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Woman accused of Arizona lover's murder says she loved him till the end

Jodi Arias testifies during cross examination by prosecutor Juan Martinez in Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix, Arizona, February 25
Jodi Arias testifies during cross examination by prosecutor Juan Martinez in Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix, Arizona, February 25

By Brad Poole

(Reuters) - A woman accused of murdering her Arizona lover testified on Monday that she loved him right up until the day she killed him in the shower of his upscale suburban home, even though they had not been a couple for nearly a year by then.

Jodi Arias, 32, described her love for Travis Alexander after the separation as non-romantic despite a continued physical relationship and exchange of affectionate emails, text and telephone messages.

"I still loved him, but I realized I didn't want to be with him anymore," she said.

Arias could face the death penalty if convicted of murdering Alexander, who was found in his Phoenix valley home in June 2008 shot in the face, stabbed 27 times and with his throat slashed.

She has admitted to killing him but has said it was in self-defense after he attacked her when she dropped his camera while taking pictures of him in the shower. The prosecution has said she killed him in a jealous rage.

When the two were a couple, until June 2007, Alexander made the soft-spoken Arias feel special by verbally praising her, writing her love notes and doing favors, such as paying for a moving truck and storing some of her belongings at his house, she told the jury on Monday.

Arias, who was living in Yreka, California, at the time, told no one about the killing until she was arrested. When police initially questioned her, she claimed not to have been anywhere near the home at the time, but later admitted killing him.

Just before a lunch break in testimony on Monday, Arias called their relationship "complicated" with confusing boundaries that included having sex despite their break-up. It was not just a physical relationship, she said.

"Our hearts and minds were in alignment, as well," she said.

She described Alexander as a domineering man who verbally snapped at her whenever she tried to assert herself in conversation, making her feel like a chastised child.

"Eventually it began to instill fear and intimidation," she said.

Arias later testified that although her sexual encounters with Alexander were not always physically gratifying, she enjoyed it because it made him happy. She said she felt pressured to go along with her lover's requests and sexual banter.

Arias explained missing pages from her journals and an absence of references to abuse, which prosecutors had noted during questioning last week, by saying she did not want anything negative in her journals.

"I didn't want to solidify it in reality by putting it in writing and making it concrete," she said. Testimony is scheduled to continue on Tuesday.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Andrew Hay)

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