The next steps in Jodi Arias case
PHOENIX (AP) — The focus of the Jodi Arias murder trial now turns to the jury as it decides whether to impose a life or death sentence. The process has several more steps:
SENTENCE: Jurors have two choices: life in prison or execution. They are allowed to weigh multiple factors in coming to a decision, including Arias' upbringing, her lack of a prior criminal record, her artistic skills and her age.
LIFE: If the sentence is life, Judge Sherry Stephens has two options in imposing the term. She can send Arias to prison for the remainder of her life with no chance of release — or make her eligible for release after 25 years. It's not known if the judge will make the decision immediately or set a later date for the formal sentencing.
DEATH: If the sentence is death, Arias' case will automatically be appealed under Arizona law. It's a process that takes years to play out, and Arias says she would continue to appeal such a sentence until she has exhausted all of her options. Only then could she be executed.
JUDGE: The jury's decision is final. Judges in some states have the authority to override a jury's sentence decision, but Stephens made it clear to the jury Tuesday: "You will determine whether the defendant will be sentenced to life in prison or death. Your decision is not a recommendation."
HUNG JURY: Under Arizona law, if a jury in the death penalty phase of a trial cannot reach a unanimous decision, a new jury must be seated to decide the punishment. If the second panel deadlocks, the judge will then sentence Arias to spend her entire life in prison or be eligible for release after 25 years. The judge cannot sentence Arias to death.