One of the most prominent murder trials of the past decade came to a close on Monday. Jodi Arias was sentenced to natural life in prison by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens. After two juries failed to reach a unanimous decision about whether to sentence Arias to life in prison or death, Judge Stephens had the option of giving Arias, 34, natural life in prison or the possibility for parole after 25 years, opting for the harsher of the two. The only next step Arias can take would be to appeal the sentence. Will she continue the seven year saga of legally refusing culpability in her boyfriend's murder, or resign herself to life behind bars?
Arias' boyfriend, Travis Alexander, was found dead in his home in Mesa, Arizona in June 2008 with 30 stab wounds, a slit throat, and a gunshot wound to the head. She was found guilty of first-degree murder in 2013 after pleading self defense, but this jury and another seated in October 2014 remained undecided about the life-or-death sentence. Arias' mother, Sandy Arias, spoke in court Monday, asking the judge to give her daughter the lighter sentence. "I know that she is not the monster she is made out to be," Sandy said.
Arias reportedly plans to appeal her life without parole conviction. According to KTAR News, Jennifer Willmott, one of Arias' attorneys, told the media Monday that several lawyers are prepared to lead an appeal. Because trial lawyers can't handle appeals, Willmott couldn't continue to represent Arias herself. According to USA Today, the attorneys on Arias' case have made detailed allegations of misconduct against Juan Martinez, the prosecutor on the case, throughout both trials. The criminal-defense community plans to file a complaint to the State Bar of Arizona based on Martinez's conduct during the Arias case. Martinez has been called out on at least two other cases in the past, according to The Arizona Republic.
The Arias murder trial has held the nation's attention for years, as details of Arias and Alexander's rocky relationship and the gruesome crime scene emerged when the original trial was broadcast live, and it could continue if she pursues an appeal. The appeal process would begin in roughly three weeks if Arias decides to go through with it. She will likely only appeal the life in prison sentence, not the initial conviction of first-degree murder. Alexander's family was grateful for the harsh sentencing, and his sister, Tanisha Sorenson, shouted "Burn in hell!" after the judge announced that Arias would spend life in prison.
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