The mind of a killer: Unraveling the lies of Jodi Arias

Convicted of murder, "48 Hours" interviews were used as evidence in her trial. Will Arias get the death penalty for killing Travis Alexander?

Produced by Jonathan Leach, Josh Gelman, Tom Seligson and Jamie Stolz

"48 Hours" first introduced viewers to Jodi Arias in 2009, when she sat down to talk shortly after being arrested and charged with the murder of her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander. Since then, she has become a national sensation, the focus of newspaper and magazine profiles and the subject of 24-hour cable news coverage.

"48 Hours" correspondent Maureen Maher interviewed Arias at the Estrella Jail four-and-a-half years ago, when she agreed to tell CBS News her story of how Alexander had been murdered -- an interview which, for the first time in the history of "48 Hours", was used as evidence in a death penalty trial.

During the three-hour interview, Arias told Maher a tale of secret intimacy, the drama of masked intruders and, ultimately, a desperate escape. It was an incredible story.

As it turned out, that incredible story was an incredible lie. At her trial, Jodi Arias told the world a new story, weaving a tale of fear and abuse.

"48 Hours" returns to our first meetings with Arias for insight into the mind of a killer.

Video: "48" Hours producer on meeting Jodi Arias

Like Casey Anthony and O.J. Simpson before her, Jodi Arias captured the attention of the country. Now, looking back at these interviews, it would appear that Arias thought she could fool everyone. But in the end, Jodi Arias could not have been more wrong.

"I have nothing but time on my hands to think. And that's when I really begin to try and remember and relive that day. And-- and then, it just gets so horrible that I shut it out and I don't want to think about it," Arias told "48 Hours".

It all started in 2008. When Travis Alexander was found dead in his bathroom, the first question homicide investigator Estaban Flores had was "who?"

"When did you first hear the name Jodi Arias?" Maher asked Flores.

"We heard that name from day one -- there were certain individuals who -- who gave us that name and said, 'You need to look into Jodi Arias,'" he replied.

Now, four-and-a-half years after Jodi Arias was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, the question that needed to be answered was "why?"

"Travis Victor Alexander ... an individual that was one of the greatest blessings in her life. Well she knocked the blessings out of him by putting a bullet in his head," prosecutor Juan Martinez addressed the court in his opening statement.

Martinez wasted no time exposing the jury to the brutal reality of this homicide.

"There was a hallway leading up to the bathroom where the shower stall was that was all covered in blood. I noticed large amounts of blood pooling and smears," Officer Sterling Williams testified.

When Maher first walked through the crime scene in 2008, she was struck by the echoes of the extraordinary struggle that had taken place there. And it was the evidence of that struggle collected at the scene that spoke volumes to the jury:

"That's a photograph of the staining on the sink and some of the spatter inside of the sink running down," Crime Scene Investigator Heather Connor testified. "That is red staining on the tile floor in the bathroom."

"That is red staining that was on the carpet in master bedroom," Connor continued. "Latent print 169A was individualized as the left palm of Jodi Ann Arias."

"Is that the bullet?" Martinez questioned Crime Scene Investigator Elizabeth Northcutt.

"Yes, it is," she replied. "This is consistent with the 25 auto bullet."

Complete coverage: Jodi Arias murder trial

One by one, Mesa County Medical Examiner Kevin Horn, listed each of Travis Alexander's devastating wounds:

"Most significant wounds are going to be the neck wound ... the stab wound that penetrates the heart ... and then also the gunshot wound," he testified.

"She really slaughtered him. This was overkill," said criminal attorney Linda Kenny Baden, who worked on the defense teams of Casey Anthony and Phil Spector.

Baden has seen more than her share of murders, but few like this. "This was -- showed that she was an incredible, incredibly angry young woman," she said.

"What piece of evidence sticks out the most in your mind?" Maher asked Baden.

"Well, the piece of evidence that to me is amazing is the -- slit neck wound," she said. "Because it was the coup de grace, in my opinion. It was the ultimate control over him. When he wasn't going to say anything bad to her ever again. ... To me, that was just vicious."

Since her arrest in Yreka, Calif., in 2008, Arias has always insisted that she did not viciously murder Travis Alexander. But her details of how he died have changed repeatedly:

Video: Jodi Arias interrogation

Juan Martinez:"Ma'am, there's -- a number of stories that you gave in this particular case -- involving the killing. There was one that you gave to Detective Flores, right?

Jodi Arias: Yes.

Arias' "48 Hours" interview [shown in court]: "He was, like, on his knees like this doing something like this or something like -- I don't know. And I was like -- I was like, 'Are -- are you OK? What's going on? What's going on?' And he was like, 'Go get help, go get help.' And I said 'OK' ... And I turned around, there were two people there, one was a guy and one was a girl."
Juan Martinez: But then you still gave another view of what happened to "48 Hours", right?

Jodi Arias: I think I was inconsistent in my lies. Yes.

Juan Martinez: So let's take a look at -- what you may have said to "48 Hours."

In the 25 years that it's been on the air, this is the first time a "48 Hours" interview has been used as evidence in a death penalty trial:

Arias' "48 Hours" interview [shown in court]: "I was hit on the back of the head. I don't think I was out very long, but when I came to ... Travis was on all fours on the tile -- and well, I say all fours, but one of his hands was actually holding his head."
Juan Martinez: And that's -- another version of the events that occurred on June fourth of 2008, correct?

Jodi Arias: Yes.

Juan Martinez: And they're not true? Right?

Jodi Arias: Neither -- of them. Well, it's all the same thing. It's just different versions. Couldn't keep my lies straight.

But Baden says that her experience with other defendants suggests that the story Arias told "48 Hours" may contain elements of the truth.

"Jodi gave us secrets in those interviews. She gave us an insight right into what she is thinking," she explained.

Arias' "48 Hours" interview [shown in court]: "She was in the bathroom standing over Travis and I charged her."

"She talked about having a fight with a woman. And she describes the woman who attacked Travis as being, you know, about her height and Caucasian. That's her," said Baden.

Arias' "48 Hours" interview [shown in court]: "I ran down that hall and I pushed her as-- as hard as I could and she fell over him."

"She then talks about power later on in that interview, and she talks about having a gun," said Baden.

Arias' "48 Hours" interview [shown in court]: "They just kept arguing back and forth-- whether or not, you know, to kill me."

"And if somebody has a gun to your head, you have the ultimate power," Baden continued.

Arias' "48 Hours" interview [shown in court]: "It's like everything just stops. When you -- when someone else is sitting there with a gun pointed to your head deciding your fate."

"So I think that a lot of what she was saying about what happened was what happened with her and Travis the day he died," said Baden.

Jodi's various stories aside, the prosecution says there are critical pieces of evidence that speak for themselves.

"These are accidental photographs. These are photographs that the killer did not want taken," Martinez told jurors.

"Jodi, when she did the interview. She at one point says she likes to document everything," Baden pointed out.

Arias' "48 Hours" interview [shown in court]: "I've always had my camera. Always. It goes everywhere I go."

"So it's kind of amazing that she actually documented herself committing this murder," said Baden.

"This individual here, you see her foot. You see Mr. Alexander's head, you see his arm, you see him bleeding profusely," told the court, referring one of Arias' photos from the crime scene.

After nine days and 20 witnesses, Martinez believed his case against Jodi Arias was ironclad.

Now, despite all the lies and deceitful behavior that the court has heard, the defense would have to convince the jury that on the day Travis died, it was actually Jodi Arias who was the victim.