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May 17 , 2009

BRAIN DAMAGE: A Juror's Tale


This is the true story of The Hammer Killing Trial.

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On January 14, 2009, at approximately 2:36 AM, Marissa DeVault put a hammer in her husband's head, Dale Harrell, multiple times. Was Dale Harrell the victim of a cruel and heinous act, or was this the result of years of domestic violence that eventually took its toll?

This incident took place in a middle class suburb of Phoenix, Arizona.It would be five years before this case of capital murder would be put in front of a jury to decide the fate of Marissa DeVault; although the fate of Dale Harrell was set in stone. Was she a cold, calculating murderess; or was she a victim of extreme domestic violence and rape at the hands of her abusive husband?

The jury was left to decide.I was Juror #13.

The household had four potential witnesses under the same roof at the time of the assault.Their three children were in adjacent bedrooms, and a fourth witness entered the room at the final swing of the hammer.Did the children hear or see anything? Did the witness who entered the room at the time of the assault have something to hide?Fact:There was a gun within feet of the woman accused.Why didn't she use it?

Why would Marissa DeVault use a hammer to kill?

The questions for, "we, the jury", were simple. Was the killing premeditated or was it an act of self defense? Was the killing done for financial gain, and was the act cruel and heinous?Should the defendant pay for her crime with her life, should she be incarcerated for twenty-five years to life, or should she receive a life sentence with no chance at parole?

This is a story of a trial with twists and turns that include a millionaire "Sugar Daddy", a strip club bouncer hired as a hit man, a "Psycho-Killer" hired by the prosecution...And, most importantly, a private, priviledged, insight of thechildren of the victim...and the assailant.

This is not only a story with intrigue and suspense, it is also the story of a juror who unexpectedly finds justice and redemption in his own life, as the trial gets to the deeper question of determining the fate of the defendant.

In this story, I was a Juror. However, I will always remember it as more than that.This story will live within me; it is a part of me. I am no longer just Juror #13.I am a friend of Dale Harrell.

I know, along with eleven others, that we brought justice for his death.

In the end, you may feel the same way, too...

Paul A. Sanders, Jr.

Look for Paul Sanders new book!

"Why Not Kill Her: A Juror's Perspective - Travis Alexander and the Jodi Arias Death Penalty Retrial" July 2015

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