Jodi Arias Murder Trial: What Happens If the Jury Deadlocks?
UPDATE: The jury could not reach a unanimous decision on Thursday as to whether to give convicted murderer Jodi Arias the death sentence or life in prison. This means a new jury will be chosen for the penalty phase of the trial.
While the panel continues to deliberate life in prison versus the death penalty, it begs the question... what happens in the case of a hung or deadlocked jury?
On Wednesday, jurors told Judge Sherry Stephens they could not reach a unanimous decision but he sent them back into deliberations to keep trying.
Here is how a hung jury works in Arizona: 1. Only the jury can impose the death penalty. 2. The jury's decision must be unanimous. 3. If they cannot make a decision, a second jury will be selected for the penalty phase. Meaning, they will only be responsible for sentencing. 4. If the second jury is deadlocked, execution will no longer be an option, and Judge Stephens will decide between life and natural life in prison. 5. A life sentence includes the possibility of parole, while natural life does not.
Arizona's Criminal Code further explains what happens in the case of a hung jury.
A.R.S. § 13-752 K says, “At the penalty phase, if the trier of fact is a jury and the jury is unable to reach a verdict, the court shall dismiss the jury and shall impanel a new jury.”
The law continues, “The new jury shall not retry the issue of the defendant's guilt or the issue regarding any of the aggravating circumstances that the first jury found by unanimous verdict to be proved or not proved. If the new jury is unable to reach a unanimous verdict, the court shall impose a sentence of life or natural life on the defendant."
The jury could return with a decision as early as Thursday… or remain deadlocked. If deadlocked, the prosecutor can decide not to pursue the death penalty, in which case the judge would sentence Arias to one of the life sentences, ending the trial.