A woman charged in the Arizona stabbing and shooting death of her lover recounted Tuesday her abusive past, the numerous boyfriends who cheated on her, troubled relationships and how her life changed forever the day she met the victim.
Jodi Arias, 32, is accused of stabbing and slashing Travis Alexander 27 times, slitting his throat and shooting him in the head in his suburban Phoenix home in June 2008. She initially denied any involvement, then later blamed it on masked intruders before eventually settling on self-defense.
Arias claims Alexander invited her to his home for a day of sex, then 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 in a case that has been cable news fodder for weeks with lurid stories of sex, lies, religion and violence.
Arias testified Monday about her abusive childhood at the hands of her parents, and of a high school boyfriend who once tried to strangle her.
On Tuesday, she told jurors of other boyfriends - before she met Alexander - who cheated on her, lied to her, had alcohol problems and didn't treat her well. The defense claims Alexander, a successful businessman and motivational speaker, too, was abusive, both physically and mentally.
Arias said she first met Alexander at a Las Vegas convention in late 2006 after years of bad relationships, working multiple jobs and struggling to pay bills. She was enamored by him. She had been in a bad relationship, but after meeting Alexander, everything seemed different. She suddenly saw both personal and professional opportunities, a time to begin enjoying life.
"The things he said to me made a big impression on me," Arias told jurors, often staring directly at the panel as if having a conversation with them. She said Alexander allowed her to "step back and make me look at where I was and where I was going."
He also told her about his Mormon faith, she said.
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."
After that initial encounter, Arias said she went back to her home in Palm Desert. She said Alexander soon wanted to meet up again to give her a copy of the Book of Mormon. But that's not all that happened.
"Basically, he expressed he was horny, is what he said," Arias said.
She said they drove to a nearby park to have oral sex. After that Arias said Alexander went back to Mesa, but on the way called her to apologize about what happened. She said they continued to talk on the phone almost every day and met each other at a motel in Ehrenberg, AZ, a month later.
"Was he attempting to remove your clothing?" her defense attorney asked her.
"Yes, we both were taking off our clothes, I think," Arias responded.
Throughout the trial, defense attorneys have depicted Alexander as a liar and a cheater who called Arias derogatory names, belittled her, 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, by establishing a past littered with abuse, 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.
It's a good technique, he said, but it could backfire if her testimony drags too long into the minutia of her life.
"They could start losing some jurors," Cardoza said. "They should really step it up and move it along because if jurors get bored, they could stop paying attention."
The trial began in early January with salacious details about a torrid 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.
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, then 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.
Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation) contributed to this report.
Sunday, May 19 2013 9:38 AM EDT2013-05-19 13:38:04 GMT
Richmond County Dispatch confirms there has been a stabbing at a Family Dollar. Deputies say it happened on the 2900 block of Dean's Bridge Road around 7:18 tonight. Information is limited at this tiMore >>
Richmond County Sheriff's Office deputies confirmed a stabbing at the Family Dollar on Dean's Bridge Rd. around 7:15 this evening.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 11:38 PM EDT2013-05-19 03:38:46 GMT
Aiken County deputies say they searched with New Ellenton police officers for two armed men who shot dogs on Sizemore Avenue on Saturday night. Aiken County deputies say they started searching for the suspectsMore >>
Aiken County deputies say they searched with New Ellenton police officers for two armed men who shot dogs on Sizemore Avenue on Saturday night.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 10:32 PM EDT2013-05-19 02:32:22 GMT
One person has been transported to the hospital after being shot at Axis Barbershop in Beech Island. Aiken County dispatch said it happened around 2:30 p.m. Saturday. There are at least two suspects,More >>
One person has been transported to the hospital after being shot at Axis Barbershop in Beech Island.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:23 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:23:19 GMT
A fundraiser was held Saturday in honor of Wesley Spires. Local firefighters held a boot drive to honor their fellow volunteer firefighter who remains in critical condition after he was beaten by whatMore >>
A fundraiser was held Saturday in honor of Wesley Spires. Local firefighters held a boot drive to honor their fellow volunteer firefighter who remains in critical condition after he was beaten by what investigators said was a bat along the Augusta Riverwalk on May 3rd.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:05 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:05:19 GMT
Instead of spending the day at the computer, some Augustans spent their day learning about it. People gathered at the Imperial Theater for Web Afternoon. Mayor Deke Copenhaver gave remarks about Augusta'sMore >>
People gathered at the Imperial Theater for Web Afternoon. Mayor Deke Copenhaver gave remarks about Augusta's growth in the technology sector.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 5:55 PM EDT2013-05-18 21:55:44 GMT
Michael Robert Bradford, an employee of DynCorp International, has been killed in Afghanistan.Bradford was a Grovetown resident, according to information from a DynCorp spokesperson.The spokesperson toldMore >>
Michael Robert Bradford, an employee of DynCorp International, has been killed in Afghanistan.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 2:47 PM EDT2013-05-18 18:47:31 GMT
Georgia Power crews are working to fix power lines at William Few Parkway and Knob Hill that were struck from a car crash around 9 a.m. Saturday. Columbia County dispatch said two cars were involved withMore >>
Georgia Power crews are working to fix power lines at William Few Parkway and Knob Hill that were struck from a car crash around 9 a.m. Saturday.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 2:40 PM EDT2013-05-18 18:40:22 GMT
Richmond County Sheriff's Office released the following information in regards to Deputy Creech: Sheriff Roundtree and the family of Deputy Alton Daniel Creech would like to thank everyone within our community forMore >>
Funeral services will be held at First Baptist Church of Augusta, 3500 Walton Way Extension, Augusta, Georgia on Tuesday morning, May 21, 2013 at 11am. Deputy Creech will lie in state for one hour prior to the service.More >>
Friday, May 17 2013 11:31 PM EDT2013-05-18 03:31:56 GMT
Hundreds of people sang through their grief Friday night as they mourned the death of Richmond County deputy Alton Creech. Two of Creech's close friends, who go by Solo and Ruff, say they've been unableMore >>
Hundreds of people sang through their grief Friday night as they mourned the death of Richmond County deputy Alton Creech.More >>
Friday, May 17 2013 8:49 PM EDT2013-05-18 00:49:03 GMT
It's that time of year again for swimming and the YMCA is stressing the importance of water safety. The YMCA wrapped up a week long program that teaches children the basics of water safety. This is partMore >>
The YMCA wrapped up a week long program that teaches children the basics of water safety. This is part of an initiative that is driven by CDC statistics; nearly 3,600 people die each year from drowning.More >>