PHOENIX (Reuters) - A woman on trial in Arizona for capital murder testified on Wednesday she shot her former lover unintentionally during a struggle when he threatened her after she dropped his camera, but she said she did not recall stabbing him.
Jodi Arias, whose testimony has gripped viewers across the United States, could face the death penalty if convicted of murdering Travis Alexander, whose body was found in the shower of his Phoenix area home, shot in the face, stabbed 27 times and with his throat slit.
She testified that Alexander became irate and body slammed her in the bathroom after she dropped a camera while taking photographs of him in the shower to document his newly sculpted body on the day he died in June 2008.
She said she fled through a closet and picked up a gun that she knew Alexander kept on a top shelf, and pointed it at him with both hands after he pursued her.
“I thought that would stop him ... He got like a linebacker, he got low and grabbed my waist ... the gun went off” she said. “After the gun went off, I thought, ‘Crap, he’s really going to be pissed now,'” she added.
Arias, 32, says that she killed her 30-year-old lover in self defense after their relationship became increasingly abusive. Prosecutors maintain she killed him in a jealous rage.
Asked by the defense if she feared he would kill her that day, she said: “For sure, he’d almost killed me before, now he was going to.”
Arias said there were “lots of gaps” in her memory from that day. “I have no memory of stabbing him,” although she said she did recall dropping the knife: “It clanged to the tile and I just remember screaming.”
Her next memories were of driving west with the sun in her eyes. While she did not recall bringing the gun with her, she remembered “throwing it in the desert.”
As she drove through northern Arizona, she told the court she realized she was in “really deep trouble” and began thinking what she could do to “delay the inevitable.”
“I couldn’t imagine calling 911 and telling them what I had just done .. I was scared of what would happen to me,” she said during frequently tearful testimony.
She described how she realized her life “was pretty much over” but that she “didn’t want anyone to know that that had happened, or that I did it.”
She said she tried to do a “whole bunch of things” to cover up that she was ever at the crime scene, including recording and re-recording a message on Alexander’s phone.
“I would leave a message, start crying, then I’d delete it. I was talking too fast ... I called again, hit pound, erase again .. started recording again. Listened to it and thought, ‘that’s good enough.'”
“I thought eventually his voicemails were going to be listened to, and that would throw the scent off.”
Reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Andrew Hay