TODAY   |  May 02, 2013

Jodi Arias trial: Closing arguments set to begin

The four-month trial of Jodi Arias, who faces charges of premeditated murder in the 2008 death of her boyfriend, is nearing its end, and it will be up to the jury to decide what really happened the night Travis Alexander was killed. TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie reports and NBC legal analyst Lisa Bloom and Star Jones discuss the case.

Share This:

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

>>> it, a warning.

>>> we'll begin this half hour with the trial of jodi arias , the young woman facing charges of premeditated murder in the 2008 death of her boyfriend. after four months of sometimes graphic testimony, closing arguments are finally beginning today.

>> it's the opposite of a who done it.

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

>> yes, i did.

>> an autopsy found that alexander was shot in the face and stabbed 27 times.

>> she almost decapitated him and dragged him back to the shower and shot him in the head.

>> facing charges of first-degree murder and a possible death sentence , jodi arias told the jury she shot alexander in self- defense .

>> he was screaming i was a stupid idiot and he body slammed me again on the tile.

>> arias says she doesn't remember much else after the gun went off in h hands. but over 18 days of testimony, she shared intimate details about their relationship, including tapes of her and alexander having pho sex.

>> you make me feel so dirty.

>> you are dirty, baby.

>> the defense wanted the sexual relationship of travis alexander and jodi arias to be in front of the jury because they said travis alexander , the good mormon man was leading a double life and that jodi arias was his dirty little secret .

>> i felt like a used piece of toilet paper.

>> arias even claimed her boyfriend had been physically abusive.

>> he called me a [ bleep ] and kicked me in the ribs.

>> but the defense had no witnesses, no physical evidence to support that charge. and during cross-examination, arias broke into tears.

>> 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.

>> arias shot alexander with the same type of gun stolen a week earlier from her grandfather's home in california. and her claims of self- defense are the third version of the story she told before finally confessing that she killed alexander . first, she denied being there.

>> i was not at travis ' house.

>> arias then said alexander was killed by masked intruders. a skeptical jury asked her more than 200 questions during her time on the stand.

>> would you decide to tell the truth if you never got arrested?

>> i honestly don't kn the answer to that question.

>> for more, we turn to lisa bloom . good morning.

>> good morning.

>> we'll let you have a crack at this and play lawyer. if you're the defense , lisa, what is the best evince she acted in self- defense as she claims?

>> well, they only have her word for it. so she's been on the stand over 18 days, the jury's going to have to believe her testimony. she has a little bit of a finger injury, which i can't do here. which she says is from him assaulting her. and there are psychologists, more psychological evidence.

>> and let me turn to you, star. on the prosecution's side, in order for them to make this a death penalty eligible case, they have to prove this was a premeditated murder . what is the strongest evidence of premeditation that she planned it?

>> planning from at least two weeks past, behind it. going to steal her grandfather's car, steal her grandfather's gun, renting a car, even preparing to have extra gas in a gas can and then, of course, afterwards, flight and trying to hide all the weapons. we haven't gotten any of the weapons.

>> we have questions from the jurors, something we have in arizona, but not in other states. and it's rather telling. it's an insight into how they're looking at the case.

>> this is a smart jury and overwhelmingly male jury. so we're looking at jurors in this case, we can tell from their questions who are very rational, who are questioning the psychologist about whether they're using outdated tests. they're really on every detail.

>> what do you think, star, for having her on the stand for 18 days, there is a theory that whatever they think of her, she's now a human being to them.

>> yeah.

>> she's become a real person.

>> they bonded with their killer even if she's a murderer. i think the biggest issue is going to be if they can reestablish jodi arias as the defendant, not as jodi .

>> the prosecutor.

>> the prosecutor.

>> the prosecutor must reestablish she is a murderer, not just jodi arias .

>> you'd be in the courtroom saying this defendant --

>> no question. and pointing to her. and playing to that theory. the real issue, though, is whether or not they can save her life. she's not going to be acquitted. keeping the needle out of her arm --

>> do you agree with that, lisa? that this is all aut keeping her off of death row .

>> if the jury believes the self- defense theory, it's a home run for jodi arias , but i don't think expect to see that. she's hoping for a manslaughter conviction which will save her from the death penalty .

>> you mentioned the experts a few moments ago. we had various witnesses testifying she has everything from ptsd, battered women syndrome and borderline personality syndrome. do the experts wash each other out?

>> sometimes it's the benefit of the defendant, what you've done is muddy the water. the prosecution has a very strong forensic se, strong circumstantial evidence . they didn't really need to get into the argument over what mental defect she had.

>> i think the jurors are going to focus on the stab wounds in his back even though it's a self- defense case and bullet to the head.

>> and did jodi arias finish him off and shoot him at the end?

>> very quickly, there's been tough testimony about the victim here.

>> yeah.

>> is that a potential backfiring strategy for the defense ? basically blaming and trying to find the victim.

>> it's what you have to do on the self- defense case, but it's turned people off on social media big time . a lot of the jurors in this case. we can tell from their questions. let's remember, as star said, she slashed his throat. and the jurors have seen these horrific pictures. we don't see them on television on the coverage of this case, but the jurors have seen that over and over again. the prosecution ended with that.

>> great to have your perspective as always, thank you. and