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Psycho Killer: Jodi Arias' Kinky Death-Penalty Trial

Jodi Arias
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Prosecutor Juan Martinez rapid-fires questions to murder defendant Jodi Arias, bouncing through timelines, appearing to want to confuse and scold as much as to elicit useful information.

Arias sometimes gets confused and upset. She admits she can't keep her stories straight. She intermittently breaks down sobbing, especially when forced to view the bloody crime-scene photos of her handiwork. But is she acting?

Her biggest breakdown comes on Thursday, February 28, when Martinez leads her through the horrifying minutes of the June 4, 2008, murder of her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander.


See slideshow accompanying this story.


"Ma'am, were you crying when you were shooting him?"

"I don't remember," she answers, a hand over her face.

"Were you crying when you were stabbing him?"

"I don't remember."

"How about when you cut his throat — were you crying then?" Martinez demands, his voice rising.

If the televised trial were a CGI-animated movie, the short, middle-aged deputy Maricopa County attorney, wearing his typical gray suits, would be a badger.

His job is to make sure Arias' life ends on the executioner's table.

Martinez's belligerence is just one of many reasons this trial — expected to go on for at least another two weeks — is getting watched around the world.

Unless you resemble a doomsday prepper who's been living without a digital signal for the past three months, you already know that Arias is on trial for the grotesque slaying of Alexander, a successful Mormon businessman from Mesa. As of press time, Arias had spent a marathon 17 days on the witness stand, spanning more than five weeks.

The trial itself began January 2, "regaling" — to use one of Martinez's favorite words — audiences globally with nude photos of Arias and Alexander, gory shots of the murder scene, and talk of kinky sex acts.

Public interest in the case had been growing since Alexander's body was discovered in 2008, but the start of the trial kicked off a media storm that has rivaled some of the great real-life courtroom dramas of the TV age.

Each day, dozens of Arias watchers pack into the courtroom's visitors' galley. When Arias began her command performance February 4, millions tuned in to live video, clicked on Arias-related websites, and watched long dissections of the case on CNN's Anderson Cooper and a multitude of other shows.

The long direct examination by public defense attorney Kirk Nurmi seemed intended to both explain Arias' self-defense theory and present a human side of the defendant to the jury — a panel of mostly white, mixed-generation men and women deciding her mortal fate.

Some of the testimony wasn't just raunchy, it was scandalous. Trial watchers heard recorded phone-sex conversations between the former couple along with loads of discussion about anal sex — which, according to Arias, is more preferable before marriage in the Mormon religion than vaginal sex.

America now knows that Tootsie Pops don't just go in mouths and that Pop Rocks add extra spark to oral sex.

Arias claimed her victim was a wanna-be pedophile, used her like a prostitute, called her a "three-holed wonder" and a "whore," and abused her mentally and physically. She caught him masturbating to a picture of a 5- or 6-year-old boy, she testified, and soon after got into a raging fight with him during which he broke her finger.

The wrap-up of the initial defense testimony had Arias going over the details of her self-defense claim: She described how Alexander, angry that she'd dropped his new camera, chased her from the shower to a closet, where she found "his" gun and shot him. She claimed the next thing she remembers is driving into the desert in a "fog." Her testimony was as compelling as it was sketchy.

Then, Juan Martinez began his long cross-examination, going over the intimate, pornographic details of the former couple's sexual activity — and emphasizing that she'd been more sexually experienced than Alexander. Texts and phone conversations showed that she enjoyed their creativity in bed.

The prosecutor's recurring theme: Her stories don't make sense and aren't supported by anything but the word of Arias, an admitted liar and killer. He's made good use of the media interviews Arias gave.

On a big courtroom screen, Arias — from the witness stand — looks at Arias looking into a camera during her infamous 2008 interview on 48 Hours — the one in which she claims "masked intruders" did it.

"If it were my brother, I'd want to know what his last minutes were like," the 2008 Arias told the public. She later switched to the self-defense claim she's now using.

Martinez chides her for sending Alexander's grandmother 20 white irises and a long letter that mentions these faux intruders.

