An Arizona jury this afternoon found Jodi Arias guilty of brutally murdering her ex-lover in his suburban Phoenix home nearly five years ago, bringing an end to a four-month-long trial that somehow became a national news story that saw its smallest developments dominate cable news programs and many a front page across the country.
While the trial involved plenty of sensational details—Little Red Riding Hood-themed sex fantasies, something of a reverse makeover, and a gallery member loudly throwing up in the middle of the courtroom, to name a few of the highlights—at its heart it remained very much a local news story throughout, one lacking even the smallest amount of who-done-it mystery.
Arias (eventually) admitted to police after she was arrested that she killed Travis Alexander, although she had claimed that she had done so only in self-defense, and that she couldn’t remember the gory details. Prosecutors, meanwhile, said she had planned the attack in a jealous rage after the victim turned his attention to other women. Supporting the authorities’ version of events was the fact that Alexander’s decomposing body was found in his shower with nearly 30 stab wounds, a gunshot wound to the head and a slit throat. The fact that Arias kept changing her story didn’t help her defense either.
CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin did his best to justify the intense interest in the case—and, by proxy, his network’s decision to go as all-in on it as one could—shortly before the verdict was read. The best Toobin could muster, after mentioning the heavy interest in the details of the defendant’s sex life, was: “It is unusual for someone like Jodi Arias even to face the death penalty, and I think that’s what really catapulted this case into the public consciousness.” He then added, more to the point, that the big question at play was, “Could someone who looked like Jodi Arias actually be executed in the United States?”
While technically the jury could have acquitted Arias on self-defense grounds, that never seemed like a legitimate possibility given the bounty of evidence against her. The issue instead was whether she’d be found guilty of first-degree or second-degree murder. The latter would have come with a sentence of between 10 and 22 years, while the former brings with it the possibility—again, only the possibility—of the death penalty. Now that she’s been convicted of first-degree murder, jurors will next have to decide on her sentence.
If you really want to know more about the story to this point, New York magazine’s got a full timeline here, and the Arizona Republic (understandably) has wall-to-wall coverage here. Or you could always just turn on CNN or Headline News, which is likely to continue to find time to discuss the case despite what is an otherwise very busy news day.
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