PHOENIX – A woman charged with killing her lover broke down in tears Monday as photographs of the smiling couple were displayed for jurors, and she recalled "happier times" before she stabbed and shot him to death.
Jodi Arias, 32, has spent four days on the witness stand recounting for jurors her troubled childhood marred by abuse at the hands of her parents, a string of bad relationships, and how Travis Alexander belittled her, cheated on her, call her derogatory names and used her to fulfill his sexual fantasies.
Arias faces the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murder in Alexander's 2008 killing.
Prosecutors claim she killed Alexander in a jealous rage, stabbing and slashing him 27 times, slitting his throat and shooting him in the head.
Arias says it was self-defense after initially telling authorities she wasn't there. She then blamed it on masked intruders. She now claims Alexander attacked her, forcing her to fight for her life.
She said she continued to date him, even while believing he was cheating on her, because she had low "self-esteem."
"I was kind of a door mat," Arias said, staring sheepishly at jurors.
She described on Monday how she once awoke from sleeping in his bed to find the victim having sex with her, an incident for which she felt responsible.
"I went to sleep next to him. I was wearing a T-shirt, cute shorts," Arias said.
She has repeated throughout her testimony that Alexander made her feel like a prostitute, and how she fulfilled his fantasies, including wearing boy's underwear and having sex in public.
In late 2007, she said, his mental and verbal abuse turned physical when "he pushed me down to the ground."
She said she became so distraught at one point that she called a friend who owned guns.
"I was going to ask him if I could borrow one because I was going to kill myself," Arias said.
During previous testimony, Arias described for jurors how Alexander made repeated sexual advances while converting her into the Mormon faith during their initial courtship. She said she didn't tell him to stop, but the sex made her uncomfortable because she felt it violated the teachings of Mormonism.
She said she first met him in Las Vegas in late 2006, and that they stayed together for about five months before she broke it off, but Alexander promised he would change so they continued to see each other for sex.
Julie Haslem, a friend of Alexander who has been watching the trial, said Arias' testimony that Alexander was abusive and a sexual deviant is false.
"It's bad enough that she took his life. Now she's trying to take his reputation, too," Haslem said outside court.
Arias claims she went to Alexander's home on June 4, 2008, the day of the killing, at his urging.
Alexander's friends said she stalked him and became possessive and jealous.
Authorities said they found Arias' hair and bloody palm print at the scene, along with time-stamped photographs in a camera discovered inside Alexander's washing machine.
Authorities also say Alexander was shot in the head with a .25 caliber gun, the same caliber Arias' grandparents reported stolen from their Northern California home.