Jodi Arias is a woman that many can't keep their eyes off of--a soft-spoken, small-framed 32-year-old who last year won a jailhouse Christmas caroling contest. But she is also an admitted killer who is now on trial in Arizona for the 2008 murder of her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander.
Sitting in a Maricopa County court, Arias, whose trial resumes today, cries every time prosecutors describe what she admits she did -- stab her one-time boyfriend Travis Alexander 27 times, slit his throat and shoot him in the head.
Arias grew up in the small city of Yreka, Calif. She dropped out of high school, but received her GED while in jail a few years ago. She was an aspiring photographer; her MySpace page includes several albums of pictures, one of which was called "In loving memory of Travis Alexander."
"Jodi wanted nothing but to please Travis," defense attorney Jennifer Wilmot said in her opening statements, but added that there was another reality – that Arias was Alexander's "dirty little secret."
Arias' attorneys want the jury to believe she killed Alexander in June of 2008 in self defense, that he abused her, and she feared for her life when she attacked him in the shower of his Mesa, Ariz., home.
Alexander's family and friends say Arias was a stalker who killed him in cold blood. They say the 30-year-old was a successful businessman who overcame all the odds. His parents were drug addicts, and he grew up occasionally homeless until he converted to Mormonism and turned his life around.
"He actually had everything going for him," said Dave Hall, one of Alexander's friends. "A beautiful home, a beautiful car, a great income."
Alexander kept a blog, and in a haunting last entry, just two weeks before his murder, he wrote about trying to find a wife.
"This type of dating to me is like a very long job interview," he wrote. "Desperately trying to find out if my date has an axe murderer penned up inside of her."
Alexander did date a killer. It's now up to the jury to decide if she killed in self defense.