Jodi Arias sentencing hearing goes to jury

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Jodi Arias.

PHOENIX (AP) – The case of convicted murderer Jodi Arias went to a jury Wednesday that will decide if she is sentenced to death or life in prison for killing her boyfriend.

The jury got the case after a defense lawyer made his final plea for mercy in the killing that grabbed global attention over the violent nature of the crime.

The 2013 trial of Arias was broadcast live and became a sensation with its tawdry revelations that Arias had shot and slit the throat of her on-again-off-again boyfriend Travis Alexander.

Arias, now 34, was convicted in 2013 of killing Alexander. That jury, however, deadlocked on her punishment, prompting a penalty retrial.

Lawyer Kirk Nurmi said Wednesday that Arias was the victim of a tumultuous and twisted relationship. He asked jurors to consider that in their deliberations.

Closing arguments Tuesday featured dueling images from the defense and prosecution that portrayed the case in much different lights.

The defense showed happy photos of Arias from her childhood and time with Alexander.

The prosecutor showed gruesome crime-scene photos of the victim’s slit throat.

Prosecutor Juan Martinez called Arias dishonest, questioned her claim that she’s remorseful for having killed Alexander, and tried to minimize the role her psychological problems played in the case.

“It doesn’t provide an excuse,” said Martinez, who later asked jurors to sentence Arias to death.

Prosecutors said Arias attacked Alexander in a jealous rage after he wanted to end their affair and planned a trip to Mexico with another woman.

Arias has acknowledged killing Alexander but said it was self-defense after he attacked her.

Nurmi portraed Alexander as a man divided between his Mormon faith and sexual desires that led him to have relationships with several women.

The defense attorney said Alexander used Arias to quench his sexual urges, called her demeaning names and told her she was soulless.

Martinez said Arias falsely attacked Alexander’s character to draw attention from her own actions.

Arias often looked at the jury as her attorney pleaded for the more lenient sentence. When the prosecutor made his arguments, she occasionally cast her eyes on the jury but mostly looked elsewhere.

Arias passed up a chance to address the jury, saying she wanted to make such comments but insisting the courtroom be cleared. The judge said an appeals court has forbidden Arias from making such comments behind closed doors.

By JACQUES BILLEAUD, Associated Press