PHOENIX (Reuters) - A woman charged with capital murder in Arizona testified on Monday that she sent flowers to her former boyfriend’s grandmother days after killing him, which prosecutors said showed the lengths to which she went to cover her tracks.
Jodi Arias, 32, could face the death penalty if convicted of murdering 30-year-old 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 had his throat slit.
In graphic testimony about her relationship with Alexander, Arias has admitted to killing him but said it was in self defense after he attacked her when she dropped his camera while taking pictures of him in the shower. The prosecution has said she killed him in a jealous rage.
Prosecutor Juan Martinez told an Arizona court on Monday how, several days after the killing, Arias sent 20 white irises to Alexander’s grandmother, who had helped to raise him in southern California.
“You went out of your way to contact Mr. Alexander’s family, didn’t you?” Martinez asked Arias. “You actually sent ... her irises ... and in addition to that you attached a note, right?” he added, saying the note indicated the grandmother was in her prayers.
“Yes,” Arias replied, before Martinez shot back that she lied about feeling sympathy for Alexander’s grandmother as “just a way to assuage your guilt.”
“That wasn’t my thought,” Arias replied.
The testimony came on the second day of cross examination by the prosecution during which Martinez sought to depict Arias as a jealous schemer who tried to cover her tracks by lying to friends, family and police after killing Alexander.
The court heard on Monday how, after Arias was arrested in July 2008, she gave a contradictory story to a detective investigating the killing, telling him that she was not present at Alexander’s home on the day of his death.
Martinez confronted Arias with how she subsequently changed her story a day later after learning that her fingerprints and a photograph retrieved from Alexander’s camera placed her at the scene of her lover’s killing.
“You changed your story to comport with the forensic evidence that he was telling you about. ... You did not want any consequences regarding the killing of Travis Alexander, right?”
Arias said she was not “concerned about consequences.”
Martinez also cast doubt on previous testimony in which Arias said that, after she told Alexander she was moving away from the Phoenix valley, he struck her with the back of his hand while they sat in a car.
He went over a journal entry Arias had written for that day in which she called Alexander her “best friend in the whole world” and noted that the couple had shared three “very tender kisses” before parting that day.
“This entry does not corroborate what you told us happened in the car ... does it?” he said. Arias agreed that it did not. She admitted there were no photographs, medical or police reports to back up her claim that Alexander struck her.
During aggressive cross examination, Martinez also questioned Arias about an alleged attempt she had made to kill herself with a razor in jail, following her arrest, in which she stopped after she “nicked” herself.
“You stopped because it stung. Can you imagine how much it must have hurt Mr. Alexander when you stuck that knife right into his chest, that really must have hurt right?”
Arias’ attorney objected. Her eyes brimmed with tears, although she did not respond.
Reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Richard Chang and Lisa Shumaker