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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," the 32-year-old told the court in testimony that has been relayed widely on news broadcasts and livestreamed on the Internet.

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

On the second day of testimony on Tuesday, Arias described meeting Alexander at an insurance convention in Las Vegas in 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.

She could face the death penalty if convicted of first degree murder. Testimony is continuing.

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

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