Charlie Leight/The Arizona Republic/AP
Jodi Arias is one step closer to execution.
The jury that convicted her last week of first-degree murder
found on Tuesday that prosecutors proved "extreme cruelty" in the killing of Travis Alexander.
Arias stared blankly as the jury's decision was announced.
With this legal hurdle met, the Phoenix jury will now hear further testimony over whether Arias, 32, should be executed for the murder five years ago.
If the jury had rejected the finding, the sensational, closely watched trial would have ended, and the judge would have set a date to sentence Arias to life in prison.
The hearing that preceded the finding lasted less than two hours, a sharp contrast to the guilt phase of the trial, which spanned four months
It was also one of the most intense and emotional moments in the televised proceedings. As the prosecutor gave a graphic account of Alexander's death, Arias sat low in her chair, crying and looking away from the jury, while Alexander's siblings wept openly.
Prosecutor Juan Martinez suggested that Alexander must have suffered extreme pain and anguish as Arias stabbed him nearly 30 times before slashing his throat and shooting him.
"He suffered enough for two lifetimes," said Martinez. "He was stabbed in the heart, chased down and had his throat slit."
The jury heard from only one witness during the proceedings, Kevin Horn, a medical examiner who also testified earlier in the trial.
Horn reiterated that Alexander was shot after he was stabbed, and said that the gunshot, as well as the slitting of Alexander's throat and a knife wound to the heart, were each potentially fatal.
Defense attorney Kirk Nurmi told the jury that there were reasons to doubt that Alexander suffered greatly during in the attack, which lasted one to two minutes.
He noted that Arias testified that she shot Alexander first, and he cited other testimony that Alexander might have felt a surge of adrenaline that might have blunted the pain. He also cited defense expert testimony that Arias has various mental disorders and was in a mental fog when the attack occurred, and therefore lacked the presence of mind to make Alexander suffer.
"The state has not proven that this was done in an especially cruel manner," Nurmi told the jury.
But Martinez countered that Arias had enough presence of mind to try to mop up the murder scene, drag Alexander's body, erase the images from Alexander's camera and throw it in the laundry machine. The prosecutor said she must have understood how much pain she was inflicting. He repeatedly noted that, during her testimony, Arias said she aborted a suicide attempt after the murder because the razor blade stung her wrist.
"Did he suffer physical pain? Yes, he did. It stings, it hurts when somebody cuts you," Martinez said mockingly.
After her conviction, Arias told a reporter
that she would prefer to die quickly than to live a long life in prison. A source close to Arias tells PEOPLE that, after reflecting on what she said, Arias would prefer a life sentence over execution.