Jodi Arias trial: Defense witness claims his testimony could 'harm or free' Arias

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- Jodi Arias, the woman who could be sent to death row if convicted of brutally murdering her ex-boyfriend in 2008, could take the stand in her own defense in the coming days, but it's another witness who will be in the spotlight first.

Arias' trial, which began Jan. 2, is expected to get back under way Tuesday, with the defense presenting its case to the jury. Arias' lawyers concede that their client killed Travis Alexander. What they're trying to prove is that she acted in self defense.

After telling police two different stories -- that she knew nothing about the killing, and that masked intruders were to blame for Alexander's death -- Arias said Alexander was abusive and she had to kill him to save her own life.

Police and prosecutors contend that Arias -- who is accused of stabbing Alexander nearly 30 times, slitting his throat and shooting him in the head -- was a woman scorned. They say she planned to kill Alexander in cold blood.

The prosecution rested its case two weeks ago. Now it's the defense's turn.

One of the first defense witnesses is Gus Searcy (right). He worked with Alexander and Arias at one time, and is expected to take the stand Tuesday.

Things got heated when the prosecutor questioned Searcy during a hearing Monday. Juan Martinez tried to paint Searcy, who had been rejected as a prosecution witness, as a man determined to be the center of attention. Searcy denied that.

We don't yet know what Searcy is going to say on the stand, but he claims to have secret information that could "harm or free" Arias.

The defense reportedly is planning to put Arias on the witness stand, something legal experts say is essential in this case. Defense attorneys Jennifer Willmott and Kirk Nurmi will try to show Arias' vulnerable side, portraying her as a woman in a dangerous situation that forced her to kill her abusive ex-boyfriend.

No jury is going to convict me.

- Jodi Arias on "Inside Edition"

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."

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."

That, however, remains to be seen. Twelve men and women will have sort out the testimony and evidence, much of it quite graphic, that has been and will be presented to them.

"She just needs one, just one juror to have reasonable doubt," Laurie Levenson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and a former federal prosecutor, told Associated Press writer Brian Skoloff. "For the defense, it's going to be a victory if she doesn't end up with the death penalty."

If convicted, Arias could become the fourth woman on Arizona's death row.