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Homicide By Hammer

Woman Gets Life In Prison for Killing Husband

Spouse abuse comes in many forms, it’s not every day that you hear about a woman killing her husband with a hammer though. A judge ruled Friday that an Arizona woman will spend the rest of her life in prison for brutally killing her husband with a hammer. She was also denied a chance at parole.

Judge’s Ruling for Woman who Killed Husband with Hammer

The jury that convicted Marissa Devault in the January 2009 killing of Dale Harrell had spared her the death penalty in late April and instead handed down a life sentence. It was up to a judge to formally impose the sentence and decide whether Devault would have a chance at parole.

Even though DeVault’s three daughters gave some pretty heartfelt pleas for lenience for their mother, the judge still picked the harsher punishment.

Superior Court Judge Roland Steinle, didn’t believe Devault’s claim of domestic abuse, he believed that she just killed her husband out of greed. He didn’t think she was remorseful and claimed that there was nothing in the record that showed that she deserved parole.

The prosecutors believe that the thirty six year old Devault killed her husband in a failed attempt to collect the life insurance policy. She needed to repay about $300,000 of debt from her boyfriend. According to Devault however, she told the police that she only killed her husband in self defense. He “physically” and “sexually” abused her in the past.

Her husbands passing was slow, the thirty-four year old didn’t die until after a month of being with hospice due to complications from his head injuries.


Phoenix Homicide Lawyer

Criminal Defense Cases

If you have been charged with murder, the attorney you choose to defend you will likely be one of the most important decisions you ever make. Obtaining a strong defense could be the difference between freedom and a life behind bars.


At the Phoenix based Offices of Criminal Defense Lawyers PLLC, you will find the experienced, dedicated and highly skilled trial attorneys you need to protect your rights. Each of our attorneys made a conscious decision to become a criminal defense lawyer. We could have chosen any other field of law, but defending the freedom and liberty of people who are facing the possibility of incarceration was our first choice. We believe strongly that skilled and passionate defense attorneys can make a difference in the lives of their clients. We go into every case feeling that we can make that difference.


Hiring the Right Homicide Lawyer in Phoenix

Having a skilled homicide defense attorney is important in any criminal case, but it is even more critical in a murder case. To properly defend a client against a murder charge, a defense lawyer must be prepared to effectively challenge the prosecution’s evidence. To do so, a Phoenix Murder Defense Attorney must be prepared to effectively cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses, including any expert witnesses.


Expert Witnesses

In some cases, a Phoenix Homicide Defense Attorney may need to use expert witnesses on behalf of the defendant to challenge forensic evidence, ballistics evidence and other scientific evidence presented by the prosecution. We are prepared to do so and have worked with expert witnesses in the past to provide a vigorous defense on our clients’ behalf.


In addition to fighting your charges at trial (or seeking a case dismissal for lack of probable cause), we can also negotiate with the prosecution to seek a favorable plea agreement. A plea agreement might involve a plea to a lesser offense or an agreement on sentencing that will significantly reduce the penalties you face.


Homicide Defense Strategy

We will take the time to talk to witnesses, investigate what really happened in your case, understand what evidence is in the prosecution’s possession, look for holes in the prosecution’s case, and determine if the police violated your constitutional rights or made other critical errors that can be used to your advantage.

We are committed to raising a strong and comprehensive defense on your behalf. Depending on the facts of your case, the following defenses and strategies may be helpful:


  • Self-Defense
  • Insanity
  • Mistaken Identity
  • Suppression of Evidence
  • Challenging DNA, Fingerprint Evidence and other Forensic Evidence
  • Challenging Ballistics Evidence (Relating to Firearms and Bullets)
  • Challenging the Reliability of an Eyewitness
  • Challenging Whether the Evidence Sustains a Murder Conviction
  • Negotiation with the Prosecution to Determine if a Plea Agreement Could

Significantly Minimize the Charges or Penalties you Face


We have defended clients against murder charges and other felony violent crimes. You can be confident that you will have a highly skilled and dedicated defense lawyer who will advise you of your rights, help explain the process and work diligently to seek the best possible outcome on your behalf.

Schedule a Free Consultation – Phoenix Homicide Lawyer

If you or someone you know has been accused of a Violent Crime such as Homicide, contact a Phoenix Criminal Defense Lawyer Today to Schedule a Free Consultation. With a wealth of expertise, a commitment to integrity and a passion for defense, the Attorneys at Criminal Defense Lawyers PLLC – Phoenix Criminal Defense Lawyers – are here to support you with your case. We believe every defendant has the right to a solid defense. Call us today for a free initial consultation at 480-351-6445.