"Did they deserve that lie?" he demands.

Martinez's snide prosecutorial personality has been on full display.

 

And Arias has been a smart-ass in her retorts, throwing zingers at him like she's trying to repel an unwanted suitor.

Which is one of the reasons that trial watchers find the spectacle so enthralling. Nobody expects such brazen behavior from somebody who may well be put to death.

Then, when viewers become frustrated with Arias' many apparent lies, Martinez is there for them, throwing it in her face.

"How is it that you are not remembering what you are saying?" Martinez asks during one of their back-and-forths.

"Because you're making my brain scrambled."

"Oh, I'm again making your brain scrambled. So, in this particular case, the problem is not you; it's the questions being posed by the prosecutor, right?"

"No, not the questions."

"Yes or no?!" he yells. "Yes or no?!"

She finally responds that her memory lapses occur when men like Martinez scream at her (murmurs spread across the courtroom).

Whatever the jury decides, it's a hell of a show.


The Jodi Arias case isn't a whodunit. It's cut and dried — a done deal for the Mesa Police Department.

There's no missing baby, as in the Casey Anthony trial, and no possibility that authorities have the wrong suspect, as some believed during and after the big daddy of all real-life, televised courtroom dramas, the O.J. Simpson trial.

Forensic science closed the book on the Arias case in 2008. The only mystery is how a seemingly normal young woman, with no history of mental illness, could butcher a man so savagely and act as if nothing had happened afterward.

A number of clues in the case reveal that Arias planned the murder before she left for Mesa on June 3. The biggest is that the gun used to shoot Alexander probably came from her grandparents' home in California. The question of premeditation — the underlying subject of days of trial testimony — isn't in serious doubt.

All that said, the Arias case is, undeniably, top-shelf entertainment. It's a horror novel come to life with enough multimedia fodder to feed the obsessive.

Intimate details of kinky sex, extreme violence, and corrupted religious morals have surfaced throughout the trial.

"It's a Hannibal Lecter-type of thing . . . It's ghosts and goblins," says longtime Phoenix defense attorney and former Arizona U.S. Attorney Mel McDonald, who's watched the case closely. "[Arias] has none of the outward appearance of the utterly indescribable actions she's perpetrated. I don't know that I've ever seen one quite like this."

The case has spurred extensive domestic news coverage, as well as huge interest overseas. Since the trial began January 2, live video from the courtroom of Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens has been broadcast on various websites most weekdays from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

There's a TV camera at the back of the courtroom, and websites, including Phoenix's CBS-5 (KPHO), use a satellite link to provide live-stream web video.

The many hours of salacious testimony make the trial irresistible to TV producers. But unlike in the O.J. days, followers can take full advantage of modern technology by watching the proceeding from commercial-free Internet sites. The curious also can go as deeply into the case as they choose by perusing the vast amount of information about it in cyberspace.

The two ex-lovers liked to take pictures of each other. Arias, in fact, was an aspiring photographer. Their last photo shoot included nudes of both of them and Hustler-style, spread-eagle shots of Arias' "stuff," as she called it in court. Lengthy, hardcore phone-sex recordings made by Arias were played in court, with some excerpts heard several times.

Jury members, and the rest of us, have gotten to know Arias and Alexander well.

The deceased Alexander comes back to life in his writings. They show his zest for living, his hopes for a successful future with the right woman, and his criticisms of "whores."

Hundreds of intimate texts the pair never imagined would be made public have been entered into the court record. Dozens of her photos, including self-portraits, are among the extensive photographic evidence. We can watch videos of Arias' interviews with Mesa police, plus the interviews she did in 2008 with the news media, in which she claimed she and Alexander were attacked by the two masked intruders.

The trial itself is fun and addicting, not so much because you might catch Arias in a lie but because you know she's lying.

With her many TV interviews, fabrications, and weird confidence — she once boasted that "no jury will convict" her — the public finds her fascinating.

