(PHOENIX) — The jury in the Jodi Arias murder trial began its third day of deliberations Thursday on whether to sentence Arias to death, raising the possibility that prosecutors may retry the penalty phase of the case if the jury is deadlocked.
Under state law in a capital case if the jury can’t reach a unanimous decision, the Maricopa County, Ariz., District Attorney’s office will have to weigh whether to spend time and resources to find a new jury, schedule new court dates, and re-present its evidence to try and reach a death sentence, which could take months, according to Jerry Cobb, spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office.
Arias, 32, was convicted of first-degree murder for killing her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, in a gruesome attack in 2008.
Prosecutor Juan Martinez has argued that because the murder was especially cruel, involving 27 stab wounds, a slit throat, and a gunshot wound to Alexander’s head, Arias deserves the death penalty.
But the jury has not yet returned a verdict on whether they agree.
On Wednesday, the jury stopped deliberations and sent Judge Sherry Stephens a note about their indecision. She responded by sending them back to the jury room to continue deliberating, with instructions on how to ask questions of her or attorneys if they felt they could not come to an agreement.
If the jury cannot agree, a hung jury will be declared. Martinez and the Maricopa County Prosecutor Office will then decide whether to find a new jury and present the death penalty phase of the trial to them, Cobb said.
If they decide not to redo the death penalty phase, Arias will be sentenced to life in prison, either with or without the possibility of parole, depending on Stephens’ ruling.
The current jury has sat through nearly five months of testimony in the case.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Story by John Branch, CNN Video by Nick Scott
Stephen Collinson, CNN