By Tim Gaynor
PHOENIX (Reuters) - An Arizona judge on Thursday set a July 18 hearing for convicted murderer Jodi Arias to determine whether the former waitress will face a new jury in the death penalty phase of her trial for brutally killing her ex-boyfriend.
The sensational trial began in January and Arias, 32, was convicted by a jury last month. The case became a staple for U.S. cable television viewers with its tale of a soft-spoken young woman charged with stabbing Phoenix-area man Travis Alexander multiple times, slashing his throat and shooting him in the face.
Arias took the stand for 18 days and maintained throughout that the killing of Alexander, whose body was discovered slumped in the shower of his home in June 2008, was in self-defense.
The former waitress from California was found guilty of murder by a jury but the same jurors who ruled her eligible for the death penalty subsequently failed to reach consensus on whether Arias should be executed.
As part of the process to resolve the mistrial in the penalty phase, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens met with lawyers behind closed doors on Thursday. The judge scheduled a hearing on July 18 for arguments over whether Arias should face a new jury to decide on the death penalty or life in prison.
Arias shuffled into the court shackled hand and foot and dressed in black and white prison garb, a marked change from the office attire she wore at trial.
In court filings, prosecutors had asked the judge to begin the sentencing phase on July 30. But defense attorneys asked for a delay until January because of scheduling conflicts and the possibility that Arias might want to call witnesses.
(Additional reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Grant McCool)
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