"In some twisted way, [when Arias lies] people feel like they've been lied to," says Ryan Owens, a Dallas-based correspondent who's covering the case for Good Morning America and appears on the show two or three times a week.

 

A bevy of news shows, including those hosted by Nancy Grace and Dr. Drew Pinsky on CNN and HLN, deconstruct the day's events. Satellite trucks line the streets near the county court facility at Second Avenue and Jefferson Street in downtown Phoenix, ready to beam reports from correspondents and interviews with random court-watchers to an international audience.

Australians obsessed with the trial rise at 4:30 a.m., 18 hours ahead of the 10:30 a.m. start of the proceedings, and chat on web forums about the latest developments.

Locally, spectators line up outside the building as early as 6 a.m.; the place opens at 8. A crowd of mainly women fills rows of visitor seats on the fifth floor. Only about half of them can fit into the courtroom at any given time. The most dedicated are tapped frequently by the networks for their opinions.

As entertainment fodder for the masses, it's difficult for news organizations to keep trial coverage to an R rating. Reporters whispered during one stretch of testimony that they didn't know whether their editors or producers would allow them to use the word "jizz." Courtroom banter has included a discussion of the shape of Arias' labia. About 20 minutes of courtroom dialogue between prosecutor Martinez and Arias concerned whether K-Y Jelly or baby oil was better for anal sex.

Alexander's family sits in the front row of the galley. His sisters, Tanisha Sorenson and Samantha Alexander (the latter a police officer from Carlsbad, California) usually wear tight-lipped, disbelieving expressions.

Arias' mother, Sandy, on the defense side of the gallery, sometimes flashes an odd smile.

The characters in this reality show are richly complex.

Alexander was a likable, smart, spiritual-yet-corruptible young Mormon who expressed hope of finding a lifelong mate. He was a salesman and motivational speaker for Pre-Paid Legal Services who had become financially successful at age 30, despite a rough start in life — he was raised by now-deceased meth-head parents. He could be a hypocritical, domineering, cheating boyfriend. After breaking up with Arias, he continued seeing her for occasional sex as he dated other women, telling at least one that he was a virgin.

Naturally, the most fascinating character of all is Arias, who police say fully expected to get away with the murder of her ex-boyfriend, which she planned and carried out.

The world's favorite on-trial killer is fit-looking, with long hair, breast enhancements, and a photogenic face. She was listed as 5-6 and 125 pounds on a mid-2000s driver's license, though she seems thinner now. In court, she's a bespectacled, somewhat-mousy brunette, but that's probably by her defense attorney's design. She retains little of the bombshell sexiness she displayed in those oft-televised older photos of her as a blonde. She's comes across during testimony as articulate and soft-spoken. She's a high school dropout and Mormon convert raised by her white mother and Mexican-American father in tiny Yreka, California, near the Oregon border.

She's a woman who asked police, when they came to arrest her, if she could grab her makeup. Later, she smiled for her mugshot and professed her innocence to the world. She denied repeatedly to police and the news media in 2008 that she'd killed Alexander before — mostly — 'fessing up.

On the stand, she takes you in, lets you see nearly everything.

Then, she leaves you wanting more and afraid you'll get it.


Jodi Arias went from slashing one guy's neck to — a few hours later — kissing another's.

Her claim that she killed Travis Alexander in self-defense as he attacked her is Arias' third account of the slaying — and it's as unsupported by evidence as the other two.

It's hard to imagine any real justification for Arias' Halloween-style butchery of Alexander on June 4, 2008. She attacked him with a large knife while he was taking a shower – a gender-reversed replay of the scene in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho.

Pieces of the mountain of digital evidence in the case include — amazingly — time-stamped photos taken with Alexander's camera moments before and after the murder.

Just before he was slain, the successful businessman was in the master bathroom of the Mesa home he owned, washing himself after sex with Arias and letting her take pictures of him with his new Sony camera.

Arias snapped a couple of shots of Alexander with his head tilted up, enjoying the water splashing on his face. She took a picture of his back. And then she snapped the last haunting photo. It was of his dripping face, with an unexpectedly serious look on it for a man in a shower.

