At this time last year our Country started the downward spiral of obsession with the State v. Jodi Arias trial. The last part of the story will begin on March 17 with the jury selection for the re-trial of the penalty phase. Another trial that just recently started that will fill the gap, or perhaps steal the thunder, is State v. Marissa Devault. Jury selection started this week in Maricopa County Superior Court in front of Judge Roland Steinle.
Marissa Devault is on trial for the brutal murder of her husband, Dale Harrell, 5 years ago in January 2009. She was 31 years old at the time. She is charged with first degree murder and is facing the death penalty. No, Juan Martinez is not prosecuting this case; same office though. Devault is claiming self-defense due to the physical and sexual abuse inflicted upon her, sound familiar?
You might think that self defense would be a strong defense, especially if he was attacking or abusing her. That is where the problem is. He was asleep in his bed in Gilbert, Arizona at the time Devault took a hammer to his skull. He suffered multiple skull fractures and died approximately one month later due to complications from the injuries.
Initially Devault claimed her husband attacked her while she was sleeping and choked her out. She followed that up with the claim that when she regained consciousness she saw another man (who happened to live in their house) beating him with the hammer. Investigators claimed the physical evidence did not support Devault’s claims and that it showed she was the one that swung the hammer. After hearing this Devault confessed to the murder claiming she was in a rage due to the continued abuse she suffered at Harrell’s hands. Again, sound familiar? Maybe not the facts themselves but the changing of the story once the evidence doesn’t support the first claim.
The prosecution is expected to present evidence that Devault was dating another man for approximately 2 years prior to the murder. Now comes in the possibility that she tried to hire a hit man! Sounds like a Hollywood movie but unfortunately, it happened right here in Maricopa County. It gets worse, this other man allegedly had a lot of child pornography on his computer but was given immunity to testify against Devault. Where is the loyalty?
I anticipate many trial watchers will stay tuned to this trial to see what happens. Opening statements are anticipated the first week of February. I will keep you updated on State v. Devault here and/or on Mac and Gaydos (News Talk 92.3 FM KTAR) on weekdays between 3-7pm or on my show, The Agenda, that I co-host with Joe Huizenga, Sunday nights 6-8 pm on KTAR.