Jodi Arias murder trial: Opening statements under way

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Nearly five years after allegedly murdering her boyfriend in an unarguably brutal manner, Jodi Arias will face a jury in what could be the most-watched court case since the Casey Anthony trial.

After a myriad of delays, jury selection took place early last month and opening arguments are scheduled to get under way Tuesday morning.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Arias, which could make her the fourth woman on Arizona's death row.

According to police and prosecutors, Arias, now 32, shot Travis Alexander in the face, stabbed him 27 times and slit his throat in early June 2008.

Alexander's roommates found his body in his shower at their Mesa home on June 9. They immediately suspected Arias, going so far as to give the 911 operator her name and saying she had been "bothering" him and had even slashed his tires.

For her part, Arias gave investigators three different stories about what happened to Alexander.

Although she initially claimed she was not with Alexander when was killed, evidence, including a bloody hand print on the floor of the bathroom, placed her at the scene.

Her second story involved two masked intruders -- a man and a woman -- who attacked her and killed Alexander. She said she was too scared to call the police.

Arias eventually changed her story again, this time claiming self-defense and telling detectives that Alexander got violent with her.

In a jailhouse interview with 3TV not long after her arrest, Arias declined to answer a question about whether she was afraid of Alexander.

"I'll pass on that question," she said. "I think that when more evidence comes out, it'll be very telling that it was a two-way street."

Among the evidence against Arias is a camera that was found in the washing machine at Alexander's home. The memory card contained suggestive photos of the couple, as well as pictures of Alexander's body in the shower.

Arias and Alexander had broken up but maintained an "intense" sexual relationship. Police believe it was the breakup that set in motion the events leading up to Alexander's murder.

Police arrested Arias in Siskiyou County, Calif. on July 15, 2008, just over a month after the murder. She has been in jail since then.

A couple of months after her arrest, Arias told "Inside Edition" she would never be convicted.

"No jury is going to convict me ... because I am innocent and you can mark my words on that," she said in a jailhouse interview three months after Alexander's murder. "No jury is going to convict me."

While the defense is expected to concentrate on alleged abuse by Alexander and self defense on the part of Arias, prosecutor Juan Martinez will try to paint her as a scorned girlfriend turned cold-blooded killer.

In August 2011, a judge granted Arias' petition to defend herself. Arias quickly decided she was in over her head, however, and requested representation once again.

In December 2011, defense attorney Victoria Washington requested removal from the case. A judge granted that motion within a week.

Last January, Jennifer Willmott was assigned to represent Arias. A month later a judge denied a motion to have the death penalty taken off the table. Willmott and Kirk Nurmi argued that there was no premeditation and that Arias acted in self defense.

Now it will be up to 12 jurors to decided whether Arias is guilty and if so, whether she should live or die.

In addition to the 12 jurors, six alternates will hear the case, as well. The jury panel is made up of seven women and 11 men.

Judge Sherry Stephens is presiding.