Marissa Devault was sentenced to life in prison on April 30 for the murder of her husband in 2009.
On April 9, 2014, Marissa Devault of Gilbert was convicted for bludgeoning her husband to death with a hammer in 2009. The trial took many turns amid conflicting statements from the defendant and witnesses as the jury worked to determine whether Devault should be sentenced to death or spend her life in prison.
Marissa Devault’s husband, Dale Harrell, was found in the master bedroom of their home, his face and head severely beaten with a claw hammer on January 14, 2009.
At first, Devault claimed that her husband had strangled her unconscious, and when she woke up, she saw an invader beating him with a hammer. Later, she admitted to attacking him with a hammer in self-defense after he had sexually assaulted her, AZFamily reports.
Marissa Devault, 36, claimed that she “snapped,” according to AZ Central.
Harrell died in hospice care from head injury complications three weeks after the beating. Devault was on trial for first-degree murder at the time, with allegations of a decade of physical abuse and rape by her husband as her explanation.
Devault was indicted on March 4, 2009, according to Maricopa County Court records. It was determined she was mentally competent to stand trial on Sept. 14, 2010.
Prosecutors later claimed in court that Devault killed Harrell in an attempt to collect his life insurance as a way to pay back a loan from her suspected boyfriend, Allen Flores.
The course of the trial has been turbulent since the beginning, with a false confession from roommate, Stanley Cook, who suffers from brain damage-induced memory loss, to an ex-boyfriend who claims Devault told him to “take care” of the abusive husband who she initially told him had died of stomach cancer.
A string of ex-lovers have made statements to police, one of whom said he gave Devault $360,000 over the course of two years. The lover, Flores, stated the two met on a website designed to connect endowed men, or “sugar daddies,” to “women in financial need,” according to azcentral.com.
The conflicting statements by all parties complicated Devault’s accusations of abuse of her and her daughters.
On March 5, 2014, a controversy arose regarding the court usage of the interview of one of Devault’s daughters, who recently turned 18. Judge Roland Steinle barred the use of the interview in the trial unless the daughter testifies.
Jurors decided on Monday, April 14, that Devault had indeed killed her husband in an especially cruel manner, making her eligible for the death penalty. This opened the door for the jury to determine if Devault should be imprisoned for life or sentenced to death, according to AZFamily.
On Wednesday, April 30, the jury sentenced Devault to life in prison, and a judge will determine on June 1 if she will be eligible for parole, KPHO reports. Devault would have been the third Arizona woman to serve on death row.