Local News

Killer had 'faulty brain' at time of Raleigh murder, expert says

Posted May 20, 2014
Updated May 21, 2014

Armond Devega waits May 20, 2014, in a Wake County courtroom prior to the beginning of testimony in the sentencing phase of his capital murder trial. Devega, 32, possibly faces the death penalty after a jury on May 19, 2014, found him guilty of first-degree murder in the April 10, 2008, shooting death of Stephanie Powell Anderson.

— A Raleigh man who shot and killed a woman during a convenience store robbery six years ago likely knew that killing her was wrong but couldn't stop himself, a psychiatrist testified Tuesday in the sentencing phase of his capital murder trial.

"I think he could appreciate the criminality of his conduct," Dr. Moira Artigues said. "I think conforming his conduct to legal behavior is another question, and that is where his impairment lies."

Artigues told jurors that Armond Devega, 32, had "deficits" in the frontal lobe of his brain that affected his ability to make decisions, maintain self-control and make good choices.

A forensic psychiatric evaluation, she said, found Devega was "operating with a faulty brain" when he ambushed Stephanie Powell Anderson as she arrived for her opening shift at a north Raleigh convenience store on the morning of April 10, 2008, and then shot her when she couldn't open the store's time-locked safe.

"His brain is messed up," Artigues said.

There could be a number of underlying causes, she added, including physical trauma and being raised in a violent environment.

Artigues said that Devega's father suffered post-traumatic stress disorder from serving in the Vietnam War and that the PTSD went undiagnosed - partly because it wasn't recognized as a disorder in the 1970s – until 2005.

The elder Devega, she said, likely was "able to hold himself together" at work but "he fell apart" when he went home. The result, she said, was "chronic domestic abuse."

"He beat the living daylights out of his kids," she said.

Defense attorneys trying to keep Devega from receiving the death penalty could rest their case Wednesday.

The jury of seven men and five women spent more than 23 hours over the past week deliberating on 11 charges Devega faced in a 2008 crime spree mostly involving fast-food restaurants and convenience stores.

He was convicted Monday of first-degree murder in the 39-year-old Powell's death, attempted murder in connection with a September 2008 robbery and six counts of robbery with a firearm.

Jurors, however, found Devega not guilty of first-degree murder in the Feb. 13, 2008, shooting death of 32-year-old Anthony Scarborough. Prosecutors have contended during the 13-week trial that Devega wanted revenge for what he believed was Scarborough setting him up to be robbed during a poker game.


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  • rgsjrs May 22, 2014


  • Don Donaldson May 21, 2014
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    Nobody believes that a crazy person has a right to kill except maybe conservatives? When you are crazy you can't by definition know right from wrong. no matter how the crazy came about. That is why we have LEOs and other officials to apprehend crazy people and take them out of our society. Makes me wonder of some of the posters here had any relatives, or acquaintances who were mentaly ill or unstable. If you have seen it up close and personal instead of in the relative safety of harsh judgements on a blog site, you just might have a different take on it. WHat was done was horrible and cannot be taken lightly. We just have to realize that the word crazy denotes totally illogical, hurtful, unacceptable behavior that can result in the loss of innocent human life. What we must be willing to do is not cut mental health budgets so that professionals can identify and treat the "crazy" people before they randomly hurt or kill our loved ones.

  • Sadie Howard May 21, 2014
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    Sorry folks he is crazy the system failed these brothers when they were being brought in at 2yrs old from being beaten so badly they couldn't walk beat with whatever dad got his hands on and he was in trouble threw his teen years yea he needed help the system failed all 3 they should have been removed from the parents.

  • Obamacare returns again May 21, 2014

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    No kidding right? Some folks can't seem to catch a break.

  • gumby100 May 21, 2014

    Take a look at this article http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/1091026/
    She'll say anything the defense wants as long as she's getting paid. Let's see what do that call that when you'll do anything for money?...

  • rickandlinda88 May 21, 2014

    poor thing;got beat by his father,therefore he had the right to kill a defenseless woman..bull@#$%!!!!!..we all know right from wrong..thou shall not kill..end of story..liberals make me sick!!i guess we should just open up all the jails;release all criminals who were beat by their parents..they all have "faulty brains"????please..

  • newssaavy72 May 21, 2014

    OMG! How many people who do not want to be held acccountable for crimes will cry insanity?! He has gotten to be this old and now all of a sudden he just snapped? If he was mentally unstable, I would have thought he would have had a history of issues by now! Don't fake mental illness. This is serious and he will see how mentally ill he is once he faces reality in prison. I am sorry, but I am fed up with people trying to "play" the system and you have these lawyers who are looking to get rich defending these type of people! I need my tax dollars and not to take of you for the rest of your life. I have my own livelhood and you are stealing it already!

  • Nicki Baker May 21, 2014
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    If this so called Dr wants to back his theory up, how about giving him an EEG and a MRI at his attorney's expense to prove otherwise. Regardless of "faulty brain" or not, he should be held accountable for his actions.

  • CherryDarling May 21, 2014

    It just amazes me how the victim's and their families are always so disrespected in cases like this. All this poor woman did was show up for work and this happened. Sad times we live in.

  • Objective Scientist May 21, 2014

    While not unsympathetic to legitimate and real mental illnesses... the notion of a "faulty brain" is unbelievable! An argument can be made that all humans experience "faulty brains" multiple times throughout our lives... some experiencing that more than others. An argument could be made that anyone - ANYONE - who murders another person surely had at least a brief episode of a "faulty brain". This is ridiculous!!!