Trial observers speculate over guilty verdict, death penalty for Jodi Arias

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- Jodi Arias finished her time on the stand Tuesday afternoon after 18 days of answering questions from her defense attorney, the prosecution, and even the jurors.

Arias is accused of murdering her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander in 2008.
Now trial observers are starting to speculate on Arias’ fate. Defense attorneys are attempting to demonstrate self defense. Prosecutor Juan Martinez has tried to lay the foundation for pre-meditated, first degree murder, and is seeking the death penalty.
“There is a lot of public perception that an attractive young woman wouldn’t be put to death in Arizona just because there’s jury sympathy,” said attorney Brent Kleinman, who has been closely observing the case.
Katie Wyck has been in the court room since day one of the trial as a spectator. In the early days of the trial, she says she believed that Arias might be found innocent, but says Martinez has since changed her mind.
“He’s doing such a good job. I would not be surprised if Jodi Arias becomes the fourth woman on Arizona’s death row,” Wyck said.
There are currently three women on Arizona’s death row. One of them, Wendi Andriano, was put there by Juan Martinez.
Andriano was sentenced to death for the 2000 murder of her terminally ill husband. Joseph Andriano was poisoned, had his throat slit, and was hit 23 times over the head with a bar stool.
Kleinman says there are some similarities in the Andriano and Arias trials.
“What is similar is both defendants took the stand in their own defense, and both claimed an element of self defense,” said Kleinman.
If Arias were found guilty of first degree murder, Martinez would come back before the jurors during sentencing to prove the murder had aggravating factors worthy of the death penalty.
“The aggravating factor he’s looking at is whether it was an extremely cruel murder,” said Kleinman.
Whether the murder is extremely cruel could depend on which version of the events leading up to Alexander’s murder jurors believe. Alexander was shot, had his throat slit, and was stabbed multiple times, though it is not clear in what order.
“The defense has argued he was shot first,” said Kleinman.
Kleinman says if jurors believe Alexander was shot first, he might not have been aware of the other attacks, and that is a key difference between the Andriano and Arias cases.
“The difference is with the barstool and the poison it is obvious he was aware of what was happening to him,” he said.