment for the slaying of Alexander in 2008.
But the jurors revealed today that the removal of the death penalty was especially harsh considering the fact that they were 11-1 in favor of putting Arias to death. The jurors in the Maricopa County Superior Court case met with reporters after this morning's deliberations to explain the situation. Only one juror, the lone holdout, was absent. That one juror just gave Arias the break she was looking for in a case that has lasted several years.
"We really feel like we made a huge effort," one juror said. "I could not say how sorry I am that it wasn't enough."
"The 11 of us strived for justice but to no avail," another juror added. "We absolutely feel the penalty should have been death."
The jurors said during the meeting with press that they were angry at the female juror who deadlocked the decision and caused the mistrial. Many claimed that she had expressed at the very beginning that she was against the death penalty and had "an agenda" from the start. She even mentioned that she had seen a made-for-TV movie about the case before becoming a juror, and the rest believe that she got her opinions from that program.
When the sentencing case began in February, the jurors said that they were split down the middle on whether or not the death penalty was necessary, but after seeing the evidence, they were all in agreement that the death penalty was necessary by the following afternoon. All, that is, except for the lone holdout.
Several jurors report that the woman refused to deliberate over the presented evidence, which caused the jury foreman to ask if the juror could be replaced due to personal bias. But the woman was allowed to stay at the request of Judge Sherry Stephens.
The jurors described lost sleep over the impasse, and said that even those with strong convictions against the death penalty on religious and moral grounds came around to accept that it may be best for the particularly gruesome situation that saw Alexander receive over 29 stab wounds, a slit throat, and a gunshot wound to the head from Arias.
"It turned into a pride thing - standing her ground," one juror added.