PHOENIX — The same jury that convicted Jodi Arias of murder one week ago took less than three hours Wednesday to determine that she is eligible for the death penalty in the stabbing death of her onetime lover.
The swift verdict set the stage for the final phase of the trial to determine whether the 32-year-old Arias should be sentenced to life in prison or the death penalty for the 2008 murder of Travis Alexander in a Phoenix suburb.
Prosecutors will call Alexander's family and other witnesses in an effort to convince the panel that Arias should face the ultimate punishment. Her defense lawyers will call her family members in an attempt to gain sympathy from jurors to save her life. It's not yet known whether Arias will testify.
Arias showed no emotion Wednesday after the jury returned a decision that was widely expected, given the violent nature of the killing. Investigators say she slashed the victim's throat, stabbed him in the heart and shot him in the face in what they say was a jealous rage after Alexander said he wanted to date other women and take a trip to Mexico with his latest love interest.
The jury simply had to determine that the killing was committed in an especially cruel and heinous manner to complete the "aggravation phase" of the trial and move on to the penalty portion today.
Arias spent the weekend on suicide watch before being transferred back to an all-female jail, where she will remain until sentencing.