Jodi Arias, who famously told the press that she would rather get the death penalty than a life sentence, begged a Phoenix jury for life in prison on Tuesday, saying she “lacked perspective” when she made those statements.
Arias, 32, who was found guilty of first-degree murder two weeks ago in the brutal shooting and stabbing of her former lover Travis Alexander, 30, asked the jury not to punish her family further for her crimes. “Until very recently I could not imagine standing before you all and asking for life. To me, life in prison was the most unappealing outcome I could think of,” Arias said. “Either way I’m going to spend the rest of my life in prison. ... If it’s shortened the people who will hurt the most are my family.”
The penalty phase of the trial, which will conclude later Tuesday, can be live streamed at WPTV.
Arias, whose family members were present in the Phoenix court as she narrated over a slideshow of photos from throughout her life, said she never intended to hurt Alexander’s family. She referred to Alexander’s brother Steven’s comments that he never wanted to have to look at her again, saying a prison sentence would allow him that. “I want everyone’s healing to begin, and everyone’s pain to stop,” Arias said.
"I got on TV and lied about what I did and lied about the nature of my relationship with Travis," Arias said. "It has never been my intention to malign his name or character. In fact, it was a goal of mine to protect his reputation."
Arias also apologized to Alexander’s family, saying, "To this day, I can hardly believe that I was capable of such violence, but I know that I was. And for that, I am going to be sorry for the rest of my life. Probably longer."
Arias’ trial, which featured graphic photos and testimony as well as a sex tape, ran for five months. Arias was the only defense witness, although she told jurors that her best friend Patricia Womack had intended to testify on her behalf but received threats.
Womack’s last-minute withdrawal from testifying prompted Arias’ attorney Kirk Nurmi to request a mistrial on Monday, claiming misconduct by prosecutor Juan Martinez, but the judge rejected those motions. Nurmi claimed that Martinez had intimidated his witness, by asking her questions about illegal drug use and unreported income that might have made her vulnerable to criminal prosecution herself. Womack consequently pleaded the Fifth Amendment.
"Miss Womack feels her life is being threatened to an extent she cannot come forward and testify," Nurmi told the court on Monday. "This is unacceptable."
"This cannot be a modern-day version of stoning or witch trials," he said. "When you have a prosecutor that this court allows to personally attack witnesses and counsel, it breeds this sort of environment where intimidating can take place. And this has been happening throughout the trial."
When Judge Sherry Stephens rejected that motion, Nurmi and his co-counsel Jennifer Wilson moved to withdraw from the case, arguing that they could not “present a full picture [of Arias’ life] as is incumbent upon us," and therefore could not “fulfill our duties,” but that request was denied.