That was at 5:29 p.m.

At 5:32 p.m., a picture was taken of Alexander's bleeding body on the floor.

Alexander was sliced and stabbed 27 times, his neck was slashed, and he was shot in the face.

 

Though police once theorized that the gunshot came first, Dr. Kevin Horn, a Maricopa County medical examiner, believes the assault started with a knifing, because the gunshot to the head and the slashed neck were "fatal injuries."

Alexander had many defensive stab wounds on his hands that probably wouldn't have been present if he'd been shot first, Horn testified during the trial.

Alexander was 5-foot-9, 190 pounds. He was in good shape, with wrestling and kickboxing experience. The first knife thrusts must have come quickly, catching him by surprise and weakening his ability to respond.

The steel went deep in several places on Alexander's chest and neck. It plunged 31/2 inches through his ribcage to pierce the base of the heart, Horn's autopsy report and photos show. One vicious slice opened his pectoral muscle below his right nipple.

A six-inch gash was drawn down his abdomen. Knife wounds of one to two inches were made on his head, shoulders, neck, chest, back, and back of his head, with some cuts going deep into muscle. Horn noted a "cluster" of nine separate relatively shallow knife wounds on one small spot on his back.

A trail of blood let Mesa detectives know that Alexander, while struggling, made it out of the shower and into the hallway.

Alexander tried to defend himself. The knife lopped off a chunk of his right thumbnail. Most of the defensive wounds are on his left hand — typical when an attacker is holding the weapon in the right hand. The knife sliced muscle at the base of his left thumb and split the webbing between his thumb and index finger. The latter injury is common when a victim tries to grab a knife blade.

Arias dragged Alexander back into the bathroom. It's unclear whether he was conscious at that point. Cops think Arias cut one of her own fingers with the knife when, slick with blood, it slipped from her grasp as she stabbed Alexander.

In addition to recovering the pictures Arias had tried to erase from his camera, police found her bloody palm print on the hallway wall; the blood was a mixture of hers and Alexander's. A long strand of Arias' hair also was found embedded in blood on the wall.

Arias wasn't done. The theory presented by prosecutor Martinez is that she was so jealous and upset with Alexander's rejecting her (except for occasional romps in the sack) that killing him once wasn't enough.

Arias slashed Alexander from ear to ear. The wound was six inches across and severed his "entire upper airway, strap muscles of neck, right jugular vein, and right carotid artery."

Still not done, she produced a .25-caliber semi-automatic pistol and shot Alexander in the lower-right portion of his forehead, just above his eyebrow. The small bullet went through the front portion of his skull, turned, and lodged in his left cheekbone.

Late the previous night, Arias had called Ryan Burns and told him she was in California, on her way to his Utah home. She called again about 24 hours later, claiming she'd driven the wrong direction, gotten lost, and run out of gas. She let him know she was about 100 miles outside Las Vegas.

She finally arrived in the Salt Lake City suburb of West Jordan and met Burns about 11 a.m. on June 5. They hung out with his friends, went to a business meeting together, and later watched a movie at his place.

Both Burns and Arias later testified that they had a passionate make-out session on his bed that didn't include sex but involved lots of kissing and clothed crotch-"grinding."

Arias gave no sign to Burns or his friends that, less than 24 hours earlier, she had killed her ex-boyfriend and left his mutilated body in a blood-spattered shower stall.


The defendant doesn't fit the public's "preconceptions of a killer."

This is psychiatrist and author Keigh Ablow's explanation of why a non-celebrity killer can get worldwide attention: "She's pretty. She has a nice smile. She's young. She's female. She is . . . a white woman and a woman who isn't poor. She has no history of violent crime."

In this excerpt from an online column in June 2011, Ablow referred to Casey Anthony. But the same can be said about Jodi Arias.

The sensational trial of Anthony, a Florida woman accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter, clearly shares several similarities with the Arias spectacle.

A Time magazine story about the popularity of the Anthony trial, from May to July 2011, suggested that the public is drawn to "a tenacious liar."

