Jodi Arias Guilty of Murder; Sentencing Is Next - FindLaw Blotter

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Jodi Arias Guilty of Murder; Sentencing Is Next

Jodi Arias is guilty of first degree murder in the killing of her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander, an Arizona jury found Wednesday. The sentencing phase of her trial is next.

Five of the 12 jurors voted to convict Arias, 32, of first-degree premeditated murder, while seven jurors felt she was guilty of both premeditated and first-degree felony murder, according to the verdict form that was read aloud in court. That means all 12 jurors found Arias guilty of first-degree murder.

Now that Arias has been found guilty, jurors will next consider whether she deserves the death penalty, reports the Associated Press.

The Sentencing Phase

In states that allow the death penalty, and in federal cases as well, a capital trial is generally separated into two parts:

  1. The guilt phase, in which jurors determine whether the defendant is guilty of a capital murder charge; and
  2. The sentencing phase, in which jurors choose whether to sentence a defendant to life in prison or the death penalty based on mitigating and aggravating factors.

The jury -- not a judge -- must make the determination whether to apply the death penalty, based on the evidence of mitigation and aggravation presented to them.

Character Evidence Allowed

Just like in the guilt phase of a criminal trial, both the prosecutor and defense attorney take turns presenting evidence during the sentencing phase. But in this part of the capital case, evidence of Arias' character and morals may be presented.

Arizona courts have allowed evidence of a perpetrator's good moral character, but even in the case of a defendant alleged to have saved lives, it may not be sufficient to mitigate imposing the death penalty.

Aggravating Factors in Arias' Case

In Arizona, the sentencing phase is technically broken up into an "aggravation" phase and a "penalty" phase, according to the AP.

Arizona has several recognized statutory and non-statutory aggravating factors that can help a jury find that the death penalty is appropriate. Here are some that Arias' jurors are most likely to consider:

If jurors fail to find any aggravating factors once the prosecution has rested, then the death penalty is taken off the table and the judge will impose a prison sentence.

Mitigating Factors

In addition to evidence of good character, the Arias jury may be called to consider other mitigating factors to sway them against imposing the death penalty. These may potentially include:

Ultimately, the jury will decide if these factors outweigh the aggravating ones in deciding whether Jodi Arias deserves the death penalty. The sentencing phase of her trial is set to begin Thursday afternoon, the AP reports.

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