Life. That is what Marissa Devault received Wednesday.
After numerous days of deliberations, several substantial breaks and three phases/parts of a first-degree murder trial, the jury decided to spare the convicted murderer the death penalty and give her life.
A decision was made and the tax payers and families will not be subjected to, and forced to pay for, a retrial as is happening in the Jodi Arias case.
Devault was charged with, and convicted of, first degree murder for the violent attack on her husband with a hammer that resulted in his death approximately three weeks after the attack. She defended her actions by explaining to the jury that she was repeatedly abused and assaulted by her husband, Dale.
During the trial her children testified
about what had happened and what their home life was like. The testimony included facts regarding the physical and verbal abuse between the Devaults. It must have made an impact.
After the jury convicted her of first degree murder the trial moved into
the second phase of the trial, the penalty phase.
The first part of the
penalty phase was whether there was an aggravating factor. If there was
an aggravating factor then the death penalty was on the table. No new
evidence was presented during the first part, only the arguments of the
attorneys, and that was enough. The jury determined the State had proven,
beyond a reasonable doubt, Devault’s actions were cruel and heinous and
that Dale suffered over and above a “regular” killing.
ushered in the second part of the penalty phase, the mitigation part.
The defense attempted to convince the jury Devault did not
deserve death and instead, she should spend the rest of her life in
prison. The jury agreed. Whether it was the personal beliefs of the jury
or the pleas of Devault’s children, the jury decided to give her life.
The last phase of the trial is the sentencing. This will take place on
June 6, 2014 at 1 p.m. For serious cases in Maricopa County the
sentencing is typically set at least 30 days from the verdict. This
gives the parties time to prepare for the actual sentencing and gives
the court system the time needed to prepare the obligatory pre-sentence
report. Although the jury gave her life, it is now up to the Judge to
decide whether Devault gets “life in prison” or “life in prison with the
possibility of parole.” If he gives her the possibility of parole she
will not be eligible for that until she spends at least 25 years in prison.
Unlike the jury in the State v. Jodi Arias trial, the jury here was able
to reach a verdict in all phases of the trial. This should restore some
faith in our judicial system since many lost it after the Arias jury
failed to reach a decision.
Some say the Devault case is one more
example of how the death penalty is often spared for women compared to
men. Even so, I believe it was the right decision. Not because I feel
sorry for her, but because of all the challenges that arise and the
taxpayer money that is spent after a sentence of the death penalty is
The latest story from Oklahoma is just an example. The
State v. Marissa Devault was a death penalty case; however, with the way
problems are cropping up across our country, it would not surprise me if
the death penalty goes away in the next decade.