A Phoenix jury yesterday convicted Jodi Arias of first-degree murder for the brutal slaying of her one-time lover — and afterward, she declared that she wanted to be put to death.
The aspiring artist, in a somber gray blouse and dark- blue suit, swallowed hard and looked distraught as the verdict was read.
Arias — who claimed the killing was a case of self-defense claim — shed no tears while victim Travis Alexander’s family cried and hugged.
The 32-year-old killer could face the death penalty for the 2008 crime. And minutes after the verdict, she told a local TV station that’s the sentence she’s hoping for.
“Longevity runs in my family, and I don’t want to spend the rest of my natural life in one place,” a tearful Arias told Fox affiliate KSAZ. “I believe death is the ultimate freedom, and I’d rather have my freedom as soon as I can get it.”
Jurors are reconvening this afternoon to begin the penalty phase, which could determine if Arias gets her wish, or receives 25 years to life in prison.
Upon hearing the verdict, Alexander’s pal Dave Hall said, “My eyes traveled up. I couldn’t see. I think I just looked skyward and said, ‘Thank God,’ for today,”
Hundreds of people gathered outside the Maricopa County Superior Courthouse to hear the verdict. They broke into cheers and, bizarrely, chanted “USA! USA!”
Arias was convicted of the grisly June 2008 killing after a trial that included raw testimony about kinky sex and her claims of domestic violence and mental abuse by the victim.
Alexander, 30, a charismatic motivational speaker and salesman, was stabbed 27 times and then shot in the head during a frenzied attack.
Prosecutors said Arias planned the murder in a jealous rage after Alexander dumped her.
Arias at first denied any involvement, and later concocted a story blaming the killing on mysterious masked intruders. But two years after her arrest, she finally admitted that she had killed her lover — claiming he attacked her after a day of rough sex in his Mesa, Ariz., home.