PHOENIX (AP) – Jury selection is beginning in the penalty retrial of convicted murderer Jodi Arias, as prosecutors again seek a death sentence in the Arizona case that became a tabloid TV sensation.
About 300 prospective jurors will report to the courthouse in Phoenix Monday, with more to come if an impartial panel cannot be found among the first group. A previous jury deadlocked on punishment.
Arias acknowledged killing Travis Alexander in 2008 at his suburban Phoenix home but claimed it was self-defense. He suffered nearly 30 knife wounds, had his throat slit and was shot in the head.
Prosecutors argued it was premeditated murder carried out in a jealous rage when Alexander wanted to end their affair.
The 34-year-old Arias, a former waitress, was found guilty last year. The murder conviction will stand as lawyers spar once again over whether she should die for the crime.
If the new jury fails to reach a unanimous decision, the death penalty will be removed as an option and a judge will sentence Arias to spend her life behind bars or to be eligible for release after 25 years.
Arias' five-month trial began in January 2013 and was broadcast live, providing endless cable TV and tabloid fodder, including a recorded phone sex call between Arias and the victim, nude photos, bloody crime-scene pictures and a defendant who described her life story in intimate detail over 18 days on the witness stand.
Alexander's family sat in the front row of the courtroom throughout the trial, often sobbing, looking away from horrific photographs, and wincing as Arias described the victim as an abusive boyfriend who wanted nothing but sex.
It was a far cry from the man Alexander presented himself to be publicly — a devout Mormon in search of his soul mate.
The family will now have to sit through several more months of testimony and evidence as Arias' attorneys try to save her life.
"I don't want these nightmares anymore. I don't want to have to see my brother's murderer anymore. I don't want to hear his name dragged through the mud," Stephen Alexander told jurors through tears during Arias' first penalty phase.
The retrial, expected to last until mid-December, will not be televised live this time around after the judge ruled that no video footage can be broadcast until after the verdict.