05/23/2013 08:34 am ET Updated Jul 23, 2013

Jodi Arias Jury Deadlock: Judge Orders Jury Back To Deliberations Room

Deadlocked jurors return to the deliberations room Thursday after Judge Sherry Stephens told them to keep trying to reach a unanimous decision to the final question in the Jodi Arias trial: Should she get life in prison or the death penalty.

On Wednesday, the eight-man, four-woman panel notified Judge Stephens that they were stuck. They were called into the courtroom, where she offered some suggestions.

"You may want to identify areas of agreement and disagreement and discuss the law and the evidence as they relate to the areas of disagreement. If you still disagree, you may wish to tell the attorneys and me which issues, questions, law or facts you would like us to assist you with," Stephens said.


Under Arizona law, a hung jury in the death penalty phase of a trial requires a new jury to be seated to decide the punishment. If the second jury cannot reach a unanimous decision, the judge would then sentence Arias to spend her entire life in prison or be eligible for release after 25 years.

In the event of a hung jury in the Arias trial, the case could drag on for several more months, said former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley.

"If that happens, this jury would be dismissed and a second jury would be impaneled, and you'd literally have to go through the whole case again," Romley said, adding the murder conviction would stand and the new panel would be considering only the sentence.

However, the new jury would have to review evidence and hear opening statements, closing arguments and witness testimony in a "Cliffs Notes" version of the trial, Romley said.


Romley also noted that if the current jury deadlocks, the prosecutor could decide to take the death penalty off the table. If that happens, the judge would determine whether Arias spends her entire life in prison or is eligible for release after 25 years.

The judge cannot sentence Arias to death.

Following her conviction last week, Arias told a local TV station that she preferred the death penalty. However, she said Tuesday night that she changed her mind after a tearful meeting with family members, realizing her death would only cause them more pain.

"I felt like by asking for death, it's like asking for assisted suicide, and I didn't want to do that to my family," she told the AP.



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