Criminal Defense Lawyers PLLC
2942 N. 24th St.
Suite# 114-562
Phoenix, AZ 85008
(480) 351-6445

assault battery Homicide Personal Injury Wrongful Death

Spousal Abuse Cases

Native American Spousal Abuse

Native American Spousal Abuse sadly isn’t uncommon. Kayla White was only twelve years old when her life changed forever. On January 2, 2009 her mother was killed by her father. This incident made her a victim of domestic violence.

Kayla’s Statement:

That’s when I heard my uncle say, ‘I don’t know how you’re going to tell Kayla your mom didn’t make it. That was the moment I found out my mother had passed on.

How tragic would that be? Now Kayla is twenty-two years old and a Navajo Nation member. When she was growing up she never realized there were so many signs of domestic violence right in front of her at her own home. Her older siblings told her that her father had always been mentally and verbally abusive towards their mother.

One in four women and one in seven men have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime. According to the ACESDV Native American women experience domestic violence at rates of 50% higher than the national average.

Kayla’s Statement:

Even just looking at my mom’s life insurance, the way she had things set up for my siblings and I, she knew something was going to happen to her.

Kayla said that her mother had even tried to file for divorce before but her father wouldn’t let her mother leave.


Spouse Domestic Violence

Native American reservations are said to have high rates of domestic violence. People think that that is mainly due to the lack of awareness.

Caroline Felicity Atone grew up in Southern Arizona as a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation.

Antone’s Statement:

I didn’t even know there was such a thing as domestic violence.

Antone said that she left the reservation when she was 14 years old due to the fact that she was abused when she was at home. She eventually cam back and is working as a counselor there now.

It  took a while for her to return home, she went to treatment and began to cope with her abuse in a healthy way.

Antone’s Statement:

Since our tribal members don’t know about counseling in general, it’s very difficult to get them into counseling. The shame, the hurt, the destruction of their souls, some of them, they feel it’s their fault.

Hopefully the exposure gains some awareness in the Native American culture and helps lower the domestic abuse numbers.

Woman Kills Her Husband During Spouse Abuse Case

There’s some pretty morbid things in the world, one of the most recent is when a Phoenix woman shot and killed her husband in their living room then smoked cigarette while he laid dying.

A few months ago Rebekah Mellon pleaded guilty to second degree murder and is set to be sentenced. The thirty-six year old woman is facing 18 to 22 years in prison after accepting a plea deal from prosecutors.

By taking the plea deal Rebekah will be avoiding a lengthy trial on a first degree murder charge that would probably have resulted in a life sentence for the 2012 killing. The killing was actually captured by surveillance cameras in the home.

According to reports a trial would have showed that there were several incidents that proved that they had a volatile marriage. Court documents say argue that Rebekah was acting in self defense against Donald Mellon. Apparently previous acts of domestic violence made her often fear for her life.

Mellon pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.



Criminal Defense Lawyers PLLC
668 N 44th St. Suite 300
Phoenix, AZ 85008
(480) 351-6445

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Phoenix Domestic Abuse

New App to Help with Domestic Abuse

Domestic violence is clearly not going to just stop, so the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence have started the fight to help those who are being abused.

Dr. Jill Messing is a ASU associate professor and works in the School of Social Work. She’s worked hard to help create a  new tool for women of domestic violence, an app.

Dr. Messing’s Statement:

Women who have easy access to their phones, it’s really important that they can provide them with safety information.

The app is being called “myPlan.” myPlan is aiming to help guide women to get the help that they need and even help them by connecting them with the national abuse networks that will ultimately get them in contact with local help.

If they want to, women can provide a profile and then fill out a survey to find out if they are in an abusive relationship.

Dr. Messing’s Statement:

myPlan provides them with information about relationships, red flags, it provides educational information.

The app can be used free of charge and advertising. It’s a tool to help women who feel they are stuck and have no way out of an abusive relationship, but want the help.

Dr. Messing’s Statement:

It allows them a safe, private and confidential space to think about their values within their relationship and provide them with the safety information on safety planning.

I’m sure this is going to be a very helpful tool for scared women who feel like they are alone. If you might be facing abuse issues then please download the app and get the help that you deserve.

Criminal Defense Cases

The highly skilled Attorneys at Criminal Defense Lawyers PLLC advise and represent people facing criminal charges for domestic violence often described as Spousal Abuse, Spousal Battery or Domestic Dispute, such charges do not always reflect a case between married people, but include those living in the same location (cohabitation), or sometimes just engaged in a domestic (dating) relationship.  Such cases can also lead to violation of a restraining order or protective orders.  They are NOT the same as a Domestic Violence Restraining Order however.


