Can Jodi Arias' art save her life?

NEED TO KNOW
  • Arias will address the jury when the penalty phase of her trial continues next week. Watch it live on HLN.
  • Jodi Arias is guilty of first-degree murder for killing her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander
  • The defense says they will show the jury her art to demonstrate that her life has value
Can Jodi Arias' art save her life?

Watch: Jodi Arias learns she could face death

Jodi Arias learns she could face the death penalty.

Arias describes sex with Travis on baptism day

Arias describes sex with Travis on baptism day

Jodi Arias’ defense team believes her artistic talent should help save her from the death penalty.

Arias was found guilty of murdering her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander in a "cruel manner" Wednesday, and now the jurors will have to decide whether she lives or dies via lethal injection.

Read more: The Arias jurors say it was murder

During this stage of the trial, Arias and her attorneys are trying to convince the jurors to spare her from the death penalty because her life behind bars will have value to society.

Defense attorney Kirk Nurmi has asked the jury to consider a wide variety of mitigating factors, including the fact that Arias has no prior criminal history, she suffered abuse and neglect as a child and that she is a “talented artist.”

Read more: Alexander's siblings explain their loss to the jury

Prosecutor Juan Martinez told the jurors that Arias’ art – among other things – is irrelevant when it comes to her murderous actions on June 4, 2008.

In mentioning Arias' artistic value to society, HLN’s Ryan Smith says the defense is trying to appeal to the jurors’ humanity.

“It’s all about showing that she is a human being. A human being who has likes and dislikes. Things she is trying to be better at, just like any other person. If the defense can make her seem as human as possible.  They can maybe get one member of the jury to look at her and say ‘Hey, she is just like me. Yes, she did something horrific, but am I ready to end her life?’” said Smith.

Arias testified at trial that she enjoys art and photography. She also said she had aspirations of becoming a professional photographer, before being arrested on murder charges.

Read more: Judge denies defense bid to quit Arias case

Donavan Bering, Arias’ friend who claims to run her Twitter account, says she also runs a website that sells Arias’ artwork.

The following quote on the website is attributed to Arias:

“Since I was a child, I’ve been drawn to art. I have been privileged to study under the guidance of two very gifted teachers. One, I remember only as Mr. B, the art teacher at Orcutt Junior High School, who I’m sure has long since retired. He granted me creative freedom to veer from the linear syllabus and follow my own inclinations. Richard Rengal, my high school art teacher and a true master of fine art, instilled me with the confidence in my ability that I would carry into the future and do still today. It is in large part due to his ceaseless belief in my skill that I have continued my artistic pursuits years after I last walked out of his classroom.”

The burden is on the defense, who must prove by a preponderance of the evidence -- meaning it’s more likely than not -- that there is at least one sufficiently substantial mitigating factor that calls for leniency. This provision is one of the nation’s legal underpinnings. The Supreme Court has ruled that the Eighth Amendment prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment requires out of respect for human dignity that jurors consider all mitigating evidence before determining whether a defendant lives or dies.

If the jurors decide to not sentence Arias to death, Judge Sherry Stephens will either sentence her to life in prison without parole or life in prison with the eligibility for parole after 25 years.

Nurmi told the jury Thursday that Arias will speak to the jurors during this phase of the trial, and she will also show them her artwork. It could be one of the most memorable moments of the trial.

"Arias will have the opportunity to talk to you in a different way, not about what happened but who she is," said Nurmi.

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