PHOENIX (AP) — Jodi Arias testified Monday in her Arizona death penalty case that she chose to take the witness stand, despite knowing that prosecutors would chip away at her numerous lies to police and her efforts to cover her tracks to avoid being caught in the killing of her lover.
"Were you forced to testify?" defense attorney Kirk Nurmi asked Arias.
"No," she said.
"When you chose to testify, did you so do with the idea that the lies you told would be called into question?" Nurmi prodded.
"Yes," Arias said.
Arias, 32, is charged in the June 2008 killing of her lover in his suburban Phoenix home. She says it was self-defense, but police say she planned the attack on Travis Alexander in a jealous rage. Arias initially told authorities she had nothing to do with Alexander's death, then blamed it on masked intruders before settling on self-defense.
She is set to resume testimony on Tuesday.
Prosecutor Juan Martinez concluded his cross-examination of Arias last week after hammering her repeatedly over her lies and efforts to create an alibi immediately after she killed Alexander. She acknowledged that she dumped the gun in the desert, got rid of her bloody clothes, tried to clean the scene at Alexander's home and even left the victim a voicemail on his mobile phone within hours of killing him and dragging his body into the shower. She said she was too scared and ashamed to tell the truth.
Arias' attorney on Monday worked again to portray the victim as a sexual deviant who coerced Arias to fulfill his fantasies only to please him, replaying a recording of Arias and Alexander having phone sex.
"He had more sexual partners than I've had," Arias said.
However, text messages shown to jurors and recordings played in court during Arias' cross-examination appeared to indicate that she not only enjoyed some of the sexual encounters, but instigated them.
"It made me feel good to know he was enjoying himself," she said Monday.
Prosecutors are working to prove the attack on Alexander was a premeditated killing that deserves a first-degree murder conviction in order to secure a chance at the death penalty.
"Did you go to Mr. Alexander's home on June 4 with the intent on killing him?" Nurmi asked Arias on Monday.
"No, I didn't," she said. "That was never a thought."
Arias' grandparents had reported a .25 caliber handgun stolen from their Northern California home about a week before the killing — the same caliber used to shoot Alexander — but Arias says she never knew her grandfather had the weapon. Authorities believe she brought it with her, though she has testified she shot Alexander with his own gun as he chased her into his closet after body-slamming her and threatening to kill her.
"He was trying to kill me so I was defending myself," she said.
Alexander had also been stabbed and slashed 27 times and had his throat slit. His body was found by friends about five days later.
Arias has testified that in the months leading up to his death, Alexander had grown physically abusive and beat her on numerous occasions. However, no witnesses have testified and jurors have heard nothing to indicate that Alexander had ever shown violent behavior, and there has been no proof given that he owned a gun.
Arias told authorities repeatedly after her arrest that he didn't own a gun. That story changed after several years in jail when she admitted to the killing.
Arias has been on the witness stand for nearly two weeks. Once she concludes her testimony, jurors can pose questions to Arias via written notes provided to the judge, something allowed in Arizona criminal cases.