PHOENIX - A woman charged in the fatal stabbing and shooting of her lover in Arizona testified Tuesday about how the victim's rage had been escalating in the days leading up to his death as she explained that she did not come to his home armed with any weapons or intent to kill.
Jodi Arias, 32, faces the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murder in the June 2008 killing of Travis Alexander in his suburban Phoenix home.
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She has spent seven days on the witness stand testifying about the minutia of her life, from an abusive childhood to ex-boyfriends and dead-end waitressing jobs. On Tuesday, she began describing for jurors the details of the day she says she killed Alexander in self-defense in an apparent attempt to undercut the prosecution's theory that she planned a gruesome murder in a fit of jealous rage.
Testimony was set to resume Wednesday. Arias is expected to describe in detail for jurors exactly what led her to kill Alexander.
Authorities must prove premeditation in order to secure a first-degree murder conviction and get a shot at the death penalty.
Arias has said the two dated for about five months, then broke up but continued seeing each other for sex up until the day Alexander died. She was on a road trip in June 2008, headed from California to Utah, when Alexander convinced her to visit him in Mesa, she said.
A day of raunchy sex and nude photographs followed.
"Did you have a gun with you?" asked defense attorney Kirk Nurmi.
"No," Arias replied softly.
"Did you have a knife with you?"
"No," Arias said.
Her grandparents had reported a .25-caliber handgun stolen a week before the killing from their home in Northern California where Arias had been staying at the time. She told jurors she didn't even know her grandfather had a handgun. Prosecutors say Alexander was shot in the head with the same caliber weapon, and also stabbed and slashed 27 times. Arias also cut his throat from ear to ear, prosecutors say.
She claims she was forced to fight for her life, and the killing was self-defense, but has yet to explain what happened to the weapons. They were never found.
Arias told jurors on Tuesday how she just wanted to please Alexander by having kinky sex and taking nude photos of each other. She said he would grow angry and abusive if she didn't comply, as he had in the past.
After having sex multiple times on the day of the killing, Arias said Alexander grew angry, grabbed her and forced her onto his desk, then pulled off her clothes. The pair had sex again, she said, because she didn't want him to become even angrier.
"Usually when I went along with what he did, he would settle down faster," Arias said. "I felt like we avoided a catastrophe."
Outside court, Alexander's friends who have been watching the trial say she is lying, and there has been no testimony from other witnesses that Alexander was ever physically violent. Arias initially told authorities she knew nothing of the killing, but later, she blamed it on masked intruders. Eventually, she claimed self-defense.
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