Jodi Arias Must Overcome Her Lies If She Testifies This Week

PHOTO: Jodi Arias is charged with murder in the death of her boyfriend, Travis Alexander.

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.

It won't be easy. 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 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.

See Full Coverage of Jodi Arias Trial

Watch the Jodi Arias Trial Live

See Jodi Arias Trial Videos Arias grew up in the sleepy northern California town of Yreka with four siblings, her parents, and her grandparents close by. She told the TV program "48 Hours" that her childhood was "almost ideal. I have a big family. We're all very close."

Her mother attends court every day and Arias sells prison portraits on eBay to help pay her mother's expenses.

As a teenager, Arias dropped out of Yreka High School, but in her twenties grew ambitious when she began working for a company called Pre-Paid Legal, where at a conference in 2006 she met Alexander, a Pre-Paid Legal success story and a Mormon.

Arias' lawyer, Jennifer Willmott, has said that Arias was captivated by Alexander, who talked about marriage, children and leading a pious life. In just two months after they met, Alexander convinced Arias to convert to Mormonism, according to Willmott.

"Jodi wanted nothing but to please Travis," Wilmott said in her opening statements.

"She would often tell me about how she felt about her religious beliefs, the Book of Mormon," said Ryan Burns, another Mormon whom Arias dated after Alexander. "She was a convert, by Travis... She mentioned reading the scriptures."

She even cited the 10 commandments during her grilling over Alexander's death, telling Detective Esteban Flores, "If I did that I'd be fully ready to the consequences. I'm all for the 10 commandments, thou shall not kill."

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