The first thing Jodi Arias said when she took the witness stand this week in her capital murder trial was that she killed her lover Travis Alexander on June 4, 2008. Then she said the reason she did it was to defend herself.
The high drama of her testimony and trial is being carried live on national television stations HLN and sister channel Tru Television (formerly Court TV).
After several days of her testimony the Arizona judge adjourned the trial until Monday when she will continue testifying. Her attorneys have for three days now led her through her story of past relationships with men which allegedly damaged her. She has not yet told this jury her version of the events of the day of the grisly murder.
Television legal pundits have been debating ever since her trial started weeks ago whether or not she would testify. The traditional rule defense attorneys frequently follow is not to call their clients to the witness stand for fear the prosecutor will destroy them on cross examination.
But there is another theory believed by many prosecutors and defense attorneys which is, "If you don't talk, you don't walk."
Arias obviously decided her best chance to walk in this case was to talk. So she is on the witness stand telling her version of the tragic events leading up to the death of her Mormon lover.
It's not difficult to predict what the prosecutor's first few questions will be on cross examination.
They are as follows:
"Were you lying when you told the police you hadn't seen Travis Alexander in two months or are you lying here in court?"
Another question on cross will be, "Were you lying when you told Inside Edition that two masked intruders broke into Alexander's home, killed him and then attempted to kill you or are you lying now?"
And then the next question on cross examination will be, "Were you lying when you said you killed Travis Alexander in self-defense after he abused you and blew up at you for dropping his camera or are you lying now?"
"Sadly, Travis left Jodi no other option but to defend herself," her attorney Jennifer Willmott told jurors during her opening statement on Jan. 2.
The stakes for photographer Arias, 27, could not be higher in this Maricopa County, Arizona courtroom. If the jury believes her self-defense story, she could be found not guilty by reason of self-defense and walk free out the courthouse doors.
If the jury convicts her of capital murder, she could receive the death penalty and be transported to Arizona's death row.
But there are other options in between. If the jurors found her guilty of some lesser included charge she could receive a prison sentence.
It was evidently a mutual attraction when Jodi Arias met Travs Alexander, 30, at a 2006 conference. Alexander was a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and a motivational speaker.
He urged her to read the Book of Mormon during their relationship and she converted to his faith within a few months. When Alexander broke up with Arias, she allegedly slashed his tires.
On June 9, 2008 the police found Alexander in his Mesa, Ariz. home, his body decomposed five days. He was stabbed 27 times, suffered an ear-to-ear slash across his throat and one bullet to the head, according to an article in the Feb. 18 edition of People Magazine.
Making this even a more wide open trial is the fact jurors in this case are allowed to submit questions to the judge during the course of the trial. Some of the questions asked so far from jurors have followed themes the defense has been presenting so far.
Was it self-defense, capital murder or something in between?
That is a question the jurors will have to answer.
Jodi Arias is the only person still on the face of this earth who knows for sure.
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