In US, jury fails to decide on whether to sentence murderer to death

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - A US jury failed on Thursday to agree on whether to sentence Jodi Arias to death for the grisly killing of her boyfriend in 2008, after a trial which has gripped America.

Judge Sherry Stephens declared a mistrial in the sentencing phase of the trial in Phoenix, Arizona, after the eight-man, four-woman jury said it could not reach a unanimous verdict.

The jurors, who convicted the 32-year-old two weeks ago, had deliberated since on Wednesday. Their options were to sentence Arias to death, or to life behind bars, with or without parole.

After the jury members admitted they could not agree, the judge set a date of July 18 for a retrial with a new jury on the sentencing phase, which will only be held if prosecutors ask for one.

If prosecutors do not seek a retrial, Arias could be sentenced to life in prison, with or without parole.

Arias had been on trial since January, accused of murdering Mr Travis Alexander, 30, in a frenzied attack in June 2008 in which he was stabbed 27 times, shot in the head and had his throat slit.

She claimed she was acting in self-defence, but a jury found her guilty of premeditated murder two weeks ago, and then decided last week that she could face the death penalty because she had been "especially cruel" to the victim.

Arias had said she would prefer death to life in prison, and repeated that in a television interview shortly after her May 8 conviction.

But on Tuesday this week she begged the jury to spare her life, listing the good things she could achieve behind bars, including staring a book club and donating hair to make wigs for cancer patients.

"I loved Travis, and I looked up to him. At one point he was the world to me. This is the worst mistake of my life. It's the worst thing I've ever done," she said, fighting back tears.

"Before that day I wouldn't even want to harm a spider. To this day I can hardly believe I was capable of such violence. But I know that I was, and for that I'll be sorry for the rest of my life, probably longer.

"I was horrified by what I'd done and I'm horrified still."

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