Challenges in retrying penalty phase of Arias trial - New York News

Challenges in retrying penalty phase of Arias trial

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PHOENIX -

The jury in the Jodi Arias trial was unable to reach an agreement in the penalty phase of the trial. Now the county attorney's office will have to decide if they want to continue to push for the death penalty or let the judge sentence Arias.

Jodi Arias' murder conviction will not change if there's a retrial. This is about her sentence. Prosecutors will face pressure to win a death penalty verdict. The defense team will face even greater pressure: to keep Jodi Arias off death row.

If county attorney Bill Montgomery decides he wants a do-over sentencing trial for Jodi Arias, problem one is finding people to decide her fate.

"I think it is going to be extremely difficult to find a new fair and unbiased jury that has not heard about the case," says Brian Foster, attorney at Snell & Wilmer law firm.

Difficult. But not impossible.

"What people oftentimes do not realize is the law doesn't say a juror cannot have knowledge about a case. What the law requires is that jurors who do have knowledge be ready, willing and able to put aside what they may have heard about the case," says Phoenix School of Law Professor Dave Cole.

Jo-Ellan Dimitrius served as jury coordinator on the OJ Simpson trial. She's worked on some huge criminal cases across the country.

"I think this time around that the defense is going to have a much more difficult time than they did the first time around," says Dimitrius.

She says, as it stands now, there is a possibility of finding an impartial jury. But it may not stay that way for long.

"The problem is that between now and July 17 there is obviously going to be a lot of information continually disseminated. I suspect by both sides, so perhaps people that didn't know that much about it will be exposed to it even more."

Both sides, the prosecution and defense, are more than likely already hard at work.

"I can pretty much ascertain that both sides are probably going to, if they haven't already, going to reach out to the jurors who just currently finished their process and find out what were the things that they would have liked to have heard or the things that were more important to them," says Dimitrius.

By phone, former county attorney Rick Romley told us he predicts this will be settled with a plea agreement. He says Montgomery likely recognizes there will be major appellate issues if his office continues on.

"Bill Montgomery is going to look at this. He's going to think about the ramifications for the taxpayers. He's going to think about the victim's family here. Things are different today than they were a couple days ago. They may well say they don't want to go through it again," former attorney general Grant Woods says.

Woods also said if they do decide to go the route of a plea, he doesn't think the state will be able to talk Arias into a plea of life without parole. Instead, to get her to plea, they may need to offer life with the possibility of parole after 25 years.

"I don't think so. For a couple of reasons. I'm guessing obviously one is, she obviously enjoys this process. She has manipulated the criminal justice system for her own self-aggrandizement from the moment she pulled the trigger. And it hasn't stopped and I don't think it will stop. It's time someone stops it and it's time to stop her. But that being the case, I think she enjoys it so the idea 'I'm going to have to go through this all again compared to what?' Sitting in her cell down in Florence? You know, that's not so bad. Being down here in the limelight isn't so bad compared to that."

If there is another penalty phase trial, and once again the jury cannot agree on a verdict, the death penalty will be off the table and the judge will either sentence Jodi Arias to life in prison no parole, or life in prison with the chance of parole after 25 years.


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