PHOENIX (AP) — A former boyfriend of an Arizona woman accused of fatally bludgeoning her husband with a hammer testified Monday that he repeatedly loaned her money, even in the weeks after she was arrested in the attack.
Allen Flores said he had loaned defendant Marissa Suzanne Devault $294,000 over the course of their two-year relationship and testified that he gave her money to hire a defense attorney after she was arrested in the January 2009 attack on her husband, Dale Harrell.
“I loved her,” Flores told jurors at the murder trial. “She was in trouble. I was trying to help.”
Prosecutors say Devault killed Harrell in their home in Gilbert in an attempt to get an insurance settlement to repay the loans from Flores, a business management consultant who is about 20 years older than Devault.
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 testified that Devault asked him several weeks after the attack and four days before Harrell succumbed to his injuries about how the payoff would work in a life insurance policy that covered her husband.
Flores, who is knowledgeable about the insurance business, said the insurance money would go to Harrell if he lived, and go to Devault as the beneficiary if Harrell died. Flores said he expected the insurance company would contest any such claim because the policy had been purchased recently.
Defense attorneys, who haven’t yet gotten a chance to question Flores during the trial, are expected to highlight an immunity agreement Flores made with prosecutors in exchange for his testimony.
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.
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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