Prosecutor raises voice at Arias in death penalty trial

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by Brian Skoloff, Associated Press

Video report by Mike Watkiss

Posted on March 13, 2013 at 5:47 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 13 at 9:28 PM

PHOENIX (AP) -- A prosecutor spent much of Wednesday pointing at Jodi Arias and angrily raising his voice, clearly frustrated with her unresponsive answers on the witness stand in her Arizona death penalty trial.

Arias concluded her testimony after more than six weeks. Trial was set to resume Thursday as defense attorneys call additional witnesses.

Arias is charged with first-degree murder in the June 2008 death of her lover in his suburban Phoenix home.

She testified for 18 days during which she described her abusive childhood, cheating boyfriends, dead-end jobs, a raunchy sexual relationship with the victim and her contention that Travis Alexander had grown physically abusive in the months leading to his death, once even choking her into unconsciousness.

Authorities say she planned Alexander's killing in a jealous rage, but Arias says it was self-defense when he attacked her after a day of sex.

"You fired the gun. You shot him in the head and then you killed him, right?" prosecutor Juan Martinez asked loudly on Wednesday.

"Yeah," Arias replied softly.

Martinez repeatedly pointed out that Arias' version of the events on the day Alexander died seems impossible. He showed her two photographs taken 62 seconds apart - one of Alexander alive in the shower, the other a portion of his bloodied body.

Arias has said she was taking provocative pictures of Alexander in the shower when she dropped his camera and he became enraged, forcing her to fight for her life.

"You drop the camera ... you are body-slammed, you get away, you go down the hallway, you go in the closet, you get the gun, you go into the bathroom ... You shoot him, he goes down ... and then, after you're able to get away, you go get the knife and you end up at the end of the hallway? All of this in 62 seconds?" Martinez snapped.

"No, that's not what I'm saying," Arias replied, reminding the prosecutor of her memory gaps from the day of the killing. "Definitely after the gun went off ... I don't know, it starts to get a little more confusing."

Martinez was trying to show that Arias took time to think about what she was doing during the attack.

"You didn't have the knife in your hand when you shot him," he said. "So that means, if you didn't have the knife in your hand, you had to go get it from somewhere, right?"

"I don't know," Arias replied.

Alexander suffered nearly 30 knife wounds, was shot in the head and had his throat slit before Arias dragged his body into his shower.

Arias has said she remembers little from the day of the killing but recalls Alexander attacking her in a fury. She says she ran into his closet to retrieve a gun he kept on a shelf and fired in self-defense. She said she has no memory of stabbing him.

Martinez seized on her memory lapses, noting it seemed unusual she could remember some key details, like Alexander screaming at her and threatening her life, but not much else.

"You don't remember anything, right?" Martinez asked loudly.

"In general there is a huge gap," Arias replied softly, her eyes fixed on jurors.

The questioning elicited repeated objections from defense attorneys as Arias often replied smugly to yes or no questions with answers such as "If you say so" and "I presume."

"I would like some certainty from you," Martinez barked at one point.

Jurors peppered her with their own questions, clearly not satisfied with her ever-changing stories in the case - about 220 queries last week and an additional 10 on Wednesday.

Arizona law allows jurors to quiz defendants through written questions read aloud by the judge.

At least one juror question on Wednesday seemed to indicate the panel still isn't satisfied with Arias' story.

"If you still felt threatened after having shot Mr. Alexander, why did you use a knife rather than just shooting him again?" the judge read.

"I know I dropped the gun when he hit me and I don't know where the gun went," Arias replied. "I don't remember picking up the knife. I just remember feeling threatened."

Arias has acknowledged trying to clean the scene of the killing, dumping the gun in the desert and leaving the victim a voicemail on his cellphone hours later in an attempt to avoid suspicion. She says she was too scared and ashamed to tell the truth.

Arias' grandparents had reported a .25-caliber handgun stolen from their Northern California home about a week before Alexander's death - the same caliber used to shoot him - but Arias says she didn't take it. Authorities believe she brought it with her.

Since the trial began, none of Arias' allegations of Alexander's violence, that he owned a gun or had sexual desires for young boys have been corroborated by witnesses or evidence. She has acknowledged lying repeatedly but insists she is telling the truth now.

She initially told authorities she had nothing to do with the killing then blamed it on masked intruders. Two years after her arrest, she settled on self-defense.

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Follow Brian Skoloff at twitter.com/bskoloff

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