Jurors in Jodi Arias case: We were 11-1 for death penalty
PHOENIX (AP) — It took just one juror to spare the life of convicted murderer Jodi Arias on Thursday — and the woman had to survive an attempt by her colleagues to boot her from the jury before she could do it.
In the end, the jury voted 11-1 in favor of death — not enough to send Arias to death row in the case that became a global sensation with its tawdry revelations about her sexual relationship with the victim and that she had slit his throat so deeply that he was nearly decapitated.
The deadlock took the death penalty off the table and left a judge to decide whether to sentence Arias to life in prison or to life with the possibility of release after 25 years. That decision is expected at an April 13 hearing.
Arias was convicted in 2013 of killing her lover, Travis Alexander, but that jury also deadlocked on her punishment, prompting the sentencing retrial that began in October.
The holdout juror did not speak to the media on Thursday. But other jurors said they thought Arias lacked remorse and that her attorneys had presented an inaccurate portrait Alexander.
The jurors did not elaborate but during the trial, defense lawyers said Alexander had used Arias to quench his sexual urges, called her demeaning names and told her she was soulless.
Most of the jurors said they believed the holdout was biased and opposed to giving the death penalty. The other jurors asked the judge on Tuesday if the woman could be replaced with an alternate, but the request was denied and jury was told to keep deliberating.
One male juror said Thursday that he became angry when the holdout indicated the death penalty would be a form of revenge. Jurors also note that the woman had acknowledged seeing a cable TV movie about the Arias case.
Jurors apologized to the Alexander family for the deadlock and said they felt Arias was trying to manipulate the jury.
None of the jurors would give their names. The identities of jurors are kept secret in Arizona.
The jury deliberated for about 26 hours over five days. They said they started with about half of the members voting for the death penalty, eventually reached the 11-1 vote then got stuck.
They described having knots in their stomachs and problems sleeping at night during the trial.
Arias will begin serving her sentence in a 12-by-7 foot cell in a maximum-security unit at the Perryville prison for women, west of downtown Phoenix.
If officials deem her behavior is good over time, she could be moved to a medium security unit.
Nearly $3 million of taxpayer money was spent during both trials. Arias’ court-appointed attorneys billed the state for $2.7 million. Prosecutors say they spent more than $132,000 on expert witnesses, transcripts, travel expense and other costs, though that figure doesn’t include the salary of the prosecutor.
Prosecutors said they don’t regret trying again to send Arias to death row.
“Regret is a place in the past I can’t afford to live in,” Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said.
Alexander’s family members wept when the judge announced the deadlock. His brothers and sisters said in a statement that they “are saddened by the jury’s inability to reach a decision on the death penalty, however, we understand the difficulty of the decision, and have nothing but respect for the jury’s time.”
Defense attorney Kirk Nurmi said the killing was a tragedy and “no verdict ultimately could repair that sadness.”
Prosecutors say Arias killed Alexander as revenge because he wanted to date other women and was planning a trip to Mexico with his latest love interest.
Authorities said Arias shot him in the head and stabbed and slashed him nearly 30 times then left his body in his shower at his suburban Phoenix home, where friends found him about five days later.
During closing arguments in the penalty retrial, prosecutor Juan Martinez repeatedly showed jurors gruesome crime scene photos of the victim’s slit throat.
The images were a counterpoint to the happy photos of Arias that her attorney displayed in arguing there was more to her life than her actions in the killing.
Nurmi told jurors that Arias deserved a second chance because she was the victim of verbal and physical abuse throughout her life.
Arias initially courted the spotlight after her arrest, granting interviews to “48 Hours” and “Inside Edition.”
She testified for 18 days at her first trial, describing her abusive childhood, cheating boyfriends, relationship with Alexander and her contention that he was physically abusive.
Associated Press writer Paul Davenport contributed to this article.