Woman charged in lover's slaying testifies

Tells jury of past abuse by parents, boyfriends

By Brian Skoloff
Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) — Jodi Arias’ life changed from the moment she met the man she killed. A world of opportunities seemed possible. A good job. A promising future. A potentially loving relationship.

As Arias testifies in her murder trial, she continues to lay out in painstaking detail the events that led up to the day she stabbed and shot Travis Alexander in his suburban Phoenix home.

Arias has told jurors of a past marred by abuse at the hands of her parents, the numerous boyfriends who cheated on her and how things seemed to take a turn for the better when she met Alexander.

The 32-year-old is now accused of stabbing and slashing him 27 times, slitting his throat and shooting him in the head in June 2008. She initially denied any involvement, then later blamed it on masked intruders before claiming self-defense.

Arias says she went to Alexander’s home for sex, but that he turned violent, forcing her to fight for her life. Prosecutors say she killed him in a jealous rage.

She could face the death penalty if convicted.

Arias told jurors of other boyfriends — before she met Alexander — who cheated on her and lied to her. The defense claims Alexander, a successful businessman and motivational speaker was abusive, both physically and mentally.

She said she first met Alexander at a Las Vegas convention in late 2006 after years of bad relationships. She was almost immediately enamored by him, and it appeared he was taken with her, too. She suddenly saw both personal and professional opportunities.

“The things he said to me made a big impression on me,” Arias told jurors.

Arias said she soon ended her relationship with another man and within a week she saw Alexander again. That’s when things became sexual, she testified.

While staying the night at a home of one of Alexander’s friends, a day before he was to take her to church, she said the pair engaged in oral sex.

“I didn’t want to tell him no so I just kept going with it,” she said. “At that point in time, I was not really accustomed to saying no.”

Alexander told her about his Mormon faith, she said.

Throughout the trial, defense attorneys have depicted Alexander as a liar and a cheater who belittled her Arias and told her and other girlfriends that he was a devout Mormon saving sex for marriage, while in reality he was having sex with other women.

Arias’ defense is attempting to build sympathy with jurors in hopes they won’t convict her of first-degree murder, something that could potentially lead to a death sentence, said California criminal defense lawyer Michael Cardoza, who has been following the trial.

“What they’re doing is trying to elicit sympathy from the jury, to show, look at what this poor person had to go through throughout her life,” Cardoza said.

But it could backfire if her testimony drags too long into the minutia of her life, he noted.

“If jurors get bored, they could stop paying attention,” Cardoza said.

The trial began in early January with salacious details about a romance between Arias and Alexander. She claims they dated for about five months, then broke up but continued to see each other for sex.
Alexander’s friends said she stalked him after the breakup and became possessive and jealous.

Arias said she lied early in the investigation about not being at the scene of the killing because she planned to commit suicide.

Prosecutors have portrayed Arias as a jealous ex-girlfriend who snapped and killed him.

Authorities said they found her hair and bloody palm print at the scene of the killing, along with time-stamped photographs on a memory card in a camera discovered inside Alexander’s washing machine that place Arias there on the day he died. The photos included one of Arias nude on his bed, one of Alexander alive in the shower, and one of his body on the bathroom floor.

Defense attorneys have yet to explain why Arias apparently attempted to clean the scene, washing Alexander’s bedding and the camera, and what happened to the weapons.

Authorities say Alexander was shot in the head with a .25 caliber gun, the same caliber Arias’ grandparents reported stolen from their Northern California home about a week before the killing.