By David Schwartz
PHOENIX (Reuters) - Convicted killer Jodi Arias turned down her last chance to plead her case directly to a jury on Monday in the sentencing phase retrial for murdering her former boyfriend in 2008.
Arias, who faces the death penalty for murdering Travis Alexander at his Phoenix-area home, told the judge she wanted to speak to jurors, in a trial phase known as allocution, but only in a closed courtroom without the public and media present.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens, though, said the Arizona Court of Appeals already has ruled the proceedings cannot be conducted in secret.
"You cannot allocute in a sealed proceeding," Stephens told Arias, without the jury present in the courtroom, and then asked her if she still wanted to proceed.
"Not in an open proceeding, no," Arias replied in a strong voice.
The exchange took place ahead of closing arguments scheduled to begin on Tuesday in a case that has attracted nationwide attention.
The 34-year-old former waitress from California was convicted in May 2013 of killing Alexander, who was found slumped in the shower. He had been stabbed multiple times and shot in the face, and his throat was slashed.
Arias said she acted in self-defense, but prosecutors accused her of killing Alexander in a jealous rage.
The jury that convicted her deadlocked on her sentence and a new jury was seated in October. It heard testimony from Arias that was delivered behind closed doors, and which the state's highest court later ruled should have been made in open court. Her remarks were subsequently published.
On Monday, two jurors were dismissed from the case without explanation, leaving two more than are needed to form the final 12-person jury.
If this jury cannot decide, Stephens will sentence Arias to life in prison, or life with the possibility of parole after 25 years.
(Reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Lisa Lambert)