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Arizona woman says slain lover made her "feel like a prostitute"

PHOENIX (Reuters) - An Arizona woman charged with stabbing and shooting her lover to death - and whose graphic testimony has gripped viewers across the United States - described in court a relationship based around sex that left her feeling "like a prostitute."

Lawyers for Jodi Arias, who could face the death penalty if convicted, argue she acted in self-defense when she killed her lover. He was found in the shower of his Phoenix valley home, shot in the face, stabbed 27 times and with his throat slit.

"I just felt ... a little bit, I hate to put it this way, but I felt a little bit used," Arias, a petite, bespectacled woman with long brown hair, told the court on Wednesday in a calm, measured tone, describing a relationship she said was based around sex.

"He gets a hotel room, I show up, we hang out, we have sex ... He's not really mentally present. I'm getting a lot of attention, but only while we're engaging in sexual activity, and then we check out and he takes off. I kind of felt like a prostitute, sort of," Arias told the court.

Arias, dressed in a dark jacket and wearing glasses, was taking the stand for a third day on Wednesday at the Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix where she is on trial accused of murdering 30-year-old Travis Alexander in 2008.

Her counsel says Arias killed Alexander after years of emotional abuse and mistreatment. In her testimony, she described a sexual relationship with him that was "missing the emotional part, the mental connection, being on the same page."

Her testimony, which clearly made some jurors uncomfortable, portrayed a charged relationship with Alexander that at times caused her physical and emotional pain and at one point made her feel like a "used piece of toilet paper."

HID IN BATHROOM TO CRY

Arias, 32, recalled one occasion at a banquet in Oklahoma City, where she hid in a bathroom to cry after she saw Alexander flirting with a woman who was wearing a revealing dress.

"I didn't think the behavior was appropriate ... It hurt my feelings ... I was appalled that he was doing it in front of me."

Arias said her lover never introduced her as his girlfriend, but gave her a Valentine's Day present of a T-shirt reading "Travis Alexander's" and pink shorts with "Travis" printed on them - which were admitted as evidence in court.

On the second day of testimony on Tuesday, Arias had detailed meeting Alexander at an insurance convention in Las Vegas in the fall of 2006, at a time when she was in another relationship.

Describing their first kiss in response to questions from defense attorney Kirk Nurmi, she said: "He got right in my face, maybe four inches, five," adding, "He licked his lips and said 'I wish you didn't have a boyfriend.'"

Alexander had been dead for five days when he was found with a slit throat, a bullet wound in his head and 27 stab wounds, the Arizona Republic newspaper reported. His death was connected to Arias after sexually explicit photos were found on the memory card of his camera.

Arias could face the death penalty if convicted of first degree murder.

(Reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Andrew Hay and Paul Simao)

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