Jodi Arias Mistrial: New Jury to Decide Penalty

By Brett Snider, Esq. on May 24, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Jurors in the Jodi Arias trial failed to reach a unanimous verdict Thursday, after more than 13 hours of deliberating whether the convicted murderer deserves the death penalty.

A hung jury means that a new jury will be chosen in order to decide Arias' punishment, The Huffington Post reports. Jury selection is set for July 18.

A new jury for the penalty phase does not mean a whole new trial for Jodi Arias, but there will be some rehashing of old issues.

What Is a Mistrial?

A mistrial is reached when the trial ends without a verdict because of:

  • Trial errors. This typically means evidence was improperly admitted or improper testimony was allowed.
  • Juror misconduct. There have already been a few jurors dismissed in the Arias case for not following the rules.
  • Extreme bias. This happened in a recent case where a victim's prosthetic eye popped out during trial, unfairly prejudicing jurors.
  • A hung jury. Like in the Arias case, this happens when a jury cannot come to a unanimous decision.

When a mistrial is declared, a new trial is ordered to re-hear that portion of the evidence before a new jury.

Jodi Arias' mistrial was declared only in the penalty phase of the trial, which leaves Arias' first degree murder conviction intact, reports CNN.

A New Jury

A new jury will be selected much like the first trial jury was, through a process of random selection and voir dire.

Under Arizona law, this new jury will not reconsider any issues that the first Arias trial jury found unanimously, including the murder conviction and any unanimous agreement on aggravating factors.

On May 15, the original trial jury did agree that Arias' crime was eligible for the death penalty because it was extremely cruel -- an aggravating factor which this new jury must accept as decided, according to Reuters.

Possible Sentences

After the new jury is convened, they will be presented with evidence from both the prosecution and defense, for and against the imposition of the death penalty.

If this new jury fails to reach a verdict, under Arizona law, the judge will be forced to sentence Arias to prison for:

  • Her natural life, meaning life in prison without the possibility of parole; or
  • An indeterminate life sentence, a non-specific term of years (e.g., 25 years to life), with the possibility of parole.

A judge may not sentence Jodi Arias to death; only a jury can reach that decision by unanimous vote.

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