Penalty Phase Begins In Arias Trial [VIDEO]
Jurors in Phoenix return to court today to begin deliberating whether the 32-year-old woman they convicted of killing her one-time boyfriend should get the death penalty.
Jodi Arias was found guilty Wednesday of first-degree murder after the jury deliberated for about 15 hours.
The sheer brutality of the attack and previous testimony from the Maricopa County Medical Examiner that Travis Alexander did not die a quick death will be at the heart of the prosecution’s argument that Jodi should receive the ultimate punishment for her crime.
Alexander was stabbed and slashed nearly 30 times, shot in the forehead and had slit his throat from ear to ear, leaving the motivational speaker and businessman nearly decapitated. His decomposing body was found in his shower about five days later by friends.
Arias spoke out about the verdict minutes after her conviction Wednesday, telling a TV station that she would “prefer to die sooner than later.”
“Longevity runs in my family, and I don’t want to spend the rest of my natural life in one place,” a tearful Arias told Fox affiliate KSAZ. “I believe death is the ultimate freedom and I’d rather have my freedom as soon as I can get it.”
Arias said the verdict was “unexpected” to her “because there was no premeditation on my part,” she said.”The worst outcome for me would be natural life (in prison). I would much rather die sooner rather than later.”
Arias, 32, fought back tears as a court clerk read aloud the highly anticipated verdict after a four-month trial in which the jury heard 18 days of testimony from the defendant, saw a series of gruesome crime scene photos and heard a raunchy phone sex chat between Arias recorded with Alexander just weeks before he died.
The next portion of the trial is called the “aggravation phase,” and it will focus on whether the jury believes the crime was committed in an especially cruel, heinous and depraved manner. If jurors find the aggravators exist, the next step will be the penalty phase during which the panel will recommend either life in prison or death. The process could take several more weeks to wrap up.
The trial quickly became an Internet sensation and transformed Arias from a little-known waitress to a morbid curiosity and a star of a real-life true-crime drama that the public followed incessantly. The presence of cameras in the courtroom, the advance of Internet streaming video and social media, the salacious details of the case, and the attention it got on cable networks like HLN gave the trial the feel of a celebrity proceeding.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.