Andrea Canning of Dateline reports on the brutal attack of 17-year-old Brittani Marcell. The high school teenager who worked at a sunglasses kiosk at the Cottonwood Mall in Albuquerque, New Mexico, left school on September 11, 2008, to go home and have lunch with her mother Diane Marcell. (Brittani’s parents were divorced; Brittani had been living with her father at the time.) When Diane came home, she found her daughter on the floor, covered in blood. A man stood near Brittani holding a shovel. When the man ran into the kitchen and grabbed a knife, Diane ran outside the front of the house and screamed for help. The man fled from the back of the house.
Brittani survived the attack. She suffered several severe injuries including multiple skull fractures. She’s had 16 surgeries, and eventually learned how to speak and walk again. Brittani is blind in her left eye and deaf in her left ear. Nine years after the attack, in July 2017, based on one drop of blood found outside of the Marcell house (the only piece of evidence), Justin Hansen was arrested and charged with attempted murder. (His DNA matched the drop of blood.) A week before his trial, Hansen pleaded no contest but did not admit guilt. Hansen said: “The way everything went down, I figured the plea was the only way to minimize the amount of time I might be away from my kids.” Hansen, now 34, is the father of four children. Prior to the trial, Hansen said of his children: “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…”
In July 2018, a judge sentenced Hansen to the maximum of 18 years in prison. Brittani Marcell said: “Eighteen years isn’t enough but it’s a start.” She added, “I don’t think I’ll ever find out why he did this, at all.” But her family intends to move on now. (Brittani’s father passed away in 2013, before Hansen was arrested. See tribute below.) After Hansen’s sentencing, Brittani told her local TV station that she’s interested in a career in journalism, forensics, or would like to be an advocate for crime victims. Dateline airs Fridays at 9pm on NBC.