Chances seem slim-to-none that Jodi Arias will escape a death sentence.
The Maricopa County jury which today found Arias guilty of first-degree murder is scheduled to begin hearing the aggravation, or penalty, phase of the trial tomorrow starting at 1 p.m. Witnesses will likely be called for this phase, meaning it will take a few days or even a couple of weeks.
Jury members have started a process that seems likely to end with Arias strapped to a gurney and injected with deadly poison. We know they believe the murder of Travis Alexander was premeditated. If they believe the prosecution's evidence-loaded theory that Arias planned the gruesome attack in California days before the June 4, 2008, murder, which they probably do, then Arias is a proverbial dead woman walking.
"Today's verdict closes the guilt phase of State v. Jodi Ann Arias," wrote County Attorney Bill Montgomery in a news release this afternoon. "However, the pursuit of justice on behalf of Travis Alexander continues. We look forward to the next phase of the proceedings, where the State will present evidence to prove the murder was committed in an especially heinous, cruel, or depraved manner. Consistent with the State Bar Rules of Professional Conduct, my Office will have no further comment at this time."
Thing is, what wasn't heinous, cruel and depraved about this murder?
* Arias set up Alexander with a deceptive photo shoot in the shower, getting him to crouch down naked and dripping, then began her vicious knife attack. He was stabbed 27 times. As the medical examiner's report detailed, many of these stabs cut deep into muscle. One pierced his heart. There must have been a great deal of pain involved. Yet Alexander's former lover didn't care about his pain, and kept stabbing.
* Nothing says heinous, cruel and depraved like slitting a throat from ear to ear.
* Alexander was dead, or perhaps a flitter of electricity still ran through his brain. No blood was flowing in his body. Then she shot him in the face. Depraved means morally corrupt. This final shot may not have been cruel, if Alexander was already dead, but it was surely depraved.
Here's a passage from a 2004 East Valley Tribune story about another female murderer, Wendi Andriano, who had been found guilty of first-degree murder (with Juan Martinez as prosecutor):
The jury decided Dec. 6  after four hours of deliberation that Wendi Andriano was eligible for the death penalty, finding that the murder was committed in an "especially cruel" manner. Martinez supported his case for the death penalty by saying that Joseph Andriano was going to die of cancer in less than a year, and that his wife let him suffer the effects of the poison for 90 minutes before hitting him with the bar stool.
Defensive wounds on his hands show that Joseph Andriano was conscious during some of the blows, and he was also alive when she stabbed him, Martinez said.
The Arias case has some similarities, clearly. Arguably, Alexander suffered at least as much as Joseph Andriano, and possibly a lot more.
Now that they've found the stabbing, throat-cutting and shooting by Arias was premeditated, it doesn't seem likely the jury members will give her a break.
And that's apparently the way she wants it. Unless she's lying again.
Arias told a local TV station, "Longevity runs in my family, and I don't want to spend the rest of my natural life in one place. I believe death is the ultimate freedom and I'd rather have my freedom as soon as I can get it."
Whether or not she really believe that now, she probably won't 20 years from now, when her potential execution date is much closer.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!