ARIAS VERDICT REACHED: What Happens Next?
Jurors reached a verdict Wednesday in the trial of Jodi Arias, who is accused of murdering Travis Alexander, her former boyfriend, in Arizona. Arias is charged with first-degree murder in the June 2008 death of Alexander.
Below is information out from the Fox News Brainroom breaking down scenarios that would coincide with the possible convictions. Jurors got the case on Friday afternoon. They deliberated for 7.5 hours on Monday, 6.5 hours on Tuesday and 1.5 hours today.
- 1st Degree Murder: The prosecutor is seeking a 1st degree murder conviction against Jodi Arias in the death of Travis Alexander, her ex-boyfriend. Prosecutor Juan Martinez says Arias planned to kill Alexander in cold blood and presented evidence that he says proves premeditation. He is seeking the death penalty but it's also possible she could be sentenced to life in prison under a 1st degree murder conviction. Arias would join 3 other women on death row in Arizona if she's sentenced. (If this trial goes the death penalty route, her sentencing is going to be several days away…after a mini-trial/sentencing phase is held.)
- 2nd Degree Murder: This carries with it the possibility of imprisonment for 16 to 22 years. The juror instructions tell jurors the main difference between 1st and 2nd degree murder is that 2nd degree doesn't require premeditation.
- Manslaughter (based on existence of sudden quarrel or heat of passion): This is the final charge that jurors can consider. Manslaughter was a late add and frankly was a victory for the defense, because it allows jurors some room to negotiate if not all of them are convinced of 1st degree. In closing arguments, defense attorney Kirk Nurmi told jurors that if Arias is guilty of anything, it can only be manslaughter, because maybe she just went too far and finally "snapped" in the heat of passion after so much abuse at the hand of Travis Alexander. The juror instructions specifically say that in this charge, the homicide "was committed upon a sudden quarrel or heat of passion resulting from adequate provocation by the victim." Manslaughter, when it involves a weapon, carries a prison sentence of 7 to 21 years.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT:
- If Arias is convicted of 1st degree murder: We've been told that if Arias is found guilty of 1st degree murder, this trial will almost immediately move into an aggravation phase. The prosecutor will argue that there was an "aggravating circumstance" present. The main point he'd argue is that Arias killed Alexander in an especially heinous, cruel and depraved manner. This speaks to fact that Alexander didn't die immediately and there were multiple wounds that indicated a struggle. The crime scene photos also indicate this. The aggravation phase shouldn't take very long. It often lasts 20-30 minutes and the jury usually returns a quick verdict on aggravating circumstance. If the jury decides that aggravating circumstances were present, then we proceed into the sentencing phase, which is really a mini-trial (which could easily last a couple weeks) - in which the prosecutor will pursue the death penalty. The same jury will hear the arguments for and against the death penalty.
- If she's convicted of 2nd degree murder or manslaughter: It's effectively over. We'll have a quick aggravation phase (as described above) and the jury will decided on the presence of an aggravator. In this scenario, the jury's work is done and a sentencing hearing will be set for later date.
- And of course, the jury could find Arias not-guilty.