Marissa Devault Convicted of Murdering Husband With a Hammer

Wednesday, 09 Apr 2014 02:24 PM

By Michael Mullins

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Marissa Devault was convicted of first-degree murder Tuesday in an Arizona court, after she bludgeoned her husband to death with a hammer.

Prosecutors said the motive behind the 2009 murder was to collect her husband's life insurance policy, which Devault had reportedly planned to put toward a $300,000 debt she owed.

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On Wednesday, the penalty phase of the trail will begin, where the same jury that convicted Devault will decide her punishment. She could receive a life sentence in prison or the death penalty, The Associated Press reported.

The jury took five and a half days to come to a consensus on the verdict. Devault reportedly sat expressionless as she listened to the jury deliver the verdict.

Devault, a 36-year-old former stripper who met her boyfriend on a "sugar-daddy" dating website, claimed she had killed her husband, 34-year-old Dale Harrell, out of self-defense in January 2009. She said that her husband had physically and sexually abused her for years.

Harrell died nearly a month after he was attacked in his suburban Phoenix home. He had multiple skull fractures from the attack.

According to Arizona Central, during his monthlong stay in a hospice before his death, Harrell suffered a stroke, two heart attacks, and a blood clot to the lungs before eventually succumbing to a pulmonary embolism.

The prosecution's key witness was Devault's boyfriend, Allen Flores, a management consultant 20 years her senior who had loaned her more than $300,000 during their two-year relationship.

The boyfriend told authorities he feared for his own life sometimes. He testified Devault expressed her desire to either hire a hit man to kill her husband or carry out the deed herself, in which case she would tell authorities that he had tried to rape her.

Flores' testimony was attacked by Devault's attorneys, who claimed his testimony lacked credibility because it was given as part of an immunity agreement. Police found child pornography on his computer during the investigation.

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