TODAY   |  March 02, 2013

On trial for murder, Jodi Arias breaks down

After a week of cross-examination while testifying about her alleged role in the murder of her boyfriend, Jodi Arias became emotional and said there were things about the night in question that she couldn’t remember. The jury will hear from expert witnesses and then decide whether Arias is a murderer or a victim. NBC’s Josh Mankewicz reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we want to begin this half hour with a phoenix, arizona, murder trial that has been grabbing a lot of national headlines. the defendant is a woman named jodi arias. she is accused of murdering her lover. arias says it's self-defense. the state says it's murder. here's our report.

>>> did you kill travis alexander on june 4th , 2008 ?

>> yes, i did.

>> why?

>> the simple answer is that he attacked me.

>> reporter: but there are not many simple answers here. jo jodi arias said she feared for her life so she killed him. the prosecution says it was a love story that ended in murder.

>> she rewarded that love by sticking a knife in his chest.

>> reporter: for two months a phoenix jury has heard the steamy details of their relationship. seen naked pictures and listened to the one time lovers have phone sex .

>> you're bad. you make me feel so dirty.

>> you are, too.

>> reporter: travis ' friends say jodi became obsessed.

>> travis confided in us she snoops through my e-mails. she snoops through my house. she checks up on me constantly. i'm going out on a date with a different girl and she's following me.

>> reporter: when travis was found stabbed and shot to death, his friends told police look for jodi . she denied everything.

>> it was you that wanted to cover it up because --

>> no.

>> that's you.

>> it looks like me.

>> reporter: police showed her explicit photos they found at the crime scene taken on the day travis died proving she was at his house having sex . jodi changed her story, blaming intruders. then changed it again saying travis attacked her.

>> you say you have memory problems but it depends on the circumstance, right?

>> that's right.

>> what factors influence your having a memory problem?

>> usually when men like you are screaming at me or grilling me or someone like travis doing the same.

>> reporter: two months into the trial, after a week of scorching cross-examination, jodi arias finally lost it.

>> ma'am, were you crying when you were shooting him?

>> i don't remember.

>> were you crying when you were stabbing him?

>> i don't remember.

>> how about when you cut his throat? were you crying then?

>> i don't know.

>> reporter: soon, expert witnesses for both sides will offer their interpretations of her actions and the jury will decide whether jodi is a murderer or a victim. for "today," nbc news, phoenix.

>>> beth karas is a correspondent on trutv. great to see you.

>> good morning.

>> this woman has been talking almost nonstop. she told the police she wasn't there. then she says i was there but intruders came in. then she says she was there and she was attacked. and she does jailhouse interviews. how does the defense thread this needle in front of a jury?

>> you know, that is still to come, lester, when the experts take thestand. she admitted all the lies. she had to. she said i did it in self-defense. i did all the horrible acts but i was justified. he was abusing me. so she says at this point that the lies, all these lies were because she was still protecting his reputation. she had dirty little secrets on him and she still was protecting him in death. i don't know what the psychologist and domestic violence experts still to come for the defense will say about that. maybe they'll have some interpretation that this is consistent with victim of abuse. however, the state says this is not a woman who was abused at all. there is no evidence of abuse except coming from her mouth.

>> and, beth, you and i talked about other cases before and whether the defendant should take the stand on their owe bee half. not only is she taking the stand, she's been up there 13 days now.

>> yes. 13 days .

>> did she have any choice? did the defense have any other evidence to present other than her story?

>> she needed to testify. this was self-defense. she needed to explain what he was doing to her just before she slaughtered him that would justify killing him. she had to be in fear of her life and what she told the jury is that he was coming at her in a linebacker stance, no weapons on him, and that he said he was going to kill her. and then she slashed and stabbed him. 29 knife wounds and she shot him. one of the stab wounds was to the heart. she gcut his throat, all the way to the spinal cord . i don't know if they will say that is justified for lunging at her.

>> the jury gets to ask questions, at least submit questions. will that tip the hand as to where they may be?

>> well, you know, maybe so. that has happened with a few witnesses already. and there are a number of notes in a basket in front of the jury. so we'll see if the jury allows those questions to be asked. but depending on what they ask, if allowed, it may give us an idea of where at least one juror is going.

>> it's an absolutely fascinating case. beth karas , thank you for joining us.