A California woman convicted of murdering her lover has said she hopes to be given a death sentence, not life in prison. Jodi Arias, 32, was found guilty on Wednesday of murdering Travis Alexander at his Arizona home in 2008. After her arrest, Arias maintained for two years that the 30-year-old had been murdered by masked intruders. She then claimed that she had killed him, in self-defence. He was shot in the face, stabbed 27 times and slashed in the throat.
After the verdict was announced, Arias was interviewed by a local news station, KSAZ-TV. “I said years ago I’d rather get death than life,” she said. “I believe death is the ultimate freedom, so I’d rather just have my freedom.”
The trial began on 2 January and was streamed live online, gaining national attention for its graphic evidence of sex and violence between the couple. Arias met Alexander, a businessman and motivational speaker, in 2006, and quickly converted to his Mormon faith. She testified that their relationship had been emotionally and physically abusive, and that Alexander made her feel “like a prostitute” – though she never reported the alleged abuse to the police. The two broke up in 2007 but continued to see each other for sex.
In the weeks before his death, Alexander sent an instant message suggesting Arias had exhibited “stalking behaviour” and that he was “extremely afraid” of her. His body was found in the shower of his home outside Phoenix in June 2008. Arias later claimed he had attacked her after sex, slamming her to the floor “like a line-backer”; she escaped and shot him in self-defence with a gun he kept in the house. She claimed to have no memory of the stabbing frenzy that followed.
Friends of Alexander were not aware that he had owned a firearm, and the murder weapon, which was never recovered, matched the calibre of a gun stolen from Arias’s grandfather in California. Prosecutors presented evidence of Arias’s careful planning of the crime, including renting a car, removing its licence plate and carrying cans of petrol so that she could refuel without leaving a paper trail of receipts on her journey to Arizona.
Police also recovered images from a damaged digital camera found in Alexander’s washing machine, including several sexually suggestive shots of the lovers taken on the afternoon of Alexander’s death. The last photo of the victim alive, in the shower, was taken at around 5.30pm on 4 June. Another, taken seconds later, showed him on the floor, bleeding profusely.
Arias’s defence argued the killing was unplanned and committed in a fit of anger, brought on by Alexander’s alleged abuse. Her sentencing rests on the next phase of the jury’s deliberations, in which they must decide whether the murder was “especially cruel, heinous and depraved.”
Arias is now on a suicide watch.