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Monica Lindstrom

Life for Marissa Devault

In this Tuesday, April 8, 2014, file photo, Marissa Devault looks at her attorney after a jury found her guilty of first degree murder, in Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix. Devault was convicted for bludgeoning her husband to death with a hammer in what prosecutors said was a failed bid to collect on a life insurance policy to repay about $300,000 in loans from her boyfriend. Jurors decided on Monday, April 14, 2014, that Devault is eligible for the death penalty after prosecutors argued that she carried out the brutal killing so she could collect life-insurance money. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Tom Tingle, File)

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.

That verdict 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 handed down.

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.

About the Author

Monica is a legal commentator and practicing attorney with her own successful practice. She currently co-hosts The Agenda on KTAR and is KTAR's Legal Analyst. She has provided legal analysis on several national networks including HLN (shows including News Now, Happening Now In America, HLN After Dark, Evening Express, Raising America, Nancy Grace, Jane Velez-Mitchell, Dr. Drew), ABC's Good Morning America, Fox's The O'Reilly Factor, Neil Cavuto's Real World, Studio B with Shep Smith, and CNN's Headline News.


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