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   PHOENIX (AP) - Jodi Arias returns to court today as her attorneys ask the judge to vacate the jury's decision that the 2008 killing of her boyfriend was "especially cruel," a finding that allowed the panel to consider the death penalty.

   Arias was convicted of first-degree murder May 8 in the stabbing and shooting death of Travis Alexander in his suburban Phoenix home. About two weeks later, the same jury failed to reach a unanimous decision on whether to sentence Arias to life in prison or death. While her murder conviction stands, the judge declared a mistrial of the penalty phase.

   Prosecutors say they are preparing to try again for the death penalty with a new jury, but would consider a resolution short of a new trial.

   Arias admitted she killed Alexander, but claimed it was self-defense.

 
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FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) — A U.S. Army general has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault charges that could send him to prison for life.

The Fayetteville Observer reported Monday Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair told a military judge at Fort Bragg he is not guilty of charges that include forcible sodomy, indecent acts, violating orders and adultery.

Jury selection is set to begin for Sinclair's court martial on Tuesday with the trial scheduled to begin Sept. 30. In the military justice system juries must consist of officers with superior rank to the accused. In Sinclair's case that will requires a panel of generals with two or more stars.

Sinclair is a 27-year Army veteran who commanded troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is accused of twice forcing a female officer to perform oral sex.

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A state agency is turning down a request from researchers at the University of South Florida who want to exhume human remains at a now-defunct Florida Panhandle reform school.

Secretary of State Ken Detzner told researchers Monday that the state does not have legal authority to grant the request, even though the land in Marianna is state-owned. Detzner reports to Gov. Rick Scott.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson criticized the decision and called it a "classic run-around."

Earlier this year, a circuit judge rejected a request from Attorney General Pam Bondi to exhume bodies from "Boot Hill Cemetery" and surrounding areas. It is believed there may be unmarked graves and unaccounted bodies of boys who died.

The school is formally known as the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys.

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