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Jodi Arias Judge Orders Another Pre-Trial Court Date

ABC News(PHOENIX) -- The murder trial of Jodi Arias will stretch on until at least September, when Arias will get another chance to convince a jury not to sentence her to death, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Arias was found guilty in May of murdering her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, after a five months-long trial that ended when the jury was unable to agree on whether to sentence Arias to death or life in prison.

A new jury can be seated to decide what sentence to give Arias.

Judge Sherry Stephens, who oversaw the trial, held a hearing Tuesday in which she told both the defense and prosecution to try and set a date for late September to finish the sentencing phase of Arias's trial.

Arias was flanked by tactical sheriff's deputies as she was brought into the Maricopa County courtroom for the hearing.

The hearing was originally called so defense attorney Kirk Nurmi could make arguments for his motion to vacate the jury's finding that Alexander's murder was especially cruel - an aggravating factor that qualified the crime to be punishable by death.

Nurmi is hoping to spare Arias the death penalty by arguing that the jury was not qualified to make the ruling about whether the murder was cruel. He told Stephens on Tuesday he was not yet prepared to make the argument and needed more time.

Stephens called for the next hearing to be held Aug. 26.

Arias, 33, claimed that she killed Alexander in self-defense. She is now being held in Maricopa County jail awaiting the sentencing phase of her trial. If a second jury is seated for a new sentencing phase, both the prosecution and defense will spend weeks presenting evidence to catch the jury up on the five-month long murder trial. The second jury could sentence Arias to death.

If the prosecution decides not to seek the death penalty a second time, Arias will not face the death penalty, and Stephens will sentence her to either life in prison without parole or life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Arias initially denied killing Alexander but eventually told police she killed him in self-defense after he attacked her. Prosecutors argued it was premeditated murder carried out in a jealous rage after the victim wanted to end their affair and planned a trip to Mexico with another woman.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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