Jodi Arias trial: Jodi Arias returns to witness stand for juror questions

PHOENIX -  Jodi Arias returned to the witness stand Thursday to answer more questions from the jury for a second straight day in her murder trial in Arizona.

The 32-year-old Arias was asked repeatedly Thursday about how she can't remember important details from the day she killed Travis Alexander nearly five years ago. The jury asked her why she can vividly remember so many other details about her life but not stabbing and shooting Alexander in what she says was self-defense.

The bulk of the questions Thursday dealt with her memory issues. She responded by saying her memory issues occur in stressful situations.

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Arizona is one of just a few states where jurors in every trial can ask questions of witnesses. In many other states, it's up to individual judges to decide whether it's permissible.

On Wednesday, the wildly ranging juror questions came in rapid succession, read aloud by a judge in a calm, monotone voice.

Why didn't Jodi Arias ever report accusations of abuse by her lover?  How could she so easily grab a gun to shoot the victim as he attacked her in a fury?  Why can she remember so much minutia of her life, yet recall so little from the day she savagely killed him, then methodically went about covering her tracks?

The queries ranged from Mormonism to specific details from the day she killed Travis Alexander in his suburban Phoenix home and her contention that she suffers from memory lapses that leave huge gaps in her recollection of the gruesome attack.

Judge Sherry Stephens posed more than 150 questions to Arias from jurors who had listened to her testify about her abusive childhood, cheating boyfriends, dead-end jobs and her contention that Alexander had grown physically abusive in the months leading up to this death, once even choking her into unconsciousness.

Arias returned to the stand Thursday for a 17th day of testimony as Stephens read even more juror questions that experts say don't bode well for the defense.

"I think the message here is, `I think you're lying and I want to have you answer my questions directly,"' said Phoenix criminal defense attorney Julio Laboy, who has been following the trial.

"They're asking very specific questions, like when do you lie and when do you tell the truth," he added.

"Obviously, at least one juror doesn't believe a word she is saying."

Once the juror questions conclude, attorneys on both sides will have the opportunity to re-question Arias only on the specific points raised by the panel, but their questions have largely touched on every aspect of the case.

Laboy said defense attorneys shouldn't bite at the chance, noting Arias has been on the witness stand long enough and jurors may be tiring of hearing her repeat the same stories.

"Let Jodi's voice just end," he said, adding that her defense lawyer should allow the prosecutor to question her then just let Arias get off the stand.

"Her lawyer should try to be the good guy, ending it for everyone, for the jury and the spectators," Laboy said.

"Jurors may not be happy if they don't have the last word."

Arias has answered the often repetitive questions calmly and concisely at times, while others she has dodged and meandered with her responses.

But the jury's queries, and the fact that more continued to come in Wednesday, clearly indicate they aren't satisfied with her story just yet.

None of her allegations of Alexander's violence and her claims that he had sexual desires for young boys have been corroborated by witnesses or evidence during the trial, and she has acknowledged lying repeatedly but insists she is telling the truth now.

Arias is charged with first-degree murder and faces the death penalty if convicted in Alexander's June 2008 death. She says it was self-defense, but police say it was a premeditated killing.

Arias initially told authorities she had nothing to do with the killing then blamed it on masked intruders before settling on self-defense. She has been questioned repeatedly about her methodical efforts to create an alibi and avoid suspicion, she says, because she was too ashamed and scared to tell the truth.

Alexander suffered nearly 30 knife wounds, had been shot in the head and had his throat slit.

Many juror questions focused on things that just don't add up -- how Arias can recall specific details of raunchy sexual encounters with Alexander, yet her memory is "scrambled" when she tries to recall events from the day she killed him. They specifically asked if she had ever sought medical treatment for her self-proclaimed memory problems. She said she didn't view it as a condition to be treated.

Jurors prodded her over why she never called police after she says Alexander had repeatedly physically abused her, and why she continued to see him after she said she once awoke to find him having sex with her.

"I was in love with Travis,"

Arias said. "I knew I was in love with him, and it didn't make a difference to me, honestly."
 

The panel also asked about her commitment to Mormon teachings. She converted to the faith after meeting Alexander, also a Mormon, but the two carried on an intense sexual relationship, despite church doctrine that discourages sex outside of wedlock.

And they wanted to know why she tried to clean the bloody scene at Alexander's home and why she didn't come clean sooner.

She acknowledges dumping the gun in the desert, getting rid of her bloody clothes, and leaving the victim a voicemail on his mobile phone within hours of killing him in an attempt to cover her tracks.

Arias' grandparents had reported a .25 caliber handgun stolen from their Northern California home about a week before the killing -- the same caliber used to shoot Alexander -- but Arias says didn't take it. Authorities believe she brought it with her. Arias says she shot Alexander with his own gun she found in his closet as they tussled.
 

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