A jury in Phoenix, Arizona convicted Jodi Arias of first-degree murder after a five-month-long trial in 2013 for the brutal murder of her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander in the summer of 2008. Since that conviction, two juries decided not to recommend the death penalty as punishment for Arias. The latest jury deadlocked this week, and some members spoke to the press declaring frustration over their inability to reach a unanimous verdict; it was clear that the majority of the jurors were angry towards the one holdout (the jury was split 11-1 in favor of death) with one member stating that the holdout had expressed her belief that the state was engaged in the act of “revenge”. At least one other juror complained about the sacrifices and emotional pain the jurors were subjected to because of their sequestered status. It was evident that the jury was really upset over the fact that they could not all agree that the state should kill arias; they went so far as to make an apology on the record; one juror said “We really feel like we made a huge effort into trying to get what we believe was deserved, and I cannot say enough how sorry I am”.
The earlier jury had deadlocked 8-4 for death in 2013. The only penalty on the table now is life imprisonment. However, the judge has the power to fashion a sentence that would allow for release after 25 years.
COMMENT: It is striking to hear jurors make these types of comments. It seems clear that the majority wanted very much to see Arias put to death and those who spoke were totally disrespectful to the juror who would not vote for death in this case. It is also essential to make it clear that the United States still requires due process in criminal proceedings, unlike those countries who are summarily beheading people around the world. We trust the judge will continue to apply those same standards of fairness and due process during the sentencing phase of this case. Since the facts of this case have been proven, we agree that the murder was horrific and hope the pain and grief of family members and friends will, to the extent possible, start to heal. We understand that the defendant will occupy a small cell for all but an hour of the day and may eventually earn her right to additional liberties after several years; we think that even this type of punishment borders on cruel and unusual. Regardless, we hold that one juror got it right in this case (and four before) because the death penalty is wrong in every situation.