A look at the charges in the Jodi Arias murder trialPosted: Updated:
PHOENIX (AP) -- A jury of eight men and four women is deliberating Jodi Arias' fate. Jurors have several options as they consider four months of testimony and evidence in the case:
- FIRST-DEGREE MURDER: If jurors believe that Travis Alexander's June 2008 killing at his suburban Phoenix home was a premeditated act, they can convict Arias of first-degree murder. This charge carries a possible death sentence or life in prison. Jurors also can consider a more complicated first-degree murder count that says she committed an act of burglary in the course of killing him.
The arguments: Prosecutors say Arias began plotting a murder several days in advance and made a road trip to Alexander's house intending to kill him. They say she stole a gun from her grandparents' home, removed her license plate to avoid detection and turned off her cellphone while she was in Arizona so law enforcement couldn't track her. The defense said the killing was self-defense and noted there's no direct proof she ever brought a gun to Alexander's home.
If the jury convicts her of first-degree murder, the trial will continue as the same panel decides whether Arias should get the death penalty.
- SECOND-DEGREE MURDER: If jurors think Arias didn't premeditate the killing but still intentionally caused the death of Alexander, they can find her guilty of second-degree murder. The sentencing range for this charge is 10 to 22 years in prison. The 32-year-old Arias already has spent nearly five years in jail.
The arguments: A conviction on this count would be a victory for the defense, since it would spare Arias' life and get her out of prison before she's 50 years old in a worst-case scenario. Prosecutors say there's no doubt she committed second-degree murder, but they are pushing for first-degree.
If the jury finds Arias is guilty of either first-degree murder or second-degree murder, but has reasonable doubt as to which one it is, they are directed to convict her of second-degree murder.
- MANSLAUGHTER: If jurors think Arias didn't plan the killing in advance, but instead believe the attack occurred upon a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion after "adequate" provocation from Alexander, they can convict Arias of manslaughter. A conviction on this charge carries a sentence of seven to 21 years in prison.
- ACQUITTAL: If the jury believes Arias killed Alexander in self-defense, it could find her not guilty of all charges, in which case Arias would be released.
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