PHOENIX (Reuters) - Defense lawyers for a California woman accused of murdering her lover in Arizona scrambled on Tuesday to counter the prosecution’s contention that the killing was premeditated and to cast doubt on speculation that she may have stolen a gun from her grandparents to use in the crime.
Jodi Arias could face the death penalty if convicted of murdering Travis Alexander, who was found at his upscale home in the Phoenix suburbs in June 2008 shot in the face, stabbed 27 times and with his throat slashed.
She has admitted the killing but said she shot Alexander in self defense with his own pistol, after he attacked her in a rage. The prosecution has said the killing was premeditated, and prosecutor Juan Martinez accused her of bringing the gun with her from California. The gun used in the killing has not been recovered.
On Tuesday, defense attorneys questioned Arias on a redirect, trying to rebuild their self-defense argument after the suspect underwent five days of blistering cross examination in which prosecutors tried to poke holes in her story.
Shortly before the killing, in late May 2008, a .25 caliber handgun - the same caliber of weapon used in Alexander’s killing - was stolen along with other items in a robbery from her grandparents’ California home. But Arias testified on Tuesday that she became aware of that theft only after the fact.
As defense lawyers tried to show that she did not need to steal a gun, she said that at the time of the robbery, she had access to other guns through family and friends had she needed one.
“Matt had guns, Darryl had a gun ... My father had guns ... My dad had more guns than I was aware of at that time,” Arias testified, adding that they included guns her father kept in his bedroom and a room in which he received dialysis.
“You had several guns at your disposal?” defense attorney Kirk Nurmi asked her, to which she replied: “That’s right.”
Alexander and Arias dated for several months after meeting in the fall of 2006. She has said they split the following year, although Alexander would still invite her to his house for sex.
Arias, whose often lurid testimony about her relations with her former lover has riveted viewers across the nation, has said she shot her lover in self defense with a gun he kept in his closet. She said he first attacked her when she dropped his camera while taking pictures of him in the shower.
She previously told the court she has no memory of stabbing Alexander. She did recall tossing the pistol in the desert after the killing.
During cross examination, prosecutor Juan Martinez poked holes in her version of events, showing she lied to friends, family and detectives to cover her tracks after the killing - even going so far as to send white irises to Alexander’s grandmother after his death.
On Monday, Arias testified that she sent the flowers as the grandmother was the only member of her Alexander’s family that she had met, and that they had met on three occasions.
“She is the only member of his family that I ever met ... Obviously, I felt really awful and I felt that by not doing anything, it would have been worse.”
Editing by Cynthia Johnston and David Gregorio