Closing Arguments Wrapped Up and Jury Continues to Deliberate Marissa DeVaults Fate

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In what has seemed like a snail’s race to the finish line we are finally finding ourselves on verdict watch for the penalty phase of the Marissa DeVault trial. In a highly anticipated closing to seal this deal for the state or the defense, The Trial Divas were waiting at the edge of our seats to hear both prosecution and defense state their case for the last time.

Alan Tavassoli was up for the defense first, and with that they began to describe to the jury what mitigation means. “Its information that must be provided on the character and previous history of the defendant, as well as the circumstances surrounding the particular offense so you, the jury, can make a better decision.” In Marissa DeVaults case the defense utilized a power point to put up the many mitigating circumstances that have surrounded Marissa since her youth. The defense claims, childhood neglect and abuse, domestic violence, impoverished background, significant trauma, lack of stability, mental health and family history of physical and emotional abuse. Just when you think that was enough Tavassoli hit the slide one more time and we had yet another laundry list of mitigating circumstances to look over. The defense stated that Marissa cooperated with police, has a family history of inappropriate sexual abuse, dysfunctional family relationships, and she has shown genuine remorse for the murder of Dale Harrell. The defense went on to explain Marissa suffered years of abuse at the hands of her husband and was always traumatized by the fact the dad she grew up with wasn’t really her dad after all. Tavassoli expressed to the jury it was Dale and Allen Flores that controlled Marissa and not the other way around. With her tortured past and present state of manipulative, sexually exploitive, and abusive men you would begin to think from defense’s point of view Marissa was the victim. The defense said that while all of this doesn’t excuse Marissa’s actions it explains them, and with that some on the jury had an eye roll and continued to take notes. Marissa’s upbringing according to defense was said to of “shaped her development and growth” therefore giving more of picture to the jury as to why she would hammer her husband to his ultimate death. Allen Flores also became a quick topic as Tavassoli mentioned he was “sitting pretty in his home and had countless child porn all over his computer” but the state gave him immunity in order to “get Marissa.” They also touched on the fact Stan Cook got immunity also and he couldn’t even remember anything, The Trial Divas were very worried he wouldn’t find his car after he testified. To round out this speech given by the defense they added

“The children explained to you, the jury, that Dale broke Marissa’s arm, he even broke the children’s toys, they saw it, and they were there. Marissa isn’t a cold blooded killer, she’s a damaged and abused woman. We aren’t asking you to set her free, we aren’t here to give you an abuse excuse, we are asking you to punish her. No matter what the sentence she will be punished and we hope for life in prison.” With that the defense took to their seats and Marissa DeVault seemed very satisfied with their appeal to spare her life of the death penalty.

