Saturday, March 9, 2013

Woman accused of Arizona murder flummoxed by jury question

(Reuters) - A woman accused of murdering her ex-boyfriend in Arizona was briefly at a loss for words on Thursday when asked by a jury if she would have told the truth about the killing had she not been arrested.

"I honestly don't know the answer to that question," Jodi Arias replied after a pause of about 10 seconds.

Arias, 32, could face the death penalty if convicted of murdering 30-year-old Travis Alexander, whose body was found in the shower at his Phoenix valley home in June 2008. He was shot in the face, stabbed 27 times and had his throat slit.

She has admitted killing Alexander, whom she dated for several months and continued having sex with after they broke up, but has said it was in self-defense. The prosecution has said she was jealous and that the killing was premeditated.

Arias first said nothing about the crime, then after she was arrested claimed intruders killed Alexander. She kept the truth a secret for two years because she was ashamed of what she had done, despite her claim that it was in self-defense, she said on Thursday.

"The feeling of being a fraud was becoming so prevalent, I couldn't hold it in anymore," Arias told the court. "I'm still very deeply ashamed."

Arias was on the stand on Thursday for a second day of questions from the jury at Maricopa County Superior Court, in a trial that has gripped television viewers across the United States.

The soft-spoken Arias has said she defended herself when Alexander lunged at her after she dropped his camera while taking photographs of him in the shower at his home in June 2008.

A juror asked on Thursday through Judge Sherry Stephens why Arias had not just left the house to flee from Alexander.

"It happened very fast. I didn't have time to think. Everything happened in a split second," she said.

She said that, after shooting him in the face, Alexander became so angry that he threatened to kill her and while struggling they fell to the floor.

She said she then went into a "fog" and does not remember stabbing Alexander or slashing his throat. She said she did not contact authorities after the fog lifted and she had driven to Utah because she was afraid of the consequences.

Arias said that normally her memory is fine.

"June 4th is an anomaly for me. As I said yesterday, it's in a class by itself," she said.

After the jury's questions were completed, defense attorney Kirk Nurmi scrambled to try and undo some of the damage done by Arias' conflicting accounts of her role in the killing by having her explain to the court why she had lied.

She admitted lying repeatedly at the start of the investigation, but said it was for just two reasons - to protect Alexander's reputation and to conceal her involvement in his death. She said she has not lied since admitting she killed Alexander.

The trial continues on Wednesday.

(Editing by Tim Gaynor. Editing by Andre Grenon)


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