May 8, 2013

Jodi Arias convicted of first-degree murder

Arias initially denied involvement, then blamed the killing on masked intruders, then said she killed Travis Alexander in self-defense.

The Associated Press

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.

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Jodi Arias looks at her family after being found of guilty of first-degree murder in the gruesome killing of her one-time boyfriend, Travis Alexander, in their suburban Phoenix home, Wednesday, May 8, 2013, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Rob Schumacher, Pool)

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Spectators react in Phoenix, Wednesday, May 8, 2013 to a guilty verdict in the trial of Jodi Arias, a waitress and aspiring photographer charged with killing her boyfriend, Travis Alexander, in Arizona in 2008. The four month trial included graphic details of their sexual escapades and photos of Alexander just after his death. (AP Photo/Matt York)

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Timeline of Jodi Arias case

The Jodi Arias murder trial has drawn international attention for its graphic tales of sex and lies. Here are some of the case's key events:

— September 2006: Arias and Travis Alexander meet at a work convention in Las Vegas and quickly enter into a stormy long-distance relationship. Arias, an aspiring saleswoman and photographer, lives in California and visits Alexander in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa. Alexander is a Mormon and works as a salesman and motivational speaker.

— November 2006: The 26-year-old Arias is baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

— June 29, 2007: Arias and Alexander break up but continue to see each other for sex. Weeks later, Arias moves to Arizona, where she waits tables and cleans Alexander's home for extra cash. She moves back to California in spring 2008.

— May 28, 2008: A .25 caliber gun is reported stolen from the home of Arias' grandparents, where Arias has been staying.

— June 4, 2008: On a road trip to Utah to see another co-worker and love interest, Arias takes a detour to Arizona to visit the 30-year-old Alexander. Arias and Alexander have sex at his home, then take provocative photographs of each other. Arias kills Alexander during this visit. Prosecutors say she arrived unannounced, but Arias claims Alexander invited her.

— June 5, 2008: Arias continues to Utah, where she sees the other man.

— June 9, 2008: Friends find Alexander's body in his shower and call 911. He had been shot in the head with a .25 caliber, and stabbed and slashed nearly 30 times. Authorities later find Arias' hair and bloody palm print at the scene, along with time-stamped photos in a camera discovered inside Alexander's washing machine.

— July 9, 2008: On Arias' 28th birthday, a grand jury indicts her on first-degree murder.

— July 15, 2008: Arias is arrested at her grandparents' home. She maintains she wasn't involved in Alexander's slaying, telling a detective: "I don't even hurt spiders."

— Sept. 5, 2008: Arias is extradited to Arizona. A public defender is later assigned to represent her.

— Sept. 11, 2008: Arias pleads not guilty.

— September 2008: Arias tells various media outlets that two masked intruders attacked her and killed Alexander. In a jailhouse interview with "Inside Edition," Arias says: "No jury is going to convict me. I am innocent, and you can mark my words on that."

— Oct. 31, 2008: Prosecutors file a notice of intent to seek the death penalty. They contend Arias planned the attack and killed Alexander in a jealous rage.

— August 2010: Arias changes her story about the killing, claiming self-defense.

— Dec. 10, 2012: July selection begins. Eighteen potential jurors and alternates eventually are chosen.

— Jan. 2, 2013: Opening statements start. Artwork purportedly drawn by Arias soon begins selling online.

— Jan. 8, 2013: Prosecutors show jurors bloody crime-scene photos. Arias appears shaken.

— Feb. 4, 2013: Arias takes the witness stand. She testifies for 18 days, telling jurors that Alexander was physically and emotionally abusive. She says he turned violent the day of his death, forcing her to fight for her life. She says she lied about it earlier because she planned to commit suicide.

— March 14, 2013: A defense expert testifies that Arias suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and amnesia, explaining why Arias can't recall much from the day of the killing. Prosecutor Juan Martinez later questions the expert's evaluation process, saying Arias was still lying at the time about having killed Alexander.

— March-April 2013: Another defense witness tells jurors Arias was abused by Alexander and suffered from battered woman's syndrome. A previous paper by the psychotherapist sparks a debate between her and Martinez over whether Snow White was an abused woman. Meanwhile, a prosecution expert maintains Arias has borderline personality disorder.

— April 2, 2013: A juror is dismissed, reportedly for making statements that showed bias. By this time, the case is a tabloid and cable TV sensation, attracting spectators from around the country. Two more jurors eventually are released.

— May 2, 2013: Closing arguments begin. Prosecutors describe Arias as a manipulative liar who meticulously planned the savage attack.

— May 3, 2013: Closing arguments conclude with Arias' lawyer imploring jurors to take an impartial view of the case and his client, even if they don't like her. The final 12 jurors are chosen, and they begin deliberations.

— May 8, 2013: Jury reaches a verdict. It is scheduled to be announced at 1:30 p.m. MST.

— May 8, 2013: Jury finds Arias guilty of first-degree murder. Verdict read at 1:49 p.m.

The Jodi Arias murder trial has drawn international attention for its graphic tales of sex and lies. The following is a timeline of some of the key events in the case:

— September 2006: Arias and Travis Alexander meet at a work convention in Las Vegas and quickly enter into a stormy long-distance relationship. Arias, an aspiring saleswoman and photographer, lives in California and visits Alexander in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa. Alexander is a Mormon and works as a salesman and motivational speaker.

