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Judge Finds Marissa DeVault Competent to Stand Trial

A Gilbert woman accused of beating her husband to death with a hammer was found competent to stand trial for a first-degree murder charge based on a doctor's report. But was the slaying a form of self-defense?

The Arizona Republic reports that Marissa DeVault allegedly beat her husband with a hammer to the head, but only after enduring years of physical, sexual and mental abuse from her husband Dale Harrell. The woman claims that she attacked her husband after he had raped and strangled her that same evening.

Marissa DeVault was initially arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault over the incident, but once her husband died in the hospital from the head injury, she was re-arrested on a homicide charge. In this case, a Phoenix criminal defense attorney might be able to argue that the domestic attack was committed in an act to protect the suspect from harm. Yet such a defense can be tricky, so it's important to have an experienced lawyer handling the case.

A Phoenix criminal defense attorney may also be able to establish a plea bargain so that the defendant doesn't have to plead guilty to the severe charge of first-degree murder. With a plea-bargain, the defendant might be able to plead guilty to a lesser charge.

The suspect Marissa DeVault is supposed to next appear in court on September 2 for a status conference with her case. More information about the case may come about at the conference.

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