(PHOENIX) — Jurors have spent five days listening to Jodi Arias detail the ups and downs, erotic sex, religious secrets and alleged violence in her relationship with ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander.
But they have yet to hear her version of the crime she’s accused of committing: murdering Alexander.
Experts say that Arias’ drawn-out testimony about the events leading up to the June 4, 2008 death of Alexander, 27, could backfire on Arias and her defense team, who are hoping to paint a sympathetic portrayal of the self-admitted killer by keeping her on the stand.
“When she goes on the stand, her attorneys are saying to her, ‘Don’t be afraid to serve up the emotion.’ People look at her right now as a monster. We have got to put a human face on the monster,” said Mel McDonald, a high profile defense attorney from Phoenix, where the trial is taking place.
“I would probably try the same thing, to win sympathy, have her viewed as this poor little girl, detail her abuse, the guys that dumped on her, that sort of thing,” he said. “But my read is the jury has to be getting frustrated because they’re going day after day and they’re not addressing the death. They’ve discussed everything but.”
Her lengthy testimony also leaves her vulnerable to cross examination, said Steven Pitt, a forensic psychiatrist who often testifies as an expert witness in court.
“When you talk as long as she has, for as many days as she did, she is leaving a trail of crumbs for the prosecutor to just pounce on. He is going to turn her into puree, and it is not going to be pretty,” Pitt said.
Arias has spent the past week of testimony describing her abusive childhood and failed relationships with men who cheated on her and treated her poorly, and eventually her long romance with Alexander. She has said she lacked the confidence to stand up to Alexander when he became abusive and showed signs of being a “sexual deviant” with her.
“If there’s not some eye-rolling at this point I’d be surprised,” said Pitt. “They’re putting all of this on, and she is presenting herself as the victim. In the cases I’ve been involved in when the defendant portrays herself as a victim, most jurors see right through that.”
Arias claims she killed Alexander in self-defense because he was an aggressive “sexual deviant” who was controlling and violent toward her. Prosecutors say she murdered him in cold blood out of jealousy.
Arias, 32, could face the death penalty if convicted.
She will likely have to begin discussing the confrontation with Alexander that led to her killing him when court resumes on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Stephen Collinson, CNN
Emanuella Grinberg, CNN