Marissa Devault Sentenced To Life In Prison For Murdering
Husband With Hammer
By Jacques Billeaud - HuffingtonPost.com
April 30, 2014
PHOENIX (AP) — A jury on Wednesday spared the life of an
Arizona woman convicted of beating her husband to death with a
hammer, sentencing her to life in prison instead of the death
The decision in the penalty phase of Marissa Devault's trial
comes after the jury deliberated for about three days since April
22. Devault nodded when jurors were polled about their decision,
and she hugged her attorneys before leaving the courtroom smiling.
"We're happy with the decision they made, thank God," defense
attorney Andrew Anderson Clemency said outside the courthouse.
"They made a decision to spare a life."
A judge scheduled a June 6 hearing where he will formally
impose the sentence and decide whether she can be eligible for
early release after 25 years.
Devault was convicted April 8 of first-degree murder in the
2009 slaying of Dale Harrell. Prosecutors say Devault killed
Harrell in a failed bid to collect on a life insurance policy to
repay about $300,000 in loans from her boyfriend. Devault says she
killed her husband in self-defense and told investigators he had
physically and sexually abused her in the past.
Harrell, 34, suffered multiple skull fractures in the attack at
the couple's home in the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert. He died nearly
a month later at a hospice of complications from his head
Amy Dewey, who lived with Devault and Harrell for about four
months in the late 1990s, said she felt justice was served.
"I hope she can stay in prison for the rest of her natural
life," Dewey said, adding that her one-time friendship with
Devault soured after Devault made abusive comments. "For the
family, I hope it means they can heal."
Harrell's relatives and jurors declined to comment.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery praised the jury for
the "hard work" they put into the case.
"Imposing the death penalty in any circumstance is difficult
and in this one the jurors apparently felt that a life sentence
was appropriate," Montgomery said in a statement.
During the sentencing phase of her trial, Devault spoke
directly to jurors for 11 minutes. She sobbed and wiped away tears
as she said she was sorry for her actions and the pain she has
caused Harrell's family.
She also said her actions will in some way always shadow her
three daughters. "I am supposed to protect you, and instead I hurt
you," Devault said.
Shortly after the attack, Devault told investigators Harrell
attacked her as she slept and choked her until she was
unconscious. She also told police that when she woke up, she saw
another man who lived at their home beating Harrell with a hammer.
Devault later confessed to attacking her husband, saying she
pummeled him in a rage as he slept after he sexually assaulted
The case had many salacious elements, including testimony about
plots to hire a hit man and the fact that Devault was a former
stripper who met her boyfriend on a sugar-daddy dating website.
The judge in the case made extensive efforts to keep the trial
from becoming the spectacle that enveloped the Jodi Arias case in
the same courthouse a year ago.
Devault's past as a stripper, for instance, was barely
mentioned during the trial. The case attracted nowhere near the
attention of the Arias trial despite some similar circumstances.
The key prosecution witness was Devault's former boyfriend,
Allen Flores, a businessman who met Devault on a sugar-daddy
dating website and loaned her $300,000 during their two-year
Flores testified that Devault wanted to either hire someone to
kill Harrell, or kill him herself and tell police he tried to rape
her after a night of drinking.
Devault's attorneys attacked Flores' credibility, noting he was
given an immunity agreement on child-pornography allegations in
exchange for his testimony. The child pornography was found on
Flores' computer during a search that was part of the murder
investigation, authorities said.
diagnoses Marissa Devault as a psychopath
By Mia Garcia - FOX 10 News
April 22, 2014
PHOENIX (KSAZ) - A clinical psychologist who
testified in the Jodi Arias trial was back in court. This time,
Dr. Janeen DeMarte was called to the stand after evaluating
Devault faces life in prison or death after
killing her husband with a hammer.
The jury will start deliberating on life or
death after closing arguments Tuesday morning.
On Monday, the state rested after calling Dr.
DeMarte to the stand. DeMarte diagnosed Devault as a psychopath.
Last week, Devault apologized to the jury, "I
can't do anything more than say I'm sorry," telling them she's
sorry for killing her husband. "Dale's family.. my heart goes out
to them.. his mother and father have had to experiences the worst
loss in the world."
But on Monday, DeMarte disputed Devault's
story, saying her jailhouse phone calls tell a different story.
"There was a lack of remorse. There was a time
when she was talking about the murder of Mr. Harrell and laughing
about it," said DeMarte.
DeMarte also says on those jail calls, Devault
didn't show remorse for her husband's family.
"His family was wanting his remains and Ms.
Devault said she refuses to release the remains unless they drop
the lawsuit, which is again manipulative and also shows a lack of
remorse for the family."
