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Jodi Arias Trial: Jury deliberates convicted killer's fate after defense pleads for her life

Jodi Arias asks the jury for life in prison in a Phoenix courtroom Tuesday.
AP/Pool/The Arizona Republic

(CBS/AP) -- The same jury that convicted Jodi Arias of first-degree murder began deliberating Tuesday afternoon whether the 32-year-old former waitress should be sentenced to death.

TIMELINE: Jodi Arias murder case

PICTURES: Relatives of Travis Alexander speak at Arias trial

Arias was found guilty in the 2008 killing of her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Travis Alexander.

Defense attorneys for Arias pleaded for the convicted killer's life in closing arguments Tuesday, arguing she could still make a positive contribution to society if she were sentenced to life in prison.

"We are asking you to find that Jodi's life is worth saving," defense attorney Jennifer Willmott said. "To have the ability to understand that despite her very worst deed you can still show mercy and find she still has value in her life."

She pointed to "mitigating circumstances" - including that Arias has no prior convictions, was 27 years old at the time of the crime, and was a good friend and a talented artist who tried to improve her life - in her plea for mercy.

Standing behind Arias and placing her hands on her shoulders, Willmott said, "The important question before you is, Do you kill her?"

Asking for her life to be spared, Arias told the jury earlier Tuesday that she planned to use her time in prison to bring about positive changes, including donating her hair to be made into wigs for cancer victims, helping establish prison recycling programs and designing T-shirts that would raise money for victims of domestic abuse.

She also said she could run book clubs and teach classes to prisoners to "stimulate conversations of a higher nature."

In closing statements, Willmott asked the jury to be merciful, pointing to Arias' goals as evidence that her life has value and that she would still be able to "contribute to the world" behind bars.

Prosecutor Juan Martinez argued that the mitigating circumstances set forth by the defense didn't have anything to do with the killing of Travis Alexander.

"Don't most people want to improve their life? Don't most people want to make the best of their life? She's doing the bare minimum, the absolute bare minimum that everyone does."

Complete coverage of the Jodi Arias trial on Crimesider

  • Erin Donaghue

    Erin Donaghue covers crime for CBSNews.com's Crimesider.

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