TODAY

TODAY   |  May 16, 2013

Jodi Arias’ lawyers arguing against death penalty

A jury took only three hours to decide that Jodie Arias was guilty of pre-meditated murder, but her legal team is now fighting to prove she does not deserve the death penalty. NBC’s Diana Alvear reports.

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>> we are following new developments in two high-profile court cases . o.j. simpson testifying in his bid for a new trial on armed robbery charges while today jurors in the jodi arias case consider the ultimate punishment after finding her eligible for the death penalty . we'll begin in phoenix with diana alvear.

>> as the judge explained to the jurors, all murders are considered cruel by definition, but did travis alexander suffer during his 2008 death at the hands of jodi arias ?

>> we, the jury, do find that the aggravating factor , especially cruel has been proven.

>> reporter: the jury took three hours to decide that the way jodi arias killed her boyfriend, travis alexander fit the court's definition. arias was convicted may 8th of premeditated murder .

>> as to count one, first-degree murder, guilty.

>> after the verdict, she told a local station she prefers a death sentence to life in prison .

>> i believe death is the ultimate freedom. so i'd rather just have my freedom as soon as i can get it.

>> arias stabbed alexander 27 times, slashed his throat, and after he was already dead , shot him.

>> she made sure that she killed him by stabbing him over and over and over again.

>> prosecutor juan martinez called on a medical examiner to convince the jury alexander suffered before he died.

>> was he alive when he was stabbed in the heart?

>> yes.

>> was he alive, in your opinion, when his throat was slit?

>> yes.

>> the defense says alexander died quickly and it brought on an adrenaline rush that would've dulled his pain. but while his family sobbed, martinez told the jury there was nothing quick about his death.

>> this was in a short period of time, it's 11:38 :20, let's sit for two minutes. that wasn't a short period of time, it was an incredibly long period of time to be continually stabbed.

>> reporter: and now the defense will present mitigating factors they hope will save arias from a death sentence . they could call members of her family to the stand to testify about her character or perhaps mental health experts. anyone they choose, really. arias can choose to forego this process, but legal experts tell us this would be extremely rare considering how high the stakes are in this case. matt?

>> diana, thank you very much.