In that courtroom drama, "the sheer horror of the act — and the idea that a mother committed it — catapulted the case from local live-at-5 sideshow to tabloid sensation," Time wrote.

 

Matt Semino, an attorney and writer who's done legal analysis on the Arias case for HLN and True-TV, says Arias rivals Anthony as "a sensational trial." Where there was the horror of a mother's allegedly killing her child in Anthony, there's "the sex, the blood, the betrayal" in Arias. "People are really captivated by that."

CNN and NBC News declined comment for this article about ratings and how they've dealt with graphic content. A tweet by azcentral.com recently stated that on one day of Arias' live trial testimony, 1.5 million people viewed its live feed.

Bloggers and authors sit in court alongside more mainstream news reporters. Shanna Hogan, a reporter and editor at the local Times Publications, has a contract to write a book about the Arias case.

Acknowledging the case wouldn't be as popular "if these were two unattractive people," Hogan says what she finds most fascinating about it is "how you could love somebody and murder them."

Twitter, not surprisingly, has been a major forum for comments about the Arias trial. During Arias' contentious March 5 testimony, for example, tweets to the #jodiarias hashtag posted at a rate of about 30 to 50 per minute.

Another gauge of how the public is indulging its interest in the sordid case is the unlikely success of a website created in December called jodiariasisinnocent.com.

A search on alexa.com, a site that calculates the overall Internet presence of websites, shows that jodiariasisinnocent.com — which contains Arias case information — had a spike of page views in February that elevated it to a rank of 30,380th in the United States over the past three months. That's not bad, considering there are tens of millions of websites in this country. (The same administrator's caseyanthonyisinnocent.com site, created in July 2011, pulled in slightly more computer users during a span of about the same length.)

In an e-mail, a contact for the site, identified only as "SJ," says four people run the Arias and Anthony sites out of a "dislike of seeing people branded as guilty by the media."

SJ believes the Arias trial may be as big as Anthony's. One difference SJ has noticed, though, is that, unlike on the Anthony site, "the majority of hate posts on Jodi's site are from guys."

Websleuths.com, a true-crime site, shows tens of thousands of comments on dozens of topical forums about Arias. The Facebook page "Justice4Travis" is another popular repository for Arias case information and public commentary. It's run by two Australians who identify themselves only as Elna and Nora.

They launched the site last year after becoming interested in the case, they wrote, and "became friends with the Alexander family and some of [Travis'] friends. It is now personal for us."

They added, "We don't have the [death penalty] down here, so to see Arias actually fight for her life in real time is interesting."

At the Maricopa County Courthouse, regular trial-watchers discuss the case in raucous groups outside the fifth-floor courtroom. The banter gets so loud occasionally that they are ordered to pipe down by security officers.

One day, bailiff Valerie Leon came out to the waiting area to scold the trial watchers, saying complaints had been lodged about some of them whispering their opinions too loudly while seated directly behind Arias' family — which, Leon added, is "beyond disrespectful."

Some of the regulars are tapped frequently by news shows to give their impressions of the day's testimony.

Katie Wick, who worked as spokeswoman last year for Arizona Republican Congressional candidate Travis Grantham, tells New Times that she once wanted to be a prosecutor. She's in court nearly every day and has made weekly appearances on CNN, including with Dr. Drew.

"When you go home at the end of the night, you're tired — just exhausted," she says.

One couple, Jon and Laura Weiss of Pasadena, California, say they couldn't resist coming to the trial while they're in the Phoenix area on business. Neither had ever been in a courtroom before, they say, and Laura couldn't resist.

"I said, 'We gotta go!' It's a high-profile case, and it's right here in town!"

"We were here on the day of the photos of [Alexander's] private parts," Jon says. "So it was a shock."

Yet they came back on a couple of other days and also parlayed their courtroom experience into an appearance on Drew Pinsky's show.

Michelle Heinrich drove from Reno to Phoenix with a friend in early February and admits that she called in sick from work all week for the privilege of watching the trial live. As with a few of the other watchers, she's motivated partly by bad experiences with men in her life.

