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Judge tells jury to keep deliberating in Jodi Arias punishment phase

May 22, 2013 at 4:47 PM   |   Comments

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PHOENIX, May 22 (UPI) -- A jury in Phoenix said Wednesday it was having trouble reaching a unanimous decision on whether convicted killer Jodi Arias should be sentenced to death.

But Maricopa Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens decided 2 hours of deliberations wasn't long enough and sent them back out of the courtroom after reading them a standard instruction, The Arizona Republic reported.

The jury had sent Stephens a handwritten note on an official question form, asking, "If the jury is unable to come to a unanimous decision @ this stage, do we notify the judge of this on the form [verdict] or do we just tell the judge her instruction on the bottom P. 10 on the final jury Instruction-Penalty phase?"

The newspaper noted should a hung jury ultimately be declared, Stephens could declare a mistrial for the penalty phase and the state could agree to a life prison sentence or ask for a new jury to consider the death penalty.

Arias, 32, has said she's as prepared as she can be if jurors recommend she be put to death. In an interview with KNXV-TV, Phoenix, Arias, who was convicted May 8 of first-degree murder for killing one-time boyfriend Travis Alexander, said she was "shell shocked" when the verdict was returned.

"I didn't expect to walk away but I did not think it would be first degree," she said.

Arias said she's "ready to meet my maker, if that time should come."

"I'm as prepared as I can be, I guess, in a situation like this. I'm not anticipating [the death penalty] or expecting it, but if it comes, then that's a bridge I'll just have to cross," she said in an interview with KFYI, Phoenix.

Arias initially said she wanted the death penalty because she couldn't imagine spending the rest of her life in one place. Now she's changed her mind and has pleaded for her life, promising to be a constructive member of society from prison.

She said she would teach her fellow inmates to read, Spanish, American Sign Language and would encourage them to contribute to Locks of Love and recycle, KFYI reported.

"Some of those might sound very trivial," Arias said, "but I've never been to prison. I don't know how much is available there ... and how much change I can effect."

Arias attorney Jennifer Willmot, said the death penalty should not be applied because Arias was abused by Alexander and because she had no criminal record.

Alexander's body was found June 4, 2008, in the shower of his home with 27 stab wounds, his throat slashed and a gunshot wound to his face.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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