March 29, 2013 — -- The defense of Jodi Arias, on trial for allegedly murdering her ex-boyfriend, has cost Arizona taxpayers more than $1.4 million.
Arias, 32, is accused of murdering Travis Alexander in 2008 with 27 stab wounds, a slit throat and a bullet in the head. She could face the death penalty if convicted in her marathon murder trial.
Death penalty cases as a rule are more expensive than normal murder trials and the tab for her defense so far has exceeded $1.4 million, the state has revealed. Arias is represented by court-appointed attorneys at a rate of up to $250 per hour after she was unable to afford her own defense. The total does not include the cost of the state's prosecution.
The figure was released as the trial neared the end of its third month of testimony, which began Jan. 2.
The jury is currently hearing testimony by domestic violence expert Alyce LaViolette, who spent 44 hours interviewing Arias in jail. LaViolette was paid $250 an hour for that, and is now being paid $300 an hour for her expert testimony.
Arias and Alexander dated for about a year, but continued to sleep together after they broke up. Alexander was killed after a tryst in which the two took nude photos of each other.
The prosecution claims Arias killed Alexander out of jealousy, but Arias claims Alexander had become increasingly abusive and menacing and that she was forced to kill him in self defense when he became enraged because she dropped his camera.
LaViolette never met Alexander, but she read his emails, text messages and listened to recorded phone sex conversations he had with Arias.
Based on the evidence that she has collected, and the word of Arias, LaViolette said Arias was a battered woman. LaViolette cited one email that Alexander's close friends sent Arias early in the couple's relationship, which began in 2006.
"They advised her to move on from the relationship," LaViolette told the court. "That Mr. Alexander has been abusive to women."
Arias also claims she has been abused since childhood, a notion echoed by LaViolette in court this week.
"Jodi's mother didn't protect her from her father," LaViolette told the court.
LaViolette will continue her testimony next week and then face what is sure to be an intense cross examination by prosecutor Juan Martinez, who has suggested that Arias is making up stories of Alexander's alleged abuse.