Accused murderer Jodi Arias
testified over the last two days about a flurry of boyfriends and how
she followed them into exploring a string of religions including
witchcraft, Buddhism, Hinduism and eventually Mormonism.
Arias, 32, has yet to tell the jury about meeting Travis Alexander, the ex-boyfriend who baptized her into the Mormon religion and who she is charged with killing in a jealous rage in 2008. She is now on trial in Arizona for his murder and could face the death penalty if convicted.
Her odyssey through boyfriends and the spiritual world included a five year period from age 18 through age 22 when Arias said she became very interested in fundamentalist Christianity, Wicca, Buddhism, and Hinduism, all of which she explored as she dated men who practiced those beliefs.
Arias took the stand for the second time today to explain to the jury how she came to kill Alexander in what she claims was self defense. Her story started with other boyfriends.
"When I first met (Matt McCartney) I was a little bit leery about things he was into. I saw some books on witchcraft and went, 'oh', but he explained to me that he was just seeking," Arias said today. "He was looking at other religions, he was studying Wicca, and I didn't practice it myself, but he had practiced it and had moved onto studying eastern mysticism and Buddhism."
"Our relationship took a lot of spiritual turns," she said.
Arias said that religion played a major role in her and McCartney's relationship, which lasted nearly two years and involved living together in Oregon.
"We sort of explored together, taking meditation seminars, new age type seminars, which sort of had roots in Hinduism or Buddhism, and were kind of like a modern version of transcendentalism," she said. "We would drive to Portland or the Bay Area often for them."
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Arias said she grew up as a non-denominational Christian. During her testimony on Monday Arias said that in high school, an acquaintance had told her that the second coming of Jesus Christ would be in 1997, and she took to warning close friends about it.
"It's kind of silly, but there was this older man who used to come into my parents' restaurant, and he had a small pocket version of the New Testament that he always carried. He was always quoting Bible stories to me, and this one time he told me he had done the math in the Bible and determined that he knew that the second coming was going to occur in September of 1997," Arias said.
Arias took the man's advice to heart and called her on-again, off-again boyfriend of the time to tell him the news.
"I was really naive and kind of believed him. It seemed important, so I thought Bobby (Juarez) should know about it. He wasn't religious, but I thought it was important that he at least hear that for himself," she said.
Through a string of boyfriends in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Arias continued to identify as a Christian who was into spirituality. When she met Alexander in 2006, she immediately became interested in Mormonism. She quickly converted and Alexander, a Mormon elder, baptized her into her new religion.
The two also maintained a torrid sexual affair, which is prohibited for unmarried people in the Mormon religion.
Other witnesses who have been called to the stand have noted her commitment to Mormonism, including Ryan Burns, a Mormon she began seeing after breaking up with Alexander. She also visited Burns the day after killing Alexander.
"Part of our conversations with each other were about her religious views, and my religious views," Burns testified. "She would often tell me about how she felt about her religious beliefs, the Book of Mormon. She was a convert, by Travis... She mentioned reading the scriptures."