Jodi Arias as the verdict is read. (Source: KPHO-TV)
Hugs exchanged after verdict is announced. (Source: KPHO-TV)
Arias family arrives at the courthouse for the verdict. (Source: KPHO-TV)
PHOENIX (CBS5/AP) -
As the Jodi Arias verdict was being read, a crowd outside the courthouse in Phoenix began chanting, "Justice for Travis."
A jury Wednesday found Arias guilty of first-degree murder in the brutal stabbing and shooting death of her onetime boyfriend, Travis Alexander.
As the verdict was read, Arias sat stone-faced, then began fighting back tears when the jurors were polled.
CBS 5 News multimedia journalist Elizabeth Erwin tweeted that the media took up five rows in the courtroom. Three rows were taken up by Alexander family and friends. Two rows were comprised of Arias family and friends.
The Alexander family issued the following statement through their legal counsel:
"Travis Alexander's surviving brothers and sisters Samantha Alexander, Gary Alexander, Dennis 'Greg' Alexander, Tanisha Sorenson, Hillary Wilcox, Steven Alexander and Allie Iglesias are in agreement with the jury's verdict of guilty against Jodi Arias.
"They would like to thank Deputy County Attorney Juan Martinez and Detective Steve Flores for their hard work and professionalism in this case. The siblings appreciate the outpouring of support they have received from the public.
"Buesing, Hernacki & Beckstead PLLC will be filing a civil wrongful death suit on behalf of the siblings against Jodi Arias in the near future.
"The siblings request that their privacy be respected. They will not be making any further statements or participating in any interviews until the sentencing phase is complete."
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery issued the following statement moments after the verdict:
"Today's verdict closes the guilt phase of State v. Jodi Ann Arias. However, the pursuit of justice on behalf of Travis Alexander continues. We look forward to the next phase of the proceedings, where the State will present evidence to prove the murder was committed in an especially heinous, cruel, or depraved manner. Consistent with the State Bar Rules of Professional Conduct, my Office will have no further comment at this time."
The crowd outside the courthouse continued to swell with spectators, bloggers and court watchers as the verdict drew near.
Once the bailiff read the verdict, many people outside the court building cheered and hugged, while others jumped and danced. People exchanged high-fives. The sounds of whistles and chants of "USA, USA, USA" filled the air.
Former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods said the jury took about the right amount of time to reach a verdict.
"She may have just lied herself onto death row," Woods said in an interview. "She could get it. I think if the jury had an option to find her guilty as hell, they would have checked that box."
One of Alexander's best friends, Aaron Dewey, told CBS 5 News justice was served.
"In a perfect world, we'd have Travis back," he said. "At least we know the woman who so heinously took his life is finally being held accountable for what she did."
Dewey said, "Personally, I would like to see the death penalty. If she spends the rest of her life in jail without the possibility of getting out, I'm OK with that as well."
Mesa police Chief Frank Milstead said he's very pleased with the police work that helped lead to Arias's first-degree murder conviction.
He called lead detective Esteban Flores' work "exemplary," and also praised the lab workers and other support staff. Milstead said, "To not have police work come into question in a real high-profile case is amazing."
Jurors got the case in the afternoon of May 3. They deliberated for two full days this week before reaching a decision late Wednesday morning.
Authorities said Arias planned the attack in a jealous rage after being rejected by the victim. Arias initially denied involvement, then later blamed the killing on masked intruders. Two years after her arrest, she said it was self-defense.
Stay with cbs5az.com and CBS 5 News for updates on this developing story.
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Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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