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Arias Trial Death Penalty Phase Begins

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In Session -- Pool Camera
In Session -- Pool Camera

The trial of convicted murderer Jodi Arias moves Thursday into the penalty phase to determine whether the 32-year-old will face execution or life imprisonment.

Arias, a photographer from California, was convicted May 8 of first-degree murder in the slaying of her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander.

The capital murder verdict, reached after more than 15 hours of deliberations, was a clear rejection of both Arias' self-defense claim as well as defense psychologist Richard Samuels' contention that she suffered from PTSD and acute stress disorder.

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On Wednesday, the same Phoenix jury that convicted Arias declared she was eligible for the death penalty. The jury made their decision after less than three hours of deliberation.

During this next phase of the trial, the sentencing phase, prosecutors will present aggravating factors in Alexander's homicide and defense attorneys will present mitigating factors. Jurors must weigh both sides.

The penalty phase is like a miniature trial. Defense attorneys and the prosecutor will make opening statements and introduce evidence. Both sides will then have the opportunity to introduce witnesses prior to making closing arguments.

Unlike the guilt phase of a trial, jurors may hear pleas for leniency and victim impact statements by Alexander's family. Arias will also be given the opportunity to make a statement on her own behalf.

Jurors ultimately will have to make a unanimous decision on whether Arias deserves the death penalty. If not, Arias will get a life sentence. The state of Arizona has not executed a woman since 1930.

Arias stood accused of stabbing 30-year-old Alexander nearly 30 times, shooting him in the head and cutting his throat from ear to ear in his Mesa home on June 4, 2008. The jury of eight men and four women heard four months of gruesome testimony in the case.

The trial is scheduled to resume at 1:30 p.m. Eastern time.

Read below for minute-by-minute updates from court Thursday:

Judge Stephens just announced the trial was unable to proceed today. It will resume Monday at 1 p.m. Eastern time.

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Court is back in session.

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The bailiff instructed everyone except for family members to leave the courtroom. No explanation was given.

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The delay apparently has to do with Patricia Womack not wanting her face shown on camera. Womack is a childhood friend of Arias who will be testifying on her behalf.

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The bailiff announced court will resume in about 30 minutes.

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The attorneys are in chambers with the judge.

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Still waiting on the trial to resume.

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The judge has called recess. The live blog will continue when the trial resumes at 5 p.m. Eastern time.

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"Our family has not been together since Travis has been gone. Its simply to hard to see that one empty chair," Samantha said. "We were robbed of so many good memories. Our lives will never be the same. We can never get him back."

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"To have Travis taken so barbarically is beyond any words we can find to describe our loss," Samantha said.

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"Our minds are stained with the image of Travis' body slumped dead in the shower," Samantha said.

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"On the morning of June 10, 2008 I was on a river trip ... I checked my voice mail and there was a message from my grandmother. My heart sank ... I could tell that she was crying ... To this day my mind paints a picture of what happened the day Travis was taken ... of what Travis must have went through that day," Samantha said.

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"A couple weeks before Travis was killed he came to visit me ... This was the last time I saw Travis," Samantha said.

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"Our lives will never, ever be the same," Samantha said.

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"Losing Travis has completely destroyed the overall health of our family," Samantha said.

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"My family has been tortured by the loss of our beloved brother and family member," Samantha said.

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"Hopefully one day I can make him proud," Stephen said as he finished his statement.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

2008 Affirmation

This Year will be the Best year of my life. This is the year that will eclipse all others. I will earn more, learn more, travel more, serve more, love more, give more and be more than all the other years of my life combined. True other years now past have been at times magnificent but none like this. This is a year of metamorphosis, of growth and accomplishment that at previous was unimaginable. A year where the impossible become common place, and the unachievable become effortlessly achieved. Where I raise myself to heights only visited by the great men and women of this world and by so doing this year will be the best year of my life.

And how will I do this? By strict obedience to the commandments of God. By seeking out the words of the Lord through searching the scriptures and through the voice of his chosen servants. By communing with the Lord through daily prayer and by emulating him in my thoughts my words and my deeds. Through compassionate service, random acts of kindness, unconditional love, and an acknowledgment of the true source of all blessings with gratitude in my heart. And when I fail, I will learn from my mistakes, strengthen my resolve and be better than I was before. I will take this same discipline of the Spiritual and apply it to the Physical by arising early to start each day with exercise that strengthens the body and refreshes the mind. I will only eat nurturing foods that provide me energy sufficient to accomplish the days task with enthusiasm and confidence. What will I do to improve my finances? I will work harder, yes, but more importantly I will work smarter and learn to leverage myself and get more out of one day then I previously got out of a month. I will succeed through integrity and through the selfless service of others. Through the powerful forces that structure the mind I will tap into the source of infinite intelligence and be more efficient in all my endeavors and be an exponentially greater asset to this world. The money I earn I will not waste frivolously but instead invest wisely so that my wealth will begat more wealth and I will be more empowered by wealth to better my life and the lives of others. However the best way for me to better the lives of others will not be in the giving of my wealth but in the giving of my heart. I will love and then love more, I will serve and then serve more, I will forgive and then forgive more. I will follow the Golden rule that I may follow my Savior and be transparent yet not exposed. I will not let these thoughts fade but instead remind myself of them daily and spend time visualizing myself in the accomplishment of them until the day that my thoughts become reality. Then I will not stop but press forward to new goals and new heights in my quest to change this world.

And how will all of this benefit me in this the best year of my life? I will be worthy of all the great blessings the Lord has to offer. I will have a 32 inch waste and be at my Pinnacle health. I will have earned the six figure ring, succeeded at real estate, and have multiple streams of income from my other entrepreneurial endeavors. I will be a published Author and effortlessly doing what I was meant to do to better my life and the lives of others. I will associate with more successfully minded people to be a teacher as well as a student. I will travel this great country and this great planet gaining rich experiences found by very few. I will find an eternal companion that enhances me exponentially and countless other goals that at one point I dare not even dream. Through all this will 2008 be the best year of my life, which will lay the foreground for 2009 to dwarf the accomplishments of 2008. This year will be the best year of my life and I will succeed!

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Stephen is reading an entry Travis wrote in his online blog: http://travisalexander.blogspot.com.

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"Now when I want to talk or see my brother ... I have to go to a hole in the ground," Stephen said.

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"I cannot wait for this to end," Stephen said.

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"I cannot sleep alone in the dark anymore. I've had dreams of my brother all curled up in the shower, thrown in there to rot for days," Stephen said.

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"How much did he suffer. How much did he scream," Stephen said.

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"Travis Alexander was my big brother ... He was killed. I remember ... screaming. Crying at the sky," Stephen said.

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The judge announced that victim impact statements will be read now. The attorneys are at a sidebar with the judge.

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Court is back in session.

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The judge has called a 5 minute recess.

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"I guess in a way she is a talented artist because she can take photographs of Mr. Alexander in the shower ... she's so talented that she can take those images and delete them. The fact that she's that talented ... indicates nothing more than the defendant trying to gain sympathy ... the only appropriate sentence is death," Martinez said.

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The Huffington Post is live blogging Thursday's testimony. Check back here for updates.

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