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Jury foreman says Arias testimony didn’t help her

By BRIAN SKOLOFF

Associated Press

POSTED:



PHOENIX (AP) — As jurors in Jodi Arias’ murder trial filed one by one from the courtroom after a dramatic five months of gut-wrenching testimony and gruesome photographs, three women on the panel cried and one looked to the victim’s family, mouthing the word, “Sorry.”

The silent gesture toward the loved ones of Travis Alexander offered a glimpse into what was likely a tense few days inside the deliberations room as the jury finally determined it could not agree on whether to sentence Arias to life in prison or execution for murdering her boyfriend.

After about 13 hours of deliberations over three days, the panel gave up.

Judge Sherry Stephens gave a heavy sigh as she announced a mistrial in the penalty phase of the case Thursday. A conference with the judge and attorneys was set for June 20 to determine how both sides want to proceed. In the interim, Stephens set a July 18 retrial date, sending prosecutors back to the drawing board to rehash the shocking case and details of sex and lies to another 12 people.

“This was not your typical trial,” Stephens told jurors. “You were asked to perform some very difficult duties.”

Jurors declined to comment and left the courthouse. But on Friday jury foreman William Zervakos told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that Arias’ testimony didn’t do her any good.

“I think 18 days hurt her. I think she was not a good witness,” he said.

“We’re charged with going in and presuming innocence, right? But she was on the stand for so long, there were so many contradicting stories.”

Zervakos said with the prosecutor’s aggressive style, that length of time testifying “would be difficult for anybody. I don’t think I’d want to sit on the stand for 18 days.”

Zervakos said he believed Alexander mentally and verbally abused Arias.

“Is that an excuse? Of course not. Does it factor in the decision that we make? It has to,” he said.

The mistrial set the stage for a whole new proceeding to determine whether the 32-year-old former waitress should get a life sentence or the death penalty for murdering Alexander five years ago. Arias stabbed and slashed him nearly 30 times, slit his throat slit from ear to ear and shot him in the forehead in what prosecutors described as a jealous rage after the victim wanted to end their affair and planned to head off on a trip to Mexico with another woman.

Prosecutors have the option to take the death penalty off the table, in which case a new trial wouldn’t be necessary and the judge would determine whether to sentence Arias to spend her entire life behind bars or life with the possibility of release after 25 years. Should the state decide to seek death again, jury selection alone could take weeks, given the difficulty of seating an impartial panel in a case that has attracted global attention.

The guilty verdict of first-degree murder would stand, leaving the new panel only tasked with sentencing Arias. However, former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley said the case could drag on for several months as the new jury reviews evidence and hears opening statements, closing arguments and witness testimony in a “Cliffs Notes” version of the trial.

If the second jury cannot reach a unanimous decision, the judge would then sentence Arias to one of the life-in-prison options. The judge cannot sentence Arias to death.

Arias, who first said she wanted to die but later changed her mind and pleaded with the jury for mercy, looked visibly upset about the mistrial and sobbed in the courtroom before it was announced. Her family didn’t attend Thursday but has been present for much of the trial.

Alexander’s family member cried as they left the courtroom without commenting.

Jurors began deliberating Arias’ sentence Tuesday and first reported they had failed to reach a unanimous decision the next day. Stephens instructed them to keep trying.

The same jury on May 8 found Arias guilty of murder in Alexander’s June 4, 2008 death at his suburban Phoenix home.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery thanked the panel in a statement after the mistrial was announced, and noted prosecutor Juan Martinez would have no comment given the pending proceedings ahead.

“We will assess, based upon available information, what the next steps will be,” Montgomery said, “and we will proceed with the intent to retry the penalty phase.”

For now, Arias will remain in the Maricopa County jail system, where she has spent the past five years. Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Thursday she will be confined to her cell 23 hours a day and not be allowed to give anymore media interviews.

The mistrial came two days after Arias spoke to jurors and pleaded for her life. She said she “lacked perspective” when she told a local reporter after her conviction that she preferred execution to spending the rest of her days in prison.

That same night, Arias gave a series of media interviews from jail, telling reporters about her many fights with her legal team and her belief that she “deserves a second chance at freedom someday.”

Arias contends she killed Alexander in self-defense when he became enraged after a day of sex, forcing her to fight for her life.

Her case became a sensation from the beginning as she gave a series of jailhouse interviews following her 2008 arrest in which first she blamed the killing on armed, masked intruders.

Testimony in the trial began in January as the case soon provided endless amounts of cable TV and tabloid fodder, including a recorded phone sex call between Arias and the victim, nude photos, bloody crime-scene pictures and a defendant who described her life story in intimate detail over 18 days on the witness stand.







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peanutgallery wrote:
These jurors were all asked in advance if they could impose the death penalty. They all said "yes". Now, they have failed their community by failing to come to a decision about a case that has been so easy to read from the beginning.
on May 24,2013 | 04:25AM
RichardCory wrote:
All hail the all-wise and all-knowing peanutgallery. May his words of guidance shine like a light in the darkness, for surely he knows better than the 12 people who actually sat through five months of evidence in a court of law. I am not worthy to even post on the same bulletin as one such as peanutgallery.
on May 24,2013 | 04:52AM
W15 wrote:
i think you're mistaking the word "would" for "could."
on May 24,2013 | 07:24AM
mikethenovice wrote:
Every time Jodi speaks, her eyes shift to the right, then looks straight again as she listens to the next question. Strange? Not for a liar like Jodi.
on May 24,2013 | 06:54AM
HOSSANA wrote:
These jurors are all of the liberal mentality which prevented them from imposing the death penalty. This liberal mode is pervasive among our population which results in lax discipline etc....This is ridiculous! The defendant killed the victim in a malicious and highly heinous manner and should have been sentenced to death. Nothing more and nothing less.
on May 24,2013 | 07:38AM
aloha101 wrote:
This jury FAILED to serve justice by not coming to a unanimous decision whether it was LIFE or DEATH!!! Jody Arias is a LIAR and this jury got hooked by her innocent librarian look and her lies. Look at her now... where are her glasses? She has to live with her LIES!!! When and if JA joins the general population in prison, she will wish that she got the "Death Penalty".
on May 24,2013 | 09:38AM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
What I cannot stand is the killer and her supporters trashing victim during the proceedings. All the while her supporters kept saying that the victim verbally abused her and saying that although it did not justify her actions his abuse is basically the REASON for her actions. It seemed like the victim was put on trial for what HE did. I can't believe that our system allows the re-victimization of the victim and his family. This woman and her supporters are a piece of work.
on May 24,2013 | 09:43AM
64hoo wrote:
we need a lot of joe arpaio down here in our jail and prison system where the convicts spend 23 hours behind bars and no media interviews. but of course the American communist liberal union would be filing all these lawsuits claiming there violating there rights. which is bull. prisoners should not be given all these liberties. stop these liberties and a lot of prisoners who get release from jail or prison would never try to commit another crime because they would not want to go back to jail or prison.
on May 24,2013 | 09:50PM
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