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Youtube.com, Court TV

Opening statements began Tuesday in the high-profile murder case of Ezra McCandless in a Wisconsin courtroom.

A defense attorney portrayed his client as the victim during his detailed opening statement. McCandless, 21, is accused of stabbing her boyfriend, Alexander Woodworth, 16 times.

McCandless and Woodworth, 24, were in his truck that got stuck in the mud on a dirt road in rural Dunn County, Wisconsin on March 22, 2018.

According to a criminal complaint, McCandless claimed she crawled into the back seat when Woodworth attempted to rape her. She said she grabbed a knife to defend herself and started stabbing "anywhere and everywhere."

She said Woodworth didn't stop even after she stabbed him multiple times. Police say she spent time mutilating his penis.

After McCandless stabbed Woodworth to death, she carved the word "boy" in her own forearm and slashed her clothes.

In her opening statement, the prosecutor described McCandless as a cold-blooded killer who committed premeditated murder. She reportedly took her father's EMT knife with her.

McCandless, who was born a biological female, experimented with her gender identity in high school. She changed her name multiple times, finally settling on the boyish name "Ezra". On that basis, the media insists on calling McCandless "transgender".

But friends say McCandless has always dressed in feminine clothing and never appeared as a male to them. They describe her as "mentally ill" and "weird".

The jury will hear from a former boyfriend who said McCandless followed him as he drove 150 miles to a friend's house. He found her sleeping in her car in his friend's driveway the next morning.

McCandless reportedly had three boyfriends at the time of Woodworth's death.

She pleaded not guilty of first-degree intentional homicide by reason of mental illness. She was later found competent to stand trial. She is being held on $250,000 bail in the Dunn County jail.

McCandless faces life in prison if convicted.