With a team of former prosecutors, Phoenix based Criminal Defense Attorneys at Criminal Defense Lawyers PLLC offer a comprehensive understanding of the criminal justice system. They understand the necessary steps to take in developing an aggressive defense strategy focused on securing a dismissal or minimizing any potential penalties associated with a conviction.


Domestic Violence cases have become extremely political and are regularly treated as “guilty until proven innocent.”   Even with minor cases, that do not involve a documented injury, proactive and rapid action by a caring defense attorney may be they key to not only avoiding a damaging no contact order, but may play a significant role in custody issues and an eventual resolution in the case that does not result in a life-time ban on the possession of firearms, tragic orders separating you from your family and other consequences that can interfere with work, school and life.


At the Law Offices of Criminal Defense Lawyers PLLC, we are committed to helping you achieve a resolution to your immediate problems, while seeking opportunities to improve the troubled family dynamics that might be underlying factors.


In domestic violence cases, the district attorney and the judge will be especially interested in what you’re willing to do to improve relationships, conflict resolution skills, and anger management. Your demonstration toward positive change will often make the difference in the outcome of your case. We work closely with people charged with domestic assault or battery to obtain a dismissal, diversion to community treatment or deferred entry of judgment prior to eventually achieving a dismissal.

Phoenix Domestic Violence Lawyer

Our creative approach to difficult criminal defense problems can help you avoid the consequences of a conviction in situations such as the following scenarios:


  • Violence or assault between spouses, unmarried parents, or cohabiting adults
  • Elder Abuse
  • Child Abuse, Cruelty to a Child, or Child Endangerment
  • Restraining Order Violations
  • Criminal Threats
  • Harassment or Stalking


Our ability to connect you with the programs and services that are right for your circumstances can give you an extra layer of legal protection. At the same time, we work hard to help you get the most out of the presumption of innocence that stands between you and a conviction.


Schedule a Free Consultation – Phoenix Domestic Violence Lawyer

If you or someone you know has been accused of a Violent Crime such as Domestic Violence, contact a Phoenix Criminal Defense Lawyer Today to Schedule a Free Consultation. With a wealth of expertise, a commitment to integrity and a passion for defense, the Attorneys at Criminal Defense Lawyers PLLC – Phoenix Criminal Defense Lawyers – are here to support you with your case. We believe every defendant has the right to a solid defense. Call us today for a free initial consultation at 480-351-6445.


Criminal Defense Lawyers PLLC
668 N 44th St. Suite 300
Phoenix, AZ 85008
(480) 351-6445

assault battery

Spousal Abuse

Spousal Abuse and Finance Equality

Few spouses or partners in a relationship oversee their finances equally.

One spouse invariably carries the heavy lifting in terms of managing investments, insurance, banking and so on. One partner might watch the budget and pay the bills. Perhaps one person safeguards the important documents and maintains the online accounts.

All that might be fine, but when one spouse or partner uses joint finances to control the other, that’s when serious problems can arise. Financial abuse, which can be tied in with physical violence, is a tool whereby one person in a relationship tries to subjugate the other through tactics to increase isolation and dependence.

One-quarter of all women will experience domestic violence over their lifetimes, said Vicky Dinges, a senior vice president at Allstate in suburban Chicago. Women are more likely to be victims than men. Financial-abuse tactics — such as stealing assets, withholding cash for basic needs, obsessive monitoring of the other person’s spending and even prohibiting his or her employment — occur in the vast majority of domestic-violence cases, Dinges said.

The Allstate Foundation supports a program called Purple Purse, which aims to raise awareness of financial and other types of abuse, while providing an online curriculum designed to empower victims. The curriculum and other information can be viewed at

Need help?

Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224.

Shannon Evans, a Phoenix woman in her early 40s, said she encountered both domestic violence and financial abuse, losing her life savings, home and other assets that she brought into a relationship.

Evans, who previously worked in the hospitality industry, said she was inspired to attend and complete law school after leaving the relationship. In retrospect, she wished she would have protected her personal assets and feels it’s important to keep premarital and personal funds separate. Evans suggests both partners maintain control of joint money and have equal access to all shared accounts. Having some credit cards and accounts in each person’s name can help avoid problems if one person starts withholding joint funds from the other.

She also recommends looking out for signs or conduct that can lead to financial abuse. If your partner acts secretively or tends to be angry, be cautious. And she suggests seeking the feedback of impartial friends and family members who might be in a position to observe red flags regarding a partner’s behavior.