PHOENIX (AP) – The long-running legal saga of convicted murderer Jodi Arias draws to a close Monday as a judge formally imposes a life sentence in the 2008 shooting and stabbing death of her on-again-off-again boyfriend.
The sentencing is largely a formality after a jury deadlocked last month on whether to give her the death penalty or life in prison. The mistrial removed the death penalty as an option, and the only remaining decision is whether the judge will allow the 34-year-old Arias to be eligible for release after 25 years or serve the rest of her life behind bars.
It's not known if Arias will speak to Judge Sherry Stephens before she hands down the sentence. Family members of victim Travis Alexander can also address the court.
Arias killed her ex-boyfriend in 2008 after a stormy relationship. Prosecutors say she murdered him in a jealous rage because he wanted to break off the relationship.
Arias shot Alexander and stabbed him nearly 30 times in his suburban Phoenix home before fleeing and driving to Utah to meet up with another romantic interest. She was arrested weeks later and initially denied any involvement.
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International media attention soon followed after she did two television interviews in which she told a bizarre story of masked intruders breaking into the home and killing Alexander while she cowered in fear. She subsequently changed her story and said it was self-defense after Alexander attacked her on the day he died.
Her 2013 trial became a media circus as details of their kinky relationship and the violent crime scene emerged in court and were broadcast live. Spectators traveled to Phoenix and lined up in the middle of the night to get a seat in the courtroom to catch a glimpse of what had become to many a real-life soap opera.
Interest in the case intensified after Arias did a jailhouse interview minutes after she was convicted of murder, telling a local TV reporter that she preferred the death penalty over life in prison.
"I would much rather die sooner than later. Longevity runs in my family, and I don't want to spend the rest of my natural life in one place," she said.
The original jury was deadlocked on whether to sentence her to death, setting up another penalty phase trial that began last year. After months of testimony and efforts by Arias' lawyers to portray Alexander as a sexual deviant who physically and emotionally abused her, the second jury also failed to reach a unanimous decision — this time 11-1 in favor of death.
The 11 jurors who wanted the death penalty said the holdout juror had an agenda and was sympathetic to Arias.