Jodi Arias, Life or Death? Mini-trial to determine convicted killer's fate

Jodi Arias reacts to hearing a guilty verdict in her trial
Jodi Arias reacts to hearing a guilty verdict in her trial
Jodi Arias reacts as a jury convicts her of first-degree murder May 8. The same jury ruled that she be eligible for the death penalty Wednesday.

 (CBS/AP) Now that a jury has ruled that convicted killer Jodi Arias is eligible for the death penalty, the case will move into a penalty phase -- the final portion of the trial that launched in early January.

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READ: Jodi Arias: A timeline of a sensational murder case

Wednesday, the jury ruled that the 32-year-old Arias, convicted last week in the 2008 stabbing death of her lover Travis Alexander, committed the crime in an especially cruel or heinous manner. The ruling on the "aggravating factor" qualified the former waitress to receive the death penalty.

During the phase, the defense is expected to call witnesses that will likely include Arias' family in an attempt to save her life.

The defense may also spotlight Arias' lack of criminal history and alleged abuse and mental health issues as "mitigating factors" that could outweigh the aggravating factor of cruelty, Lisa Wayne, a Colorado criminal defense attorney and immediate past president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Arias will be allowed to speak to the jury, and Alexander's family could make victim impact statements, the Arizona Republic reported.

This portion of the case could go on for several weeks, and additional witnesses could be called by both sides. If jurors don't reach a unanimous agreement on the death penalty, the judge sentences Arias to either the rest of her life in prison or life in prison with the possibility of release after 25 years.

The Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stevens told the jury to return at 10 a.m. Thursday to begin hearing the death penalty phase of the trial, reports the paper.

Complete coverage of the Jodi Arias trial on Crimesider