Cheers, Tears at Arias 1st-Degree Murder Verdict

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  • PHOENIX (AP) — The jury has found Jodi Arias guilty of first-degree murder in the death of her one-time boyfriend in Arizona. Arias initially denied involvement and later blamed the killing on masked intruders. Two years after her arrest, she said she killed Travis Alexander in self-defense.

    After a four-month trial that included graphic details of their sexual escapades and photos of Alexander just after his death, jurors began deliberating Friday afternoon.

    This is what AP reporters on the scene Wednesday are learning about the events unfolding:

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    ARIAS MOTHER, 2:29 p.m.

    Sandra Arias, Jodi Arias’ mother, declined to comment to reporters as she left the courtroom.

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    WRONGFUL DEATH, 2:24 p.m.

    Attorney Jay Beckstead said Alexanders’ siblings will file a wrongful death lawsuit against Arias. He thanked the county attorney, the detective, and said the siblings “appreciate the outpouring of support they have received from the public.”

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    VICTIM’S FRIEND, 2:21 p.m.

    David Hall, Alexander’s friend, told reporters as he left the court that this case was what the death penalty was for. He said after five years, the family finally got the verdict they were waiting for, and he thanked the jury. He said he couldn’t look at Arias as the verdict was read. “My eyes traveled up, I couldn’t see, I think I just looked skyward and said ‘Thank God,” for today.”

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    EXPERT OPINION, 2:15 p.m.

    Phoenix defense attorney Julio Laboy said he believed the prosecutor wouldn’t have any trouble convincing the jury that the crime was “either cruel, heinous, or depraved.” He said the jury sent clear messages in the questions during trial and in their speedy verdict. He points out the jury didn’t ask any questions during deliberations.

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    JOY OUTSIDE COURTHOUSE, 2:10 p.m.

    Sixty-year-old social worker Tish Guzman works downtown and came to the court building for the first time Wednesday to watch the trial. She had been hoping Arias would be convicted of first-degree murder. She said Alexander was “part of our community. We need to support our community.” Elise Leon, a paralegal who is also 60, made four signs all calling for justice for Travis. One read “Travis you are in our hearts.”

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    EXPERT OPINION, 2:02 p.m.

    Phoenix defense attorney Julio Laboy said he was not surprised by the first-degree conviction, “given the speed — yes the speed — with which the jury returned its verdict. Fifteen hours, despite what the naysayers say, for a four-month trial and 600-plus exhibits with one witness on the stand for 18 days, is lightning fast.”

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    WHAT’S NEXT?, 1:58 p.m.

    The same jury will reconvene at 1 p.m. Thursday for the next phase of the trial, called the “aggravation” phase. Both sides may call witnesses and show evidence during a mini trial of sorts. If the panel doesn’t find the presence of aggravating factors, the judge dismisses them and sentences Arias to either the rest of her life in prison or life in prison with the possibility of release after 25 years. If jurors find there were aggravating factors, the case moves into a penalty phase. The jury decides whether Arias should be executed or get life in prison. Additional witnesses could be called by both sides. If jurors don’t reach a unanimous agreement on the death penalty, the judge sentences Arias to either the rest of her life in prison or life in prison with the possibility of release after 25 years.

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    REACTION, 1:53 p.m.

    As the guilty verdict was read, Arias opened her mouth, licked her lips and swallowed hard, and then fought back tears with a look of disbelief. Alexander’s family smiled and hugged each other. Outside, people cheered and hugged, then began chanting “USA, USA, USA.”

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    ARIAS GUILTY OF 1ST-DEGREE MURDER, 1:49 p.m.

    Jury finds Arias guilty of 1st-degree murder.

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    JUDGE ENTERS, JURY ENTERS, 1:48 p.m.

    The judge and jury are in the courtroom.

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    ARIAS IN THE COURTROOM, 1:46 p.m.

    Arias is in the courtroom.

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    WHISPERS INSIDE, SHOUTING OUTSIDE, 1:43 p.m.

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