DeMarte diagnosed Devault with antisocial
personality disorder. She questions why Devault would ask her
mother and stepfather to take custody of her daughters if she was
really physically abused by her mom and sexually abused by her
step dad when she was a kid.
"Ms. Devault had reported that her mother was
quite abusive toward her and so was her stepfather and in jail
phone calls, I heard conversations where she was asking her
parents to take custody of her children.. guardianship of her
A clinical psychologist for the defense
testified last week that he did believe Devault was physically and
sexually abused as a kid.
So different opinions from different
psychologists. It'll be up to the jury to decide who they believe.
Hammer-killing trial: DeVault
guilty of first-degree murder
By Michael Kiefer - The Republic -
April 8, 2014
A jury has found Marissa DeVault guilty of
first-degree murder in beating her husband to death with a hammer
The jury will return at 10 a.m. Wednesday to
consider aggravating factors that will determine if she receives
the death penalty.
According to police and prosecutors, and as
borne out in testimony and court arguments, DeVault, 36, attacked
Dale Harrell with the claw hammer in the bedroom of their Gilbert
home that night. She claimed that he was abusive, that he had
choked her and that he had forced himself on her sexually.
Harrell, 34, did not die immediately. In fact,
he was recovering from the brain injuries, but had been weakened
by a stroke and two heart attacks when he died of a pulmonary
embolism, a blood clot to the lungs, three weeks after the attack,
according to testimony from a medical examiner.
But the details of the case were sordid.
Prosecutors believe that DeVault killed
Harrell, 34, for insurance money, in part to pay off more than
$360,000 she had borrowed from a man, Allen Flores, she met on a
website that matches "sugar daddies" to women in financial need.
DeVault tried to blame the attack on a
brain-damaged friend who lived in her house with her and her
husband, and he even signed a confession. Prosecutors opined that
DeVault had asked for the false confession in order to collect the
According to prosecutors, DeVault also tried to
enlist a former lover to kill her husband. That man testified that
DeVault wanted him to "take care of" Harrell, though he was not
entirely sure what that meant and didn't want to have anything to
do with DeVault, anyway.
DeVault had told elaborate stories to friends
and family about inheriting money, and she told people, possibly
including her husband, that Flores was her dead stepfather's gay
lover. In fact, her stepfather was neither dead, nor gay, and
Flores was her lover.
Furthermore, Flores was assured that he could
not incriminate himself by testifying against DeVault for any aid
he gave her with insurance advice or in editing the false
confession letter. Instead, he was portrayed as a victim and was
even granted partial immunity from being prosecuted for child
pornography found on his personal computer.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery has
repeatedly averred that Flores can still be prosecuted for the
child pornography, most recently at a Wednesday press conference
in which he discussed his office's hard-nosed stance against child
pornography. The pornography on Flores' computer was discovered by
a forensic computer specialist hired by the defense; despite
Montgomery's avowals, his prosecutors filed motions claiming that
the pornography discovery on Flores' computer was a violation of
Flores' Fourth Amendment rights against illegal search and
DeVault's daughter, who was 13 at the time of
the murder, testified that her household was "tumultuous," that
Harrell was frequently abusive to DeVault -- something that none
of the couple's friends and neighbors had seen. The daughter also
commented on the infidelities of both of her parents.
The trial itself has been also quietly
tumultuous. Judge Roland Steinle removed the jury from the
courtroom on numerous occasions to scold the attorneys on both
sides of the bench for gamesmanship, including during the cross
examination of the daughter when Basta tried to elicit
embarrassing personal details about the daughter after failing to
get her to admit that DeVault was frequently abusive to her
Jury deliberates in murder
trial of woman accused of beating her husband with a hammer in
attack reminiscent of Jodi Arias case - and the two defendants are
Marissa Suzanne Devault, 36, charged with
first-degree murder in 2009 beating death of Dale Harrell
She said years of physical and sexual abuse led
her to kill husband
Prosecutors said she killed him for the
insurance money to repay $300,000 loan from her boyfriend
Devault's case has been compared to trial Jodi
Arias, 33, who was convicted last May of killing Travis Alexander
in Mesa, Arizona
Both women claimed self-defense and accused the
victims of abuse
By Snejana Farberov - DailyMail.com
April 1, 2014
Nearly a year after Jodi Arias was found guilty
of brutally murdering her ex-boyfriend, an Arizona jury panel is
being asked to decide the fate of another woman charged with an
eerily similar crime.
Marissa Suzanne Devault, 36, is accused of
bludgeoning her husband with a hammer at their Gilbert, Arizona,
home in 2009.
