As we all sit around waiting for Wednesday to roll around again and the main part of the Jodi Arias trial to finally come to a rest, it’s interesting to wonder what the jury is going through. Should they come back with a first degree conviction, their work is really just beginning. In 2005, Juan Martinez successfully prosecuted the case of Wendi Andriano and she was ultimately sentenced to death. In a very relevant and interesting article, Jim Walsh of The Arizona Republic interviewed several members of the jury in 2005 in order to understand the thought process behind their decisions. The article also walks us through the process of deliberations after the aggravating factors part of the case to see if Jodi meets the death penalty requirements. And, what happens if that burden is met in the defense’s presentation of the mitigating factors they hope will sway the jury to save her life. It’s a lengthy but fascinating read that you can find here:
One juror felt his knees shaking as he sat down to decide if an Ahwatukee Foothills woman should live or die.
Another says she spent the evening before the death penalty deliberations eating saltines and vomiting.
A third says she flashes back to the case, which featured a murder inside an apartment, every time she drives past an apartment complex.
Such is the emotional cost of Arizona’s 2 1/2-year-old death penalty law under which ordinary people – jurors, not judges – make the toughest decision in the law, life or death, a choice no one would voluntarily make.
Since Arizona revamped its law because of a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that juries must determine mitigating factors in death penalty cases, Maricopa County juries are voting for death far more often than their peers in four other states affected by the ruling. They are also dishing out death sentences more often than judges did in the past.
Including the jury in the Ahwatukee case, the trial of Wendi Andriano, Valley juries have voted the death penalty for 14 of 18 defendants since Aug. 1, 2002.
That 78 percent rate contrasts sharply with the sentences of Maricopa County Superior Court judges, who imposed death in 15 percent of cases from 1995 to 1999, according to 2002 report by the state Capital Case Commission.
Go read the article and then come back and share your thoughts here. There is a lot of saber rattling here in comments. We’ve worked up a full on steam of hate for Jodi Arias. But just how hard would it be to be the among the ones who decide if she lives or dies? Could you vote to take her life? Do you think the death penalty is a harsher punishment than life without parole? What did you think of the jury considering the possibility that if the jury did not vote for death, that the judge may give the minimum sentence of 25 years?