Jodi Arias’ attorney’s filed a motion to dismiss the death penalty. They tried to argue that it is cruel and unusual punishment and thus unconstitutional “because permitting a retrial after hung jury in the penalty phase… violates double jeopardy and is cruel and unusual punishment.”
Cruel and unusual punishment is terminology that can be found within the eighth amendment of the Constitution. The basic premise is that neither jail nor punishment for a crime should be unreasonably severe and to guard against punishments that are disproportionately “cruel and unusual” (p.1).
The “cruel and unusual punishments” clause has been used to challenge the death penalty in the United States. It was successfully used in the case of Roper v. Simmons in which the Supreme Court ruled that “the eighth and fourteenth amendments forbid imposition of the death penalty on offenders who are under the age of 18 when their crimes were committed (p.1).”
Her attorneys were essentially attempting to argue that she should not be eligible for the death penalty because her first jury was unable to unanimously agree on a sentence.
Judge Sherry Stephens ruled that “the defendant has not been “acquitted” of the death sentence by the jury’s failure to reach a verdict, and thus there is no constitutional bar to retrying the penalty phase.”
Even though the jury was hung in the penalty phase it does “not result in cruel and unusual punishment or violate the double jeopardy clause.”
Judge Sherry Stephen denied Jodi Arias’ motion to dismiss the potential for a death sentence.
Jodi Arias remains eligible for the death penalty in the state of Arizona.
If the second jury is unable to reach a unanimous decision, Jodi Arias could face life in prison or she may be eligible for release after 25 years.
Her sentencing retrial is set for March 17, 2014. The trial will not be televised.
Update: AZ Central is now reporting that her trial has been “put aside.” Juan Martinez has another trial beginning May 12, 2014 and thus Jodi Arias’ trial has been postponed.