Kamis, 09 Mei 2013

Death penalty possible after jury convicts Jodi Arias of first degree murder

(CNN) A day after a jury found her guilty of first degree murder in the slaying of her ex boyfriend Jodi Arias will return to court Thursday to begin a phase that will move her closer to learning whether she will live or die.

During this part of the proceedings the so called aggravation phase jurors will take an important step closer to that life or death decision.

Now the odds I think shift somewhat in her favor because it's a very different thing to sentence someone to die than to convict them CNN senior legal analyst Jeffery Toobin said.

In a television interview minutes after the verdict was announced Arias said she'd prefer a death sentence.

I said years ago that I'd rather get death than life and that still is true today she told Phoenix television station KSAZ. I believe death is the ultimate freedom so I'd rather just have my freedom as soon as I can get it.

Jodi Arias reacts on Wednesday May 8 after an Arizona jury found her guilty of first degree murder for killing Travis Alexander in June 2008. The conviction means Arias could face the death penalty. Her trial has taken many turns and revealed a story of sex and violence. Alexander's family and friends react after Arias was found guilty of first degree murder on May 8. Judge Sherry Stephens receives the jury's decision on May 8. The jury which has been in court since January 2 heard closing arguments on Friday May 3. Jurors deliberated for 15 hours and five minutes. Arias and Alexander met in 2006 at a business convention in Las Vegas. Alexander's bloodied body was found in his Mesa Arizona home in June 2008 and Arias was arrested in his stabbing death. Soon after their first meeting Alexander baptized Arias into the Mormon faith a ceremony that was followed by anal sex according to Arias' testimony. Arias says that the pair broke up in 2007 and Alexander began seeing other women though they continued to hang out on occasion. Arias was charged with murder at first denying the claims and later admitting she killed him in self defense. Alexander's body was found with 27 stab wounds in the back and torso a shot in the head and his throat slit from ear to ear. Arias takes the witness stand on February 6 2013. On February 28 prosecutor Juan Martinez asks Arias about a photograph she took of Alexander in the shower moments before he was killed. Arias breaks down on February 28 after being asked by Martinez if she was crying when she stabbed Alexander and slit his throat. Arias puts her arm around defense attorney Jennifer Willmott after being asked to demonstrate how she had her arm around her sister in a photograph that had been admitted into evidence on March 4. Arias talks to defense attorneys Willmott left and Kirk Nurmi during her trial on April 3. Her defense team says she was the victim of a controlling psychologically abusive relationship. Prosecutor Juan Martinez makes closing arguments on May 2. Throughout the trial prosecutors said Arias manipulated people as well as the evidence. Mitigation specialist Maria DeLaRosa whispers to Arias during closing arguments on May 3. Arias' defense team denied that she went on a meticulously planned covert mission to Arizona to kill her ex boyfriend and then hide her tracks. Arias listens to defense attorney Kirk Nurmi make his closing arguments on May 3. Her case has drawn worldwide attention. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Photos The Jodi Arias trial Was the Arias case too intimate Jodi Arias The first degree debate Debating the death penalty for Arias

The comments prompted authorities to place Arias on suicide watch in an Arizona jail according to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

Until she is released from suicide protocol by Sheriff's officials no further media interviews of inmate Arias will be permitted the office said in a statement.

Arias was stoic in court Wednesday. Her eyes briefly welled up with tears as a clerk announced that the jury found her guilty of first degree murder for killing Travis Alexander in June 2008.

What's next for Arias

Friend We have waited five years through the circus

Alexander's sisters cried and consoled each other after the verdict was read in the packed courtroom.

Crowds outside the courthouse erupted in cheers as news of the jury's decision spread.

Several of Alexander's friends told HLN they were relieved.

It just feels so good ... to finally have the truth and be vindicated said Dave Hall choking back tears.

But that relief isn't enough Elisha Schabel said.

It's not going bring Travis back. He was such a light to this world she said. And it's important that we forgive Jodi so she doesn't have that power to destroy our lives.

Another friend Clancy Talbot said she was grateful for the verdict.

Looking at Jodi's face I think this is probably the first time in her life she has ever been held responsible for what she's done ever and I think she's in shock she said. We have waited five years through the circus that Jodi has created.

