Body language expert analyzes behavior of accused killer Marissa Devault

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- From lethargic to laughing, to appearing nervous and upset, hours of interrogation tapes reveal new insight into accused killer Marissa Devault.

“She is just all over the place,” said body language expert Renate Mousseux.

Authorities say 36-year-old Marissa Suzanne Devault fatally wounded Dale Harrell by hitting him over the head with a hammer as he slept in their suburban Phoenix home in January 2009.

Harrell, 34, suffered multiple skull fractures and died at a hospice nearly a month after the attack.

Prosecutors claim Devault killed her husband to obtain an insurance settlement to get out of a deep financial hole. Devault could face the death penalty.

Now, we're hearing Devault's own words delivered during her interrogation with Gilbert police in 2009. 3TV showed Mousseux the clips played for jurors in court Tuesday.  She analyzed Devault’s movements and gestures.

At one point, Devault can be seen napping before the detective arrives to the room. “She’s detached; she doesn’t want to be there,” Mousseux interpreted.

Devault quickly sits up when the interrogator arrives and launches into seemingly animated chatter.
“This movement is called steepling, what she’s doing now,” described Mousseux watching the video. “That means she feels superior, like she knows it all.”

However, Mousseux notes signs of discomfort, nervousness and possible deception, as Devault repeatedly touches her face and rests her hand under her thigh.

“Each time you put something under your body, or behind your body, it’s always negative,” said Mousseux. “Not only that, but you’re also saying, you’re not totally honest, you’re holding something back, you’re hiding something.”

In the 2009 interview on tape, Devault alleges abuse by her husband, Dale Harrell.  Although her initial story changed, police say she confessed, claiming self defense.

“He likes to shove, push and shove, make sure you can’t fight back,” Devault explained to the detective, in the interrogation recording.

“She doesn’t sound sincere to me,” countered Mousseux. “Normally if you recall that you were pushed around, you have a sad expression, you have a sincere expression.”

Mousseux says Devault’s words do not match her body language since she displays a smirk or smile while detailing the alleged abuse.

“I cannot see a victim who’s been pushed and shoved, smiling,” said Mousseux. Her half-smile can also be seen in courtroom video. Devault is now facing a charge of first degree murder in a death-penalty case.

“She does not seem to be genuinely remorseful,” said Mousseux. However, Mousseux was quick to point out the real judge of this case will be jurors, not her.

Devault’s defense attorney has said the essence of the case is domestic violence. Devault claims her husband physically and sexually abused her for years.