|Arias Jury Rules Murder 'Cruel'|
|By COLLEEN CURRY||May 15, 2013, 2:55 PM|
The jury in the Jodi Arias trial today ruled that the murder of her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander was "especially cruel," an aggravating factor that will send the case to the death penalty phase beginning Thursday.
Arias cried through the afternoon hearing in the Maricopa County, Ariz., court as prosecutor Juan Martinez convinced the jury that the way Arias killed Alexander was gruseome enough to warrant the death penalty.
But she remained calm as the jury returned their verdict, moving the case to its final phase.
Arias, 32, was convicted last week of first-degree premeditated murder for the gruesome killing in June 2008. She stabbed Alexander 27 times, slashed his throat, and shot him in the head.
Under Arizona state law, a murder must have aggravating factors to warrant the death penalty.
Now, the case will begin the sentencing phase, in which Arias' attorneys will present mitigating factors and arguments as to why she should be spared execution.
Both Arias and the family members of Alexander will now have the opportunity to make statements to the jury about the sentence.
The jury deliberated today for two hours before returning their verdict following a hearing in which both sides presented opening and closing arguments and questioned one witness, medical examiner Kevin Horn.
Martinez described in court how Alexander suffered mental, emotional, and physical anguish during the bloody attack. He also said there was no question that Arias knew she was causing Alexander to suffer. Martinez had the burden of proving both facts in order to obtain the aggravating factor verdict.
During the hearing, Martinez and Horn said that Alexander was likely alive while he was stabbed and slashed for two minutes, which meant that he was conscious and in pain.
"We can imagine the absolute terror as he's sitting there, defenseless. As he's seated the knife comes toward him, is hitting him. That is extreme emotional anguish, mental anguish, to watch the blade come up to him. And he can see, and hear, and breathe, and smell, and he knows exactly what is going on," Martinez said.
"Travis Alexander, on June 4, 2008, suffered enough for two lifetimes," he said.
Arias' attorneys argued that she did not know the pain and suffering she was inflicting on Alexander at the time, referring to testomony from the trial in which one expert witness said Arias showed signs of being bipolar and having "violent outburst" episodes.
They also said that Alexander was possibly unconscious after the first stab wound, and therefore could not have felt further pain or anguish. The hearing took just over two hours before the jury was sent to deliberate.
See ABC News' Full Coverage of the Jodi Arias Trial