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Man faces tough questions in hammer killing case

Allen Flores, former boyfriend of Marissa DeVault, testifies in the Maricopa County Superior Courtroom of Judge Roland Steinle III, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. DeVault is charged with killing her husband by hitting him in the head with a hammer. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Tom Tingle)

PHOENIX -- A former boyfriend of an Arizona woman accused of fatally bludgeoning her husband with a hammer faced tough questions about why he left out key details of his relationship with the woman when he first talked to investigators.

Allen Flores testified that he loaned defendant Marissa Suzanne Devault more than $294,000 over the course of their two-year relationship; had been told by Devault about an aborted plan to hire a hitman to kill her husband Dale Harrell; and that he once feared that Devault would harm him.

But he testified that he didn't initially mention those things to police.

"I was never asked about those things," Flores said when pressed to explain why he didn't initially tell investigators about the loans.

Flores said he wasn't involved with a plan to kill Harrell.

Defense attorneys also questioned him about an immunity deal he made with prosecutors concerning child pornography allegations in exchange for his testimony.

Prosecutors say Devault killed Harrell in their home in Gilbert in an attempt to get an insurance settlement to repay the loans from Flores. Harrell died at a hospice nearly a month after the attack from complications from his injuries. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Devault.

Devault claims she killed her husband in self-defense and told investigators that he had physically and sexually abused her.

But prosecutors contend the attack on Harrell was premeditated and say Devault has given conflicting accounts of her husband's death. They also say the people Devault alleged were witnesses to the abuse didn't back up her claims.

Flores, a Yale-educated management consultant who is 20 years older than Devault, said he met Devault through a matchmaking website where women seeking financial support get into no-strings-attached relationships with men who are willing to help them.

Defense attorney Andrew Anderson Clemency asked Flores, as a person with financial sophistication, why he loaned such a large sum to Devault without requiring collateral. Flores said he believed Devault when she claimed she had an insurance settlement coming to her from her father's death. Flores said he later learned that Devault's father was still alive.

Under questioning by prosecutor Eric Basta, Flores said he now sees he was financially suckered by Devault.

"I have not had good luck in love," Flores said.

Flores said his fear that Devault would harm him lifted after her arrest. He went on to bail her out of jail, get her a lawyer and resume their intimate relationship.

"I was not fearful of her at that point," Flores said.

Authorities say they found child pornography on Flores' computer while they were investigating the case. Prosecutors granted Flores immunity on the child pornography allegations.

Without such an agreement, Flores was expected to invoke his right against self-incrimination. If convicted on such allegations, he could face a decades-long sentence.

Prosecutors say the immunity agreement doesn't prevent authorities from filing pornography charges against Flores. Instead, they say the agreement bars authorities from using any statement that Flores makes during the murder trial in a pornography case.

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