By Tim Gaynor
PHOENIX (Reuters) - A woman accused of murdering her Arizona lover broke down and wept on the witness stand on Thursday when presented with a photograph of his body, and admitted to lying about the killing.
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 valley home in June 2008. He was shot in the face, stabbed 27 times and had his throat slit.
Arias, who is from California, 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.
During combative cross-examination on Thursday about Arias' actions on the day of killing, prosecutor Juan Martinez suddenly produced a photograph of Alexander's lifeless body in the shower, asking her, "Where were you when this happened?" Arias broke down in tears.
"Were you crying when you were shooting him?" Martinez asked, to which she replied: "I can't remember."
"Were you crying when you were stabbing him?" he asked. "What about when you cut his throat? Were you crying then?"
"I don't know," Arias replied between sobs.
Martinez did not relent. "So take a look. ... You're the one who did this, right?" he asked. Arias answered affirmatively.
"And you are the same individual that lied about all this, right?" he asked. "So take a look at it."
In five days of often aggressive cross-examination, Martinez has poked holes in Arias' testimony, pointing out to the jury conflicting accounts she gave to friends, family and police of her relationship with Alexander and his death.
In questioning prior to Arias' breakdown on the stand on Thursday, Martinez had picked at differing accounts she gave of events in the hours immediately before she killed Alexander in June 2008.
Arias had previously said that her lover had not shaved on the day of the killing, but Martinez played an interview with a detective following her arrest in which she said she took pictures of Alexander shaving. He also produced a photograph Arias took of her clean shaven lover just prior to his death.
Arias had also previously testified that she took pictures of Alexander in the shower because he was proud of his body as he had been working out prior to a vacation in Cancun, Mexico.
But in the interview with the detective, Arias said she was inspired by a Calvin Klein photo shoot and persuaded Alexander to let her take pictures of him showering, although he was initially reluctant.
"On the one hand, you are telling us he wanted the photographs, and on the other hand you are telling us 'No, he didn't want the photographs.' Which one is it? Pick one," Martinez said.
Her attorney objected to the compound question.
Arias subsequently agreed that she had not told the detective Alexander wanted the pictures taken in the shower.
(Reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Richard Chang)