Devault Trial: Defense presents opening arguments - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

Devault Trial: Defense presents opening arguments

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Marissa Devault in court 3/10/14 Marissa Devault in court 3/10/14
  • Devault Trial: Defense presents opening argumentsMore>>

  • Marissa DeVault Case - Continuing Coverage

    Marissa DeVault Case - Continuing Coverage

    A woman is accused of beating her husband to death with a hammer while he slept. Marissa DeVault told police it was self defense, but prosecutors called it first degree murder and are pushing for the death penalty.
    An Arizona woman is accused of beating her husband to death with a hammer while he slept. Marissa DeVault told police it was self defense, but prosecutors called it first degree murder and are pushing for the death penalty.
PHOENIX (KSAZ) -

The defense in the Marissa Devault trial began presenting their case Monday.

Her defense attorneys got their chance to try and convince the jury that she was acting in self-defense when she attacked her 34-year-old husband with a hammer as he slept in 2009.  Dale Harrell died almost a month later from multiple skull fractures.

The 36-year-old Devault was smiling and laughing as she walked into the courtroom Monday morning. 

Prosecutors say Devault killed her husband to collect a $300,000 life insurance policy, but her defense attorneys say she was the victim of abuse and she killed Harrell in self-defense.

The first defense witness was a PhD and expert on the effects of child abuse.  It appears the defense will say Devault had a history of traumatic events in her life leading up to the killing.

"Because they can touch every aspect of life -- they see you when you get up, they see you when you come home from school, they are constantly commenting. Because you are particularly dependent on them, it is generally recognized that abuse by a parent is more traumatic, more trauma producing, than when it takes place by another person," said Dr. Jon Conte.

Defense witnesses appear to be trying to portray Devault as a woman with a history of abuse. 

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

The trial began in early February.

The defense will continue on March 11th.

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