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WJBD - National News - Jodi Arias Jury Begins Death Penalty Deliberations

Jodi Arias Jury Begins Death Penalty Deliberations

ABC News(PHOENIX) -- "Two wrongs do not make a right," Jodi Arias' defense attorney said Tuesday as she asked the jury to spare Arias the death penalty for killing her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander.

"While what she did was absolutely horrible, you have convicted her of that," attorney Jennifer Willmott said. "Jodi took Travis away. She took him away from his family and from this world. But two wrongs do not make a right. Jodi can still contribute to this world. Her life still has value and you have a choice."

The jury began deliberating Tuesday evening whether Arias should be sentenced to death after Willmott made the closing statement for Arias in the death penalty phase of her murder trial.

Earlier this month, Arias, 32, was convicted of murdering Alexander in June 2008.

During the penalty phase, the burden was on the defense to prove mitigating factors, or aspects of Arias' life that proved she should be sentenced with leniency.

Prosecutor Juan Martinez has argued that the murder was especially cruel and warranted the death penalty, noting that Arias stabbed Alexander, slashed his throat and shot him in the head.

On Tuesday, Willmott asked the jury to keep in mind that Arias had no prior criminal record, was only 27 when she killed Alexander and, in all other areas of her life, was a good person.

She had stable relationship with ex-boyfriends with whom she remained friends after breakups, she was a good friend, a talented artist and had every intention to spend her life behind bars trying to contribute to society if she were given the chance, Willmott said.

"People are far better than their worst deed, and Jodi Arias is a far better person than her very worst deed," Willmott said. "There is so much mitigation in this case. There are so many reasons that you can find to be merciful, that you on your own can find to call for life in prison instead of execution."

Martinez, in his closing argument, dismissed Willmott's claims about Arias's alleged mitigating factors. He said that the facts mentioned by the defense -- that Arias had artistic talent, was young and had a clean criminal background -- were not enough to mitigate the way she killed Alexander in 2008.

"Being an artist is a mitigating factor? What does that have to do with the crime?" he asked incredulously. "It shows [the defense's arguments] are not worth considering when you look at the horrific nature of the crime. Nothing they have presented is a mitigating circumstance. Are any of them sufficiently substantial to call for leniency when you take a look at what this individual did?"

"The only thing you can do, based on the mitigating circumstances, is to return a verdict of death," Martinez said.

In her rebuttal, Willmott again went through her arguments and told the jury that it must decide the answer to a single question.

"The simple question before you is: Do you kill her? That's the question," Willmott said. "She has done something very bad. She has. You have convicted her of that. You have told her she is guilty of first degree murder for that. But the question is now: Do you kill her?"

Before closing arguments began, Arias was also given her last opportunity to speak directly to the jury.

Arias clicked through a photo slideshow, quoted Dickens and used props as she begged them to spare her life for her family's sake.

Dressed in all black and wearing glasses, Arias told the jury that, though she previously told reporters and others that she would prefer the death penalty, she no longer felt that way.

"I have made statements that I would prefer death, but I lacked perspective," Arias told the jurors.

"To me, life in prison was the most unappealing outcome I could think of," she said. "I thought I'd rather die."

"But as I stand here now, I can't ask you to sentence me to death because of them," she added, pointing in the direction of her family.

"Either way, I'm going to spend the rest of my life in prison," she said. "It will either be shortened or not. If it is shortened, the people that will be hurt the most will be my family. Please don't do that to them. I've already hurt them so much, and I want everyone's pain to stop."

She also referred to the family members of Alexander, who spoke last week to the jury during victim impact statements.

"I never meant to cause them so much pain," she said, pointing to Alexander's family.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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