Apr 8, 2014 5:34 PM by Associated Press

Phoenix woman convicted in hammer killing

PHOENIX (AP) - A jury has found an Arizona woman guilty of first-degree murder for fatally bludgeoning her husband with a hammer as he lay asleep in bed.

The verdict handed down Tuesday against Marissa Devault (dehv-WAH) in her husband's 2009 death sets the stage for prosecutors to urge jurors to sentence her to death.

Prosecutors say Devault killed her husband, Dale Harrell, in a failed bid to collect on a life insurance policy to repay about $300,000 in loans from her boyfriend.

Devault says she killed her husband in self-defense and told investigators he had physically and sexually abused her in the past.

Harrell died nearly a month after the January 2009 attack from complications related to his head injuries.

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