Why preliminary? Because if Jodi is found guilty of Capital Murder, this trial will last a few more weeks to determine whether or not she will be put to death. Even if she is found guilty of a lesser charge, justice for Jodi Arias and the Alexander family will not be done until a prison sentence is announced.
The only way this case is over on May 8, 2013 is if the jury comes back saying that Jodi Arias is Not Guilty.
Jodi Arias killed Travis Alexander in June 2008.
The question for jury in the Maricopa County, Arizona courtroom is whether it was premeditated murder or self-defense.
Jodi Arias has spent more than 10 days on the witness stand trying to bolster her argument that her former boyfriend was abusive and his killing was in self-defense.
Once all the evidence is in the jurors will decide whether the state of Arizona proved Jodi Arias committed first-degree murder. If the jury believes that Arias killed without premeditation but in a heat of passion, the jury can find her guilty of Second Degree Murder. If the jury believes the story of self-defense, Jodi Arias, after more than four years in prison, will be a free woman.
But if jurors think find that Jodi Arias is guilty, the jurors will have more tough decisions to make.
If the jurors unanimously decide Arias is guilty of first-degree murder for Alexander’s death, the case would then move to the aggravation phase.
The State Attorney must present additional evidence that the death was caused in a cruel manner. Arizona law defines it as when the victim suffers physical pain or mental anguish and the defendant knew or should have known that the victim would suffer.
The jurors would then deliberate for a second time to determine if the aggravating factor of cruelty is proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
If the jury does not find her guilty of cruelty, the case ends and the judge sets a sentencing date within 30 to 60 days. At the sentencing, the judge decides whether to sentence Jodi Arias to natural life in prison or life with parole eligibility after 25 years.
But if the jury decides cruelty is proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the case moves to the sentencing phase.
This is the defense’s opportunity to ask the jury for leniency and present evidence to support why Arias should be spared the death penalty. Witnesses may include friends and family. Jodi Arias could also retake the witness stand and make further statements to the jury.
The jury then deliberates for a third time to determine whether Jodi Arias should be sentenced to life or death. The decision of the jury must be unanimous. In the case of a deadlock, a mistrial would be granted and a new jury would be chosen for this phase only.
If the jury votes unanimously for the death penalty, Arias would be sentenced by the judge immediately. If this occurs, Jodi Arias is likely to be sent to death row within hours. If the jury opts for a life sentence, the judge will set a sentencing date within 30 to 60 days and, at that time, will sentence Jodi Arias to natural life or life with eligibility for parole after 25 years.
the jury rejects first-degree murder, but finds her guilty of the
lesser charge of second-degree murder, the judge will sentence Arias to
no less than 10 years and no more than 22 years in prison. Jodi Arias will get credit for the four and a half years she has been incarcerated awaiting trial.
Jodi Arias hugs her attorneys. She then returns to jail to be processed out of the facility. Hours later she will be united with her family.