Hammer Killer

Vik Chandra

Case Introduction

Marissa Devault , 36, is on trial for the slaying of Dale Harrel in January of 2009. Harrell suffered severe head injuries from a hammer attack. He died a few weeks later at a hospice. She claims the attack was self-defense.

Trial (Prosecution)

  • Prosecutors allege that Devault killed her husband to collect insurance money because she was in debt.
  • In their opening statement, prosecutors claimed that Devault was looking for a quick way to make money. They also point to her dating another man, and that her story changed over time.
  • She originally told police someone else attacked her husband, but when police challenged her claims, she confessed to the alleged slaying.
  • Prosecutors are also relying on testimony from her boyfriend, who says she told him about the planned attack, and even allegedly tried to hire a hitman.

Trial (Defense)

  • Devault now admits that she killed Harrell in a rage after he abused her physically and sexually on multiple occasions according to the Arizona Republic newspaper.
  • "I said, 'You don't own me,' and I just hit and I, I hit with both hands and it -- and I just kept hitting him," Devault told an officer, according to the Arizona Republic. "I didn't mean to kill him. Really, I didn't. I hit him and I didn't mean to. It was a bloody mess. Tired. Just tired."
  • Defense attorneys also say that the boyfriend's testimony should be discounted because of a deal he got from prosecutors on unrelated child porn charges.


  • Blood Splatter analysts identified the cause of motive for murder.
  • Each stain resembled a High velocity or low velocity blow
  • High velocity determined that the force of each blow was hard
  • Low velocity blows determined if they were used with less force .


  • I believe the incident was more with a motive rather then self defense.
  • She murdered her husband for insurance money and not cause of protecting herself.