Arias trial: Does her crime 'justify' the death penalty?
In a long and dramatic trial, an Arizona woman, Jodi Arias, was convicted of murdering her ex-boyfriend by a jury on Wednesday. The sentencing trial will begin on Thursday and will determine whether Arias will face the death penalty.
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Defense attorney Kirk Nurmi argued that Arias had snapped in the "sudden heat of passion" in the moments between a final photograph she took showing Alexander alive and taking a shower and a subsequent picture showing him covered in his own blood.Skip to next paragraph
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But prosecutor Juan Martinez painted a different picture of Arias, portraying her as manipulative and prone to jealousy in previous relationships, and said she had meticulously planned to kill Alexander.
"Nothing indicates that this is anything less than a slaughter," he told jurors in his summing up on Friday, asking them to return a verdict of felony first-degree murder.
An attorney for Alexander's siblings, Jason Beckstead, said the family was pleased with the verdict and that his law firm planned to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Arias "in the very near future." He would not stipulate damages sought.
At the sentencing trial beginning on Thursday, the prosecution will present evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that aggravating factors exist that call for the death penalty. The defense can also present rebuttal evidence.
Jurors will then determine if the aggravating circumstances were proved to exist beyond a reasonable doubt.
In making his case for premeditated murder, Martinez had accused Arias of bringing the pistol used in the killing, which has not been recovered, with her from California. He said she also rented a car, removed its license plate and bought gasoline cans and fuel to conceal her journey to the Phoenix suburbs to kill Alexander.
Martinez said Arias lied after the killing to deflect any suspicion that she had been involved in his death, leaving a voicemail on Alexander's cellphone, sending irises to his grandmother and telling detectives she was not at the crime scene before changing her story.
The jury, which reached a verdict on its third full day of deliberations, had grilled her on her claims that her mind went blank after she shot Alexander, and wanted to know why she had not called emergency responders - questions she struggled to answer.
The defense called a psychologist who testified that Arias' memory lapses stemmed from post-traumatic stress as a result of Alexander's alleged abuse and the killing itself - claims disputed by prosecutors.
In closing arguments, Martinez told the jury Alexander had sent an instant message weeks before his death saying he was "extremely afraid" of Arias because of her "stalking behavior."
(Reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, David Brunnstrom, Richard Chang and Peter Cooney)
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