Jurors decide Jodi Arias is eligible for death penalty
Jodi Arias as guilty verdict was read on Wednesday. (Source: KPHO-TV)
PHOENIX (CBS5/AP) -
The jury in the Jodi Arias trial decided Arias is eligible for the death penalty after they convicted her last week of first-degree murder in the death of her ex-boyfriend.
The jury spent part of Wednesday afternoon deliberating whether the murder of Arias' former boyfriend, Travis Alexander, was cruel enough to warrant the death penalty.
They announced the verdict at about 3 p.m. Wednesday, deciding that there were aggravating factors in the case.
The jury got the case after a morning of testimony Wednesday during which prosecutors tried to prove the murder was committed in an especially cruel and heinous manner.
Defense lawyer Kirk Nurmi maintained the state can't prove its argument beyond a reasonable doubt.
Last week, the Arias defense team filed a motion to try prevent the victim's family statements from being read live in the courtroom, requesting instead that they be pre-taped to "prevent outbursts," they said.
Judge Sherry Stephens denied the request. Also, Arias won't be talking to reporters again anytime soon.
The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office was slapped with a court order Tuesday, prohibiting it from approaching Arias with requests for media interviews.
Sheriff's officials said they would comply.
On Monday, Arias was taken off suicide watch and transferred back to the all-female Estrella Jail.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Arias will remain there "on closed custody status." She is alone in a cell and is being allowed out one hour each day to access phone calls and showers.
Minutes after her conviction last Wednesday for killing Alexander, Arias told KSAZ-TV she would "prefer to die sooner than later," complicating matters for defense lawyers who hope to spare her life during the penalty phase of the trial.
The case was scheduled to resume May 9, but court officials postponed the penalty phase until Wednesday without explanation.
Despite Arias' comments that she would rather die than be in prison for life, she cannot choose the death penalty. It's up to the jury to recommend a sentence.
The judge will then make the final decision.
Arias was charged in the June 2008 killing of Alexander in his suburban Phoenix home. Authorities said she planned the attack in a jealous rage.
Arias initially denied involvement, then blamed it on two masked intruders. Two years after her arrest, she said she killed Alexander in self-defense.
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