By David Schwartz
PHOENIX (Reuters) – An Arizona judge presiding over the high-profile murder trial of Jodi Arias could on Monday schedule jury selection to begin in September to decide whether the former waitress from California should be executed for slaying her ex-boyfriend.
Judge Sherry Stephens is expected to decide on a date for the new penalty phase for Arias, who was found guilty in May for the 2008 murder of Travis Alexander. A jury then deadlocked on her punishment.
Alexander was found dead in his shower, shot in the face and stabbed multiple times with his throat slashed, in a sensational trial that attracted nationwide as it played out live on TV and the Internet.
At a hearing last month, the judge said she hoped to start jury selection anew in late September after other jurors could not decide between death or life in prison.
State prosecutors had asked in court filings for the penalty phase to start on July 30. Defense attorneys sought to delay the proceedings until January due to scheduling conflicts and the possibility that Arias might want to call witnesses to speak on her behalf.
Prosecutors have the option of retrying the sentencing phase of the trial, which would require a new jury. If there is another deadlock, a judge would sentence Arias to life in prison, or life with the possibility of parole after 25 years.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery will continue to seek the death penalty for Arias, a spokesman told Reuters on Friday.
The trial began in January, featuring the tale of a soft-spoken young woman charged with a sensational crime. The five-month trial was packed with graphic testimony, bloody photographs and sexual situations.
Arias, 33, took the stand for 18 days and maintained throughout that the killing was in self-defense despite fierce cross-examination by prosecutors.
(Editing by Daniel Trotta and Matthew Lewis)