Defendant Jodi Arias describes her relationship with Travis Alexander as she testifies in her murder trial Wednesday. Arias, 32, is accused of stabbing and slashing Alexander 27 times, slitting his throat and shooting him in the head in his suburban Phoenix home in June 2008.
PHOENIX — The woman charged with killing her lover in the shower of his Arizona home described Wednesday how he made repeated sexual advances while converting her into the Mormon faith during the early stages of their stormy romance.
Jodi Arias took the witness stand for a third day in her murder trial as she described her relationship with Travis Alexander before she stabbed and shot him in what she says was self-defense.
Her defense team put her on the stand in an apparent attempt to build sympathy with jurors in hopes that they convict her of a lesser sentence and spare her the death penalty.
Arias, 32, has described physical and emotional abuse at the hands of family and lovers and cast Alexander as someone who took advantage of her for sex. Arias told investigators that she went to Alexander’s home for sex on the day of the killing, but he turned violent, forcing her to fight for her life.
Prosecutors have portrayed Arias as a jealous ex-girlfriend who snapped and killed him.
The testimony Wednesday was an unusual mix of Mormon theology and X-rated descriptions of their relationship. At one point, naked pictures of Alexander were shown in the courtroom.
Alexander was a Mormon who sent missionaries to Arias’ house to convert her to the religion on one day, and pushed for sexual acts the next, she testified. He also read the Book of Mormon to her.
She became a believer in the faith, and Alexander himself baptized her in late 2006, she said. But she said she felt uncomfortable Alexander’s sexual advances that seemed to contradict the church’s teachings that forbid sex before marriage.
On the same day that he baptized her, Arias said the two engaged in sexual intercourse that she called painful. Alexander told her it was OK under Mormon teachings because their encounter did not involve vaginal intercourse.
During her testimony, Arias appeared uncomfortable with the lurid descriptions she gave.
Arias has told jurors of a past marred by abuse at the hands of her parents, the numerous boyfriends who cheated on her and how things seemed to take a turn for the better when she met Alexander.
She said she first met Alexander at a Las Vegas convention in late 2006 after years of bad relationships.
She was almost immediately enamored by him, and it appeared he was taken with her, too. She suddenly saw both personal and professional opportunities.
“The things he said to me made a big impression on me,” Arias told jurors.
Arias said she soon ended her relationship with another man, and within a week, she saw Alexander again. That’s when things became sexual, she testified.
While staying the night at a home of one of Alexander’s friends, a day before he was to take her to church, she said the pair engaged in oral sex.
“I didn’t want to tell him no so I just kept going with it,” she said. “At that point in time, I was not really accustomed to saying no.”
Arias claims they dated for about five months, then broke up but continued to see each other for sex. Alexander’s friends said she stalked him after the breakup and became possessive and jealous.
Authorities said they found her hair and bloody palm print at the scene of the killing, along with time-stamped photographs on a memory card in a camera discovered inside Alexander’s washing machine that placed Arias there on the day he died. The photos included one of Arias nude on his bed, one of Alexander alive in the shower, and one of his body on the bathroom floor.
In the trial that began in early January, defense attorneys have yet to explain why Arias apparently attempted to clean the scene, washing Alexander’s bedding and the camera, and what happened to the weapons.
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