The State was up next and it was Eric Basta that gave what The Trial Divas found to be the performance of the trial. He was confident, clear, and very on point. Basta started off by telling the jury he had put into evidence Marissa’s medical records that showed Marissa was injured by a horse and suffered a broken arm and scratched cornea. Contrary to Marissa and the children’s account that these injuries were from a beating from Dale Harrell. Eric also stated Stan Cook verified this was the case when he was asked by investigators. Basta expressed that Marissa not only manipulated everyone around her she would go as far as manipulating her children, and this was yet another form of it to tell them their own dad injured her. Basta hit hard on the fact the defenses experts in the case didn’t verify much if any of the information Marissa DeVault flooded them with. He pointed out they didn’t speak to the step sister of Marissa, and didn’t even ask her if the two sisters were engaged in a sexual experience, reported by Marissa. Basta reminded the jury Marissa told the experts Dale wasn’t employed, but two witnesses took to the stand during the trial who were owners of the company Dale worked for. They explained Dale was employed, made $83,000 a year and was going to be made a partner. On top of that Basta said, “there’s no evidence Dale ever pimped Marissa out and the experts formed their opinion on this stuff.” Basta touched on the internet search for an engagement ring and how Marissa was a married woman surfing for a ring because she wanted to move up the “food chain” so to speak. Dale was the one being controlled according to the state and it was Marissa that was doing it by having her best friend move into the home, keeping Dale from his own family, and spending all his cash as soon as he got it. Importantly, Basta reminded the jury if it wasn’t for forensics Stan Cook would be sitting in the defendants chair because Marissa was manipulating him into thinking he committed the crime. “Marissa preyed on a man that had an accident that left him with a memory problem; Marissa looked at this as an opportunity to pin the murder on him.” Stan took the bait and even went as far as writing a confession letter Marissa and Flores helped edit. The number one question posed to the jury is one that we have all wondered and it went to her character, morals and who she really is. “If Marissa DeVaults mother was this abusive person, why was Marissa satisfied with her raising her three daughters? Wouldn’t her priority be to the safety of her children?” Basta said Marissa had choices, she had a rich “sugar daddy,” that could’ve removed her and the children from this abusive situation with her husband. instead Marissa chose to continually manipulate men, become a stripper, and expose her kids to predators she would parade through her home. When it came to the night of the murder Basta took the jury back to the defense expert testimony that even he didn’t believe Marissa was telling the truth when it came to Dale raping her before she hammered him. According to her experts women tend to pick their moments to kill and “Marissa did, she killed Dale while he lay on that bed sleeping.” Basta pointed back to the cruelty factor, and how Marissa hammered Dale’s head till his brain was exposed. She then knocked him out of bed and on the floor causing his head more trauma so it would fit her story. “Marissa had guns at her disposal and yet used a hammer to kill him but it was crueler.” He explained that Dale was never a jealous man but Rhiannon was sexually assaulted by Allen Flores son. Marissa continued to take Rhiannon and the other children to his home and expose them to that. It made Dale upset and it was a source of why the couple had arguments. Basta went on to point out Dr. Janeen DeMarte was spot on with her diagnosis of Marissa DeVault having Phycopathy and Anti Social Personality. Dr. Demarte’s age and experience was not an issue and Basta noted “an experts opinion regardless of their age is only as good as the accurate information they supply.” Eric Basta ended with, “this is who Marissa DeVault is, she doesn’t see people like we do, and she sees them as pawn and assets for her use. We want justice and we want death. There aren’t any circumstances that call for leniency.” With that the state took their seats, the jury had taken feverous notes, and Marissa DeVault angrily addressed her lawyers.

After the golden lunch hour that the jury loves more than anything and we also highly enjoy, the defense was back up for the last time to address some of the bombs Eric Basta dropped in that courtroom. Tavossoli began by saying that the state threw out a bunch of outlandish claims, one being that how do they know Marissa was searching for an engagement ring? That there wasn’t any proof her hands were on that keyboard surfing the net for her next wedding. “It could have been Stan Cook,” ( keep blaming it on the poor guy with memory issues) Tavossoli says. The defense went on to state, Dale was jealous of Flores and all the lavish gifts he bestowed on Marissa and the children. Marissa wasn’t aware of how much money Dale made and picked up his check only once from his work. They reminded the jury of Rhiannon’s testimony Dale had lipstick on his collar when he would come home and he smelled of another woman’s perfume. Defense stated they talked to Marissa’s mother and she stated she was “heavy handed” but that she came from a different generation. “There’s no evidence Marissa exposed Rhiannon and the other children to Allen Flores son,” they said. The defense explained to the jury that if this killing was a planned event Marissa would have used a gun but it wasn’t. The tried to discredit Dr. DeMarte by saying she was vague and didn’t gather enough information to make a diagnosis. Tavossoli wrapped up by saying “Marissa is a human being and she can love, be useful, she deserves a life sentence.” On that note the jury looked relieved it was over and Judge Steinle gave them some more instruction and sent them on their merry way to deliberate. While nothing was decided yesterday, we are still waiting today for the bailiff to open those heavy wood doors and tell us there’s a verdict. In the meantime, we wait and so does Marissa DeVault on another decision of where her life will take her…will it be death row or life in prison? Until the verdict, The Trial Divas xoxo

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Chris Brown may face another ‘Con Air’ trip after trial delay

Singer Chris Brown has managed to intrigue -- and infuriate -- the public since he first burst onto the scene in 2005. Here's a timeline of his troubled history:

Chris Brown’s assault trial in Washington has been delayed until the appeal of his bodyguard’s conviction is completed.

The singer now faces another grueling cross-country trip on “Con Air,” the federal prisoner transport system, that could last a week or more from Washington to Los Angeles.

The U.S. Marshals Service promised a Los Angeles judge it would return Brown, 24, to California, where he had been jailed earlier awaiting a probation revocation hearing.

Brown’s attorney, Mark Geragos, will ask the California judge to allow his client to be released to travel on his own back to the Los Angeles jail, where he was locked up after getting booted from a court-ordered rehab program last month. Another attorney representing Brown will be in court Wednesday afternoon in Los Angeles to argue that point, Geragos said.

