(PHOENIX) — Alleged killer Jodi Arias is expected to take the stand this week and will try to convince an Arizona jury that her third version of how her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander died — that she killed him in self defense — is what really happened when she stabbed and shot him in his bathroom.
Her attorneys will also try to paint a sympathetic picture of Arias as a soft-spoken aspiring artist and photographer who was a recent and devout convert to Mormonism.
Her lawyers will have to overcome the prosecution’s image of a woman who can glibly lie to friends as well as police, about things as mundane as where she worked to how she killed Alexander.
“I don’t know how she can not take the stand, getting her up there you can have her crying and sobbing, saying she loved him, how horrible it was. I can’t conceive how you wouldn’t,” said Melvin McDonald, a criminal defense attorney and former judge and prosecutor. McDonald has opposed Arias’ prosecutor Juan Martinez in the past.
“She has got be likeable, tearful, show remorse for what happened. She has got to talk about the great times they had, talk about how he turned on her, how he was mean and ugly and demeaning, and the pictures he took and the pressure he would put on her, that sort of stuff,” McDonald said.
Arias, now 32, has been in jail since admitting to killing Alexander, 29, in 2008. She dated Alexander for a year and continued to have a sexual relationship with him for a year after they broke up. Her attorneys claim she killed him in self-defense, and that he was a controlling, abusive boyfriend who took advantage of a nice girl who fell in love.
Alexander’s friends, however, have depicted Arias as a jealous woman and a stalker. Prosecutors argue that her jealousy drove her to plot Alexander’s murder, driving from California to his house in Mesa, Ariz., to have sex with him, luring him into a vulnerable position, and then stabbing him 27 times and shooting him in the head.
The jury in the case will have to sort through the divergent portraits of Arias, who sits in court each day in conservative blouses and large glasses and who cries each time prosecutors discuss Alexander’s death.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Andreas Preuss, CNN
Chris Isidore, CNN Newswire
Angela Dewan, CNN
Polo Sandoval, Melissa Gray and Holly Yan, CNN