Jodi Arias found herself in the hot seat again Thursday when jurors in her murder trial asked pointedly why they should believe her self-defense claim after her repeated lies about her ex-boyfriend's brutal slaying.
"After all the lies you have told, why should we believe you now?" the jury asked Arias in one of more than 100 questions posed by the panel and read aloud in court over the last two days by Judge Sherry Stephens.
"Lying isn't typically something I just do," said Arias, 32, on trial in the 2008 killing of Travis Alexander. "The lies I've told in this case can be tied directly back to either protecting Travis' reputation or my involvement in his death ... because I was very ashamed."
Arias at first vehemently denied any involvement in killing Alexander. His body was discovered June 4, 2008, in his Mesa, Ariz., shot in the head, stabbed 27 times, his throat cut from ear to ear. When DNA proved she was lying, Arias claimed there had been a home invasion by two unknown killers. It was not until years later that she admitted killing Alexander, but claimed it was in self-defense during an argument over a dropped camera that followed his escalating sexual demands. The prosecution contends she murdered Alexander in a jealous rage over his new lover.
"Would you decide to tell the truth if you never got arrested?" the jury wanted to know.
"I honestly don't know the answer to that question," Arias replied. She told the jury on Wednesday she felt ashamed for killing Alexander. On Thursday, she was unable to say for certain she would have gone to the police unless they had zeroed in on her.
The jury also appeared skeptical about Arias claims that she has a good memory, but can’t remember much about the day of the murder.
"How can you say you don't have memory issues when you can't remember how you stabbed him so many times and slashed his throat?" the jury asked.
"I think that I have a good memory and June 4 is an anomaly for me," Arias replied. "Like I said yesterday, it's in a class of its own and I can't explain what kind of state of mind I was in. Most of the day was an entire blank and little pieces have come back, but not very many."
Arizona is one of three states that allow jurors to pose questions to witnesses after prosecution and defense lawyers have finished. Both sides get to ask a new round of questions once Arias answers jurors. When the judge finished reading the jury's questions to Arias, her attorney, Kirk Nurmi, launched a new round of examination.
Nurmi aggressively repeated what the jury wanted to know, giving Arias another chance to explain. "Given all these lies ... why should anyone believe you now?" Nurmi asked.
"I understand that there will always be questions," Arias said. "If I am convicted, it is because of my bad choices in the beginning."
Prosecutor Juan Martinez zeroed in on Arias' earlier answers about a gasoline can she said she had returned to Walmart before the killing.
The gas can purchase is a crucial piece of evidence the prosecution contends helps proves she premeditated the murder. Arias borrowed two gas cans from an ex-boyfriend and purchased a third at a Walmart in Salinas, Calif., on June 3, 2008, so that she could travel to Alexander's home without making fuel purchases that police could later track, the prosecution has said.
"Would it surprise you that Walmart does not have any record of any refund for a gas can on … June 3, 2008?” Martinez asked.
"Yes, because I did return it and received cash," Arias replied.
The prosecutor also hammered Arias about cuts on her hand when she turned up in Utah after Alexander's murder. Arias previously testified she cut her hand while working in a restaurant.
"You didn't tell the manager about the way this occurred, even though it occurred on the job?" Martinez asked.
"I don't recall if it was discussed in detail or not," Arias replied.
Martinez racheted up his questioning with this exchange:
"And you're the same person that previously testified today that you have a very good memory for details right?" he asked.
Martinez: :Except for that, right? You don’t remember that, right?"
Arias: "I didn't say it was perfect. I said it was good."
Martinez: "I'm not saying you said it was perfect. You yourself admitted that you have a good memory for details."
Arias: "I don't even know that I used details. I just said I think I have a good memory," Arias said.
Martinez will continue questioning Arias when the trial resumes on March 13, at noon Eastern time.
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