News / USA

Jury Convicts US Woman in Sensational Murder Case

Jodi Arias reacts during reading of verdict  May 8, 2013
Jodi Arias reacts during reading of verdict May 8, 2013
Reuters
An Arizona jury found Jodi Arias guilty on Wednesday of first-degree murder in the death of her ex-boyfriend in a capital trial that riveted America for months with graphic sexual evidence and bizarre testimony.

Arias, who could face the death penalty as her case goes into the penalty phase of the trial on Thursday, has admitted to shooting 30-year-old Travis Alexander, whose body was found in the shower of his Phoenix valley home in June 2008. He had been shot in the face, stabbed 27 times and his throat had been slashed.

Arias, 32, had tried unsuccessfully to convince the jury that she acted in self-defense after Alexander attacked her because she had dropped his camera while taking photos of him in the shower.
       
She teared up as the jury's decision was read, while a crowd of hundreds erupted into cheers outside the court. Jurors could have convicted Arias of a lesser crime such as second-degree murder or manslaughter, but instead found her guilty of the most serious charge possible.
       
"Five long years ... of lying, manipulating. Now the citizens of Arizona have spoken,'' Dave Hall, a friend of Alexander, told reporters as he left the court. He said a death sentence would be appropriate.
       
"If what she did to Travis does not justify the death penalty in America today, then what do we have one for?''
       
The trial, which was punctuated by graphic testimony and evidence including a sex tape, captivated a nation enthralled by the story of an attractive and soft-spoken young woman charged with such a brutal crime.
       
The case, which began in early January and was streamed live on the Internet, drew parallels with the similarly high-profile Florida murder trial of Casey Anthony, another young woman charged with an unthinkable crime. She was ultimately acquitted in 2011 in the death of her toddler daughter, Caylee.
       
In the Arizona case, jurors heard how the petite, dark-haired Arias met and began dating Alexander, a businessman and motivational speaker, in 2006. During 18 days of often salacious testimony, Arias said she and Alexander continued to have sex despite their break-up from a relationship marked by emotional and physical abuse.
       
Arias said Alexander had made her feel "like a prostitute'' and that he kicked and attempted to choke her, although she admitted never reporting the alleged abuse to the police, seeking medical treatment or documenting it in her journal.
  
Described as manipulative 
 
Defense attorney Kirk Nurmi argued that Arias had snapped in the "sudden heat of passion'' in the moments between a final photograph she took showing Alexander alive and taking a shower and a subsequent picture showing him covered in his own blood.
       
But prosecutor Juan Martinez painted a different picture of Arias, portraying her as manipulative and prone to jealousy in previous relationships, and said she had meticulously planned to kill Alexander.
       
"Nothing indicates that this is anything less than a slaughter,'' he told jurors in his summing up on Friday, asking them to return a verdict of felony first-degree murder.
       
An attorney for Alexander's siblings, Jason Beckstead, said the family was pleased with the verdict and that his law firm planned to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Arias "in the very near future.'' He would not stipulate damages sought.
       
At the sentencing trial beginning on Thursday, the prosecution will present evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that aggravating factors exist that call for the death penalty. The defense can also present rebuttal evidence.
       
Jurors will then determine if the aggravating circumstances were proved to exist beyond a reasonable doubt.
       
In making his case for premeditated murder, Martinez had accused Arias of bringing the pistol used in the killing, which has not been recovered, with her from California. He said she also rented a car, removed its license plate and bought gasoline cans and fuel to conceal her journey to the Phoenix suburbs to kill Alexander.
       
Martinez said Arias lied after the killing to deflect any suspicion that she had been involved in his death, leaving a voicemail on Alexander's cellphone, sending irises to his grandmother and telling detectives she was not at the crime scene before changing her story.
       
The jury, which reached a verdict on its third full day of deliberations, had grilled her on her claims that her mind went blank after she shot Alexander, and wanted to know why she had not called emergency responders - questions she struggled to answer.
       
The defense called a psychologist who testified that Arias' memory lapses stemmed from post-traumatic stress as a result of Alexander's alleged abuse and the killing itself - claims disputed by prosecutors.
       
In closing arguments, Martinez told the jury Alexander had sent an instant message weeks before his death saying he was "extremely afraid'' of Arias because of her "stalking behavior.''

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid