Jodi Arias is guilty of first-degree murder. A jury took 15 hours of deliberations to come to its verdict on Wednesday, capping a trial that took four months and garnered a slew of national headlines for its salacious and often bloody details. Relatives of the victim in this case, Arias’ former boyfriend Travis Alexander, reportedly cried openly in the courtroom and hugged one another as the jury foreperson handed down the verdict.
Prosecutors alleged that Arias murdered Alexander, reportedly shooting him in the head, stabbing him multiple times and finally slicing his throat open – in a jealous rage after he made his intentions to leave her known. According to the Associated Process, Alexander sustained about 30 stab wounds before Arias dragged his body into the shower. She claimed self-defense in the killing, saying Alexander was abusive and that she feared for her life. The jury obviously disagreed in finding her guilty.
Aggravation Phase of Sentencing
The trial is by no means over, as both the defense and prosecutors will present evidence to sway the jury yet again as to her sentence for causing Alexander’s death. This phase of sentencing is a trial unto itself where both sides call witnesses to attest to or cast on the particularly monstrous nature of the offense. Prosecutors will attempt to show Arias killed Alexander in a cruel or depraved manner, while defense attorneys will again (I assume) continue to push the angle that she was a battered woman, struggling to escape her abuser and simply lashed out.
If the jury does not believe aggravating factors exist in the murder, they get to go home. The trial is effectively over but for sentencing, which is the judge’s province. The penalty could expect to receive in that case is either life with the possibility of parole after 25 years or life with no parole.
Penalty Phase of Sentencing
Should the jury find aggravating factors in sentencing, the penalty phase of trial requires them to deliberate sentencing Arias to death. Jurors must reach a unanimous verdict in handing down the death penalty. Prosecutors and defense attorneys can also call witnesses and present evidence during this phase of sentencing, which can run up to a month long depending on the breadth of arguments. If the jury cannot come to a unanimous decision regarding the death penalty, the judge may only sentence Arias to life without parole or life with the possibility of parole after 25 years. While there are still many moving parts to this case, one thing is clear – Jodi Arias will spend at least the next 25 years in prison barring the imposition of a death sentence.
Facing a serious criminal charge is no time to settle for less than an experienced defense attorney fighting for your rights. The other side will most certainly bring their strongest legal minds to the table, shouldn’t you do the same? If you’ve been charged with a crime, call our Salt Lake City criminal defense attorneys immediately, day or night, to get the help you desperately need.
Photo Credit: ABC News