PHOENIX (Reuters) - Prosecutors on Thursday portrayed an Arizona woman on trial on capital murder charges as a jealous liar who gave conflicting evidence about her lover’s allegedly abusive behavior before his violent death.
Jodi Arias, 32, could face the death penalty if convicted of murdering Travis Alexander, whose body was found in the shower of his Phoenix area home in June 2008. He was shot in the face, stabbed 27 times and his throat slit.
During graphic testimony about her relationship with 30-year-old Alexander, Arias has said she killed him in self defense. The prosecution says she killed him in a jealous rage.
Prosecutor Juan Martinez sought to depict Arias as inconsistent, questioning her version of how her left ring finger was broken. She has told the court it happened in January 2008 while she was protecting herself when Alexander kicked her.
But Martinez played a video of Arias telling a detective after her arrest that she had received the injury when a woman broke into Alexander’s house on the day of the killing in June 2008 and assaulted her.
“The injury to your finger happened in June 2008 not January 2008, didn’t it?” he asked Arias, who sat tense but calm wearing a black jacket with white piping. “That’s not correct,” Arias replied.
Martinez also asked her if she told the detective a lie, to which she replied “Yes.” He then shot back: “When do you decide to tell the truth, in this court and nowhere else?”
Arias had previously testified that Alexander attacked her in January 2008, a day after she said she had walked in on him masturbating to images of a young boy - an event she said made her physically sick.
But in a push to undermine her testimony, Martinez produced a journal entry Arias wrote from a few days after that incident, in which she noted she had not kept up with entries as there had “not been anything noteworthy to report.”
Martinez said: “This is pretty noteworthy to you isn’t it?” “Yes,” she replied. Martinez also produced a record of several innocuous text messages exchanged by the couple on the evening she said she had walked in on him, in which they discussed trading cars and attending a church event.
“Throughout this whole text message between you and him, there is no discussion about anything that happened?” Martinez said. “No,” she replied.
Arias, who will return to the witness stand on Monday, has testified that on the day Alexander died he became irate and body slammed her in the bathroom of his home after she dropped a camera while taking photographs of him in the shower.
She said she fled from the bathroom to where Alexander kept a gun and pointed it at him with both hands when he pursued her. She said the “gun went off,” and she had no recollection of the stabbing.
During a day of at-times testy cross examination, Martinez asked Arias if she “had a problem with memory,” to which she replied, “Sometimes.” He asked her in what situations she became forgetful, to which she replied.
“Usually when men like you are screaming at me or grilling me, or someone like Travis ... it makes my brain scramble.”
Martinez also sought to portray Arias as jealous of her former boyfriend, relentlessly questioning her about an incident in August 2007, two months after the couple broke up, in which Arias watched through a window at Alexander’s home while he was “making out” with another woman. Arias later confronted Alexander about the incident.
“What in the world gave you the right to talk to an ex-boyfriend that you had broken up with? You were being territorial about it. Why in the world would you even care?” Martinez asked Arias in a rapid-fire cross examination about the incident.
“You could have left that situation alone, but you decided to confront him. The reason you did that was because you were jealous,” he said.
Reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Cynthia Osterman