Defendant Jodi Arias tries to maintain composure as she testifies about killing Travis Alexander in 2008 during her murder trial at Judge Sherry Stephens' Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013. Arias is charged in the 2008 stabbing and shooting death of her lover, Alexander. She faces the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murder. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Charlie Leight, Pool)
PHOENIX (AP) — Alternating between tears and poise, Jodi Arias has spent more than a week testifying in painstaking detail about the events that led her to kill her lover, to repeatedly stab him, slit his throat and shoot him in his Arizona home.
She has recounted numerous cheating boyfriends, dead-end jobs, childhood abuse and the minutia of clothing, cooking and car problems.
On the eighth day, Arias explained why she did it, but in stark contrast to her previous testimony, she didn't recall much. She remembers Travis Alexander in a rage, body slamming her and chasing her around his suburban Phoenix home, coming at her "like a linebacker."
She said she grabbed a gun from his closet, and it went off as they tussled, but she wasn't sure if she shot him, explaining there is a "huge gap" in her memory from that day in June 2008. She had no explanation for his 27 stab wounds and slit throat. He had been shot in the forehead.
And as Arias spent much of the day Wednesday describing for jurors why she killed Alexander, she spent an equal amount of time explaining away her repeated lies. She first told authorities she knew nothing about Alexander's death, then later blamed it on masked intruders before eventually settling on self-defense.
She said she was scared of being arrested, had been contemplating suicide and didn't want to sully Alexander's name with accounts of his violent behavior and lurid details of their sexual relationship, given his public persona as a devout Mormon who was saving himself for marriage.
And she said she needed to keep up the farce to avoid suspicion.
"I just have always heard don't admit to anything," she told jurors.
Defense attorneys concluded their questioning of Arias on Wednesday. Prosecutors will likely begin their cross-examination Thursday morning.
They say she planned the killing in a jealous rage, savagely attacking Alexander in his bedroom, then dragging his body into his shower.
Alexander's friends have said outside court that Arias is lying about her contention that he had sexual desires for young boys, and that he was physically abusive, and no witnesses have testified of any previous violent behavior. Authorities also have said they did not believe Alexander owned a gun, and there has been no testimony to back up Arias' story that he kept one in his closet.
She has repeatedly denied bringing any weapons to his home. Her grandparents reported a .25 caliber handgun stolen from their Northern California house about a week before the killing — the same caliber used to shoot Alexander — but Arias claims to know nothing about the robbery.
Arias is hoping the jury will spare her the death penalty with a conviction on a lesser charge — or even an acquittal. Prosecutors must prove she planned the attack in advance to secure a first-degree murder conviction and a chance for a death sentence.
On Wednesday, she was asked why she didn't dial 911 after she killed him.
"I couldn't imagine calling 911 and telling them what I had just done," Arias said. "I was scared of what would happen to me."
Arias said the fight started after she accidentally dropped Alexander's new digital camera while taking provocative photos of him in the shower.
"I didn't mean to shoot him or anything," she said. "He was angry at me and he wasn't going to stop ... It was like mortal terror."
When prodded for details of the killing, Arias said she remembers shooting at him, putting a knife in the dishwasher and disposing of the gun in the desert as she drove from Arizona on her way to see a friend in Utah.
"Do you remember stabbing Travis Alexander?" defense lawyer Kirk Nurmi asked.
"I have no memory of stabbing him," Arias said.
She later explained for jurors how she left Alexander's home and immediately began planning an alibi, leaving a message on his mobile phone and traveling to see a friend in Utah after disposing of the gun to "throw the scent off for a little while."
She explained how she kissed and cuddled with the man she was visiting on the very day she killed Alexander, "just trying to act like myself."
"I just wanted to seem like normal, like things were OK," Arias told jurors. "Like I didn't just do what I just did."