Jodi Arias, at the center of the long-running saga of murder and sex, apologized for killing her ex-boyfriend and was then sentenced Monday to spend the rest of her life in prison without the possibility of parole.
“I am very, very sorry for the enormous pain I caused,” said Arias after relatives of the victim urged the harshest possible penalty, “To this day I can’t believe I was capable of doing something that terrible. I am horrified by what I did and I wish there was some way I could take it back.”
Arias, now 34, shot and stabbed Travis Alexander, a former boyfriend whom prosecutors say she killed in a jealous rage in June 2008. A previous jury convicted her of murder in 2013 and agreed that the case could qualify for the death penalty but could not agree on whether to impose it.
Arias, whose murder trial drew nationwide attention, had been in a state of legal limbo since 2013, when the first jury convicted her but failed to resolve the sentence.
In October, a new jury in Phoenix began hearing the prosecutors' case for a death sentence. The sentencing trial ran five months, about the length of the original trial. That trial was a media circus, leading television newscasts, inspiring quickly published e-books and prompting online arguments between her supporters and detractors.
The second jury was deadlocked 11-1 about the death penalty, meaning that Arias could receive only life in prison with or without the possibility of parole. On Monday she received the harsher alternative.
For the Alexander family, there was no question of the punishment they wanted. With the death penalty off of the table, they asked for the toughest jail sentence possible in memory of Travis.
“It hurts too much to remember him alive because if I remember him, I remember too much about how he was brutally taken from us and I can't handle it,” Alexander's sister, Hillary Wilcox, said amid tears in Arizona's Maricopa County Court on Monday morning. “This is what I've had to do so I can cope.”
Wilcox said during the televised proceedings that sometimes when she thinks of her brother she is in the shower, and, “I know that's because that's where she killed him, so I have to quickly shake it out of my head and get out of the shower.”
The second sister to speak, Tanisha Sorenson, turned and directly addressed Arias, citing Arias' earlier claims in her personal journal where she said the person who killed Alexander deserved to die.
“What happened to that, Jodi?” a tearful Sorenson asked as she faced Arias.
Alexander's relatives and friends wore blue in solidarity.
Prosecutor Juan Martinez said that Alexander's relatives hope that Arias is sentenced to serve life without the possibility of parole “not because they want to be vindictive, but [because] as you have also seen, what happened in that bathroom was a butchering.”
The story of Arias and her lover was made for the digital era.
The attractive young couple were outwardly devout Mormons with a tempestuous life behind closed doors that was revealed to the first jury in graphic detail, including about their sex life, via recorded phone calls and text messages. Arias claimed self-defense and said Alexander had subjected her to physical and sexual abuse.