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The knife Jodi Arias used to kill her ex-boyfriend could be the most important piece of evidence in prosecutor Juan Martinez’s case.
Martinez has raised more questions about the knife than perhaps any other piece of evidence.
Arias said Alexander attacked her June 4, 2008, after she dropped his new camera, and she shot him in self-defense. She claims that she doesn't remember stabbing him after the gun fired, but she does acknowledge she must have used a knife during the attack. The medical examiner testified that Alexander was stabbed multiple times, his throat was slit from ear to ear, and he was shot in the head.
Arias testified earlier in the trial that Alexander used a knife to cut a rope to tie her up to a bed for a sexual act. He then placed the knife somewhere in the bedroom or the bathroom.
Martinez pointed out that there’s no evidence the rope existed. He showed the jury explicit photos of Arias and Alexander on his bed, but no rope could be seen in the photos.
Martinez also pointed out that investigators never recovered a rope from the crime scene. Arias provided an explanation as to why this mysterious rope disappeared when her attorney was questioning her during direct examination.
Defense attorney Kirk Nurmi asked Arias, “What about the rope he had tied you up with. Did you take that with you?”
“Yes," replied Arias.
Nurmi asked, “And do you remember what you did with that?”
“Eventually it went into a dumpster,” said Arias.
Nurmi asked, “Where?”
“It was behind a gas station...I think it was somewhere after St. George. I don’t remember. It was getting light out. Wherever I was parked at that point,” replied Arias.
Arias said she doesn’t know what happened to the knife, but she did admit to disposing of the gun in the desert.
If Martinez can prove the rope never existed, he may be able to convince the jury that Arias brought the knife into the bedroom because she planned to kill Alexander.
62 seconds to kill
On Wednesday, Martinez grilled Arias about the knife again, and talked about how her story seems implausible.
Based on time stamps on inadvertent photos from Alexander's camera that may show the killing in progress, Martinez said Arias only had 62 seconds to shoot him in the head, stab him multiple times, and slit his throat.
“Under your scenario, in 62 seconds you get body-slammed, you do whatever you do but you get away," Martinez said. "You run down the hallway, you go in the closet, you grab a gun, you back up, you shoot Mr. Alexander. After you shoot Mr. Alexander, you pick up the camera…and he’s already down the hallway with his throat slit," a scenario Martinez said was "impossible."
Martinez also asked Arias if she had the knife with her when she shot Alexander, because otherwise -- according to the timeline of the photos -- she would also have to find the knife within 62 seconds.
Martinez asked, "So you had the knife with you?"
"I didn’t have the knife at the time that we fell and at the time when he threatened my life," said Arias.
Martinez asked, "At the time you shot him, did you have the knife with you?"
"I did not," said Arias.
Jurors taking notice
It seems the jurors are taking notice of Martinez’s relentless questions about the knife. At the end of court Wednesday, one juror had a question of his own about the gun.
Judge Sherry Stephens read this juror question to Arias: If you were scared after shooting Alexander, then why did you not shoot him again? Why did you use a knife?
Arias said Alexander knocked the gun out of her hand, and she doesn't really remember what happened after she lost the weapon.
Did Alexander suffer?
The knife is also important to the prosecution's case for cruelty. If the jury convicts Arias of first-degree murder then Martinez will have to prove Arias killed Alexander in a cruel manner to put Arias on death row. Arizona law defines cruel manner as when the victim suffers physical pain or mental anguish and the defendant knew or should have known that the victim would suffer.
The order of Alexander's wounds is critical to the prosecution’s case for cruelty. Martinez is expected to argue that the knife wounds happened before Alexander died, and the gunshot was the last wound inflicted upon him. If the knife wounds happened first Alexander likely suffered a great deal before dying.
Arias testified she shot Alexander first and doesn't remember what happened after the gun fired. However, she does acknowledge she must have used a knife during the attack.