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PHOENIX – As the world awaits a verdict in the Jodi Arias murder trial, the case may be far from over if she is not acquitted.
Arias, 32, is charged with first-degree murder in the June 4, 2008, death of her Travis Alexander, her one-time boyfriend, at his suburban Phoenix home.
Testimony began in early January. Jurors reached a verdict Wednesday after deliberating for about 15 hours over four days. It was scheduled to be announced at 1:30 p.m. local time.
Jurors have several options, and each takes the case in a different direction:
If the jury convicts Arias of first-degree murder, the trial will move into a phase during which prosecutors will argue the killing was committed in an especially cruel, heinous and depraved manor, called the "aggravation" phase. Both sides may call witnesses and show evidence during a mini trial of sorts. The jurors are the same.
The panel doesn't find the presence of aggravating factors. In this case, the judge dismisses them and sentences Arias to either the rest of her life in prison or life in prison with the possibility of release after 25 years.
The jurors find there were aggravating factors, and the case moves into a penalty phase. The same jury decides whether Arias should be executed or get life in prison. This portion of the case could go on for several weeks, and additional witnesses could be called by both sides. If jurors don't reach a unanimous agreement on the death penalty, the judge sentences Arias to either the rest of her life in prison or life in prison with the possibility of release after 25 years.
If the jury convicts Arias of second-degree murder, the trial will move into the same "aggravation" phase as a first-degree murder conviction.
The jury finds aggravated factors, and the judge most likely sentences Arias on the upward end of the scale that tops out at 22 years in prison.
The jurors don't find aggravating factors, and the judge most likely is more lenient in sentencing, closer to the middle range of 16 years in prison.
If the jury convicts Arias of manslaughter, the trial moves into the "aggravation" phase.
The jury finds aggravating factors, and the judge most likely sentences Arias on the upward end of the scale on a range of seven to 21 years in prison.
They jury doesn't find aggravating factors, and the judge is likely to be more lenient, issuing a sentence closer to the middle or lower end of the range.
If the jury believes Arias killed Alexander in self-defense, she would be found not guilty of all charges.