A New Mexico Teen Was Savagely Attacked With A Shovel In Her Own Home – Who Was Behind It? Let’s find out. When Brittani Marcell’s mother, Diane Marcell, opened the front door and saw her daughter lying on the floor inside the house covered in blood with a man standing over her wielding a shovel, she was horrified. Diane Marcell had come home to meet Brittani for lunch. The man allegedly threatened Diane with a knife from her kitchen, but Diane was able to escape and dial 911.
Brittani Marcell, a lively 17-year-old, was attacked, but no one knew why until new technology and the victim’s own fuzzy recollection helped identify and apprehend the offender.
‘On the Case With Paula Zahn: No GoodByes‘ on Investigation Discovery centres on the 2008 assault on Brittani Marcell, then 17 years old, in Alberquerque, New Mexico.
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How was Brittani Marcell Assaulted?
Brittani Marcell, a New Mexican native, was an energetic and outgoing 17-year-old high school student. She had a brother, and five sisters who enjoyed having fun and worked at the Cottonwood Mall’s sunglass counter. After driving back home from her neighbourhood school on September 11, 2008, Brittani waited for her mother, Diane Marcell, to get home. The mother and daughter were going to have a meal. But Diane was surprised to see her daughter bleeding on the floor when she got to the Marcell home.
The man dropped the shovel as he saw Diane standing over her daughter’s lifeless body. He threatened the mother as he crossed their living and dining rooms to go to the kitchen while reaching for a butcher knife. Diane fled her house, screaming, as she did so out of fear for her life. After finding the attacker had fled through the window, she returned with assistance and hurried her bleeding and unconscious daughter to the nearest hospital. Her survival was not likely, according to the physicians.
Brittani sustained several head and face lacerations, multiple skull fractures, a broken wrist, and a broken arm. She had a smashed ear canal, fixed pupils, little brain activity, and a severely injured optic nerve, and she was critically ill when she was admitted to the hospital. She was medically put into a coma for several weeks, and when she finally awoke, she had absolutely little memory of her time in high school or even the vicious attack that had put her there. Due to her family’s fear of the attacker, Brittani was even admitted to the hospital using a false name. Brittani was released from the hospital after five months.
When the Marcell family relocated to Texas, Brittani was accepted into a challenging rehabilitation program. She was diagnosed with irreversible hearing loss in one ear and vision loss in her left eye. Following cognitive behavioural therapy, Brittani could retrieve most of her abilities after initially becoming confused and afraid due to her memory loss.
She would have to re-learn how to walk, swallow, read, and write. However, she would finally graduate from college and receive her high school diploma after years of therapy.
Brittani Marcell told “20/20,” “It was scary after they told me what had happened. I thought I was in a bad car accident. They’re like, ‘That’s far from what happened to you. You were beaten traumatically, with a shovel, in your house.’ It was hard to take in.”
After being nearly crushed to death with a shovel at her Westside home in 2008, Brittani Marcell said, “He almost killed me,” and she claims that she still lives in fear. Marcell lamented, “He broke my security, and my trust.”
She attributed a large part of her rehabilitation to her mother’s encouragement. She said, “She’s been there with me on every medical appointment, every surgery, it’s like she’s somebody who I look up to very much so, she’s like my best friend now.”
Who Assaulted Brittani Marcell?
The Marcell residence’s tranquil neighbourhood had been overrun by detectives who had started seeking information. They swiftly found the bloody shovel, duct tape roll, and knife the departing attacker had left behind. The killer had wounded himself on a fragment of glass from the broken dining room window, which is how the fundamental discovery was a droplet of his blood. The investigators were certain that it would turn out to be a crucial piece of information. Unfortunately, they could not locate any matches after putting it through the national CODIS database.
They investigated Brittani’s social life, her relationships, both past and present, and even any contacts she may have made at work. They also investigated her siblings’ lives, looking for a possible culprit. But since the police could not identify any potential suspects or clues, her case became cold. Investigators recommended Brittani get hypnotherapy in 2014 after her case was reopened in 2013, as it would enable her to regain her buried memory.
Using hypnosis, Brittani recalled a hazy description of her assailant, who was tall with spikey hair and a fair complexion. He had been someone she had met at work, though she couldn’t recall his name. In 2016, Brittani came up with the name Justin, known to her sisters. Brittani used to converse with Justin Hansen, a charming and well-liked employee at the mall.
Investigators also decided to enlist the aid of a DNA technology firm that had created a ground-breaking invention that uses DNA to identify a person’s genetic traits, such as their eye or hair colour. They discovered the outcome nearly identical to the Justin the Marcell family was referring to when they received it. When the investigators visited Justin, a married father of four, he denied knowing Brittani.
