May 9, 2013

Arias trial now turns to whether she lives or dies

Just minutes after her conviction Wednesday, she tells a TV station she would 'prefer to die sooner than later.'

Brian Skoloff / The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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Jodi Arias looks at her family after being found of guilty of first-degree murder in the killing of her one-time boyfriend, Travis Alexander, in their suburban Phoenix home.


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Phoenix criminal defense lawyer Dwane Cates said Arias has presented obstacle after obstacle for her defense attorneys, who are now just trying to save her life.

"They're trying to do everything they can for her, and every problem they have in this case is caused by her," Cates said. "Every time she opens her mouth, she creates a new problem for the defense."

He said prosecutor Juan Martinez likely will play for jurors a jailhouse interview Arias did with the television show "Inside Edition" during which she boldly predicted, "No jury will convict me," along with the interview she did after her conviction.

"Longevity runs in my family, and I don't want to spend the rest of my natural life in one place," a tearful Arias told the Phoenix television station. "I believe death is the ultimate freedom, and I'd rather have my freedom as soon as I can get it."

"I would say, 'Ladies and gentlemen, she challenged you to convict her, and you did. Now give her her wish and put her to death,'" Cates said.

Defendants convicted of crimes rarely do interviews right after convictions and before being sentenced, but Arias honored an earlier request that she talk to the Fox station in the event of a first-degree murder conviction.

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, which runs the jail system, has allowed Arias to do other media interviews and even put on a videotaped "American Idol"-style Christmas singing contest in which Arias took home the top prize.

The sheriff's office said no more interviews will be allowed with Arias now that she is on suicide watch.

During the next phase of the trial Wednesday, prosecutors will likely call back to the witness stand the medical examiner who performed the autopsy, as well as the lead detective to explain for jurors how Alexander did not die quickly and likely suffered tremendous pain.

Meanwhile, if jurors find the death penalty should be considered for Arias and the case then moves on to the penalty phase, her attorneys want all testimony on her behalf to be videotaped and played for jurors in court. They will present numerous witnesses, likely including family and friends, aimed at convincing jurors to spare Arias' life.

In a court filing this week, her attorneys say they want the testimony taped and not live inside the courtroom "to prevent any unpredictable outbursts" that might sway the jury.

The judge had not yet ruled on the motion.

Arias stabbed and slashed Alexander nearly 30 times, shot him in the forehead and slit his throat from ear to ear, leaving the motivational speaker and businessman nearly decapitated before she dragged his mutilated body into his shower where friends found him about five days later.

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