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.
Tuesday, December 10 2013 8:17 PM EST2013-12-11 01:17:03 GMT
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio
Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Tuesday he will house about 150 military veteran inmates under one roof in a segregated section of the Towers Jail facility. The new military veterans housing unit will featureMore >
"They fight for us overseas, so, we must fight for them here," Sheriff Joe Arpaio said. "When their duty is done, ours has just begun."More >
Wednesday, December 11 2013 12:55 AM EST2013-12-11 05:55:28 GMT
Claudia Ann Lucero, Alex Madrid
Mesa police have announced they've made an arrest in the death of a 14-year-old girl whose body was found in a trash container early Friday morning. Officers said they took the victims' mother's ex-boyfriendMore >
Alex Madrid, 31, of Mesa, a convicted felon and the boyfriend of the victim's mother, was taken into custody in connection with the death of 14-year-old Claudia Ann Lucero, who was strangled and sexually assaulted, police said.More >
Tuesday, December 10 2013 11:06 PM EST2013-12-11 04:06:37 GMT
Meteor sighted in southern Arizona
A meteor was observed streaking across the sky in southern Arizona shortly after 7 p.m., CBS 5 viewers reported. Reports of a #meteor across southern Arizona shortly after 7pm. Many more reports outMore >
There were more sightings in the Tucson area than Phoenix, although some viewers reported seeing it in the sky over the southeast Valley.More >
Tuesday, December 10 2013 11:24 PM EST2013-12-11 04:24:49 GMT
CBS 5 News
This time of year if you haven't come down with a cold consider yourself lucky. "Most of them come from your hands. You touch surfaces, you scratch your nose, the virus gets in," said Dr. Don BucklinMore >
This time of year if you haven't come down with a cold consider yourself lucky. More >
Tuesday, December 10 2013 11:54 PM EST2013-12-11 04:54:32 GMT
(RNN) - Gil Brandt of NFL.com and ESPN radio host Paul Finebaum are reporting that Alabama's Nick Saban is in contract negotiations with the university for a contract extension that would pay him $7 millionMore >
Reports are swirling that Alabama football coach Nick Saban has a contract extension on his desk from Alabama. Meanwhile, conflicting reports coming from Texas say that coach Mack Brown may be on his way out this week. More >
The season of holidays gatherings is upon us, but the raffle prize at one holiday party has some scratching their heads. District 26 republicans get together once a month, and at their holiday party.More >
The season of holidays gatherings is upon us, but the raffle prize at one holiday party has some scratching their heads.More >
Tuesday, December 10 2013 10:59 PM EST2013-12-11 03:59:12 GMT
Valley businessman Fred Knadler remains in jail, accused of hiring someone to kill his wife - twice. Phoenix police have compiled an abundance of evidence, which includes an audio recording of KnadlerMore >
Valley businessman Fred Knadler remains in jail, accused of hiring someone to kill his wife - twice. More >