Photo: Reuters (Photo : Reuters)
Jodi Arias is sitting in a Maricopa County Jail in Arizona awaiting the sentencing phase of her murder trial, in which she was found guilty of killing her boyfriend Travis Alexander in an "especially cruel" manner.
After months of testimony, Arias was convicted of first-degree murder May 8 for brutally killing Alexander by stabbing him almost 30 times, shooting him in the head and then slitting his throat from ear-to-ear, according to a report from HLN.
The jury for the initial trial agreed that Arias was guilty of killing Alexander in an "especially cruel" manner, but could not reach a decision as to whether she should receive the death penalty or life behind bars for her acts.
Fox News reports that Arias' attorneys are seeking to have the jury's decision about the "especially cruel" manner of the murder vacated. If successful, this would take the death penalty option of sentencing off the table.
Arias' attorneys say that the definition of "especially cruel" is too difficult to be determined by jurors who don't have the legal experience to decide what constitutes an "especially cruel."
However, prosecutors argue that this motion challenges a Supreme Court ruling that says a defendant has the right to have a jury, not a judge, decide on the factor that makes a defendant eligible for the death penalty.
Judge Sherry Stephens, who presided over the original trial, gave Arias' attorneys until Aug. 8 to file motions supporting their argument. A status conference to discuss the issue is scheduled for Aug. 28.
"It appears there are a number of issues that are unresolved so I am reluctant to set a firm trial date for the penalty phase retrial," Stephens said. "Parties should work toward beginning trial in late September. That is my intention."
According to ABC News, when the second jury is chosen for the sentencing phase, both the prosecution and defense will spend a good amount of time presenting evidence to get the new jury up to speed on the previous five-month-long trial.
If the second jury is unable to decide upon Arias' sentencing or if the prosecution decides not to go for the death penalty a second time, then Stephens would sentence Arias to prison for life - either with or without the possibility of parole.
However, according to a report from CBS News 5 in Arizona, the prosecution and defense may reach an agreement to avoid the penalty trial. Arias has been publicly pushing for a plea deal for years, via her Twitter account.
Recently she gave her Twitter followers an update on her alleged attempts to bargain for a plea, however prosecutors in Maricopa County responded to that tweet saying that Arias is either not telling the truth or is misinformed.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said that he would actually be open to an agreement that would avoid the upcoming penalty trial. However, he did not say that negotiations are underway just yet.
"I respect the job that the defense attorneys are doing on behalf of their client, and we're doing our job," Montgomery said. "And if there is a way for us to reach an agreement short of trial, I'd be open to that, but if not, then we'll wind up retrying the penalty phase.