By Tim Gaynor
PHOENIX (Reuters) - A woman accused of murdering her Arizona lover struggled on Wednesday to explain to a jury why she could not recall stabbing him repeatedly including several times from behind in a killing she says was in self-defense.
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 said she killed him in self-defense after he attacked her when she dropped his camera while taking pictures of him in the shower.
The prosecutor argues the killing was premeditated, and that she stabbed Alexander in the back of the head and torso after shooting him.
The defense and prosecution have cross-examined Arias on the stand. On Wednesday Judge Sherry Stephens put to her dozens of questions from the jury, several of which focused on her claims that her mind went blank after she shot Alexander.
"I can't really explain why my mind did what it did, maybe because it was too horrible, I don't know. I really don't know the answer as to why I blacked out or have memory gaps for much of that day," Arias testified.
Arias has said the memory lapse began immediately after she shot Alexander, although she later recalled dropping the knife on the tile floor in the shower and driving away from the crime scene.
Asked by the jury if she had sought medical help or taken medication for her "memory issue," she replied that she had not.
Jurors also wanted to know more about Arias' actions on the day she said she killed Alexander, including why she had not called emergency responders.
"I don't have an adequate explanation for my state of mind following that, I just know that I believed something really bad had happened and I was scared," Arias, wearing glasses and a white blouse, told the court.
In several days of aggressive cross-examination on the stand, prosecutor Juan Martinez poked holes in Arias' testimony, pointing out conflicting accounts she gave to friends, family and police of her relationship with Alexander and his death.
After her arrest in July 2008, Arias, who is from California, at first denied being involved in the killing. She then told investigators that two intruders killed Alexander, before changing her story once again and admitting that she killed her lover in what she said was self-defense.
Stephens followed up on Wednesday with another juror question, wanting to know why Arias had not simply told the police the truth about the killing from the start.
"I was ... very scared," Arias replied. "Whether I was defending myself or not, I felt like it was wrong to kill somebody, regardless of the circumstances."
Following her arrest, Arias gave a television interview from jail in which she predicted that no jury would ever convict her because she was innocent. Jurors wanted to know why she had said it.
"I was very confident that no jury would convict me because I was going to be dead," Arias said, adding that she had planned to kill herself before the case came to trial.
"I assumed that I would be in the next life, where ... God is the ultimate judge," she said.
The trial, which began in January, continues on Thursday.
(Editing by Xavier Briand)
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