PHOENIX (AP) — Jodi Arias begged jurors Tuesday to give her life in prison, saying she “lacked perspective” when she told a local reporter in an interview that she preferred execution to spending the rest of her days in jail.
Standing confidently but at times her voice breaking, Arias told the same eight men and four women who found her guilty of murdering her one-time boyfriend that she planned to use her time in prison to bring about positive changes, including donating her hair to be made into wigs for cancer victims, helping establish prison recycling programs and designing T-shirts to raise money for domestic abuse victims.
She also said she could run book clubs and teach classes to prisoners to “stimulate conversations of a higher nature.”
Later Tuesday, Arias continued her campaign when Judge Sherry Stephens allowed Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s office to set up media interviews. Within minutes, Arias agreed to talk to several media outlets while in jail, even while the jury deliberates her fate.
The Associated Press was among those scheduled to talk to her.
Arias became emotional as she displayed for jurors photos of her friends, boyfriends and family members, including newborn relatives she has met only from behind bars.
She pleaded with jurors to reject the death penalty for the sake of her family.
“I’m asking you to please, please don’t do that to them. I’ve already hurt them so badly, along with so many other people,” she said. “I want everyone’s healing to begin, and I want everyone’s pain to stop.”
Arias admitted killing Travis Alexander and said it was the “worst thing” she had ever done. But she stuck to her story that the brutal attack — which included stabbing and slashing Alexander nearly 30 times, shooting him in the head and nearly decapitating him — was her defense against abuse.
“To this day, I can hardly believe I was capable of such violence. But I know that I was,” she said. “And for that, I’m going to be sorry for the rest of my life.”
Her testimony came a day after her attorneys asked to be removed from the case, saying the five-month trial had become a witch hunt that prompted death threats against a key witness in the penalty phase. They also argued for a mistrial. The judge denied both requests.
Arias acknowledged the pain and suffering she caused Alexander’s family, and said she hoped her conviction for first-degree murder brought them peace.
“I loved Travis, and I looked up to him,” Arias said. “At one point, he was the world to me. This is the worst mistake of my life. It’s the worst thing I’ve ever done.”
She said she considered suicide after Alexander’s death but didn’t kill herself because of her love for her own family.
Arias said she regretted that details of her sex life with Alexander came out during the trial, and described a recorded phone sex call played in open court as “that awful tape.”
“It’s never been my intention to throw mud on Travis’ name,” she said, adding she had hoped to reach a deal with prosecutors before the case ever went to trial.
“I was willing to go quietly into the night,” Arias said.