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Waiting on a verdict in the Jodi Arias trial

Jodi Arias trial watchers in downtown Phoenix. (AP photo)

Fear. Love. Sex. Lies. And dirty little secrets: that's what the case of Jodi Arias boils down to, according to her defense lawyer.

The prosecution agrees on one thing in that list: Lies. They have repeatedly painted the 32-year-old woman as someone who has a fleeting familiarity with the truth.

Now, the jury has to decide which version they buy.

They've been hearing testimony - and what testimony it has been; graphic, sexual, shocking - since January. On Friday, the lawyers finished their closing arguments, and Judge Sherry Stephens finally handed the case over to the eight men and four women who will decide if Arias is guilty of first-degree murder.

She is charged with first-degree murder in the 2008 death of her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander. He was stabbed repeatedly, his throat was cut, and he was shot.

(I wrote about the trial on Saturday, if you need to catch up on the whos and whats.)

Arias now admits she killed Alexander, but says he was abusive and it was self-defence. The state says Arias planned the attack on Alexander -- who the prosecution has repeatedly described as a "good man" -- and is seeking the death penalty. 

If they decide against premediation, the jury could find Arias guilty of the lesser charges of second-degree murder, or even manslaughter, and her lawyers pleaded with the jurors to set aside any negative feelings they might have for the defendant.

Prosecutor Juan Martinez reminded the court during his closing arguments that Alexander felt he was being stalked by Arias - and that Alexander himself described his ex-girlfriend as the "worst thing" that had ever happened to him in a text message.

The trial has become must-see TV and a gift for cable channels like HLN, which has dedicated hours of programming to it. Details are discussed endlessly online -- follow the hashtag #jodiarias on Twitter and you'll see what I mean.

But for some people, this is not at all entertaining. When I spent a few days in the courtroom in Phoenix, I was struck by the presence of Arias' mother, but was especially aware of Alexander's family. His brother and two extraordinarily striking sisters sat two rows ahead of me in court, listening attentively, as they have through the trial - their reactions to upsetting testimony captured by the courtroom cameras.

There's plenty of debate as to how long the jury will take in their deliberations. But I would wager that for the families, on both sides of the courtroom, the waiting is far from the hardest part.

Jennifer Quinn is a foreign affairs and investigative reporter at the Star. Follow her on Twitter @JQStar.


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