Devin and Shaena Doyle lived what sounded like a dream — multimillion-dollar country club homes in Diablo and Arizona, nannies for their children, travels on private planes and extravagant dinners, including one in Las Vegas that ran $20,000.
But the storybook ended in a messy divorce and Devin Doyle behind bars, having pleaded no contest to reduced charges after prosecutors said he solicited inmates to kill his wife.
In testimony at their divorce trial, which wound down a few weeks ago, their lavish lifestyle was detailed, and the 46-year-old husband and 30-year-old wife accused each other of domestic violence, substance abuse and infidelity during their short but volatile marriage. In interviews, both denied the allegations.
Even more attention-grabbing, however, is that Devin Doyle showed up in court wearing a yellow jail jumpsuit and shackles. He is serving time for a conviction stemming from allegations he solicited fellow Contra Costa County Jail inmates to kill his estranged wife. Doyle was jailed at the time for violating probation on a domestic violence charge.
In May, Doyle was sentenced to six years on reduced charges. The solicitation of murder charges were dropped and he pleaded no contest to conspiracy to dissuade a witness and three charges of soliciting to commit a crime.
The intensity of the case was demonstrated in the couple's weeklong divorce trial — on which a decision by the court commissioner
On the first day, a tearful Shaena Doyle told the judge her husband had threatened her in the courtroom. "He just looked over and said 'I'm going to kill you,' " she said.
"I never looked in that direction," Devin Doyle said.
They married June 26, 2004. Devin Doyle, previously married with children, co-owned a building supply and services company. Shaena worked for a company that sold sports and show tickets, and later started a similar business with her husband.
During the divorce trial, Shaena Doyle testified her husband attacked her before and after their December 2008 divorce filing, causing injuries including a broken nose, a popped breast implant and a damaged gall bladder. He told the court the incidents occurred when she was drunk and taking prescription drugs, and that she attacked him with punches and kicks.
In January 2009, Doyle pleaded no contest to domestic violence charges. He was later jailed for violating probation by making repeated contact with his wife.
Prosecutors say it was while Doyle was in jail that he tried to hire a fellow inmate to kill Shaena to keep her from testifying at his November 2009 probation violation hearing.
"The main gist was to dissuade her, or intimidate her, from going with the probation violation," said deputy district attorney Bill Murphy.
Prosecutors filed charges against Doyle in fall 2009, saying he asked inmate Shawn Paxton, 38, to kill his wife. Paxton, in jail on stolen property charges, was charged with conspiring to murder Shaena Doyle.
However, in April, Paxton agreed to testify against Doyle in a plea deal that had him admit taking part in a conspiracy to dissuade a witness. In exchange, Paxton was released based on his sentence and credit for time served.
Testimony revealed the case started when Terry Addison, an inmate with an extensive criminal history, told jail officials Doyle offered him $250,000 to kill his wife. Addison later told investigators Paxton and inmate Kenneth Dawley were to commit the act.
Court records show authorities used listening devices to try to catch incriminating statements from Doyle, but they were unable to get such evidence.
Investigators later searched the home of Dawley, who had since been released, and found evidence they said proved Doyle gave money to bail out Paxton in a plan to hurt Shaena.
Records show Dawley cooperated with police, went along with the plan to bail out Paxton, and allowed police to do recordings to gather evidence before rearresting Paxton.
During the criminal case, Paxton and Dawley both testified there was no plan to kill Shaena Doyle. Paxton said Doyle frequently said negative things about his wife, and sometimes talked about hurting her, but he considered it venting.
Paxton, whom police say was found with a list written by Doyle with the words "paint," "bat," "car" and "disappear" written on it, said the plan was to plant drugs on Shaena Doyle so she would get in legal trouble. Doyle was to call and give coded directions depending on how his court appearances went. He said the only payment discussed was $1,000 to plant pills.
Murphy, the deputy district attorney, said murder and prices may not have been discussed specifically, but the inference was that "she disappear."
In a June jailhouse interview, Devin Doyle told Bay Area News Group he is innocent but pleaded no contest to put the matter behind him. He said he never met Addison.
Doyle says Dawley had a friend who sold prescription drugs to Shaena and they offered to make a drug deal and report his wife to police because of concern for his children — and for a payment. Doyle said he agreed, but no payment was discussed.
He said prosecutors wanted to charge him with more crimes to appease his wife, who he said was trying to discredit him to get money and custody of their children in the divorce.
Shaena Doyle flatly denies her husband's story. She said she previously used prescribed pills and drank to escape the domestic violence, but is clean now.
"Do you think they're all liars "... and Devin's a saint?" Shaena Doyle said during an interview with Bay Area News Group.
She said she lives in hiding with their two sons, afraid someone could be after her and dreads the day Doyle is released.
"I don't sleep. I don't eat," she said. "I hear a sound and I think somebody's coming in."
Devin Doyle said he will get through his prison time, and is looking forward to moving on.
"It's just a nightmare," he said.