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Defense rests case in Gilbert hammer killing trial

PHOENIX — The defense has rested its case in the trial of a Gilbert woman
accused of fatally bludgeoning her husband with a hammer in 2009.

Closing arguments are scheduled Thursday before jurors get the case of Marissa
Suzanne Devault, who claims she killed Dale Harrell in self-defense.

Devault, 36, is charged with first-degree murder, and her trial began in early
February. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Authorities contend the January 2009 attack on Harrell was premeditated and say
Devault has given conflicting accounts of her husband’s death.

Harrell died at a hospice nearly a month after the attack of complications from
his head injuries.

Devault told investigators that Harrell had physically and sexually abused her.

Devault’s 18-year-old daughter, Rhiannon DeVault Harrell, testified Monday that
she and two younger sisters would push their dressers in front of their doors to
keep the violence from spilling into their bedrooms.

She described a December 2008 incident in which Dale Harrell threw a box of
Christmas ornaments, striking her mother and propelling her into a glass coffee
table.

Asked on cross-examination if her mother ever hit her stepfather, Rhiannon
DeVault Harrell said, “She didn’t hit him as often as he hit her.”

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