(CNN) — (CNN) — [Breaking news update at 4:50 p.m. Wednesday]
An Arizona jury Wednesday found Jodi Arias guilty of first-degree murder for killing Travis Alexander in June 2008. The conviction means Arias could face the death penalty. In the next phase of the case, prosecutors will have a chance to present additional evidence and jurors will decide whether Alexander’s death was caused in a cruel manner.
[Original story, posted at 4:20 p.m. Wednesday]
Jury reaches verdict in Jodi Arias trial
(CNN) — After months of twists and turns in a dramatic trial rife with sex, lies and digital images, jurors in Arizona have decided the fate of Jodi Arias.
A verdict was reached Wednesday in the case that has drawn worldwide attention and followers lining up daily for courtroom seats. The verdict is expected to be announced at 4:30 p.m. ET.
Since Friday, jurors have been deliberating evidence surrounding this key question: Did Arias kill ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander in self-defense? Or did she commit murder?
Alexander was stabbed repeatedly, shot and nearly decapitated five years ago. Arias says she killed him in self-defense after he attacked her, but the grisly slaying has caused even some anti-domestic violence advocates to doubt her case.
The jury, which has been in court since January 2, heard closing arguments on Friday. Jurors deliberated for 15 hours and five minutes.
As they took a lunch break after revealing they had reached a verdict Wednesday, some jurors were seen smiling and breathing sighs of relief. One juror returning from lunch wiped her eyes.
A massive crowd swarmed around the Maricopa County Courthouse Wednesday afternoon as word spread that a verdict had been reached. Some onlookers said they had been following the trial for months.
“We are here every day to support Travis’ family 100%,” said Kathy Brown, who got a cane she uses autographed by prosecutor Juan Martinez. “It’s emotional, because I really feel in my heart that there’s going to be a first-degree murder conviction.”
If the jury convicts Arias of first-degree murder, jurors then will have to decide whether she lives or dies.
The trial began as both sides dramatically presented their arguments with details about Arias’ love affair with Alexander.
“She rewarded that love from Travis Alexander by sticking a knife in his chest,” Martinez said in his opening statement. “And you know he was a good man, according to her. And with regard to being a good man, well, she slit his throat as a reward for being a good man. And in terms of these blessings, well, she knocked the blessings out of him by putting a bullet in his head.”
But defense attorney Jennifer Willmott countered: “Jodi Arias killed Travis Alexander. There is no question about it. The million-dollar question is what would have forced her to do it?”
Martinez accused Arias of playing the victim. He alleged she staged the crime scene to make it look like self-defense.
He also accused her of actively seeking to profit from her media attention.
Willmott said Arias was the victim of a controlling, psychologically abusive relationship, and Alexander considered Arias “his dirty little secret.”
Article and Picture Courtesy of CNN