Jury finds Arias guilty of 1st-degree murder

Jury finds Arias guilty of 1st-degree murder

Jury finds Arias guilty of 1st-degree murder

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by AZ Family

KMOV.com

Posted on May 8, 2013 at 2:54 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 8 at 3:33 PM

 PHOENIX --The jury has found Jodi Arias guilty of first-degree murder in the death of her one-time boyfriend in Arizona. Arias initially denied involvement and later blamed the killing on masked intruders. Two years after her arrest, she said she killed Travis Alexander in self-defense.

After a four-month trial that included graphic details of their sexual escapades and photos of Alexander just after his death, jurors began deliberating Friday afternoon.

After a soap-opera-like trial that kept the country captivated for months with stories of sex, lies and alleged abuse, eight men and four women deliberated for less than four full days before handing down their decision.

 

They jury basically had four options -- guilty of first-degree murder, which opens up the door for the death penalty, guilty of second-degree murder, guilty of manslaughter, or acquittal. There also is the possibility of a hung jury, which means they could not reach a unanimous decision.

Accused of murdering her on-again, off-again lover Travis Alexander in June 2008, Arias, 33, originally told police she had nothing to do with his death. She changed her story not once, but twice, eventually admitting that she killed Alexander, but insisting it was self-defense.

That was the story she stuck with all through the long, dramatic trial that seemed to revolve around sex and lies and was filled with graphic testimony and evidence.

Alexander was stabbed nearly 30 times, shot in the head and had his throat slit.

Prosecutor Juan Martinez spent the trial poking holes in Arias' version of events, seizing on the fact that there was never any evidence of abuse and questioning her memory. His goal was to convince the jury that Arias was a woman scorned who plotted and carried out Alexander's murder in a cold-blooded and calculated manner, hence the charge of first-degree murder, which requires premeditation.

Defense lawyers, who were trying to keep their client off of death row, put up a variety of expert witnesses, one of whom was on the stand for several days. Those experts talked about a variety of conditions, including post-traumatic stress, amnesia, battered woman's syndrome and borderline personality disorder. They said those conditions explain Arias and her behaviors.

Because any verdict must be unanimous, trial experts say the defense team worked extremely hard to get at least one juror to connect with Arias and perhaps even identify with or sympathize with her in an effort to avoid a conviction on the first-degree murder charge and potential death sentence it carries.

Arias herself was on the witness stand for 18 days, during which she and Martinez butted heads on more than one occasion, one of which reduced Arias to tears. As she recounted her time with Alexander, she said he became more and more violent in the days leading up to his death. She said she was scared for her life and had no choice but to kill Alexander.

"Who knows [what he was going to do]? He'd already almost killed me," she said, referring to a day several weeks earlier in which she said Alexander choked her until she blacked out.

"I was in the bathroom," she said of the June day. "I remember dropping the knife, and it clanged on the tile. I remember screaming. I don't remember anything after that."

There were quite a few things Arias claimed not to remember, and Martinez seized on those details as he questioned her.

The defense rested its case on Tuesday, April 16, after nearly 40 days of testimony. From there, all that was left was the state's rebuttal witnesses, closing arguments and, of course, jury deliberations.

Judge Sherry Stephens gave the jury instructions Thursday morning before the lawyers started their closing arguments. In those instructions, she said the jurors could consider the lesser charge of manslaughter, as well and first-degree and second-degree murder.

The jury took up the case Friday, broke for the weekend, and then worked all day Monday and Tuesday, and through the morning Wednesday.

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