In summer 2008, Travis Alexander’s friends found him in the shower in his home in Mesa, about 20 miles from Phoenix. He was dead, with nearly 30 stab wounds, a gunshot to the head and a slit across his throat so deep that it almost decapitated him.
His ex-girlfriend at the time, Jodi Arias, first denied any part in it. Later she admitted she killed him – but in self defense. After a five-month-long murder trial in 2013, she was convicted of first-degree murder. But no jury could seem to agree on a punishment.
For the second time on Thursday, jurors failed to choose a sentence: life or death. Eleven wanted the death penalty, but one lone holdout hung up the jury, calling capital punishment “revenge,” jurors said. By default, Arias will spend her life behind bars.
“The 11 of us strived for justice but to no avail,” one juror, who was not identified in news reports, said. “We absolutely feel the penalty should have been death.”
“The real justice will be in the afterlife when Jodi burns in hell,” Tanisha Sorenson, one of Alexander’s sisters, told reporters.
The 12th juror came into trial with at least some insight into the case, jurors said. She had seen a made-for-TV movie about it, according to the Arizona Republic. A movie called “Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret” aired on Lifetime in 2013, dramatizing the love affair between Alexander and Arias. Prosecutors said Arias flew into a jealous rage when Alexander tried to break up with her.
“I think she [the holdout juror] came in and expected to see a monster in there because of what she saw on TV and the news and when she came in she saw it wasn’t,” another juror said, according to ABC News. The holdout did not speak to the press.
After 26 hours of deliberation, jurors expressed anger, claiming the holdout had an “agenda.” Jurors said she kept calling the death penalty “revenge” and, when asked whether there were a scenario in which she would consider it, she was unable to find one.
It had happened before. The initial jury deadlocked in 2013 while trying to agree on a sentence, split 8-4 in favor of death. The judge declared a mistrial and a new jury was called. Many who were cut from the pool admitted they had made up their minds about Arias. Some said they knew too much about her case. Others were against the death penalty, the Associated Press reported.
On Thursday, the jurors who were selected failed to reach a decision.
Over the years, even Arias has been conflicted on whether she preferred the death penalty or life in prison.
“The worst outcome for me would be natural life. I would much rather die sooner than later,” she told Fox News in May 2013 following her murder conviction. “I believe death is the ultimate freedom, so I’d rather just have my freedom as soon as I can get it.”
Two weeks later, she backtracked.
“I felt like by asking for death, it’s like asking for assisted suicide and I didn’t want to do that to my family,” she told KSAZ-TV.
“I’m asking you to please, please don’t do that to them,” she told jurors during the penalty phase of her trial in 2013. “I’ve already hurt them so badly, along with so many other people. I want everyone’s healing to begin, and I want everyone’s pain to stop.”
Arias, now 34, killed Alexander on June 4, 2008. It took five days for his friends to find his body.
“To this day, I can hardly believe I was capable of such violence. But I know that I was,” she told jurors in 2013. “And for that, I’m going to be sorry for the rest of my life.” But, she said, she was acting in self-defense after she was “choked out” by Alexander.
When she was found guilty of first-degree murder, she said she was shocked because Alexander’s killing was not premeditated.
Now, since two juries have failed to reach a conclusion about her sentence, she is no longer eligible to receive the death penalty. Arizona state law stipulates she will get life in prison, according to the Arizona Republic. At her formal sentencing hearing on April 13, the judge will decide whether her penalty should be “natural life” or whether she will be eligible for parole in 25 years.
“We really feel like we made a huge effort into trying to get what we believe was deserved, and I cannot say enough how sorry I am,” one juror said, according to ABC News.
“I was emotionally struggling for five months,” another said.
“We’ve had nightmares,” another juror said. “I think every single one of us has had nightmares and I hope they go away.”
But in the end, the jurors said, the holdout would not budge.
“It turned into a pride thing,” a juror said, “standing her ground.”