PHOENIX, Ariz. — Jodi Arias was convicted of first-degree murder Wednesday in the gruesome killing of her one-time boyfriend in Arizona after a four-month trial that captured headlines with lurid tales of sex, lies, religion and a salacious relationship that ended in a blood bath.
Arias fought back tears, and family members of the victim wept and hugged each other as the verdict was announced in the hushed, packed courtroom.
Outside, a huge crowd that had gathered on the courthouse steps screamed, whistled and cheered the news in a case that has attracted fans from across the country who traveled to Phoenix to be close to the proceedings. Some chanted, "USA, USA, USA!"
The jury of eight men and four women took about 15 hours to reach its verdict after four months of testimony, including 18 days on the witness stand by the 32-year-old Arias. The jury will return to the courtroom Thursday to begin the next phase of the trial that could set the stage for her being sentenced to death.
Arias was charged with first-degree murder in the June 2008 death of Travis Alexander in his suburban Phoenix home. Authorities said she planned the attack in a jealous rage after being rejected by the victim while he pursued other women. Arias initially denied involvement then later blamed the killing on masked intruders. Two years after her arrest, she said it was self-defense.
Testimony began in early January, with Arias eventually spending 18 days on the witness stand. The trial quickly snowballed into a made-for-the-tabloids drama, garnering daily coverage from cable news networks and spawning a virtual cottage industry for talk shows, legal experts and even Arias, who used her notoriety to sell artwork she made in jail.
Jurors got the case Friday afternoon. They deliberated for two full days this week before reaching a decision late Wednesday morning. The verdict was announced at about 2 p.m. local time.