(PHOENIX) — In her final words to jurors Tuesday before they decide her punishment for murder, Jodi Arias clicked through a photo slideshow, quoted Dickens and used props as she begged them to spare her life for her family’s sake.
Arias, 32, was convicted earlier this month of murdering her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, in 2008. The prosecution has argued that the murder was particularly cruel and warrants the death penalty, noting that Arias stabbed Alexander, slashed his throat, and shot him in the head.
Arias’ attorneys presented no witnesses to testify on her behalf this week in the “mitigating phase” of the trial, in which they asked the jury to sentence her with leniency.
The jury will begin deliberating Tuesday whether to sentence Arias to life in prison or the death penalty.
Dressed in all black and wearing glasses, Arias told the jury that, though she previously said to 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 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.”
Arias used most of her allocution statement to try to show the jury details of her life before the murder, clicking through a slideshow of photos from her childhood, family life and relationships with ex-boyfriends.
“When I was little, my mom took a lot of pictures of me. I was the first child,” she said.
“Here I am with Bobby, in our dirty little house,” she added. “We didn’t have power or heat. In the winter we could see our breath. My parents didn’t support this relationship. I’m reminded of that Charles Dickens quote, ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.'”
Arias attempted to convince the jury to send her to prison so she would have an opportunity to contribute to society. She said that since she has been under arrest, she has come up with ways to be useful in jail, such as donating her hair to Locks of Love and coming up with a plan for recycling at the local jail.
“If I’m allowed to live in prison, I will continue to donate for the rest of my life,” Arias said, noting that she has donated her hair three times to the charity.
“If I get permission, I could start a recycling program for the huge loads of waste taken to the landfill,” she added. “It could create new jobs and have a far-reaching impact on the planet.”
Arias showed the jury her artwork, including paintings of Elvis and her niece, as part of her slideshow, and held up a t-shirt with the word “survivor” on it that she designed and is selling, noting that profits of the sale of the t-shirt are going to domestic violence victims.
“I’m supporting this cause because it’s very, very important to me. Some people do not believe I’m a victim of domestic abuse but that’s OK,” she said. “I’ve never been to prison but I think I could find other ways to contribute there.”
Arias said that if she were sentenced to life in prison, she hoped to start a book club and help teach fellow inmates how to read.
“You’ve heard before I’m an artist. I’ll never create another oil painting, but these are some of my paintings,” she said.
Clicking through to the next slide, she added, “My family and I have a lot of memories. We won’t be creating any more of these together.”
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.
The same jury that convicted Arias will decide her punishment.
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