Despite her own abuse "every day for two years" by a former partner, she says, Alexander "did not deserve to get what he did."

 

Steve Packard, a Sun City retiree, says he wanted to be in court so he could observe jury members "up close."

After the high-profile Florida trial of Casey Anthony — in which she was found guilty only of misdemeanors and sentenced to four years behind bars with credit for time served — Packard says, "It scares me how a jury might think."

In the Arias case, Packard believes, jurors don't appear to be "having the wool pulled over their eyes."

That's difficult to tell, even from inside the courtroom. But the outcome of the Arias trial is certain to be vastly different from that of the Anthony trial. After all, Arias admitted finally that she did it.

She admitted emerging from her "fog" and stopping in the desert to throw away the pistol she used on Alexander, and she recalled washing his blood from her hands.


Jodi Arias would be the fourth woman living on Arizona's Death Row, if that's where her murder trial takes her.

She's neither the bloodiest female killer in the state's history nor — despite Arias' much-talked-about demeanor on the witness stand — the most flippant.

When housecleaner Eva Dugan was sentenced to die for the 1927 ax murder of an elderly rancher, she chided jury members that at least she'd "die with her boots on." Dugan laughed and sang "I Don't Know Where I'm Going, but I'm on My Way" as she walked to the gallows, a February 21, 1930, Associated Press article states. Then, when the rope snapped taut, her head unexpectedly popped off, rolling into a corner. Her blood-spurting body slammed into the floor near horrified witnesses; three women and two men fainted.

The gory scene spurred the state to switch from hanging murderers to gassing them to death.

Dugan remains the only woman executed since Arizona has been a state.

Arias could join the three women sentenced to death and awaiting execution: Debra Jean Milke, convicted of murdering her 5-year-old son; Wendi Andriano, convicted of poisoning her husband (Juan Martinez was prosecutor on that one, too); and Shawna Forde, ringleader of a group that killed a man and a 9-year-old during a home-invasion robbery.

The state's execution method changed again in 1992, when Arizona voters elected to use lethal injection following the ghastly 11-minute-long gas-chamber execution of Donald Harding.

Besides the three women, 120 men sit on Arizona's Death Row.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery wants to see Arias join those sentenced to die. In 2011, Montgomery rejected Arias' offer to plead guilty to second-degree murder.

Last month, the Arizona Supreme Court affirmed Arias' eligibility for the death penalty in response to a defense motion.

If the jury convicts her of first-degree murder, the panel will then deliberate on whether she gets the death penalty. An acquittal based on Arias' self-defense claim seems impossible. Arias' admitted cover-up of the crime, lies to police and to the public, and evidence of premeditation all point to a sentence of either death or life in prison.

When police interviewed her, days after Alexander's decomposing body was found by his roommates on June 9, Arias said she hadn't been to Alexander's home for weeks.

Arias was known to Alexander and his friends as a stalking, jealous ex-girlfriend. Alexander and his friends suspected Arias of slashing his car's tires and sending one of his new girlfriends hate mail.

Arias, who'd started dating Alexander in mid-2006 and lived with him in Mesa for a few months, went back to Yreka for a time, but then moved from California to Mesa to be closer to Alexander after they broke up in 2007.

Arias told no one that she was planning to visit Alexander in Mesa on June 4, 2008, instead telling friends and family — and her romantic interest, Ryan Burns — that she was driving to Utah on June 3 to meet Burns.

For reasons that she couldn't explain intelligently during the trial, Arias rented a car instead of using her own, borrowed two gas cans from a friend in California, filled them, then bought a third gas can before crossing the California border.

The theory by prosecutor Martinez and police is that she wanted to leave no trace of her passage through Arizona.

On arriving at Burns' place in the Salt Lake City suburb, she told him and his friends that she'd gotten lost for a full day. The car-rental clerk noticed that Arias' hair was blond on June 3. Burns testified that by the time he saw Arias, it was dark brown.

When police confronted her with the extensive forensic evidence from the crime scene, Arias changed her story to the masked-intruders yarn.

