PHOENIX – A Maricopa County Jury has returned a verdict to impose a life sentence on Marissa Devault who was convicted for the 2009 murder of her husband, Dale Harrell. She is scheduled to be sentenced on June 6, 2014.
“We appreciate the hard work the jury put into this case. Imposing the death penalty in any circumstance is difficult and in this one the jurors apparently felt that a life sentence was appropriate,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “This case also underscores the fact that no matter the amount of planning that may go into the unjustified taking of innocent life, law enforcement and prosecutors are still able to secure justice,” he added.
At around 2:45 a.m. on January 14, 2009, Gilbert Police responded to a 911 call from a residence on Maplewood Street. The caller, Marissa Devault, told police that her husband, Dale Harrell, had attacked her as she slept and choked her until she was unconscious. She claimed that when she regained consciousness she was under Dale and saw Stanley Cook Jr. striking him in the head with a hammer. She claimed that Cook was acting to protect her and that he had saved her life. After initially telling police that he had hit Dale Harrell with a hammer, Cook claimed he had a traumatic brain injury from a 1998 motorcycle accident and could not remember anything.
An investigation of the crime scene did not support Marissa Devault’s and Stanley Cook’s accounts of the incident. An analysis of blood stains indicated Harrell was alone in the bed at the time of the assault and that Devault was not under him but in close proximity. During a follow up interview, Devault confessed to attacking Harrell with a hammer as he slept. She stated that she did not know how many times she struck him before Cook stopped her by taking the hammer from her. She also stated that she would have continued the assault if Cook had not intervened.
Police arrested Devault on suspicion of attempted second degree murder. Harrell was transported to Scottsdale Osborne Healthcare and underwent emergency surgery. He died several weeks later as a result of his injuries.
On February 27, 2009, a Maricopa County Grand Jury returned an indictment charging Marissa Devault with one count of first degree murder with premeditation. Prosecutors subsequently filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty. Jury selection began on January 22, 2014 followed by a 16-day trial. The jury deliberated for seven days before finding the defendant guilty as charged. Jurors also found that the offense was committed in an especially cruel manner, a sufficient aggravating factor for the imposition of a sentence of death. The penalty phase of the case began on April 15 followed by deliberations on April 22.