Jodi Arias Sentence Update: Death Penalty In Question As Jury Deadlock Continues; Prosecution Could Ease Pressure To Avoid New Jury And Trial [VIDEO & REPORT]

By Beth Roeser May 23, 2013 4:03 PM EDT
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Will Jodi Arias get a new jury? Jurors in the murder trial resumed deliberations Thursday after reporting the day before that they could not reach a unanimous verdict on whether to sentence the convicted killer to life in prison or the death penalty for her brutal murder of ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander in 2008.

The Arias trial jury reported its deadlock Wednesday after less than three hours of deliberations, but were instructed by the judge to try and figure out areas of agreement and disagreement while working toward a decision. Still, the jury adjourned later in the day without having reached any decision. Deliberations continued again from about 9:45 a.m. local time in Arizona.

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If Jodi Arias' jurors can't reach a sentence, there are two possible outcomes.

RELATED: 'I'll Donate My Hair,' Jodi Arias Tells Jury Before Death Penalty Deliberations; When Will Jurors Announce Sentence? [VIDEO & PHOTOS] 

First, in the event of a hung jury, the case could drag on for several more months as a new jury is assembled and subject to a condensed version of the trial. Basically, the jury would hear opening statements, closing arguments, and witness testimony. This would not mean, however, that Jodi Arias' murder conviction would be back up in the air. The first jury's guilty verdict would still stand. The new jury would only deliberate the sentence.

Watch Jodi Arias Trial Online: Arias Speaks To Jury After Character Witness Backs Out, Defense Lawyers Move To Withdraw Again [LIVE STREAM]

The second option would be for the prosecutor to take the death penalty off the table. If the prosecutor decided to remove the death penalty from sentence options, Arias would automatically receive a life sentence, the exact length of which would be determined by the judge. The judge would decide whether Arias would be imprisoned for her entire life, or if she would be eligible for release after 25 years.

At any rate, the judge cannot sentence Arias to death -- so as long as the death penalty is on the table, Jodi's fate in the most critical sense is entirely in the hands of the jury.

The same jury struggling to decide whether Arias will receive life in prison or the death penalty has already convicted her of first-degree murder and found her eligible for the death penalty. The jury heard emotional testimony during the final penalty phase of the trial, with appearances in court by victim Travis Alexander's family members, who described their late brother's place in their lives and how his murder has impacted their families.

Watch Travis Alexander's Family's Trial Statements; Victim's Brother, Sister Give Dramatic Testimony In Death Penalty Phase As Jury And Jodi Cry [VIDEO & REPORT] 

A character witness for Jodi Arias was scheduled to appear Monday, but pulled out at the last minute. Jodi Arias addressed the court herself on Tuesday, pleading for her life and expressing her distress over the pain and suffering the trial has caused her family and Alexander's. Arias had previously stated that she would prefer the death penalty over a life sentence, a comment that put her on suicide watch and provoked her lawyers to attempt to withdraw from the trial.

RELATED: Travis Alexander Felt 'Absolute Terror,' As Jodi Stabbed; New Graphic Details From Sentence Trial [VIDEO & REPORT] 

Arias was convicted of the brutal slaying of her lover and ex-boyfriend in 2008. Travis Alexander was found dead in a shower in his suburban Phoenix home. He had been shot in the face and stabbed between 20 and 30 times, and his throat had been slit from ear to ear. Jodi Arias originally denied that she had killed him, but later said she had done it in self-defense. The prosecution described how Arias had planned and executed the murder in a jealous rage after learning that Alexander wanted to end their relationship and take a trip to Mexico with another woman.

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