Prosecutor in Arias sentencing retrial displays grisly picture of victim, urges death penalty

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PHOENIX — A prosecutor at the sentencing retrial of convicted murderer Jodi Arias showed jurors two photos Tuesday of her ex-boyfriend and victim Travis Alexander.

One was an unremarkable picture of his face taken some time before his death. The other was a crime-scene photo showing his slit throat.

"She loved him so much that this is what she did to him," prosecutor Juan Martinez said in his opening statement, describing the gruesome suffering Arias inflicted on Alexander before his death in 2008.

"There are no mitigating circumstances in this case. None," Martinez said. "The only just punishment for this crime is death."

The opening statements came as a jury was seated and testimony began in the retrial to determine whether Arias lives or dies for her crime.

It was less of a spectacle than the initial case in early 2013, when onlookers from around the country traveled to Phoenix and lined up outside court for the trial that became a tabloid TV sensation.

Still, some of the people who regularly attended the first trial were back in court on Tuesday.

Arias has acknowledged killing Alexander but claimed it was self-defense after he attacked her. Prosecutors said it was premeditated murder carried out in a jealous rage after the victim wanted to end their affair and planned a trip to Mexico with another woman.

Defense attorney Kirk Nurmi said Tuesday that Arias was the victim of profound sexual humiliation by Alexander, and that she is mentally ill and a victim of child abuse.

He urged jurors to sentence her to life in prison, saying she is remorseful about killing the man who never acknowledged to others that she was his girlfriend.

"Jodi Arias was always the girl behind the closed door in the bedroom," Nurmi told jurors.

He suggested his client would testify during the proceedings expected to last until December.

"She will tell you how horrified she is that she killed the man she loved," Nurmi said.

Arias, sporting shoulder-length hair and wearing a beige blouse, often looked at the jury while her lawyer laid out his case. She turned away, however, as the prosecutor detailed the crime that included shooting Alexander in the head and stabbing him nearly 30 times.

Members of the Alexander and Arias families looked on from the front rows of the courtroom during the opening statements.

Jurors were shown naked photographs that Alexander and Arias took of each other shortly before Alexander was killed. Alexander's sister turned away from the images and wept as the photos were being shown.

Arias, 34, a former waitress, was convicted of murder last year in the killing of Alexander at his suburban Phoenix home. Authorities said she slit his throat so deeply that she nearly decapitated him and left his body in his shower where friends found him after about five days.

Jurors couldn't agree on a sentence then. Prosecutors have one more chance with a new jury to secure the death penalty, If the jury fails to reach a unanimous decision, the judge will then sentence Arias to spend the rest of her life behind bars or to be eligible for release after 25 years.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens told the new jury that they had to accept the guilty verdict on the murder charge.

The first trial was broadcast live, but Judge Stephens imposed restrictions on the sentencing retrial. Cameras are allowed at the retrial, but no footage can be broadcast until it's finished.

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