Jodi Arias Trial News Update: Judge Rejects Defense Motion to Remove Death Penalty Sentence From Arias' Retrial
A bid to spare convicted murderer Jodi Arias from the death penalty during her retrial next month was denied by an Arizona judge.
According to court papers, defense attorneys argued that the Arizona law allowing a retrial of the penalty phase is unconstitutional, represents considered cruel and unusual punishment and amounts to double jeopardy. However, Maricopa Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens rejected the defense motion in a ruling made public last Friday.
"Arizona's capital scheme has been found to be constitutional by the United States Supreme Court and the Arizona Supreme Court," wrote Judge Stephens, according to the Star Tribune.
Arias, 33, was convicted of first-degree murder in May 2013 in the ghastly 2008 death of her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander in his suburban Phoenix home. However, the same jury that found her guilty failed to reach a unanimous decision on her sentencing. As a result, her retrial will start on March 17 to determine whether she should be sentenced to death, life in prison or life with a chance of release after serving 25 years.
In a three-page ruling, the judge made it clear the death penalty would still be on the table during the second penalty phase of the trial.
"Defendant has not been 'acquitted' of the death sentence by the jury's failure to reach a verdict, and thus there is no constitutional bar to retrying the penalty phase," Stephens wrote, reports Reuters.
In the event that a second jury fails to reach a unanimous decision, the death penalty option would automatically be eliminated and the judge would sentence Arias to life in prison or allow her to be eligible for parole after 25 years.
Medical examiners found that the convicted killer stabbed her ex-lover 27 times, primarily in the back and in the torso and the heart. She also slit Alexander's throat from ear to ear, nearly decapitating him, and shot him in the face, before she dragged his bloodied corpse to the shower where she left him crumpled over. In total, the killing was done in a little less than two minutes.