updated 01/03/2013 AT 6:50 PM ET
•originally published 01/03/2013 AT 7:00 PM ET
A woman charged with stabbing her lover 27 times and shooting him in the head has gone on trial, with attorneys debating whether Jodi Arias planned the attack or fought off Mormon playboy Travis Alexander in self-defense.
In a drama being televised nationally, the pretty 32-year-old dabbed away tears as testimony began this week in a Phoenix courtroom. Jurors have been shown photos of everything from Arias and Alexander having sex to brutal crime scene pictures of Alexander’s body, curled on a shower floor, his throat slit.
If convicted of the murder, Arias could become the fourth woman on Arizona’s death row.
Deputy County Attorney Juan Martinez said Wednesday during opening statements that Alexander was one of the greatest blessings of Jodi Arias’s life.
“She rewarded him by stabbing him in the heart,” said Martinez.
The prosecution says the couple met in 2006 in Las Vegas. Alexander, an executive at a marketing company, invited Arias, a new recruit, to the executive table and extolled the Mormon religion. They carried on a long-distance relationship until Arias moved from Palm Springs to Mesa, according to the prosecution.
When she learned Alexander was still dating other women, Arias didn’t stop sleeping with him, the jury was told. But, Alexander told his friends, Arias slashed his tires, stalked his dates with other women and hacked into his email and bank accounts, the prosecution said.
The last straw may have been when Alexander, 30, invited Marie Hall, a church acquaintance, on a company trip to Cancun. When several days passed with no word from Alexander, Hall testified that she grew concerned. She says that, on June 9, 2008, she and Alexander’s roommate entered his bedroom and found the bloody crime scene.
Arias allegedly stabbed Alexander 27 times, slit his throat and shot him in the head.
As the evidence against her mounted, Arias repeatedly changed her story. First, she said she hadn’t seen him in months, according to prosecutors.
Then, after police found a camera in Alexander’s washing machine with photos of the two having sex that day, as well as photos of her dragging his body across the floor, she claimed that a couple dressed in black broke into the house and killed him.
Finally, she said, she killed Alexander in self-defense.
“Had Jodi not chosen to defend herself, she would not be here,” defense attorney Jennifer Willmott told the jury.
Her defense says she fought off Alexander after he violently attacked her for dropping his camera – the same camera that would capture her dragging his corpse across the floor.