Baez on Arias' strategy after verdict Jodi Arias Death the 'ultimate freedom' Arias guilty of first degree murder Crowd cheers over Arias guilty verdict Toobin Arias' defense was peculiar

Trial moves into next phase

But the trial isn't over yet and Arias who testified for 18 days during the trial could speak to jurors again in court.

In the next step of the case known as the aggravation phase prosecutors will have a chance to present additional evidence and jurors will decide whether Alexander's death was caused in a cruel manner.

If they decide that was the case the trial would move to the penalty phase where jurors would decide whether Arias should receive a death sentence.

If the jury decides on a death sentence the judge is bound by that decision. But if the jury decides against the death penalty the judge would have two options sentencing Arias to life in prison without the possibility of parole or sentencing her to life in prison with the possibility of parole after at least 25 years.

There are currently 127 people on death row in Arizona. If Arias is given a sentence of death she would be the fourth woman on death row in the state.

As jurors prepare for the sentencing phase of the criminal trial family members of Alexander are preparing to file a civil wrongful death lawsuit attorney Jay Beckstead told reporters outside the courthouse. Alexander's siblings won't speak publicly about the case until Arias is sentenced Beckstead said adding that the family is grateful to prosecutors and detectives for their work.

Massive crowd surrounds courthouse

Since Friday jurors had been deliberating evidence surrounding a key question Did Arias kill ex boyfriend Travis Alexander in self defense Or did she commit murder

Alexander was stabbed repeatedly shot and nearly decapitated five years ago. Arias says she killed him in self defense after he attacked her but the grisly slaying caused even some anti domestic violence advocates to doubt her case.

Twists and turns of the trial

The jury which has been in court since January 2 heard closing arguments on Friday. Jurors deliberated for 15 hours and five minutes.

As they took a lunch break after revealing they had reached a verdict Wednesday some jurors were seen smiling and breathing sighs of relief. One juror returning from lunch wiped her eyes.

A massive crowd swarmed around the Maricopa County Courthouse Wednesday afternoon. Some onlookers said they had been following the trial for months.

The case has drawn worldwide attention and followers lined up daily for courtroom seats.

We are here every day to support Travis' family 100% said Kathy Brown who got a cane she uses autographed by prosecutor Juan Martinez and cried outside the courthouse after the verdict was announced Wednesday.

I am so thankful she said. I knew the Lord would do the right thing.

Catch up quickly on the Arias trial

Case marked by dramatic arguments

In the trial both sides dramatically presented their arguments with details about Arias' love affair with Alexander.

She rewarded that love from Travis Alexander by sticking a knife in his chest Martinez said in his opening statement. And you know he was a good man according to her. And with regard to being a good man well she slit his throat as a reward for being a good man. And in terms of these blessings well she knocked the blessings out of him by putting a bullet in his head.

Photos Alexander and his girlfriend

But defense attorney Jennifer Willmott countered Jodi Arias killed Travis Alexander. There is no question about it. The million dollar question is what would have forced her to do it

Willmott said Arias was the victim of a controlling psychologically abusive relationship and Alexander considered Arias his dirty little secret.

Martinez accused Arias of playing the victim. He alleged she staged the crime scene to make it look like self defense.

He also accused her of actively seeking to profit from her media attention.

That's something Alexander's family hopes to stop with its civil lawsuit Beckstead said Wednesday.

The law in Arizona states that people should not be benefiting from their wrongdoing in a criminal case and my law firm is going to do the best it can to make sure that she does not benefit from her wrongdoing or her notoriety he said.

Arias I would much rather die sooner than later

In her interview with KSAZ Wednesday Arias said she was surprised by the jury's verdict.

It was unexpected for me yes because there was no premeditation on my part she said. I can see how things look that way.

Arias told KSAZ that longevity runs in her family and that the worst possible outcome in the case would be a life sentence without parole.

I would much rather die sooner than later she said.

Several members' of the Arias family were at the jail where Arias was being held Wednesday night waiting for a chance to meet with her.

Mother Sandra Arias said she had heard about her daughter's post verdict TV interview but hadn't watched it.

She appeared to be very emotional and concerned about her daughter.

While serving time Sandra Arias said her daughter can do a lot of good for others.

Quiz Test your legal knowledge

CNN's Ed Payne Dana Ford Ted Rowlands Ashleigh Banfield and Eliott C. McLaughlin and HLN's Jean Casarez Beth Karas and Graham Winch and In Session's Scott Tufts and Jessica Thill contributed to this report.

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