Killer had 'faulty brain' at time of Raleigh murder, expert says
Posted May 20, 2014
Updated May 21, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — 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.