PHOENIX — A prosecutor on Wednesday meticulously chipped away at Jodi Arias' numerous stories in the death penalty case against her, noting apparent contradictions in her testimony about the nature of her sexual relationship with the victim, weapons used in the killing and her various versions of events leading her to the man's home on the day of his death.
After three days of intense cross-examination by prosecutor Juan Martinez in a Phoenix courtroom, testimony ended just as he began to ask about the day of the June 2008 killing of Travis Alexander.
She claims she killed him in self-defense when he became enraged after a day of raunchy sex, while authorities say she planned the attack on Alexander in a jealous rage, then worked to cover her tracks.
Martinez is prodding Arias about her testimony under questioning by her attorneys, during which she recalled minute details of her life dating back to what she called an abusive childhood, yet her recollection of events leading up to the killing has grown hazy under cross-examination.
Martinez repeatedly refers to her "litany of lies." Arias initially told authorities she knew know nothing about the killing, then later blamed it on intruders, providing descriptions of the attack by two masked people in several media interviews. She eventually settled on self-defense. She says she was too ashamed and frightened to be truthful sooner.
However, Martinez noted that her story changed as she spoke to various media organizations.
"I couldn't keep my stories straight," Arias acknowledged.
She has repeatedly described a raunchy sexual relationship with Alexander, testifying she just wanted to fulfill his fantasies even as some of them made her feel like a prostitute. Yet phone recordings played for jurors and text messages shown in court indicate that she enjoyed participating, and even instigated some of the salacious encounters.
"So when you tell us you felt like a prostitute it seems to be contradictory?" Martinez noted. "You were actually into it as much as he was, right?"
"Yes," Arias said.
Martinez then read for jurors text messages between Arias and Alexander. In one message, Arias describes how she wanted to be treated "like a dirty little schoolgirl."
She has testified that was one of Alexander's sexual fantasies that made her uncomfortable.
"It was a consensual mutual relationship sexually speaking, wasn't it?" Martinez asked.
"Yes, always," Arias said.
"No indication that you were offended?" the prosecutor continued.
"Correct," Arias replied.
As he continued picking apart her stories, Martinez asked about several 5-gallon gas cans Arias said she borrowed as she began her intended road trip from Northern California to Utah in the days before Alexander's death.
Arias testified under questioning by her attorneys that she brought along the cans to fill up out of state because gas was so expensive in California, yet Martinez displayed receipts showing she actually filled up in California.
Martinez later played for jurors a recording of a telephone conversation Arias had with the lead detective on the case a day after Alexander's body was found. She testified previously she called police to throw off suspicion.
"Was there, like, any kind of weapons used? Was there a gun?" she asked the detective on the tape.
He responded with his own question.
"Do you know of him (Alexander) having any weapons at all in his house?" the detective asked.
"His two fists," Arias replied.
Arias says on the day of the killing, Alexander flew into a rage, body-slammed her and chased her around his home, forcing her to fight for her life.
She said she grabbed a gun from his closet, and fired it as they tussled. She remembers putting a knife in the dishwasher and disposing of the gun in the desert as she drove from Arizona to see a man in Utah. Alexander's body was found about five days later. He had been shot in the head, and suffered 27 stab and slash wounds and a slit throat.
Martinez then questioned her about that phone call to the detective during which she said Alexander didn't own a gun.
"So you're saying you lied to him again?" Martinez asked.
"Yes," Arias said.
Arias' grandparents reported a .25 caliber handgun stolen from their Northern California house about a week before the killing – the same caliber used to shoot Alexander – but Arias says she knows nothing about the burglary. She was staying with them at the time.
Part of the prosecution's case aimed at securing a death penalty hinges on premeditation.
As testimony neared an end Wednesday, Martinez turned to Arias' contention that Alexander had a knife in his bedroom that he had used to cut rope to tie Arias to his bed for sexual antics. She claims the rope was too long, so Alexander made it shorter. But Martinez noted that the rope was merely a prop and not really restraining her to the bed, to which she agreed.
"Why would you even need to cut this rope," he asked. "There would be no need for a knife at that point, would there?"
"No, I guess not," Arias replied.