The jury paid close attention to Arias as she spoke, their gaze turning to the large screen behind her as she ticked through family photos and explained the stories behind each image. Arias retained her composure throughout much of her statement, pausing occasionally as she apparently cried, but no tears were visible.
Alexander’s family showed little emotion as Arias’ mother, father and sister looked on from the other side of the gallery and cried.
After Arias finished speaking, the judge told jurors they could consider a handful of factors when deciding her sentence, including assertions from the defense that Arias is a good friend and a talented artist. Arias displayed her drawings and paintings for the jury during her slideshow.
Stephens also explained to jurors that their finding would be final, emphasizing the fact that Arias’ life is literally in their hands.
“You will determine whether the defendant will be sentenced to life in prison or death,” Stephens told the panel. “Your decision is not a recommendation.”
However, if the jury decides on a life sentence, it will be up to the judge to determine whether Arias should spend her entire life behind bars or have a chance at release after 25 years.
The jury heard closing arguments later Tuesday, with defense attorney Jennifer Willmott citing Arias’ mental health problems and lack of a criminal record among the reasons to spare her life.
“The question now before you is: Do you kill her? Do you kill her for the one act that she did, the one horrible act, or can you see that there is a reason to let her live? Can you see that there is value in her life?” Willmott told jurors.
Prosecutor Juan Martinez said that despite Arias’ claims, there were no factors in the case that would warrant a sentence other than death.
He implored jurors to look at the “whole panorama” of the case, not just Arias’ statement Tuesday. And he asked them to “do the right thing, even though it may be difficult.”
After closing arguments, the jury was sent to start deliberations. They adjourned for the day less than two hours later, and were scheduled to begin again Wednesday morning.
Arias initially claimed she knew nothing about Alexander’s June 2008 killing at his suburban Phoenix home. She then blamed masked intruders before eventually arguing self-defense. Prosecutors contend she killed Alexander in a jealous rage because he wanted to end their relationship and go to Mexico with another woman.
Arias’ attorneys also tried without success to withdraw from the case after Arias gave her post-conviction TV interview.
“Longevity runs in my family, and I don’t want to spend the rest of my natural life in one place,” Arias told Fox affiliate KSAZ from a holding cell inside the courthouse. “I believe death is the ultimate freedom, and I’d rather have my freedom as soon as I can get it.”
Arias directly addressed those comments Tuesday, telling jurors she wanted to live.
“Though I meant it, I lacked perspective. To me, life in prison was the most unappealing outcome. … But as I stand here now, I cannot in good conscience ask you to sentence me to death because of them,” she said, pointing to her family members.