PHOENIX - Convicted killer Jodi Arias has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 2008 shooting and stabbing death of her on-again-off-again boyfriend Travis Alexander.
The judge's decision on Monday brings the long-running legal saga of Arias to an end.
Four family members of victim Travis Alexander spoke to Judge Sherry Stephens before she handed down the sentence, criticizing Arias as they broke down in tears.
Arias spoke as well, giving a rambling statement in which she stood by her testimony and accused police and prosecutors of changing their story during the investigation.
"The most important thing I want to say is that I'm very sorry for the enormous pain I caused to the people who loved Travis," Arias said. "I'm truly disgusted and I'm repulsed with myself."
Between tears, family members recalled the positive influence Alexander had on their lives and spoke angrily of Arias' efforts to portray him as a pervert over the past two years.
The sentencing comes after a jury deadlocked last month on whether to give her the death penalty or life in prison. The deadlock removed the death penalty as an option, leaving the only remaining question whether the judge would allow the 34-year-old Arias to be eligible for parole after 25 years or serve the rest of her life behind bars.
Alexander was killed in 2008 after a stormy relationship with Arias. Prosecutors say she murdered him in a jealous rage because he wanted to break off the relationship.
Arias shot Alexander and stabbed him nearly 30 times in his suburban Phoenix home before fleeing and driving to Utah to meet up with another romantic interest. She was arrested weeks later and initially denied any involvement.
Samantha Alexander on Monday recalled attending a memorial service for her brother and being stunned that Arias showed up to grieve his death. Friends and family immediately suspected Arias after Alexander's body was found, but she was not arrested for another month.
"One person at the memorial stood out like a sore thumb," she said. "It was Jodi. She had that evil smirk on her face. I remember getting the chills."
Samantha Alexander started crying as she recounted a visit to her brother's home in which she saw the spot where he was shot, stabbed and left to die.
"He was there for five days," she said. "Five days he is there decomposing in the shower. I'm sure his soul was screaming for someone to find him."
International media attention soon followed after she did two television interviews in which she told a bizarre story of masked intruders breaking into the home and killing Alexander while she cowered in fear. She subsequently changed her story and said it was self-defense after Alexander attacked her on the day he died.
Her 2013 trial became a media circus as details of their kinky relationship and the violent crime scene emerged in court and were broadcast live. Spectators traveled to Phoenix and lined up in the middle of the night to get a seat in the courtroom to catch a glimpse of what had become to many a real-life soap opera.
Interest in the case intensified after Arias did a jailhouse interview minutes after she was convicted of murder, telling a local TV reporter that she preferred the death penalty over life in prison.
"I would much rather die sooner than later. Longevity runs in my family, and I don't want to spend the rest of my natural life in one place," she said.
The original jury was deadlocked on whether to sentence her to death, setting up another penalty phase trial that began last year. After months of testimony and efforts by Arias' lawyers to portray Alexander as a sexual deviant who physically and emotionally abused her, the second jury also failed to reach a unanimous decision - this time voting 11 to 1 in favor of death.
The 11 jurors who wanted the death penalty said the holdout juror had an agenda and was sympathetic to Arias.
Now, Arias will begin serving her sentence in a maximum-security unit at a prison 30 miles west of downtown Phoenix. If prison officials deem her behavior good over time, she could be moved to lower-security units.
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