PHOENIX — Jodi Arias spent 18 days on the stand sharing intimate, emotional and oftentimes X-rated details of her life before a rapt television and online audience. She had hoped it all might convince a jury that she killed her one-time boyfriend in self-defense.
But the eight men and four women on the panel didn’t buy it, convicting Arias of first-degree murder after only about 15 hours of deliberations. Jurors will return to court Thursday to begin the next phase of the trial that could set the stage for Arias receiving a death sentence — a penalty she, herself, said she now desires in a stunning interview following her conviction.
Arias talked to Fox affiliate KSAZ in the courthouse minutes after she was convicted. With tears in her eyes, she said she was overwhelmed and surprised because she didn’t believe she committed first-degree murder.
“It was unexpected for me, yes, because there was no premeditation on my part,” she said.
Arias also told the station she would “prefer to die sooner than later” and that “death is the ultimate freedom.”
When asked about Alexander’s family, Arias said, “I just hope that now that a verdict has been rendered, that they’ll be able to find peace.”
The case elevated the unknown waitress and aspiring photographer to a household name, with a real-life story of love, betrayal and murder far more alluring than any made-for-TV movie. 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.
She claimed he attacked her and she fought for her life. Prosecutors said she killed out of jealous rage after Alexander wanted to end their affair and planned to take a trip to Mexico with another woman.
Arias’ four-month trial quickly became a media sensation — ratings gold for cable networks that could broadcast from inside the courtroom and feed an insatiable public appetite for true-crime drama delivered live and up-close. It was, for many, the horrible train wreck they just couldn’t turn away from, even though they know they should.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said Arias contacted KSAZ on Sunday, telling the reporter she would honor a previous promise to speak on camera if the verdict was first-degree murder.
“At the conclusion of this interview and in light of some of her statements during the interview, Arias was brought to jail and per Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, was placed on suicide protocol,” the agency said, adding that no more media interviews will be granted.
Arias fought back tears as the verdict was announced Wednesday in the hushed, packed courtroom, while Alexander’s family members wept and hugged each other. They wore blue ribbons and wristbands with the words “Justice For Travis.”