— November 2006: The 26-year-old Arias is baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

— June 29, 2007: Arias and Alexander break up but continue to see each other for sex. Weeks later, Arias moves to Arizona, where she waits tables and cleans Alexander's home for extra cash. She moves back to California in spring 2008.

— May 28, 2008: A .25 caliber gun is reported stolen from the home of Arias' grandparents, where Arias has been staying.

— June 4, 2008: On a road trip to Utah to see another co-worker and love interest, Arias takes a detour to Arizona to visit the 30-year-old Alexander. Arias and Alexander have sex at his home, then take provocative photographs of each other. Arias kills Alexander during this visit. Prosecutors say she arrived unannounced, but Arias claims Alexander invited her.

— June 5, 2008: Arias continues to Utah, where she sees the other man.

— June 9, 2008: Friends find Alexander's body in his shower and call 911. He had been shot in the head with a .25 caliber, and stabbed and slashed nearly 30 times. Authorities later find Arias' hair and bloody palm print at the scene, along with time-stamped photos in a camera discovered inside Alexander's washing machine.

— July 9, 2008: On Arias' 28th birthday, a grand jury indicts her on first-degree murder.

— July 15, 2008: Arias is arrested at her grandparents' home. She maintains she wasn't involved in Alexander's slaying, telling a detective: "I don't even hurt spiders."

— Sept. 5, 2008: Arias is extradited to Arizona. A public defender is later assigned to represent her.

— Sept. 11, 2008: Arias pleads not guilty.

— September 2008: Arias tells various media outlets that two masked intruders attacked her and killed Alexander. In a jailhouse interview with "Inside Edition," Arias says: "No jury is going to convict me. I am innocent, and you can mark my words on that."

— Oct. 31, 2008: Prosecutors file a notice of intent to seek the death penalty. They contend Arias planned the attack and killed Alexander in a jealous rage.

— August 2010: Arias changes her story about the killing, claiming self-defense.

— Dec. 10, 2012: July selection begins. Eighteen potential jurors and alternates eventually are chosen.

— Jan. 2, 2013: Opening statements start. Artwork purportedly drawn by Arias soon begins selling online.

— Jan. 8, 2013: Prosecutors show jurors bloody crime-scene photos. Arias appears shaken.

— Feb. 4, 2013: Arias takes the witness stand. She testifies for 18 days, telling jurors that Alexander was physically and emotionally abusive. She says he turned violent the day of his death, forcing her to fight for her life. She says she lied about it earlier because she planned to commit suicide.

— March 14, 2013: A defense expert testifies that Arias suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and amnesia, explaining why Arias can't recall much from the day of the killing. Prosecutor Juan Martinez later questions the expert's evaluation process, saying Arias was still lying at the time about having killed Alexander.

— March-April 2013: Another defense witness tells jurors Arias was abused by Alexander and suffered from battered woman's syndrome. A previous paper by the psychotherapist sparks a debate between her and Martinez over whether Snow White was an abused woman. Meanwhile, a prosecution expert maintains Arias has borderline personality disorder.

— April 2, 2013: A juror is dismissed, reportedly for making statements that showed bias. By this time, the case is a tabloid and cable TV sensation, attracting spectators from around the country. Two more jurors eventually are released.

— May 2, 2013: Closing arguments begin. Prosecutors describe Arias as a manipulative liar who meticulously planned the savage attack.

— May 3, 2013: Closing arguments conclude with Arias' lawyer imploring jurors to take an impartial view of the case and his client, even if they don't like her. The final 12 jurors are chosen, and they begin deliberations.

— May 8, 2013: Jury reaches a verdict. It is scheduled to be announced at 1:30 p.m. MST.

— May 8, 2013: Jury finds Arias guilty of first-degree murder. Verdict read at 1:49 p.m.

Arias fought back tears, and family members of the victim wept and hugged each other as the verdict was announced in the hushed, packed courtroom.

Outside, a huge crowd that had gathered on the courthouse steps screamed, whistled and cheered the news in a case that attracted people from across the country to travel to Phoenix to be close to the proceedings. Some chanted, "USA, USA, USA!"

The jury of eight men and four women took about 15 hours to reach its verdict after four months of testimony, including 18 days on the witness stand by the 32-year-old Arias. The jury will return to the courtroom Thursday to begin the next phase of the trial that could set the stage for her being sentenced to death.

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 after being rejected by the victim while he pursued other women. Arias initially denied involvement then later 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 the "aggravation" phase during which prosecutors will argue the killing was committed in an especially cruel, heinous and depraved manner. Both sides may call witnesses and show evidence during a mini trial of sorts. If the jury determines the killing was cruel, heinous and depraved, another phase will begin to determine whether Arias should get the death penalty.

A mob of spectators gathered outside the courthouse to learn the verdict, while TV crews, media trucks and reporters lined nearby streets. Family and friends of Alexander wore blue ribbons and wristbands with the words "Justice For Travis."

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.

Authorities said Alexander fought for his life as Arias attacked him in a blitz, but he soon grew too weak to defend himself.

"Mr. Alexander did not die calmly," prosecutor Juan Martinez told jurors in opening statements.

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, saying was too scared and ashamed to tell the truth. However, none of Arias' allegations that Alexander had physically abused her in the months before his death, that he owned a gun and had sexual desires for young boys, was corroborated by witnesses or evidence during the trial. She acknowledged lying repeatedly before and after her arrest but insisted she was telling the truth in court.

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