PHOENIX (AP) — An ex-girlfriend of the man Jodi Arias says she killed in self-defense testified Tuesday that with her, the victim was never physically or verbally abusive.
Deanna Reid said she dated Travis Alexander for several months before she went to Costa Rica in 2000 to serve a Mormon mission. The couple broke up while she was away.
They rekindled their relationship in 2002, but Reid said they broke up again about three years later because Alexander wasn't ready for marriage, while she wanted to settle down. They remained friends until his death, she said.
"Would he ever call you names?" prosecutor Juan Martinez asked Reid.
"No he did not," she replied.
"Did he ever strike you or physically advance on you or inflict any physical violence on you?" Martinez asked.
"No, never," said Reid, who is now caring for Alexander's dog Napoleon
Throughout the nearly 2 ½ months of defense testimony, Arias' lawyers worked to portray her as a victim of physical and emotional abuse by Alexander. Arias claims her lover had grown so abusive, once choking her into unconsciousness, that on the day he died, she feared for her life.
However, no testimony or evidence at trial — other than Arias' own account — has supported the defendant's claims. Martinez sought Tuesday to use Reid in an attempt to show jurors that Arias is lying.
Defense attorney Kirk Nurmi later asked the witness graphic questions about her relationship with Alexander. Reid said the two had been sexually intimate, and that they were aware it violated the doctrines of the Mormon church. Both Reid and the victim were members of the faith which teaches abstinence before marriage.
Alexander had portrayed himself to be a virgin to many friends and family while remaining active in his church and simultaneously carrying on a raunchy sexual relationship with Arias. The defense has worked throughout the trial to portray Alexander as a liar and an abusive womanizer who used Arias to fulfill his fantasies.
The defense rested its case last week but now wants the judge to allow another expert to testify to help blunt the sting of a prosecution witness — clinical psychologist Janeen DeMarte — who told jurors during the ongoing rebuttal phase that Arias suffered from borderline personality disorder. The judge hadn't yet ruled on the matter. A hearing was set for Wednesday morning after which testimony will resume.
DeMarte also testified last week that Arias doesn't suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or amnesia.
A defense expert had testified previously that Arias suffers from the conditions, which explains why she can't recall much from the day she killed Alexander. Another defense expert testified that Arias was a battered woman, yet DeMarte said she found no evidence to support that conclusion.
Martinez has several more rebuttal witnesses ahead of closing arguments.
Arias faces a potential death sentence if convicted of first-degree murder in the June 2008 killing of her one-time boyfriend at his suburban Phoenix home. Authorities say she planned the attack on Alexander in a jealous rage. Arias initially denied involvement then blamed it on masked intruders. Two years after her arrest, she said it was self-defense.
Alexander suffered nearly 30 knife wounds, was shot in the head and had his throat slit. Arias' palm print was found in blood at the scene, along with nude photos of her and the victim from the day of the killing.
Arias said she recalls Alexander attacking her in a fury after a day of sex. She said she ran into his closet to retrieve a gun he kept on a shelf and fired in self-defense but has no memory of stabbing him.
Arias' grandparents 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 said she didn't take it. Authorities believe she brought it with her to kill the victim. There has been no evidence or testimony supporting Arias' claim that Alexander ever owned a gun.
Arias has acknowledged trying to clean the scene of the killing, dumping the gun in the desert and working on an alibi, even attending a memorial service for Alexander.
Brian Skoloff can be followed at https://twitter.com/bskoloff