PHOENIX – Jodi Arias spent 18 days on the stand sharing intimate, emotional and oftentimes X-rated details of her life before a rapt television and online audience. She had hoped it all might convince a jury that she killed her one-time boyfriend in self-defense.
But the eight men and four women on the panel didn’t buy it, convicting Arias of first-degree murder after only about 15 hours of deliberations. Jurors will return to court today to begin the next phase of the trial that could set the stage for Arias receiving a death sentence.
It’s a punishment Arias wants. She told a TV station minutes after her conviction 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.”
The case elevated the unknown waitress and aspiring photographer to a household name, with a real-life story of love, betrayal and murder. Arias, a 32-year-old high school dropout, shot Travis Alexander in the forehead, stabbed him nearly 30 times and slit his throat.
She claimed he attacked her and she fought for her life. Prosecutors said she killed out of jealous rage after Alexander, a motivational speaker and businessman, wanted to end their affair and planned to take a trip to Mexico with another woman.
Arias’ four-month trial quickly became a media sensation – ratings gold for cable networks that broadcast from inside the courtroom.
Arias fought back tears as the verdict was announced Wednesday in the hushed, packed courtroom, while Alexander’s family members wept and hugged each other. They wore blue ribbons and wristbands with the words “Justice For Travis.”
Outside, a huge crowd that had gathered on the courthouse steps screamed, whistled and cheered the news in a case that has drawn fans from across the country to Phoenix to be close to the trial.