Guest Commentary: A Shut and Open Case

2013 Murder Scene on Cowell Blvd in Davis

Dissociative justice in California

By Lloyd Billingsley

April 14 marks five years since Daniel Marsh, 15, murdered Oliver “Chip” Northup, 87, and his wife Claudia Maupin, 76, in their Davis home. A police report said the two were killed “in a way that manifested exceptional depravity,” which was no exaggeration.

The autopsy report runs 16 pages and 6,658 words, noting that the murderer stabbed Maupin 67 times and Northup 61 times. Marsh disemboweled both victims then placed a cell phone inside the corpse of Maupin and a drinking glass inside Northup.

In his lengthy interview with police, Marsh said that Maupin told him to “please stop.” Marsh kept on stabbing because “she just wouldn’t die.” The stabbing “just felt right,” and the double murder and mutilations, Marsh said, “felt amazing,” gave him “pure happiness,” and “the most exhilarating enjoyable feeling I’ve ever felt.”

In December 2014, Judge David Reed sentenced Marsh to 52 years to life in state prison. The killer received an additional year for use of a knife but got no extra time for lying in wait or committing torture. The double murderer, now 20, would be eligible for parole after 25 years, when he would be in his early forties.

That hard-fought conviction has now been set aside and Marsh has a chance for release in 2023, when he is only 25 years old. This is not due to discovery of new exculpatory evidence or some procedural problem in the trial. It is all due to the 2016 Proposition 57, which “reduces the possible punishment for a class of persons, namely juveniles.”

On February 22, the Third Court of Appeals ruled that the case of Daniel Marsh was not fully briefed until July 2017.  So the court reversed Marsh’s conviction for the proceeding in juvenile court.

Whatever one chooses to call it, the proceeding is clearly a new trial for a sadist who has never shown the slightest remorse for his savage actions. In effect, the proceeding puts the district attorney and prosecutors on trial for their legal and fully justified decision to try Daniel Marsh as an adult.

In 2014, when the court declined to toss Marsh’s detailed confession, Maupin’s daughter Victoria Hurd told reports the decision “restores faith in humanity in the midst of this depravity.” In 2018, when Hurd got word of the reversal, she told the Sacramento Bee: “This is so wrong” and she is right about that.

The new hearing for convicted murderer Daniel Marsh is an affront to justice, a waste of time and money, and utterly callous to victims of violent crime. Daniel Marsh, meanwhile, is not the only shut-and-open case in the Proposition 57 pipeline.

According to California’s attorney general, there were 71,923 juvenile arrests in 2015, 29.7 percent for felonies. As the Lompoc Record headlined, “Prop. 57 could turn back time for minors charged with murder.”

As with Daniel Marsh, that would be without any new evidence or procedural issue. As Victoria Hurd said, this is so wrong.

Lloyd Billingsley’s Killer Confession contains the entire Marsh interview with Davis police. His latest crime book is Lethal Injections: Elizabeth Tracy Mae Wettlaufer, Canada’s Serial Killer Nurse.


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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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6 thoughts on “Guest Commentary: A Shut and Open Case”

  1. rrdavis

    The author either knows this is misleading or is very uninformed. I assume it’s the former. The judgment has been conditionally reversed, just to allow for a transfer hearing, which will be short and simple. The case will be deemed fit for adult court and the judgment will be reinstated with no further proceedings. Marsh does not have even a remote chance of being released in 2023. Nobody with any sense thinks so.

  2. Tia Will

    Marsh does not have even a remote chance of being released in 2023.”

    I believe that Mr. Billingsley  knows this. He previously chose to exploit this for his personal gain with his book on the case. The reality of this situation is that even if Mr. Marsh would be “up for release” it would not be for release to rejoin the general population as Mr. Billingsley is implying, it would be for release to the state mental hospital where he arguably would better have been confined to begin with.

    I understand the anguish of the family having had a cousin tortured and killed. I understand the sensibility of the depravity and “sadism” involved in this case. But I also understand that there was a likelihood of mental incapacity involved given the complex nature of Mr.Marsh’s interactions with the mental health community, the reports that he had reported on multiple occasions that he was not improving and that he was having unwanted and intrusive thoughts which apparently were not medically controlled. Demonstrably, both in our community from a number of cases ( Marsh, Miramontes, Baby Justice) to name the 3 that come most readily to mind and nationally, our society does not adequately handle cases of mental illness in which violent or paranoid thoughts are not adequately dealt with leading to disastrous outcomes

  3. John Hobbs

    “But I also understand that there was a likelihood of mental incapacity involved given the complex nature of Mr.Marsh’s interactions with the mental health community,…”

    This is a very disturbing part of the story, to me. It seems to me that Marsh’s parents, doctors and teachers failed him and the community at nearly every turn. It is the perhaps the only mitigating factor in favoring some small leniency for Marsh.

    “. Demonstrably, both in our community from a number of cases ( Marsh, Miramontes, Baby Justice) to name the 3 that come most readily to mind and nationally, our society does not adequately handle cases of mental illness in which violent or paranoid thoughts are not adequately dealt with leading to disastrous outcomes”

    The sad fact is that many disturbed folks don’t get taken seriously until they commit murder or some other heinous act that draws the attention of authorities.

    1. Tia Will

      John

      It is the perhaps the only mitigating factor in favoring some small leniency for Marsh.”

      I am as “bleeding heart liberal” as you will ever find, and yet I do not believe that this has anything at all to do with leniency. I believe that Marsh is a very dangerous individual who should not be free to move about freely for societal protection, not for punishment or revenge. However, he would be statistically no more or perhaps even less likely to escape or be released from a locked ward in the state mental facility than he would from prison, and would have a better chance of getting more appropriate care.

  4. Tia Will

    I hope you’re not disparaging Mr. Billingsley’s right to make a living.”

    Absolutely not. Mr. Billingsley has the right to make his living in any legal means of his choosing. And I have the right to express how odious I find it that he is choosing this means.

     

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