Jodi Arias' lawyer says ex-boyfriend sexually humiliated her

PHOENIX (AP) -- A lawyer for Jodi Arias pleaded for his client's life Tuesday as he told the jury deciding whether she'll be put to death that the ex-lover she killed sexually humiliated her and wanted to keep their trysts secret.

Defense attorney Kirk Nurmi began closing arguments in Arias' sentencing retrial by showing photos from happy moments in her life, such as an image of Arias resting her chin on boyfriend Travis Alexander's shoulder amid a forested background. Nurmi said Arias' problems stem from a personality disorder in which she tries to mold herself to the wishes of the men she dates.

Nurmi portrayed Arias' former boyfriend Travis Alexander as a man divided between his Mormon faith and sexual desires that led him to have relationships with several women. The attorney said Alexander used Arias to quench his sexual urges, called her demeaning names and told her she was soulless.

He asked jurors not to judge Arias entirely on her actions on the day of the killing, saying she is remorseful. "If you sentence Ms. Arias to death, you are killing this girl," Nurmi said, displaying a childhood photo of Arias and her brother.

Alexander's family abruptly left the courtroom once Nurmi started to read Arias' testimony in which she reflects on her former boyfriend's family.

The Alexander family returned to the courtroom shortly before prosecutor Juan Martinez was expected to begin making closing arguments.

Arias was convicted in 2013 of murdering Alexander, but her first jury deadlocked on her punishment. A jury that has been hearing testimony since mid-October will decide whether to sentence her to life in prison or death.

Prosecutors said Arias attacked Alexander in a jealous rage after he wanted to end their affair and planned a trip to Mexico with another woman. Arias has acknowledged killing Alexander, but she said it was self-defense after he attacked her.

Arias often looked at the jury as her attorney pleaded for the more lenient sentence.

Her sentencing retrial has dragged on for several months amid a series of expert witnesses and the surprising October decision by Judge Sherry Stephens to remove reporters and spectators from the courtroom so Arias could testify in private. A higher court halted the testimony on its second day amid complaints from news organizations.

The retrial revealed few new details about the crime and was more subdued than Arias' first trial, which turned into a media circus. At the retrial, the judge barred the broadcast of footage from the proceedings until after a verdict is reached. She did, however, agree to allow live broadcast coverage of the sentencing verdict.

Arias passed up a chance Monday to address the jury, saying she wanted to make such comments but insisting the courtroom be cleared. She said she wouldn't make any remarks if she could be seen and heard from a remote viewing room.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press modified.
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