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May 8, 2013

Jodi Arias convicted of first-degree murder

PHOENIX — Jodi Arias was convicted of first-degree murder Wednesday in the gruesome killing of her one-time boyfriend in Arizona after a four-month trial that captured headlines with lurid tales of sex, lies, religion and a salacious relationship that ended in a blood bath.

Arias was charged with first-degree murder in the June 2008 death of Travis Alexander in his suburban Phoenix home. Authorities said she planned the attack in a jealous rage. Arias initially denied involvement, then blamed the killing on masked intruders. Two years after her arrest, she said it was self-defense.

Testimony began in early January, with Arias eventually spending 18 days on the witness stand. The trial quickly snowballed into a made-for-the-tabloids drama, garnering daily coverage from cable news networks and spawning a virtual cottage industry for talk shows, legal experts and even Arias, who used her notoriety to sell artwork she made in jail.

Jurors got the case Friday afternoon. They deliberated for two full days this week before reaching a decision late Wednesday morning. The verdict was announced at about 2 p.m. local time.

The trial will move into a phase during which prosecutors will argue the killing was committed in an especially cruel, heinous and depraved manner, called the “aggravation” phase. Both sides may call witnesses and show evidence during a mini trial of sorts. The jurors are the same.

Alexander suffered nearly 30 knife wounds, was shot in the forehead and had his throat slit before Arias dragged his body into his shower. He was found by friends about five days later.

Arias said she recalled Alexander attacking her in a fury after a day of sex. She said Alexander came at her “like a linebacker,” body-slamming her to the tile floor. She managed to wriggle free and ran into his closet to retrieve a gun he kept on a shelf. She said she fired in self-defense but had no memory of stabbing him.

She acknowledged trying to clean the scene of the killing, dumping the gun in the desert and working on an alibi to avoid suspicion. She said she was too scared and ashamed to tell the truth.

 

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