Cheers, tears at Jodi Arias 1st-degree murder verdict

By Cristina Silva

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, May 9 2013 11:31 a.m. MDT

Carol Peifer, of Glendale, Ariz., places a sign in front of Maricopa County Superior Court as she and dozens of other spectators wait for a verdict in the Jodi Arias murder trial, Tuesday, May 7, 2013, in Phoenix. A Phoenix jury is on its third day of deliberations in the trial of Jodi Arias, who is accused of murdering her one-time boyfriend Travis Alexander, in Arizona.

Ross D. Franklin, Associated Press

PHOENIX — The jury has found Jodi Arias guilty of first-degree murder in the death of her one-time boyfriend in Arizona. Arias initially denied involvement and later blamed the killing on masked intruders. Two years after her arrest, she said she killed Travis Alexander in self-defense.

After a four-month trial that included graphic details of their sexual escapades and photos of Alexander just after his death, jurors began deliberating Friday afternoon.

This is what AP reporters on the scene Wednesday are learning about the events unfolding:

ALEXANDER'S FAMILY, 3:25 p.m.

Travis Alexander's family singled out the prosecutor and a key witness in their public thanks. In a statement, given to media by Attorney Jay Beckstead, Alexander's brothers and sisters thanked prosecutor Juan Martinez and Mesa police Detective Esteban Flores, who was the lead detective on the case and testified extensively. They also said they appreciated the outpouring of support from the public, but asked that people respect their privacy.

MEDIA COVERAGE, 3 p.m.

Coverage of the case escalated during the trial. One of those who covered it from beginning to end was Nancy Grace, host of a show on cable network HLN. Shortly after the jury returned, she cheered the guilty verdict on her show, saying: "This is not bloodthirsty revenge's cries of joy. It's not that. It's the fear that justice would be snatched out of our hands. It's the fear that Travis' murder would go un-avenged. It is the fear that our system would fail as it has in the past. But today, our system, Lady Justice, triumphs."

EXPERT OPINION, 2:57 p.m.

Phoenix defense attorney Julio Laboy said the aggravation phase could last a couple of days, consisting of arguments from the prosecutor and testimony by a medical examiner who might describe for the jury how Alexander died - shot, stabbed repeatedly, his throat slashed. Laboy expected the penalty phase could go on for about three weeks, with opening statements, closing arguments and testimony.

TWITTER TRENDS, 2:40 p.m.

Right after the verdict, the case dominated Twitter in the United States, with seven of the top 10 trending topics having to do with the trial and different terms sliding in and out of the list. Among the trends: "Justice for Travis," ''Juan Martinez," the prosecutor, and "(hashtag)JodyArias" — a misspelling of Arias' first name, Jodi.

"RELIEF", 2:32 p.m.

Julie Haslem, a close friend of the Alexander family, sobbed as she left the courtroom. She said: "I feel relief." Asked if Arias will receive the death penalty: "I hope so."

ARIAS' MOTHER, 2:29 p.m.

Sandra Arias, Jodi Arias' mother, declined to comment to reporters as she left the courtroom.

WRONGFUL DEATH, 2:24 p.m.

Attorney Jay Beckstead said Alexander's siblings will file a wrongful death lawsuit against Arias. He thanked the county attorney, the detective, and said the siblings "appreciate the outpouring of support they have received from the public."

VICTIM'S FRIEND, 2:21 p.m.

David Hall, Alexander's friend, told reporters as he left the court that this case was what the death penalty was for. He said after five years, the family finally got the verdict they were waiting for, and he thanked the jury. He said he couldn't look at Arias as the verdict was read. "My eyes traveled up, I couldn't see, I think I just looked skyward and said 'Thank God," for today."

EXPERT OPINION, 2:15 p.m.

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