However, the police had a witness who could clearly recall seeing Justin and Brittani conversing for several hours each time they were in the mall. Justin rebuffed the cops’ request for a DNA sample after they became suspicious of him. After receiving permission from the local district attorney, the police followed Justin and collected his DNA from a cup he used to drink at a McDonald’s. Justin was detained on July 5, 2017, when it matched the DNA from the crime site.
Doreen Shoemaker, Hansen’s mother, and contests the accusations made against him.
“My son didn’t do this. Zero percent,” Shoemaker stated this to “20/20.”
Shoemaker claimed Hansen had been directly questioned about his involvement in Brittani Marcell’s attack, and she had accepted his denial.
Shoemaker replied, “I know my son. “He has no history of violence.”
Gonterman, however, claimed to have read a report in which Hansen was named as a rape suspect.
He had broken into her home and sexually assaulted her. He was a boyfriend. According to Gonterman, she decided to drop the case because she was inebriated at the time.
She acknowledged drinking while they were dating for a few years, according to Shoemaker. She is the one who pulled it off. She kept going out with him.
Additionally, Hansen has refuted the rape accusation.
Shoemaker questioned why Diane Marcell, Brittani Marcell’s mother, who apparently witnessed the attacker, failed to recognize Hansen when she was shown a lineup of photos.
Shoemaker added, “She said she’d never forget that face, and I know as a mom I would never forget that face.“
Diane Marcell claimed she ignored the attacker’s face.
When he noticed me, Diane Marcell recalled, he looked and moved in that direction. “I looked down at his hands to see what he was doing, and then I flew out of there.”
In addition, Shoemaker noted that her son had had tattoos since at least 2008, the year Brittani Marcell was attacked, and that his eyes are unmistakably green as opposed to the description of brown eyes that Brittani Marcell had given of her attacker.
According to Shoemaker, he is wearing a short-sleeved T-shirt, but she only describes his clothing and leaves out any mention of tattoos. I have a picture of Hansen took two months after the assault, and he has tattoos. They are wearing short-sleeved shirts, as you can see.
Shoemaker responded, “I don’t know,” when asked about the DNA evidence that appears to place Hansen in the Marcell residence on the day of the assault.
Shoemaker added that we haven’t been able to test Justin’s blood against that blood. I know that the DNA on both firearms found in the house did not belong to Justin.
Shoemaker stated that she thinks further examination of those weapons could clear her son, but that is impossible to accomplish.
Where is Justin Hansen Now?
Justin Hansen consented to enter a no-contest plea to attempted first-degree murder and aggravated burglary even though he asserted that he had not physically assaulted Brittani. As a result of his plea agreement, he was given an 18-year prison term on July 25, 2018. He remarked that everything had been working against me from the beginning. Given the course of events, I reasoned that the plea was the only means of reducing the potential length of my absence from my children.
Justin submitted a request for a sentence reduction in March 2021. The appeals court decided in his favour, awarding him credit for the 371 days of pre-trial services and 14 days spent in jail that he served while under house arrest. The state attempted to contest the decision by appealing to the New Mexico Supreme Court, but it was rejected. In March 2022, Justin requested a second sentence reduction and said he wanted to spend time with his family.
Brittani’s mother, Diane Marcell, reported that “he’s weeping again.” He is crying once more, and this time, he is winning. She said that justice wasn’t actually being done.
Technically speaking, Diane Marcell claimed, “He wasn’t under house arrest.” She said that a person under house arrest must remain at home unless they have court or a doctor’s appointment.
“They express disappointment in the system’s treatment of victims. I’m completely overwhelmed by this,” Brittani remarked. She said, “I’m not going to get credit for the last almost 13 years.”
Shoemaker stated, “I feel for the Marcells. I couldn’t imagine being in that position. I know that Brittani has suffered a lot,” Shoemaker said. “And I would think that they would wanna be 100 percent sure that the person they’re sending to jail is the person who beat their daughter. And there’s no evidence putting him in that house.”
The thought of being absent from his children is the hardest thing for Hansen, he claimed.
“That’s what concerns me the most is just not being able to wake up and see them in the morning. They really are my best friends. You know, I love them to death and so thinking about not seeing them and not being there for them and not being able to teach them what it’s like to grow up,” he said. “I just I always wanted to be there for them, and right now, I don’t have a guarantee that I can be there for them.”
Brittani thinks Justin attacked him out of jealousy since she had rejected him. Since the attack, she has had more than 22 surgeries. She stated in 2018 that she hoped to follow her talents in journalism or work as a criminal defense attorney to assist other victims. According to official court records, Justin Hansen is currently in the custody of the NMCD.
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