Hammer Case Study

by: Sarah VanderPol

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Dale Harrell

Dale E. Harrell, 34, was found in the master bedroom of the him and his partners home on the 2100 block of East Maplewood Street in Gilbert. His head was repeatedly hit with a hammer while he was sleeping according to police reports.

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Marissa DeVault

Marissa DeVault, 31, was arrested and booked into jail at 8:15 p.m. Jan. 14, 2009, for aggravated assault after she reportedly hit her husband with a hammer while he was lying in bed, police said. Harrell later died from his injuries. DeVault was booked into the Maricopa County 4th Avenue Jail but was later released.

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DeVault Beaten?

One day after she was initially arrested and allowed free on bail, DeVault was found beaten off the side of a road near her house around 3 a.m., according to a police report. She told police she was out jogging when someone jumped her, but that she had no idea who it was, the report states. DeVault was left with a broken jaw and broken ankle, and was transported to hospital.

Secret Lover?

Police reported that Marissa Devault, who is being charged with the death of her husband, Dale Harrell, had a secret lover. Gilbert police reports say that DeVault had a lover who was living in the family home, both before Harrell returned to the home and after. Could this have been who beat her? It turns out no, however he did confess in court that Marissa had spoke of killing her husband before.

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The Confession

DeVault admitted to the murder of her husband, Dale Harrell, in a 300-page confession obtained by police. So Devault screamed, clawed, bit and fought against her husband of nine years as he allegedly choked and raped her early Jan. 14, 2009, she told a Gilbert police detective. Walking back from the bathroom, Devault said she snapped. She grabbed a hammer from a bedroom table near her sleeping husband, and repeatedly struck him in the head, she said. "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 the detective. "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."

Accident or Planned?

Marissa's stories throughout the trial never seemed to match up. I believe that this murder was not an accident or act of self defense but rather a planned murder. The blood splatter evidence found at the scene proved that Marissa was on top Dale when she beat him. Had she been acting in self defense, it is not likely she would have been able to get on top of him to hit him with the hammer. Also, the testimony from Marissa's boyfriend on the side stating that she had mentioned killing her husband served as further evidence to put her behind bars.