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Crime & Courts

Arias attorneys ask judge to vacate death sentence eligibility as state prepares for new trial

Jodi Arias' attorneys have asked a judge to vacate the jury's decision in her murder trial that the 2008 killing of her boyfriend was "especially cruel," a finding that allowed the panel to consider the death penalty.

They argue, among other things, that the legal definition of "especially cruel" is too vague for jurors with no legal experience to determine what makes one killing more cruel than another. The filing also appears to challenge a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found juries, not judges, should decide a defendant's death penalty eligibility.

Arias was convicted May 8 in the death of Travis Alexander at his suburban Phoenix home. The same jury later failed to reach a unanimous decision on whether to sentence Arias to life in prison or death.

The next hearing in the case is set for July 18.

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