Jodi Arias trial: Defense to lay out their case in Valley murder trial

PHOENIX - The defense is set to present its case in the death penalty trial of woman accused in the gruesome slaying of her lover in Arizona.

Defendant Jodi Arias was adamant at first. She said she knew nothing about her lover's death, didn't slit his throat, stab him nearly 30 times or put a bullet in his forehead.

Then she offered a different story: Masked intruders killed Travis Alexander and she escaped.

Arias finally settled on a third version: She had slain her abusive, on-again, off-again boyfriend in self-defense.

Her different stories will pose a formidable obstacle as her attorneys present their case beginning Tuesday in a Phoenix courtroom in the trial that has become a cable TV news sensation.

A number of legal experts agree the primary goal for the defense will be to spare Arias the death penalty.

On Monday, Arias' attorney, Kirk Nurmi, requested a mistrial and accused the prosecution of misconduct.

Nurmi revealed a man on the defense witness list, Gus Searcy, had been contacted by a someone on the prosecution's witness list.

Chris Hughes, a friend of Arias and Alexander and a co-worker of Searcy, admitted he sent Searcy a text message after hearing Searcy was on the witness list for the defense.

The two made phone calls and sent text messages during the trial and Nurmi insinuated Hughes contacted Searcy to feed the prosecution information.

Lead prosecutor Juan Martinez denied the claim and had a heated exchange with Searcy in court.

"Isn't your reputation, sir, that you want to make yourself the center of attention," asked Martinez.

"Where do you get that from?" responded Searcy.

"I'm asking you a question, sir. You don't get to ask me questions," snapped Martinez.

The heated exchange continued throughout the testimony.

The hearing will continue Tuesday morning before the trial resumes.

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