Jodi Arias has been convicted of first degree murder in the Phoenix courtroom where her trial was held. In a trial that dominated the news with stories of sex, religion, lies and a tawdry relationship that ended in bloody death.
Arias was highly emotional as the verdict was read out and the relatives of Travis Alexander cried and hugged each other. Outside the courtroom was a huge crowd that gathered full of fans from across the country who traveled to Phoenix to be close to the proceedings; some chanted, “USA, USA, USA!” and cheered.
The verdict took the jury of twelve, eight men and four women, 15 hours to reach after the conclusion of the four month trial.
This case elevated the unknown waitress and aspiring photographer to household name status.The crime itself was enough to grab headlines: Arias, a 32-year-old high school dropout, shot Travis Alexander in the forehead, stabbed him nearly 30 times and slit his throat from ear to ear, leaving the motivational speaker and businessman nearly decapitated.
Arias’ four-month trial quickly became a media sensation and ratings gold for cable networks that could broadcast from inside the courtroom feeding an insatiable public appetite for true-crime drama live and up-close. It was, for many, horrible train wreck television that they just couldn’t turn away from.
Testimony in the case began in early January. The trial escalated into a made-for-tabloids drama, receiving daily coverage from cable news networks and supplying fodder for talk shows, legal experts and even Arias, who used her notoriety to sell artwork she made in jail.
Arias claimed initially that Travis attacked her and she fought for her life. Prosecutors said she killed him in a jealous rage after Alexander wanted to end their affair and planned to go to Mexico with another woman. She was also on record as having said that she knew that “No jury would convict me. Mark my words.”
Presumably she was counting on her 18 days on the witness stand describing an abusive childhood, cheating boyfriends, dead-end jobs, a shocking sexual relationship with Alexander, and her claims that he had grown physically violent to clear her of the crime.
Alexander’s friend Chris Hughes said he was happy with the verdict, pointing out the bold prediction that Arias made in one of her jailhouse interviews that she wouldn’t be found guilty. Hughes went on to say that, “Luckily we had 12 smart jurors. They nailed it.”
Travis Alexander’s family wore blue ribbons and wristbands with the words “Justice For Travis” throughout the trial. The family thanked prosecutor Juan Martinez and a key witness and said it appreciated the outpouring of support from the public.
Arias’ mother, Sandra Arias, declined to comment.
The trial will now move into the so-called aggravation phase during which prosecutors will argue the killing was committed in an especially cruel, heinous and depraved manner that should allow jurors to consider the death penalty. Both sides may call witnesses and show evidence. If the panel finds the aggravating factors exist, the trial then moves into the final penalty phase during which jurors will recommend either life in prison or death.
The court is scheduled to reconvene on the 16th of May 2013.
By Michael Smith