By David Schwartz
PHOENIX (Reuters) - An Arizona judge presiding over the high-profile murder trial of Jodi Arias on Monday postponed setting a date to begin selecting a new jury to decide whether the former waitress from California should be executed for slaying her ex-boyfriend.
Judge Sherry Stephens had been expected to decide on a date for the new penalty phase for Arias over the 2008 murder of Travis Alexander, who was found dead in his shower in a Phoenix suburb, shot in the face and stabbed multiple times with his throat slashed.
Arias was found guilty of the murder in May after a sensational trial that drew national attention with its tale of a soft-spoken young woman accused of such a brutal crime.
But the same jury that convicted her then deadlocked on whether she should be put to death or sentenced to life in prison, and prosecutors are seeking a penalty phase retrial.
At a hearing last month, the judge said she hoped to start jury selection anew in late September. But on Monday, she postponed setting a date to start the process of impaneling a new jury until at least mid-September, when she set another status hearing in the case.
In postponing setting a date, the judge said she needed to deal with pending legal filings in the case.
State prosecutors had previously asked in court filings for the penalty phase to start on July 30. Defense attorneys sought to delay the proceedings until January due to scheduling conflicts and the possibility that Arias might want to call witnesses to speak on her behalf.
Prosecutors have the option of retrying the sentencing phase of the trial, which would require a new jury. If there is another deadlock in the next sentencing phase, a judge would sentence Arias to life in prison, or life with the possibility of parole after 25 years.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery will continue to seek the death penalty for Arias, a spokesman said on Friday.
The five-month trial, which began in January, was packed with graphic testimony, bloody photographs and sexual situations.
Arias, 33, took the stand for 18 days and maintained throughout that the killing was in self-defense despite fierce cross-examination by prosecutors.
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Matthew Lewis)