Since Friday, jurors had been deliberating evidence surrounding a key question: Did Arias kill ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander in self-defense? Or did she commit murder?
Alexander was stabbed repeatedly, shot and nearly decapitated five years ago. Arias says she killed him in self-defense after he attacked her, but the grisly slaying caused even some anti-domestic violence advocates to doubt her case.
The jury, which has been in court since January 2, heard closing arguments on Friday. Jurors deliberated for 15 hours and five minutes.
As they took a lunch break after revealing they had reached a verdict Wednesday, some jurors were seen smiling and breathing sighs of relief. One juror returning from lunch wiped her eyes.
A massive crowd swarmed around the Maricopa County Courthouse Wednesday afternoon. Some onlookers said they had been following the trial for months.
The case has drawn worldwide attention and followers lined up daily for courtroom seats.
"We are here every day to support Travis' family 100%," said Kathy Brown, who got a cane she uses autographed by prosecutor Juan Martinez and cried outside the courthouse after the verdict was announced Wednesday.
"I am so thankful," she said. "I knew the Lord would do the right thing."
Case marked by dramatic arguments
In the trial, both sides dramatically presented their arguments with details about Arias' love affair with Alexander.
"She rewarded that love from Travis Alexander by sticking a knife in his chest," Martinez said in his opening statement. "And you know he was a good man, according to her. And with regard to being a good man, well, she slit his throat as a reward for being a good man. And in terms of these blessings, well, she knocked the blessings out of him by putting a bullet in his head."
But defense attorney Jennifer Willmott countered: "Jodi Arias killed Travis Alexander. There is no question about it. The million-dollar question is what would have forced her to do it?"
Willmott said Arias was the victim of a controlling, psychologically abusive relationship, and Alexander considered Arias "his dirty little secret."
Martinez accused Arias of playing the victim. He alleged she staged the crime scene to make it look like self-defense.
He also accused her of actively seeking to profit from her media attention.
That's something Alexander's family hopes to stop with its civil lawsuit, Beckstead said Wednesday.
"The law in Arizona states that people should not be benefiting from their wrongdoing in a criminal case, and my law firm is going to do the best it can to make sure that she does not benefit from her wrongdoing or her notoriety," he said.
Arias: "I would much rather die sooner than later"
In her interview with KSAZ Wednesday, Arias said she was surprised by the jury's verdict.
"It was unexpected, for me, yes, because there was no premeditation on my part," she said. "I can see how things look that way."
Arias told KSAZ that longevity runs in her family, and that the worst possible outcome in the case would be a life sentence without parole.
"I would much rather die sooner than later," she said.
Several members' of the Arias family were at the jail where Arias was being held Wednesday night, waiting for a chance to meet with her.
Mother Sandra Arias said she had heard about her daughter's post-verdict TV interview, but hadn't watched it.
She appeared to be very emotional and concerned about her daughter.