PHOENIX, Ariz. Feb. 22, 2013 -- Accused murderer Jodi Arias believes she should be punished, but hopes she will not be sentenced to death, two of her closest friends told ABC News in an exclusive interview.
Ann Campbell and Donavan Bering have been a constant presence for Arias wth at least one of them sitting in the Phoenix, Ariz., courtroom along with Arias' family for almost every day of her murder trial. They befriended Arias after she first arrived in jail and believe in her innocence.
Arias admits killing her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander and lying for nearly two years about it, but insists she killed Alexander in self defense. She could face the death penalty if convicted of murder.
Nevertheless, she is aware of the seriousness of her lies and deceitful behavior.
The women told ABC News that they understand that Arias needs to be punished and Arias understands that too.
"She does know that, you know, she does need to pay for the crime," Campbell said. "But I don't want her to die, and I know that she has so much to give back."
The lies that Arias admits she told to police and her family have been devastating to her, Bering said.
""She said to me, 'I wish I didn't have to have lied. That destroyed me,'" Donovan said earlier this week. "Because now when it's so important for her to be believed, she has that doubt. But as she told me on the phone yesterday, she goes, 'I have nothing to lose.' So all she can do is go out there and tell the truth."
During Arias' nine days on the stand she has described in detail the oral, anal and phone sex that she and Alexander allegedly engaged in, despite being Mormons and trying to practice chastity. She also spelled out in excruciating detail what she claimed was Alexander's growing demands for sex, loyalty and subservience along with an increasingly violent temper.
Besides her two friends, Arias' mother and sometimes her father have been sitting in the front row of the courtroom during the testimony. It's been humiliating, Bering said.
"She's horrified. There's not one ounce of her life that's not out there, that's not open to the public. She's ashamed," she said.
Jodi Arias Believes She Should Be Punished
The two Phoenix women say they have been supporting Arias since 2008 when she first arrived at the Estrella Jail in Phoenix. Bering got to know Arias well while incarcerated on an accessory to arson charge. She asked her friend Campbell to visit Arias, too, because Arias' family was out of state. Campbell said, "We hit it off right away. She's very nice and funny. And really articulate."
Their growing friendship continued after Bering was released from jail. Now, they say, they speak to Arias by phone daily and visit often. Bering has been in court nearly every day.
They told ABC News that they were initially reluctant to speak out, but felt it was important for people to hear about the Jodi Arias they have come to know and love – a woman, they say, who is not the murderous monster she's been portrayed as over the last two months.
"I find it really hard to believe what happened, knowing her," Bering said. "Never, ever have I seen her raise her voice, seen her yell, seen her do anything. So when I'm sitting there in court, it blows me away because I'm sitting there knowing the person that I know, seeing her and talking to her and see how much compassion she has."
Campbell says she believes Arias' story of self-defense and that, "It had to be something terrible for her to snap because in the four and a half years that I visited her, I've never seen her get angry, lose her temper."
While the Jodi Arias they know is typically "bubbly" and "funny," Campbell said Arias is remorseful about what she has done.
"She's just hurt by what's gone on and how this has affected her family, I mean, very much. And she hurts for her mother and her family," Campbell said.
The friends say Arias feels especially horrible being an aunt in jail because she has new nieces that she has never been able to touch.
The women said they are also heartbroken for Alexander's family.
"They have to relive this every day. They hear their brother's voice, they see their brother's handwriting. They see pictures of him. I've always said nobody deserves to die that way, you know, because it was horrible," Bering said. "So I think about them a lot. And I know that it's very hard for them because they see us over there and we're supporting the person that took their brother's life. But I wish that I could tell them, you know, that I really feel for them."
The women said it's been a tragedy for both families.
"She's been incarcerated five years before she even got to trial. She's had her life destroyed," Bering said. "To me, I look at it as two people's lives have been lost. There was the tragic death of Travis. And then there's Jodi who will never have her life again."