Defense rests in penalty phase of Jodi Arias trial

Jodi Arias sits in the Maricopa County Superior Courtroom in Phoenix, Arizona, October 21, 2014. REUTERS/Tom Tingle/The Arizona Republic/Pool

(Reuters) - Defense attorneys for convicted killer Jodi Arias have rested their case in the penalty phase of her trial in Phoenix without calling her back to the witness stand, court officials said on Tuesday. Arias, 34, faces the death penalty for the 2008 killing of her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, who was found in the shower of his Phoenix-area home, stabbed 27 times, his throat slashed and shot in the face. She says she was acting in self-defense while prosecutors said it was jealous rage. The former California waitress was found guilty of first-degree murder in May 2013 but the jury deadlocked on her sentence. As part of her sentencing retrial that began in October, Arias spent parts of two days in late October and early November testifying before jurors in Maricopa County Superior Court without the public or the media present for the proceedings. The state's highest court later ruled that judge Sherry Stephens erred in closing the courtroom and that any additional testimony would be open and a transcript of her previous testimony also was released to the public. It was not clear if the order that Arias' testimony be public was a factor in the decision by defense lawyers not to put her back on the witness stand. Neither prosecutors nor defense attorneys discuss the case with reporters. The jury will be allowed to consider her partial testimony, officials said. Prosecutors did not get an opportunity to cross-examine her. Arias had told jurors that she struggled to admit to herself that she killed Alexander, 30, and expressed remorse, according to the transcript. Arias said her behavior following the murder was an attempt to hide her involvement in a bloody killing that gained nationwide attention. The jury that found her guilty in 2013 quickly determined that she was eligible for the death penalty but deadlocked on her sentence. The new jury, seated in October, will hear the rebuttal case from prosecutors looking to execute Arias for the crime. The sensational case is expected to last through this month. If this jury cannot decide, Stephens will sentence Arias to life in prison or life with the possibility of parole after 25 years. (Reporting by David Schwartz in Phoenix; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Sandra Maler)

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