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Prosecution depicts Arizona woman accused of murder as jealous liar

Defendant Jodi Arias tries to maintain composure as she testifies during her murder trial in Phoenix, Arizona February 20, 2013 for the June
Defendant Jodi Arias tries to maintain composure as she testifies during her murder trial in Phoenix, Arizona February 20, 2013 for the June

By Tim Gaynor

PHOENIX (Reuters) - An Arizona prosecutor on Thursday tore into a woman on trial for capital murder over the death of her lover, seeking to depict her as a jealous liar who told conflicting stories about injuries she said the man had inflicted on her before his violent death.

Jodi Arias, 32, could face the death penalty if convicted of murdering Travis Alexander, whose body was found in the shower of his Phoenix area home in June 2008. He had been shot in the face, stabbed 27 times and his throat had been slit.

During graphic testimony about her relationship with 30-year-old Alexander, Arias has said she killed him in self defense. The prosecution has said she killed him in a jealous rage.

Prosecutor Juan Martinez sought to depict Arias as being inconsistent, questioning her version of how the ring finger on her left hand was broken. She previously had told the court it happened while she was protecting herself when Alexander kicked her in January 2008.

Martinez played a video recording of Arias telling a detective after her arrest that she had received the injury when a woman broke into Alexander's house on the day of the killing in June 2008 and assaulted her.

"The injury to your finger happened in June 2008 not January 2008, didn't it?" he said to Arias, who sat tense but calm wearing a black jacket with white piping. "That's not correct," Arias replied.

Martinez also quizzed Arias about a third version she gave of the injury in which she said it was a workplace injury.

Arias has testified that on the day Alexander died he became irate and body slammed her in the bathroom of his home after she dropped a camera while taking photographs of him in the shower.

She said she fled from the bathroom to where Alexander kept a gun and pointed it at him with both hands when he pursued her. She said the "gun went off," but she had no recollection of the stabbing.

During cross examination, Martinez asked Arias if she "had a problem with memory," to which she replied, "Sometimes."

She fled the scene after the killing and has testified that she tried a "whole bunch of things" to cover up the crime, including leaving messages on Alexander's voicemail and calling the detective investigating the case to try to determine if she would be arrested. She also blamed the killing on two intruders.

Martinez sought to portray Arias as jealous of her former boyfriend, relentlessly questioning her about an incident in August 2007, two months after the couple broke up, in which Arias watched through a window at Alexander's home while he was "making out" with another woman. Arias later confronted Alexander about the incident.

"What in the world gave you the right to talk to an ex-boyfriend that you had broken up with? You were being territorial about it. Why in the world would you even care?" Martinez asked Arias in a rapid-fire cross examination about the incident.

"You could have left that situation alone, but you decided to confront him. The reason you did that was because you were jealous," he said.

(Reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)

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