It was a dramatic first week in a Phoenix courtroom as Jodi Arias faced a jury for the first time in her capital murder trial for the death of her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander. If you haven’t been following the trial, here are the key events from the opening statements and this week’s testimony:
In his nearly two-hour opening statement, Deputy County Attorney Juan Martinez described the violent and nightmarish murder of Travis Alexander, that included at least 29 stab wounds to his back and torso, a gunshot wound to his face and a slit across his throat from ear to ear. Martinez discussed forensic evidence he said places Jodi Arias at the crime scene during the attack.
Martinez said police recovered a bloody handprint that contained a mixture of Arias’ blood and Alexander’s. Martinez told the jury police also recovered a series of time and date stamped photos of the couple engaged in sexual activity hours before the murder, as well as a photo taken while the attack was in progress.
In a dramatic closing, Martinez played an excerpt from Arias’ September 2008 interview with Inside Edition, where she emphatically stated, “No jury will convict me, mark my words, no jury will convict me, because I’m innocent.” Martinez concluded by asking the jurors to “mark her words” and return a guilty verdict.
Defense attorney Jennifer Willmott began her opening statement by telling the jury Arias killed Alexander in self-defense. She described the couple’s relationship as psychologically abusive and controlling, stating Alexander kept Arias as his “dirty little secret,” Meanwhile, Willmott stated Alexander repeatedly degraded Arias by telling his friends that she was a stalker.
On the day of the murder, Willmott said Arias was subjected to rough vaginal sex. Willmott stated Arias killed Alexander while she was defending herself against her angry ex-boyfriend after she dropped his new camera. Willmott discussed two time stamped photos taken on the day of the murder. One photo points up at the bathroom ceiling light after apparently accidentally falling. The other, a bloody photo of Alexander. Willmott concluded by telling the jury that if Arias had not chosen to defend herself in the one minute that passed in between those photos being taken, she would not be here today.
Marie Hall, a friend of Alexander’s who briefly dated him after Arias, was the first witness called to the stand. Hall testified she and Alexander planned a trip to Cancun, but she became concerned when she didn’t hear from him. The day before their scheduled trip, Hall stated she, a friend, and the friend’s boyfriend went to Alexander’s house at night and gained access through the garage.
Hall testified she noticed a “really bad smell” throughout the house once she was inside. Alexander’s roommate used a key to gain access to his locked bedroom, according to Hall. Moments later, Alexander’s roommate ran out and said, “He’s dead,” she testified.
Day one of the trial was wrapped up with testimony from Sterling Hall, the patrol officer from the Mesa Police Department who responded to Alexander’s home the day his body was discovered. Hall described in detail the Alexander’s body at the crime scene. Graphic photos of Alexander’s decomposing, nude body with a slit throat in the shower were shown to the jury. Jodi Arias could not hold back her tears.
Through a recorded phone call with lead investigator Esteban Flores, jurors heard Arias’ reaction to Alexander’s death. Flores testified Arias contacted him by phone on the day Alexander’s body was discovered. A day later on June 10, Flores called Arias back after receiving a second message. During that call, Arias told Flores, “I heard a lot of rumors, and that there was a lot of blood.”
On cross-examination, Defense Attorney Kirk Nurmi asked Flores if he recalled Arias telling him that Alexander hired her to clean his house and wanted her to wear a French maid’s outfit. Flores said he didn’t remember. The defense also presented email in which Alexander called Arias a “slut” and a “whore.” On redirect, the prosecution presented instant message emails where Alexander wrote to Arias, “I think I was little more than a dildo with a heartbeat to you.”
Through the testimony of Heather Conner, a crime scene technician and latent fingerprint examiner with the Mesa Police Department, prosecutor Martinez walked jurors through Alexander’s home. Conner testified she spent three days collecting evidence from the house. She reviewed photos of Alexander’s home, entry way, garage and laundry room. Inside the washing machine, Conner testified she found a camera inside the partially loaded washing machine. At the end of day two, photos of a bloody sink, a .25 caliber spent shell casing and a pool of blood were shown to the jury. Those photos left Alexander’s family members, and Arias, in tears.