Jurors shown gruesome crime-scene photos at opening of Jodi Arias' sentencing retrial



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PHOENIX — Jurors at the sentencing retrial of convicted murderer Jodi Arias saw a series of gruesome photos that showed her ex-boyfriend's dead body crammed into a shower at his house — his throat slit.

Lawyers warned jurors that they would see graphic crime-scene photos and sexually explicit images that Arias and former boyfriend Travis Alexander took of each other before Arias attacked him.

"She loved him so much that this is what she did to him," prosecutor Juan Martinez said of one ghastly photo. He urged jurors to sentence Arias to death.

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.

The opening statements came as a jury was seated and testimony began in a 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 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.

Nurmi suggested Arias would testify during the proceedings that were expected to last until December.

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

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, a 34-year-old 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. 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 sentence Arias to life in prison or allow her 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 Stephens imposed restrictions on the sentencing retrial. Cameras are allowed, but no footage can be broadcast until the retrial ends.

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