Jury: Marissa Devault guilty in AZ hammer trial - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Jury: Marissa Devault guilty in AZ hammer trial

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Marissa Suzanne Devault (Source: CBS 5 News) Marissa Suzanne Devault (Source: CBS 5 News)
Devault during police interview (Source: CBS 5 News) Devault during police interview (Source: CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

A jury has found Marissa Devault guilty of first-degree murder in the death of her husband, who was beaten with a hammer while he slept at home.

The verdict announced Tuesday afternoon opens the door for prosecutors to urge jurors to sentence her to death. The aggravation phase begins Wednesday at 10 a.m.

Devault claimed she killed her husband, Dale Harrell, in self-defense and told investigators that he had physically and sexually abused her in the past.

Prosecutor Eric Basta urged jurors during closing arguments to reject the claim by Devault that she was defending herself against a sexually abusive husband in the January 2009 attack.

The prosecutor said Devault wanted to collect on an insurance policy taken out on her husband because she had to pay back about $300,000 in loans from her boyfriend.

Authorities also said the people Devault alleged were witnesses to 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.

During closing arguments, Devault's lawyer said that a key prosecution witness made incriminating statements about his client to save his own skin.

Witness Allen Flores is Devault's ex-boyfriend and testified Devault told him about her aborted plan to hire someone to kill her husband at a casino.

Devault's attorney, Alan Tavassoli, said Flores should be viewed skeptically because he was given an immunity agreement on child-pornography allegations in exchange for his testimony.

The trial began in early February.

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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