Jodi Arias trial: Her path to the Mormon faith

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX (AP) -- Defense attorneys for a woman charged with killing her lover continued their case Thursday as they focused on efforts to portray the victim as a liar and cheat.

Jodi Arias, 32, is accused of fatally shooting and stabbing Travis Alexander in June 2008 at his suburban Phoenix home.

Defense attorneys began their case Tuesday with witnesses who spoke of Arias as a professional, conservative woman who never acted sexually inappropriate.

Wednesday's first witness was an ex-girlfriend of Alexander who testified that he cheated on her with Arias and lied about being a virgin.

A friend of Alexander then testified about the man's involvement in the Mormon faith, his claims to him that he was a virgin, and how Alexander and Arias acted very much like a couple when they were together.

Daniel Freeman continued his testimony Thursday, noting that Alexander and Arias, who had converted to Mormonism after meeting the victim, would have been seen as violating church ethics by having sex out of wedlock.

Jurors later posed questions to Freeman through the judge, something allowed in Arizona criminal cases, asking whether he had ever seen Alexander become physically abusive with Arias. He said he hadn't. The ex-girlfriend who testified Wednesday also noted on cross-examination by the prosecutor that Alexander had never been abusive with her.

Alexander's religion and sex life have been a constant theme throughout the trial. Some friends and family members, including ex-girlfriends, believed him to be a devout Mormon who was saving sex for marriage, while he simultaneously dated and had sex with multiple women.

The prosecution rested its case on Jan. 17. Defense attorneys have been trying to portray Alexander as a contradiction who lied to friends and family, cheated on girlfriends, was abusive and used women for sex.

Authorities say Arias shot Alexander in the forehead, stabbed and slashed him nearly 30 times, slit his throat and left him in his shower in a fit of rage after learning that he planned to take a trip to Mexico with another woman.

Arias says the two met at a Las Vegas convention in 2006, then began dating in early 2007 for about five months before they broke up. She says they continued to have sex, and that she came to his home on the day of his death at his urging for sex.

She first told police she knew nothing of the killing then later blamed it on masked intruders. She eventually claimed self-defense, saying Alexander attacked her.

Police say Arias' bloody palm print and hair were found at the crime scene, and they found sexually explicit, time-stamped photographs in a camera inside Alexander's washing machine that placed Arias there on the day of the killing.

The photos included images of her naked, him in the shower, and one showing him dead on the bathroom floor.

Defense lawyers have yet to explain why Arias put the camera in the washing machine, what happened to the weapons used in the killing, and why Arias changed her stories.

Authorities say Alexander was shot with a .25-caliber gun, the same caliber weapon her grandparents reported stolen from their California home just days before the killing. Arias was staying with them at the time.

The trial was set to resume Monday. If convicted, Arias could face the death penalty.

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