PHOENIX -- The judge in Jodi Arias' death penalty trial allowed a defense expert witness to testify Thursday about the defendant's memory lapses from the day she killed her lover after a brief delay due to prosecutors' objections.
Arias is charged with first-degree murder in the June 2008 death of Travis Alexander in his suburban Phoenix home. Authorities said she planned the attack in a jealous rage.
Arias initially told authorities she had nothing to do with the killing then blamed it on masked intruders. Two years after her arrest, she settled on self-defense.
Arias testified for 18 days over nearly six weeks during which she described her abusive childhood, cheating boyfriends, dead-end jobs, a shocking sexual relationship with Alexander, and her contention that he had grown physically abusive in the months leading to his death, once even choking her into unconsciousness.
She said she recalled little from the day of the attack.
Defense attorneys called psychologist Richard Samuels as an expert witness to help explain why Arias has memory gaps. Prosecutor Juan Martinez had objected to, among other things, his planned testimony, during which Samuels was set to discuss whether the killing appeared to be premeditated based on his review of crime scene photos and interviews with Arias.
Judge Sherry Stephens allowed Samuels to take the witness stand to discuss brain function and memory loss under stress but said she would set a hearing on whether to allow him to discuss his opinion related to premeditation.
Samuels is an Arizona-based expert whose website says he specializes in "sexually violent perpetrator evaluations, psychosexual risk assessments, sexual harassment and gender discrimination matters."
Alexander suffered nearly 30 knife wounds, was shot in the head and had his throat slit before Arias dragged his body into his shower.
Arias has said she recalls Alexander attacking her in a fury. She said she ran into his closet to retrieve a gun he kept on a shelf and fired in self-defense but has no memory of stabbing him repeatedly.
She has acknowledged trying to clean the scene of the killing, dumping the gun in the desert and leaving the victim a voicemail on his cellphone hours later in an attempt to avoid suspicion. She says she was too scared and ashamed to tell the truth.
Arias' grandparents had reported a .25-caliber handgun stolen from their Northern California home about a week before Alexander's death -- the same caliber used to shoot him -- but Arias said she didn't take it. Authorities believe she brought it with her.
Since the trial began, none of Arias' allegations of Alexander's violence, that he owned a gun and had sexual desires for young boys has been corroborated by witnesses or evidence. She has acknowledged lying repeatedly but insists she is telling the truth now.
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