PHOENIX— Attorneys for a woman charged with killing her lover worked Wednesday at her trial to portray the victim as a liar and cheat who repeatedly deceived his girlfriends in the months before his death.
Jodi Arias, 32, is accused of fatally shooting and stabbing Travis Alexander in June 2008, leaving a bloody scene that authorities have described as among the most gruesome they had ever seen.
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.
Lisa Daidone said she first met Alexander in a Mormon singles group when she was 18 and he was 29. She said they began dating in July 2007 and continued an on-again, off-again relationship until February 2008.
She said she first broke up with him when she “came to the understanding that he was cheating on me” with Arias. The couple got back together, she said, and she believed him to be a devout Mormon who was a virgin saving himself for marriage, but she wasn't ready to wed at such a young age.
“At some point did you ever have suspicions that he might have been cheating again?” asked Arias’ defense attorney Jennifer Wilmott.
“Yes,” Daidone replied.
“After Travis’ death were you shocked to learn that he was not a virgin?” Wilmott prodded.
“Yes,” Daidone said softly.
She said she never had sex with Alexander and began feeling as if he was just using her as their encounters grew more physical.
Authorities say Arias shot the 30-year-old Alexander in the forehead, stabbed and slashed him nearly 30 times, slit his throat and left him inside a shower at his suburban Phoenix home after he tried to end their relationship in June 2008.
They had met at a Las Vegas convention in 2007 and had an on-again, off-again relationship for about five months.
Prosecutors claim Arias went to Alexander's home intent on killing him after learning he planned to take a trip to Mexico with another woman. Arias claims she ended their relationship, but the two continued a sexual affair and she came to his home on the day of the killing at his urging for sex.
She first told police she knew nothing of the killing then later blamed it on masked intruders. She eventually settled on a self-defense claim, saying Alexander attacked her and she was forced to fight for her life.
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.
Alexander's religion and sex life have been a constant theme throughout the trial. Some friends and family members, including Daidone, 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 are now trying to portray Alexander as a contradiction who lied to friends and family, cheated on girlfriends and used women for sex.
If convicted, Arias could face the death penalty.