After relating the second version calmly to the news media, she and her lawyer arrived eventually at the third.

 

In a 2011 motion, defense attorney Nurmi wrote that Arias' testimony would show Alexander was a "playboy expert manipulator and sexual deviant" who had attacked and threatened Arias in the past. Investigators never discovered a scrap of evidence on Alexander's computer or elsewhere that he'd viewed child porn, as Arias claims.

Arias now argues that she merely was defending herself on June 4, 2008. She claims Alexander had grown enraged in the shower after she dropped the new camera. She says he called her a "fucking bitch" and charged at her "like a linebacker," chasing her into a hallway. While she was running away through his walk-in closet, she claims, she found a handgun she knew he kept on a closet shelf, grabbed it, and it went off.

After that, she says, she entered the "fog" and can't recall further details of the attack. But, as Martinez elicited, it didn't stop her from trying to delete the camera images, putting the camera and bloody bedding in the washer, taking the gun from the house, throwing it somewhere in the desert, and leaving cheery voice mails for Alexander as if he were still alive.

Neither the gun nor the knife was ever found. The gun is a crucial detail that strongly suggests that the murder was premeditated.

A week before the killing, an alleged burglary occurred at the Yreka home of Arias' grandparents — where she was living at the time — and only a couple of items were taken. One of them was a .25-caliber handgun.

Alexander was shot with a .25-caliber handgun, the crime lab confirmed.

Such weapons are rare. It makes sense that elderly people might own a .25-caliber, because such guns were popular in the early 20th century. When Ian Fleming penned his first James Bond novel, he gave the secret agent a .25-caliber semi-automatic similar to the one used to shoot Alexander. After a gun aficionado complained to Fleming, he had his Bond character trade the gun in for a Walther PPK 7.65 millimeter.

The odds against Alexander's keeping a .25-caliber pistol in his closet are astronomical.

If the grandparents' gun had been a run-of-the mill 9 millimeter and Alexander had been shot with a 9 millimeter, her story might have been more plausible. Even then, crime-scene photos of the closet show neither a tie, shirt, nor stack of clothes out of place — clearly, there was no panicked grab for a gun in that closet.

Mel McDonald, the defense attorney and former federal prosecutor, predicts that a first-degree murder conviction is in Arias' future.

"You're sitting there having sex with the guy, and then you slit his throat — this doesn't happen spontaneously," McDonald says.

But some critics say Martinez's bombastic performance could backfire and cause at least one juror to feel sympathy for Arias and balk at the death penalty, forcing the panel to hand down a life sentence.

On March 6 and 7, Judge Stephens read about 220 questions to Arias from the jury; a member wanted to know more about Alexander's alleged abuse of her, suggesting that her self-defense claim still is in play in her or his mind.

However, most of the dozens of questions pointed toward Arias' guilt, with jurors expressing skepticism of her testimony and criticizing some of her admitted actions:

"After all the lies you've told, why should we believe you now?"

"How could you kiss another man when you knew what you just did to Travis?"

"Were you mad at Travis while you were stabbing him?"

Arias' answers to the questions — for example, she maintained that she has no memory of stabbing Alexander — were similar to those she gave previously, making it unlikely that they could placate the questioners.

In the next few weeks, defense attorney Nurmi will bring in more expert witnesses, including some who will attempt to bolster Arias' self-defense claim; prosecutor Martinez will make his rebuttal; closing arguments will occur; and the jury will start deliberations.

Arias could be re-called to the stand before testimony ends.

All the while, it's assured that millions will continue to tune in to every minute of the show — and then wait breathlessly to see what the jury decides.

O.J. was acquitted, but he ended up in prison for robbery in an unrelated case. Casey Anthony was set free in 2011 and resurfaced publicly this month for the first time in two years to attend a bankruptcy hearing.

One way or another, the Jodi Arias courtroom drama is likely to give the viewing public — who, based on interviews and Internet comments, seems to overwhelmingly think she's guilty of first-degree murder — a more satisfying ending.


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