Otherwise, the singer will make the trip in chains in the custody of U.S. marshals. The federal inmate transport system is a combination of airplane hops between cities and bus trips with prisoners chained and guarded.

“I think it’s a little over the top to have him in custody on this misdemeanor when everybody saw the bodyguard’s trial and which was nothing more than a bloody nose,” Geragos said. “And you have got the body guard who was convicted and who readily admitted he was the one who did the punching. So all of this is much ado about nothing.”

The delay in Brown’s Washington trial came after prosecutors refused to grant immunity to bodyguard Christopher Hollosy so he could testify without jeopardizing his own case. On Monday, Hollosy was found guilty of assaulting a man on a Washington sidewalk before Brown’s trial was to begin in the case.

The prosecutors cited Hollosy’s refusal to talk to them about his testimony as a major reason for the decision not to grant immunity. Their motion also said they suspected he might lie in his testimony to help Brown.

“The cynic in me would say apparently it is not a search for the truth because if they wanted the truth they would give Hollosy immunity and allow him to testify,” Geragos said Wednesday outside court.

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Source: Alan Duke, CNN

James Holmes’ attorneys appeal sanity exam order

DENVER - Attorneys for Colorado theater shooting defendant James Holmes are appealing a judge’s order requiring a second sanity evaluation to the state’s Supreme Court.

Court filings released Wednesday show defense lawyers plan to file an appeal of the judge’s ruling within 30 days. Arapahoe County District Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. says he will put the second examination on hold pending the appeal, and he will cancel court hearings next month.

Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of killing 12 people and injuring 70 in the July 2012 attack on an audience watching “The Dark Knight Rises” in the Denver suburb of Aurora. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Holmes underwent a mandatory sanity evaluation last year. The key findings have not been released, but prosecutors asked for a new evaluation, saying the doctor who conducted the first one was biased. Samour ultimately ruled the exam inadequate and ordered a second.

Holmes’ lawyers objected, saying the order was improper and violated Holmes’ rights. Many of the specifics of their objections have not been made public.

The decision on whether Holmes was legally insane – unable to tell right from wrong – will be up to jurors. The opinions of the doctors who conduct the psychiatric evaluations will be key to that decision.

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Source: CBS, AP

Attorneys have until mid-summer to file briefs in bride’s murder appeal

MISSOULA – Attorneys will have until mid-summer to file their briefs in the Jordan Graham murder appeal, setting the stage for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to decide whether the Kalispell woman was sentenced fairly for murdering her husband.

Graham changed her plea to “guilty” on Second Degree Murder charges last December as her murder trial was nearing its conclusion in U.S. District Court. In return, federal prosecutors dropped charges of First Degree Murder and lying to investigators.

However, when Graham was sentenced last month, U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molly followed most of the recommendations of the prosecutors, sentencing Graham to spend more than 30 years in prison.

Defense attorneys filed the appeal objecting to that “upward” move in Graham’s sentence, and that prosecutors were allowed to argue Graham acted with “premeditation” when she pushed her husband Cody Johnson over the cliff in Glacier National Park last summer.

The appeals court has set deadlines for both Graham’s attorneys, and the government to file their briefs. The defense team will have until July 10th to file their opening briefs and other documents supporting the appeal. Prosecutors have been given until August 11th to file their answering briefs and arguments from the record of the trial and sentencing.

Under that timeline, a decision on Graham’s appeal probably won’t come until later this year.

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Source: Dennis Bragg, KPAX News

Accused killer fears ‘Murder’ tattoo on neck sends wrong message

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A Kansas man charged with first-degree murder is afraid the tattooed mirror-image letters spelling out the word “murder” across his neck might prejudice a jury, so he is asking for a professional tattoo artist to remove or cover it up.

Prosecutors say they aren’t opposed to Jeffrey Chapman covering his tattoo, but Barton County’s sheriff says he’s against transporting Chapman to a licensed tattoo facility — the only places tattoo artists are allowed to practice under Kansas law.

Chapman’s attorney says in a motion the tattoo would be extremely prejudicial if seen by a jury.

