Aug. 26, 2013— -- Convicted killer Jodi Arias will return to court later today in Maricopa County, Ariz., as a judge is expected to set a date for a retrial of the penalty phase of her murder trial.
In the trial, which riveted millions for five months earlier this year and spawned a TV movie, Arias was found guilty in May of murdering her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander. The marathon trial ended when the jury was unable to agree on whether to sentence Arias to death or life in prison.
Judge Sherry Stephens, who oversaw the murder trial, has said that she'd like to begin picking a new jury next month. The new jurors would not hear the entire case and their only task would be to decide Arias's fate.
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Attorneys for Arias are hoping the retrial will not be as high-profile and have filed a motion asking the judge to keep cameras out or to at least forbid the trial from being broadcast live. The defense says the publicity was so intense that two witnesses, domestic violence expert Alyce Laviolette and Arias' childhood friend Patti Womak, received death threats and are too scared to come back to testify for the retrial.
Judge Stephens may not buy the defense's argument since it was Arias who granted jailhouse interviews as the first jury deliberated her fate.
Arias, 33, claimed that she killed Alexander, a Mormon businessman, 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.
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If the second jury cannot reach a unanimous decision, Arias will automatically be sentenced to life in prison. Then, Judge Stephens will decide if she will get life without parole or life with eligibility for parole after 25 years.
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.