She told investigators that Dale Harrell, 34,
had physically and sexually abused her in the past, and that she
killed him in self-defense.
Prosecutors, however, contend the January 2009
attack on a sleeping Mr Harrell was premeditated and motivated by
her desire to obtain an insurance settlement so she could pay back
her boyfriend the $300,000 she had borrowed.
They say the 36-year-old Devault has given
conflicting accounts of her husband's death and that people who
the woman claimed had witnessed some of the past abuse didn't back
up her claims.
Harrell died at a hospice nearly a month after
the attack of complications from his head injuries.
The case went to the Maricopa County Superior
Court jury Monday, two months after the start of the trial, and
deliberations resumed this morning.
Devault's case has been compared to the trial
of Jodi Arias, who was found guilty of first-degree murder last
May for slashing, stabbing and shooting to death Travis Alexander
in his Mesa, Arizona, home in June 2008.
Like in the Harrell murder, Arias claimed
self-defense, accusing her longtime on-again, off-again lover of
being abusive, ABC News reported.
similarities between the two women do not end there: the cases
were tried in the same Maricopa County courtroom, and both Arias
and Devault could face the death penalty.
their long dark hair and eyeglasses, the two women even look
It has been reported that the
36-year-old Devault befriended the 33-year-old convicted killer
while the two were in jail together.
interrogation video recorded just hours after the bloody attack,
Devault could be seen chuckling as she recounts the events of the
night, raising her arm in a motion mimicking hammer blows.
‘I saw a hammer go into Darrell’s head,’ she says with a nervous
Prosecutor Michelle Arino said at the
start of the trail in February that Mrs Devault needed quick money
to get out of her deep financial hole.
of Devault's attorneys raised questions about the credibility of
his client's boyfriend, who was given an immunity agreement on
child pornography allegations in exchange for his testimony.
Authorities said Devault fatally wounded Dale Harrell by
bludgeoning him over the head with a hammer as he slept in their
suburban Phoenix home in January 2009.
34, suffered multiple skull fractures and died a month after the
attack. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Devault.
Alan Tavassoli, one of Devault's attorneys, said prosecutors are
giving a pass to his client's boyfriend, businessman Allen Flores,
even after he failed to report to police that Devault had
allegedly claimed three days before the hammer attack that her
husband had been killed in a tire-iron beating.
At first, Devault told investigators that Harrell had attacked her
while she was asleep and choked her until she was unconscious. She
told police that when she came to, she saw another man who lived
at their Gilbert home beating Harrell with a hammer.
But authorities say blood spatter showed Harrell was alone in the
bed at the time of the attack and that bloodstains on Devault's
clothes were consistent with a person swinging an object
repeatedly over her head.
Devault later confessed, saying she attacked her sleeping husband
in a rage after he had sexually assaulted her.
Police said they discovered Devault had been dating another man,
Flores, for more than two years. In a search of Flores' computer,
police say they found a journal that appeared to be written from
his perspective and indicated that he had given Devault about
$7,000, which she used to hire a hit man, according to court
The prosecution said Devault needed to
repay a $294,000 loan from her boyfriend.
Authorities said child pornography also was found on Flores'
computer. County prosecutors granted Flores immunity on that
allegation in exchange for his testimony in the murder case.
Hammer Attack case: Woman accused of killing
husband as he slept
By Mia Garcia - FOX 10
February 10, 2014
(KSAZ) -- The trial continues for a woman charged with first
degree murder. Marissa DeVault is accused of striking her husband
with a hammer while he was sleeping.
We want to
warn you that some of the pictures are graphic. It was a gory day
for the jury Monday as they saw crime scene photos taken right
after the attack.
Blood spatter all over the
walls and the bloody hammer used in the attack -- DeVault wouldn't
look at the photos shown to the jury.
One of the
first officers on the scene described DeVault as hysterical when
he first got there.
"On the verge of
hyperventilating," said Officer Clint Cobbett of the Gilbert
He took DeVault to a
hospital, where doctors examined her after she said her husband
had choked and raped her that night.
"I did note
some reddening.. just a slight bit of reddening on her neck," he
He may have noticed a little redness, but
pictures he took that night show no bruises, marks or scratches on
her neck. DeVault's fingernails weren't broken either.
Prosecutors say she attacked her husband with a hammer -- hitting
him on the head over and over again while he slept -- to cash in
on his million dollar life insurance policy.
Defense attorneys say the bloody hammer proves it was
self-defense. They say if DeVault had planned the attack, she
would have shot her husband with a gun found inside the house
instead of hitting him with a hammer. The loaded gun inside the
house was passed around for the jury to see.