Arias’ defense team readies case, experts say key objective is to avoid death sentence

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Defense attorneys on Tuesday will begin making their case in the trial of a woman accused of killing her motivational speaker ex-boyfriend more than four years ago in a jealous rage.

Jodi Arias, 32, could become the fourth woman on Arizona's death row if she's convicted of killing Travis Alexander. Prosecutors say Arias shot Alexander in the face, stabbed and slashed him nearly 30 times, slit his throat and left him inside a shower at his suburban Phoenix home in 2008 after he tried to end their relationship.

Arias repeatedly changed her story about his death. At first, she denied involvement, then later blamed masked intruders before finally confessing. Now, she claims Alexander was abusive and that the killing was in self-defense.

The trial began in early January. Prosecutors rested their case on Jan. 17.

Prosecutors argue Arias went to Alexander's home in June 2008, intent on killing him after learning he planned to take a trip to Mexico with another woman. She claims she ended their relationship, but the two continued a sexual affair.

Police say Arias' bloody palm print and hair were found at the crime scene and that they found sexually explicit photographs in a camera inside Alexander's home that place Arias there on the day he was killed.

Arias told police that on the day of the killing, Alexander invited her to his home for sex then became enraged when she dropped his new camera while snapping photos of him. She claims she had to fight for her life.

The photos show Arias nude in Alexander's home and Alexander alive in the shower, then dead in the bathroom. A police detective said the photos are time-stamped on the day Alexander was killed.

Defense lawyers have yet to explain, however, why she put his camera in a washing machine and why she changed her story.

Legal experts say the primary goal for Arias' attorneys will be to spare Arias the death penalty.

Authorities say Alexander was shot with a .25 caliber gun, the same caliber weapon Arias and her grandparents reported stolen from their Northern California home just days before the killing. Police have not recovered any of the weapons used in the slaying.

Alexander's roommates found his body five days after he was killed. Arias was arrested the following month at her parents' home in Northern California.