Jodi Arias Trial: Defense aims to undo damage from Arias' cross-examination

Jodi Arias during her murder trial in Phoenix on Feb. 28, 2013.
AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Tom Tingle, Pool, file

(AP) PHOENIX - Jodi Arias resumed testimony Monday in her Arizona death penalty case as her defense attorneys work to undo any damage from her withering cross-examination last week during which she admitted to lying throughout the investigation in order to cover her tracks and avoid being caught.

"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.

Arias also was questioned repeatedly during cross-examination last week about the steps she took after she killed Alexander, all admittedly in an attempt to create an alibi. 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.

Prosecutors are working to prove it 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 in the head -- 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 in a rage after body-slamming her and threatening to kill her.

"He was trying to kill me so I was defending myself," she said Monday.

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 Alexander had ever shown violent behavior in the past, and there has been no proof admitted at trial that he ever owned a gun.

Arias even told authorities repeatedly after her arrest that he didn't own a gun. That story changed only after several years in jail when she admitted to the killing.

Complete coverage of Jodi Arias on Crimesider