"48 Hours" producer Cindy Cesare was in court for the verdict in the Jodi Arias case in Phoenix, and filed this report.
(CBS) PHOENIX - There was an explosion of cheers for Travis Alexander's family and friends, and perhaps for murder victims everywhere, on the steps of the Maricopa County courthouse as the guilty verdict was read Wednesday in the Jodi Arias murder trial. It was an unprecedented spectacle, as hundreds gathered in a case that has become "court-sport" to many citizens.
After two-and-a-half days of deliberations, the jury in the Arias trial decided that the 32-year-old did not deserve a manslaughter verdict after she claimed self-defense and allegations of abuse by Alexander. Instead, the 12-member jury believed that Arias premeditated and plotted the murder of Alexander on June 4, 2008.
Immediately after the verdict was read, Arias granted an exclusive interview with a local Phoenix news affiliate. She told anchor Troy Hayden in a court jail holding cell that she would "rather get death than life."
Alexander, a then-30-year-old salesperson and motivational speaker, was on the rise and hoping to find a devout Mormon girlfriend to settle down with in Mesa, Ariz., where he lived. The prosecution painted a picture of Arias as a woman so obsessed with Alexander that when they met at a conference in 2007, she converted to Mormonism and it became her mission to marry Alexander. The prosecution sought to prove during the four month trial that Arias manipulated Alexander by using sex to tempt him. The prosecution and Mesa police believe that when Alexander decided to break up with Arias, she became his stalker and ultimately plotted his murder by brutally stabbing and shooting him at his home.
The Alexander family did not comment directly to the media on the guilty verdict Wednesday due to the ongoing proceedings. If the jury finds that aggravating factors existed in the murder, the trial moves into the penalty phase.
The Alexander family did, however, have their attorney announce to the media that they were filing a wrongful death lawsuit against Arias who has profited by selling art work and could benefit from other media opportunities in the future.
The dozens of family and friends who have not missed a day of this four-month-plus trial were visibly and audibly relieved in court Wednesday as the guilty verdict was read. One family friend said that he saw Travis' sister, Sam Alexander, who is a Carlsbad, Calif. police officer, smile for the first time in years.