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Jodi Arias defense at sentencing retrial focuses on sex, religion, secrecy and evidence

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PHOENIX — Defense attorneys for convicted murderer Jodi Arias on Wednesday sought to portray the victim as a man torn between his devout Mormon faith and his secret sexual urges as they worked to convince a jury to spare her life.

Arias was found guilty of murder last year in the 2008 killing of ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander at his suburban Phoenix home, but jurors deadlocked on whether she should be sentenced to death or life in prison.

Prosecutors have one more shot with a new jury to secure a death sentence. Otherwise, Arias faces life in prison.

Testimony on Wednesday mirrored the previous trial during which Arias' attorneys portrayed her as a naive woman in love with a man who only used her for sex, while Alexander maintained to friends and family that he was a virgin and devout Mormon saving himself for marriage.

"There's a mastery here of deception," said defense witness L.C. Miccio-Fonseca, a psychologist who described Alexander as a man who led two separate lives — one of sexual deviancy with Arias and another of religious conviction around his friends and family.

"He was a committed Mormon," Miccio-Fonseca said. "He was a spiritual man. I think he really genuinely struggled with this."

Prosecutors argue that Arias killed Alexander in a jealous rage after he wanted to end their affair. He suffered nearly 30 knife wounds, was shot in the head and had his throat slit. Arias acknowledged killing him, but claims it was self-defense after he attacked her in his home.

Miccio-Fonseca said that despite being snubbed in public by Alexander and kept hidden from his friends and family, Arias continued to seek his affection and sex because she was in love with him.

PHOTO: Judge Sherry Stephens listens as defense attorney Kirk Nurmi (not pictured) discusses motions during the sentencing phase of the Jodi Arias trial at Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014.  Arias was found guilty of murder last year in the 2008 killing of ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander at his suburban Phoenix home, but jurors deadlocked on whether she should be sentenced to death or life in prison. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, David Wallace, Pool)
Judge Sherry Stephens listens as defense attorney Kirk Nurmi (not pictured) discusses motions during the sentencing phase of the Jodi Arias trial at Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014. Arias was found guilty of murder last year in the 2008 killing of ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander at his suburban Phoenix home, but jurors deadlocked on whether she should be sentenced to death or life in prison. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, David Wallace, Pool)

"Love is pretty powerful and so it makes us do crazy things," she said.

"Because her love for him was powerful, wasn't it?" asked defense attorney Kirk Nurmi.

"Oh yes," Miccio-Fonseca said.

The retrial resumed Wednesday with arguments by defense attorneys accusing authorities of destroying evidence on Alexander's computer that may have benefited Arias' case. They say files were deleted by police that showed he had visited numerous pornographic websites, something her attorneys claim would have helped bolster Arias' contention that the victim was a sexual deviant.

They are seeking a dismissal of all charges or at least to have the death penalty removed as a sentencing option.

The judge denied a request by the defense to delay the trial based on the allegations, explaining she would take up the matter at a later date.

Prosecutor Juan Martinez said his office had the computer reanalyzed just this week, and it showed the defense claims are false. He also noted that if anything was deleted from the computer, it was done by Arias' previous defense attorneys, not authorities.

"It confirmed that he had not accessed any of the (pornographic) sites that they're claiming he accessed," Martinez said.

But Nurmi told the judge a "plethora of evidence" is being uncovered by computer experts "as we speak."

The retrial is expected to continue into December.

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PHOTO: Jodi Arias looks on as her attorney Kirk Nurmi (not pictured) discusses motions during the sentencing phase of her trial at Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014.  Arias was found guilty of murder last year in the 2008 killing of ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander at his suburban Phoenix home, but jurors deadlocked on whether she should be sentenced to death or life in prison. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, David Wallace, Pool)
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