Jodi Arias asks jury to give her life in prison rather than death penalty

By Brian Skoloff

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, May 21 2013 5:51 p.m. MDT

Judge Sherry Stephens also explained to jurors that their finding would be final, emphasizing the fact that Arias' life is literally in their hands.

"You will determine whether the defendant will be sentenced to life in prison or death," Stephens told the panel. "Your decision is not a recommendation."

The jury began hearing closing arguments Tuesday afternoon, with defense attorney Jennifer Willmott citing Arias' mental health problems and lack of a criminal history among the reasons to spare her life.

"Having borderline personality disorder is not an excuse for what she did to Travis Alexander," Willmott told the jury. It is a reason "that you have to be merciful."

Prosecutor Juan Martinez said in his closings that despite Arias' claims, there were no factors in the case that would warrant a sentence other than death.

He implored jurors to look at the "whole panorama" of the case, not just Arias' statement to them Tuesday. And he told them to "do the right thing, even though it may be difficult."

Arias initially claimed she knew nothing about Alexander's June 2008 killing at his suburban Phoenix home. She then blamed masked intruders before eventually arguing self-defense. Prosecutors contend she killed Alexander in a jealous rage because he wanted to end their relationship and go to Mexico with another woman.

Arias' attorneys also tried without success to withdraw from the case after Arias gave her post-conviction TV interview.

"Longevity runs in my family, and I don't want to spend the rest of my natural life in one place," a visibly shaken Arias told Fox affiliate KSAZ from a holding cell inside the courthouse. "I believe death is the ultimate freedom, and I'd rather have my freedom as soon as I can get it."

Arias directly addressed those comments Tuesday, telling jurors she wanted to live.

"Though I meant it, I lacked perspective. To me life in prison was the most unappealing outcome. ... But as I stand here now, I cannot in good conscience ask you to sentence me to death because of them," she said, pointing to her family members.

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