POSTED: 3:26 p.m. HST, Apr 9, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 3:33 p.m. HST, Apr 9, 2013
PHOENIX » The prosecutor in Jodi Arias' murder trial worked today to portray the defendant as a manipulative liar who "liked to play the victim" as he questioned a defense witness' contention that Arias suffered domestic abuse at the hands of the one-time boyfriend she has admitted to killing.
Psychotherapist Alyce LaViolette has been testifying for more than a week about her conclusion that Arias was a victim of both physical and emotional abuse by her lover. LaViolette resumes testimony Wednesday.
Arias says the killing was self-defense, and described during her 18 days of testimony how Travis Alexander had grown more abusive in the months leading up to his death, once choking her into unconsciousness. She says on the day of the killing in June 2008 at Alexander's suburban Phoenix home, Alexander attacked her one last time and she was forced to fight for her life.
However, no other evidence or testimony — other than Arias' accounts — have been presented at trial showing Alexander had ever been physically violent in the past.
Authorities say she planned the attack well in advance. Arias initially denied involvement then blamed it on two masked intruders. Two years after her arrest, she said it was self-defense. Testimony has been ongoing for more than three months.
She faces a possible death sentence if convicted of first-degree murder.
LaViolette has described for jurors Arias' volatile relationship with Alexander, portraying the man as a womanizing cheater who courted multiple women simultaneously, using graphic language to entice them into sexual encounters, while berating Arias with derogatory names.
She said she came to her conclusions based on more 40 hours of interviews with Arias, and reviews of thousands of pages of text messages, emails and other communications between Arias and the victim, as well as messages between Alexander and other women.
Prosecutor Juan Martinez pointed out how Arias lied repeatedly in the months after her arrest, asking LaViolette how she could be certain the defendant isn't still lying.
"I found the defendant to be credible," LaViolette said.
"Which means you found her to be truthful, right?" Martinez countered.
"Alright," LaViolette replied defiantly.
Martinez continued the heated line of questioning, asking the witness whether Arias "may have been less than truthful with you, correct?"
LaViolette dodged a direct answer, and accused Martinez of taking her evaluation out of context.
"There is always reasonable doubt, Mr. Martinez," she replied.
"You didn't talk to Mr. Alexander, did you?" he snapped back.
"No, I did not," LaViolette said.
"You didn't talk to any other witnesses, correct?" Martinez prodded.
"No I did not," the witness said.
The judge then removed the jury from the courtroom as Martinez worked to introduce as evidence a video of police questioning Arias' father, William Arias, on the day his daughter was arrested. During the video interview, Arias' father says, "She's never been honest with us."
LaViolette said she was unaware of the statement by Arias' father. She said she would have only used it to come to her conclusions in the context of everything else she reviewed, including Arias' contention that her father abused her as a child.
"I would not take a sound bite of anything and make a decision on it," she said.
The jury returned to the courtroom, and Martinez moved on to another line of questioning, reminding LaViolette of a statement made by a high school classmate of Arias that the defendant "liked playing the victim."
"That was about high school," LaViolette said, explaining that she found no evidence of such behavior in Arias' adult life.
"The defendant is very manipulative, isn't she?" Martinez asked.
LaViolette again dodged answering the question directly, and instead explained that Arias lied after the killing in an attempt to "feel normal," and that there was evidence she had been "flirtatious" with men, but the two traded barbs over the definition of the word manipulative as court adjourned for lunch.