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Woman who killed her husband with hammer spared death penalty in Arizona

Marissa DeVault, spared death in Arizona for killing her husband, could be sentenced to life with no parole.
By Frances Burns   |   April 30, 2014 at 5:04 PM
PHOENIX, April 30 (UPI) -- An Arizona woman convicted of brutally beating her husband to death with a claw hammer in 2009 was spared a death sentence Wednesday.

Marissa DeVault, 36, is to be sentenced June 6. The judge has two options, life behind bars or a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 25 years.

DeVault was convicted April 6 of the murder of Dale Harrell. Harrell, 34, died three weeks after police in Gilbert, southeast of Phoenix, found him on the floor in his bedroom, half his face smashed.

Prosecutors argued that DeVault killed her husband to collect thousands of dollars in insurance payments. But the jurors, who spent a week in deliberations in the guilt phase of the trial, did not agree on murder for gain.

Jurors did find that the murder was unusually cruel, allowing prosecutors to seek the death penalty.

Investigators said that DeVault originally said she had killed Harrell after years of abuse but then later tried to throw suspicion on Stan Cook, a brain-damaged friend who lived with the family.

During the trial, DeVault's three daughters testified their father had abused her while neighbors said they had never seen any injuries.

Allen Flores, DeVault's former lover, put up her bail after her arrest. But he testified for the prosecution under a grant of immunity.

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