PHOENIX – Jodi Arias' numerous versions of how and why she fatally stabbed, slashed and shot her lover have been center stage this week as a prosecutor in her death penalty trial picked apart her stories in painstaking detail.
She spent days trying to explain away her lies, first telling authorities, friends and family she knew nothing of Travis Alexander's death, then later blaming it on masked intruders before eventually settling on self-defense. She was too ashamed and frightened of the consequences to be truthful, she told jurors.
Alexander, she has said, was a cheating womanizer, an angry man with a violent temper who once choked her into unconsciousness, while simultaneously a caring, loving boyfriend who bought her surprise gifts, took her on trips and loaned her his car. He coaxed her into raunchy sex acts she didn't enjoy, she said, though text messages shown to jurors indicate she was at times as much an instigator as he was.
Her testimony was set to resume Wednesday, as prosecutor Juan Martinez continues his aggressive cross-examination of Arias. He has worked to poke holes in each of her stories and noted the duplicity of her portrayal of Alexander as both a beautiful person who blessed the world and a violent, womanizing sexual deviant, aiming for a first-degree murder conviction and the death penalty.
"Travis, I thank you for being such an amazing friend. You are a rock, a light and an inspiration," Arias wrote in one text message displayed for jurors. "I love you dearly."
Martinez remarked how these messages were sent after Arias says Alexander had beaten her.
"This is not in line with the person you have been talking about, is it?" Martinez prodded.
"Yes, it is very consistent with how he was," Arias replied.
"You've been telling us before how he was mean?" Martinez remarked.
"Yes, he also was that," Arias said softly.
Martinez kept hammering at her, repeatedly mentioning how she began planning an alibi immediately after killing Alexander, even attending his memorial service about 10 days later. She previously testified she had been working on an alibi to throw off suspicion and avoid being charged, and she was too scared and ashamed to tell the truth.
At the service, Arias wrote in an album for Alexander's family how he was "beautiful on the inside and out."
"This world has been blessed because you have been here," she wrote.
Testimony at times has turned into a one-sided shouting match between Arias and Martinez over memory problems, with Arias calmly saying his aggressive demeanor was causing her to forget crucial details.
It was a stark contrast to her testimony under questioning by her own lawyers, during which she alternated between poise and tears and recalled precise details of practically her entire life dating back to being abused by her parents at the age of 7.
Arias recalled virtually nothing under questioning by Martinez.
Their barbs have led to numerous private conferences between attorneys and the judge as defense lawyers repeatedly objected to Martinez's aggressiveness, accusing him of badgering the witness.
Arias is charged in the June 2008 death of Alexander in his suburban Phoenix home. She says she dated him for about five months before breaking up but continued to see him for sex up until the day she killed him. She was forced to fight for her life after Alexander attacked her, she said, but police say she planned the killing in a jealous rage.
Arias has said Alexander invited her to his Mesa home on the day of the killing for sex. His body was found about five days later. He had been shot in the head, suffered 27 stab and slash wounds and his throat was slit.
Of the day of Alexander's death, Arias says he was in a rage, body-slamming her and chasing her around his home.
She said she grabbed a gun from his closet, and fired it as they tussled, but doesn't recall stabbing him. She said she remembers putting a knife in the dishwasher and disposing of the gun in the desert as she drove from Arizona to see a man in Utah, where she spent the night in his bed kissing and cuddling as she worked to create an alibi and avoid suspicion.
Arias' grandparents reported a .25 caliber handgun stolen from their Northern California house about a week before the killing -- the same caliber used to shoot Alexander -- but Arias says she knows nothing about the burglary.
She says she brought no weapons to Alexander's home on the day she killed him, undercutting the prosecution's theory of premeditation.