Life or death for convicted killer Jodi Arias? Jury deliberates

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 25, 2015 3:59 PM

By David Schwartz

PHOENIX (Reuters) - The jury in the case of convicted killer Jodi Arias began deliberations on Wednesday to determine whether she will be executed for murdering her ex-boyfriend in 2008, court officials said.

The jury of eight women and four men began weighing the former waitress's fate after final instructions from Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens at the end of a five-month sentencing phase retrial in Phoenix.

Arias, 34, was convicted in 2013 of killing Travis Alexander, 30, in his Phoenix-area home in the original trial, which was broadcast live. The case drew a large audience with its lurid details, graphic testimony, and blood-splattered crime scene photos.

But the jury that found Arias guilty was unable to decide whether the woman from Salinas, California, should receive the death penalty. A new panel for the sentencing phase retrial was seated in October.

In closing arguments on Tuesday, defense attorney Kirk Nurmi pleaded for Arias's life, saying the woman was remorseful and fragile, suffers from mental illness and was physically and emotionally abused as a child.

Prosecutor Juan Martinez closed his remarks by showing a gory photograph of Alexander with his throat cut. He said that, in the state's view, there were no mitigating factors that should preclude a death sentence.

The victim's body was found in a shower at his home. In addition to his throat being cut, Alexander had been stabbed multiple times and shot in the face.

Arias said she acted in self-defense, but prosecutors accused her of murdering her former partner in a jealous rage.

Jurors will try to reach a unanimous decision on the sentence for Arias, who chose not to make a last plea to the panel on Monday.

Arizona carries out executions using lethal injections.

If the jury cannot make a decision, Judge Stephens will sentence Arias to life in prison or life with the possibility of parole after 25 years.

Unlike the original trial, the sentencing proceedings were not broadcast live. They were taped and will only be shown after a verdict.

Stephens has ruled that the verdict can be aired live.

(Reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Jonathan Oatis)