Jodi Arias asks jurors to spare her life

Jodi Arias takes the stand in her own defense

(CNN) — [Breaking news update at 2:06 p.m. Tuesday]

Jodi Arias, the woman convicted of killing her ex-boyfriend, has asked an Arizona jury to spare her life, saying she could teach people to read in prison and make a positive impact on inmates

[Original story, posted at 12:22 a.m. Tuesday ]

Arias to speak to the jury deciding whether she lives or dies

(CNN) — Whether Jodi Arias lives or dies is now in the hands of a jury. She will address its members directly Tuesday morning. Arias said earlier this month that she would rather die than endure a lifetime behind bars.

When jurors found her guilty of first-degree murder earlier this month, they said that Arias was “exceptionally cruel” when she murdered her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander in 2008. Arias stabbed Alexander 29 times, slit his neck from ear to ear and shot him in the face.

During the trial, Arias, 32, claimed she killed him in self-defense after he attacked her.

The penalty phase of the trial took a sudden break Monday, when the judge said that proceedings could not continue and that Arias would make the statement to the jury.

The adjournment followed Judge Sherry Stephens’ dismissal of a defense motion for a mistrial and ended a session, in which the defense called no witnesses on Arias’ behalf.

Also denied was a second request by Arias’ lawyers to withdraw from the case.

The jury, which is tasked with deciding if Arias will receive the death penalty, will hear her statement at 9:30 a.m. (12:30 p.m. ET) Tuesday. Arias, who testified for 18 days during the trial, will not be cross-examined after her statement.

Minutes after the verdict was announced May 8, Arias said receiving a sentence of life in prison without parole would be the worst possible outcome.

“I said years ago that I’d rather get death than life, and that still is true today,” she told Phoenix television station KSAZ. “I believe death is the ultimate freedom, so I’d rather just have my freedom as soon as I can get it.”

For the death penalty to be handed down, the jury’s decision must be unanimous. In the case of a deadlock, a new jury would be chosen for this phase only.

If Arias is given a sentence of death, she would be the fourth woman on death row in the state.

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