Lust, passion, forbidden sex, abuse revealed during Arias opening statements

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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Jodi Arias' new haircut wasn't the only noticeably new detail on day one of her penalty phase retrial in October. Her defense team used a new strategy to spare the 34-year-old's life during opening statements.

Defense Attorney Kirk Nurmi told the jury: "Ms. Arias' psychological makeup impaired her ability to cope with the tumultuous relationship she had with Mr. Alexander." With no shortage of dramatic pauses, Nurmi explained the allegedly salacious relationship between Arias and Travis Alexander.

"One of lust, one of passion, one of forbidden sex, one of abuse and one of violence," Nurmi said.

But then came a twist, as Nurmi described Arias not once, but twice, as a troubled, mentally ill young woman.

"You'll hear that a personality disorder is something that develops early on in life," Nurmi said. "So this mentally ill young girl at a crossroads in her life is who Travis Alexander encountered that day."

Nurmi went on to suggest Arias' mental illness developed growing up in a violent household. "Discipline in the Arias household was beating Jodi Arias with a spoon. Jodi's father Bill would hit Jodi, would push her against walls and would choke her to the point she lost consciousness," Nurmi said.

However, prosecutor Juan Martinez was quick to dispute a violent childhood, pointing out that there were no police records. "The only person who alleges that is the defendant," Martinez said.

Martinez also attempted to discredit the mental illness claim. "Ms. Arias has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. That's talking about personality; that's not a mental illness."

Martinez then continued with his opening statement, walking the 12-person jury step by step through the grisly killing of Alexander. "As he leaned over that sink, she continued to stab him in the back over and over," he said.

Martinez showed this new jury the shocking photo of Alexander's slit throat and nearly severed head. "Then she dragged his bleeding body, all the way back down the hallway, to the sink and there got a gun and shot him in the right temple," said Martinez.

After nearly an entire day dedicated to opening statements, Martinez and Nurmi were both hopeful they did their job to convince the female-dominated jury.

"Ultimately, ladies and gentlemen, what you have before you, and Jodi Arias, you'll come to understand through these proceedings, is a troubled, mentally ill young woman who got involved in a relationship that she did not know how to handle," Nurmi said.

"The only just punishment in this case because of the crime, is death. Thank you.," Martinez said.