Updated 10:52 AM EDT, Fri, Oct 24, 2014
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Marissa DeVault Trial Update: DeVault Breaks Down in Court, Secret Lover Testifies She Planned to Kill Husband

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Marissa Devault
Marissa Devault claims killing Dale Harrell was an act of self-defense and told investigators that her husband had physically and sexually abused her in the past.
(Photo : Facebook)

Marissa DeVault, the Arizona woman accused of brutally killing her husband with a hammer while he was sleeping in 2009, had an emotional breakdown in court Wednesday as the brain surgeon who tried to save her husband's life described his injuries.

Dr. Joseph Zabramski took the stand at the Maricopa County Superior Court to describe the surgery he performed on Dale Harrell, 34, as prosecutors projected a large photo of the man as he lay unconscious in a hospital bed. 

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After DeVault viciously attacked Harrell with a hammer on Jan. 14, 2009, he suffered from multiple skull fractures and died almost a month later in hospice. DeVault argues that he was abusive towards her in the past and she killed him in self-defense, but prosecutors contend that she murdered him in order to collect his almost $300,000 life insurance policy and pay off a loan to her secret lover.

DeVault faces the death penalty if convicted.

While Dr. Zabramski was testifying about how Harrell ultimately died from a blood clot in his lungs that stopped his heart, the 36-year-old mother began weeping inconsolably while her head was on the defense table.

In response, Judge Roland Steinle called for a break. However, after the jury left the court room, DeVault erupted in audible sobs and the judge sent the jury home for the day. He also directed a stern warning to DeVault's defense team.

"I'm telling you right now that this is not going to be an ongoing thing," he said, according to AZ Central. "If she's not able to sit in the courtroom and proceed, I'm going to treat that as her voluntarily absenting herself from proceedings. And if she's disruptive, I'll have the deputy escort her out," he continued.

On Thursday, DeVault's secret boyfriend of two years, Allen Flores, testified that she planned to put a hit out on Harrell and cover up the murder, reports The Republic. According to prosecutors, she attacked him two weeks after her late husband's life insurance policy took effect.

Defense attorneys are expected to highlight an immunity agreement Flores made with prosecutors in exchange for his testimony. Authorities say child pornography was found on Flores' computer, but he was granted full immunity in exchange for testifying in the case, reports AZ Central

The trial is scheduled to resume on March 3. 

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