The decision by defense lawyers to put Jodi Arias, 32, on the stand was a surprise move in a case that has become a daily fixture on cable news with its story of sex, betrayal and violence.
Arias is charged with killing her lover in 2008 in what prosecutors describe as a jealous rage as she stabbed and slashed Travis Alexander 27 times and shot him in the head. Arias claims it was self-defense against an abusive boyfriend.
In a soft-spoken voice, Arias calmly described how an idyllic childhood in California turned abusive when she was about 7 years old. She said her parents beat her with belts and wooden spoons, and the abuse later escalated into shoving her into furniture and slapping her in the face for misdeeds such as sneaking out of the house.
Her mother sat in the front row of the courtroom and showed no emotion as Arias described her childhood.
She also said she made false statements early in the investigation about not being at the scene of the crime because she planned to commit suicide and never have a trial.
"At the time, I had plans to commit suicide. So I was extremely confident that no jury would convict me because I didn't expect any of you to be here," Arias said. "I planned to be dead."