Source: AP

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Material on Australian shore examined in hunt for Malaysian jet

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Unidentified material that washed ashore in southwestern Australia and is being examined for any link to the lost Malaysian plane is unlikely to have come from the jet, an official said Wednesday.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau was scrutinizing photos of the object, which washed ashore 6 miles east of Augusta in Western Australia state. But Martin Dolan, chief commissioner of the safety bureau, said an initial analysis of the material — which appeared to be sheet metal with rivets — suggested it was not from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

“We do not consider this likely to be of use to our search for MH370,” Dolan told The Associated Press. “At this stage, we are not getting excited.”

Dolan said the analysis of the material would likely be completed overnight and a formal statement issued Thursday. Augusta is near Australia’s southwestern tip, about 190 miles from Perth, where the search has been headquartered.

Meanwhile, Australia’s prime minister said Wednesday that failure to find any clue in the most likely crash site of the lost jet would not spell the end of the search, as officials plan soon to bring in more powerful sonar equipment that can delve deeper beneath the Indian Ocean.

The search coordination center said a robotic submarine, the U.S. Navy’s Bluefin 21, had scanned more than 80 percent of the 120-square mile seabed search zone off the Australian west coast, creating a three-dimensional sonar map of the ocean floor. Nothing of interest had been found.

The 2.8-mile deep search area is a circle 12 miles wide around an area where sonar equipment picked up a signal on April 8 consistent with a plane’s black boxes. But the batteries powering those signals are now believed dead.

Defense Minister David Johnston said Australia was consulting with Malaysia, China and the United States on the next phase of the search for the plane, which disappeared March 8. Details on the next phase are likely to be announced next week.

Johnston said more powerful towed side-scan commercial sonar equipment would probably be deployed, similar to the remote-controlled subs that found RMS Titanic 12,500 feet under the Atlantic Ocean in 1985 and the Australian WWII wreck HMAS Sydney in the Indian Ocean off the Australian coast, north of the current search area, in 2008.

“The next phase, I think, is that we step up with potentially a more powerful, more capable side-scan sonar to do deeper water,” Johnston told the AP.

While the Bluefin had less than one-fifth of the seabed search area to complete, Johnston estimated that task would take another two weeks.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the airliner’s probable impact zone was 430 miles long and 50 miles wide. A new search strategy would be adopted if nothing is found in the current seabed search zone.

“If at the end of that period we find nothing, we are not going to abandon the search, we may well rethink the search, but we will not rest until we have done everything we can to solve this mystery,” Abbott told reporters.

“We owe it to the families of the 239 people on board, we owe it to the hundreds of millions — indeed billions — of people who travel by air to try to get to the bottom of this. The only way we can get to the bottom of this is to keep searching the probable impact zone until we find something or until we have searched it as thoroughly as human ingenuity allows at this time,” he said.

The focus of the next search phase will be decided by continuing analysis of information including flight data and sound detections of the suspected beacons, Johnston said.

“A lot of this seabed has not even been hydrographically surveyed before — some of it has — but we’re flying blind,” he said, adding that the seabed in the vicinity of the search was up to 7 kilometers (4 miles) deep.

The search center said an air search involving 10 planes was suspended for a second day because of heavy seas and poor visibility.

But 12 ships would join Wednesday’s search of an expanse covering 14,500 square miles, centered 1,000 miles northwest of Perth.

Radar and satellite data show the jet veered far off course on March 8 for unknown reasons during its flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing. An analysis indicates it would have run out of fuel in the remote section of ocean where the search has been focused. Not one piece of confirmed debris has been found since the massive multinational hunt began.

Source: AP

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Justin Bieber seeks delay in Florida DUI trial

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Justin Bieber is seeking a delay in his trial currently scheduled to begin next month on Florida charges of driving under the influence, resisting arrest and driving with an expired license.

The 20-year-old pop singer’s lawyers filed a motion Monday saying they need more time to prepare their case. Bieber’s trial is set for May 5 in Miami.

The motion says prosecutors do not oppose a delay. A scheduling hearing is set for Wednesday.

Bieber was arrested Jan. 23 in Miami Beach after what police described as an illegal street drag race. He wasn’t charged with drag racing.

Alcohol breath tests found Bieber’s level below the 0.02 limit for underage drivers. Urine tests showed the presence of marijuana and an anti-anxiety drug in his system.

The singer, who is currently in Japan with mother Patti Mallette. sent out a message to his fans on Twitter Sunday, wishing to put his recent troubles behind him:

This is my time off but my mind is alway running. Learned a lot this past year thru trial & error but that is life. Excited for what’s next

Source: CBS AP

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