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Court Watch: Defense Again Tries to Close Courtroom From Press in Marsh Case

Marsh-Danielby Antoinnette Borbon

Defense filed a couple motions to be heard today, one being to keep the media from being in the courtroom during trial or in further hearings in the case against young Daniel Marsh.

The other was to suppress the statements first made in a five-hour long videotaped interview by police. Deputy Public Defender Ron Johnson requested those statements be sealed and not heard by jurors.

Judge Reed stated he will make that decision once the video is viewed by him in camera, meaning in the judge’s private chambers. But he did deny the motion to exclude the press from hearings and the upcoming trial.

Young Daniel Marsh is charged with the deaths of Oliver Northup and his wife. The emerging details of their death have been all over the news since the time it happened. Mr. Johnson expressed his concern once again about not getting a fair trial for his client.

He stated that potential jurors may be biased due to coverage in the media. He implored the court to honor his request so Marsh may have a constitutionally fair trial. He stated case law to help aid his request, but was still denied.

Deputy District Attorney Mike Cabral did not have an argument against the motion to keep the trial from the press.

This is the second time that the defense has attempted to close the courtroom.    Last August, Yolo County Judge Timothy Fall quickly denied a motion filed by Mr. Johnson that sought to close to the public the preliminary hearing in the trial of 16-year-old Davis resident Daniel Marsh.

“The media coverage has offered speculations about details of the case, including possible defenses, evidence which may later be deemed inadmissible, Mr. Marsh’s history, and his motives,” Mr. Johnson wrote in his motion.  “The media coverage has made a spectacle out of this case, and the potential jurors in Yolo County are unlikely to forget the assumptions and statements publicized by the news media before Mr. Marsh’s trial.”

He adds, “This case has received sensational treatment. The defense expects that there will be large amounts of evidence to be presented at the preliminary examination, and that the nature of that evidence is likely to excite further emotions within the community.”

Judge Fall would quickly deny the motion, arguing that he assumed the representation by the defense was accurate and that this case would contain graphic depictions that the community is not normally presented.

However, he argued that the standard requires a substantial probability that this will lead to a prejudiced jury pool, and that only a mere possibility has been presented.

In his motion, Mr. Johnson argued, “It is unlikely that the potential jurors in Yolo County would be unaware of the existing news coverage in this case and remain unaware of the facts of this case after evidence is presented at the preliminary hearing. In short, it would be almost impossible to impanel an impartial jury in this case, and Mr. Marsh would be denied a fair trial.”

However, Judge Fall in contrast noted that in cases where there has been extensive media coverage, in his experience, most members of the jury who do not live within the community are not paying much attention.  So people not living in Davis are not paying attention to what is going on in Davis.

The preliminary hearing went before Judge Fall with  chilling details emerging.  Describing his interrogation of young Mr. Marsh, Davis Police Detective Arial Pineda testified, “He told me a lot of things.”

Mr. Marsh told Detective Pineda he had had enough. The detective said Mr. Marsh told him he had first thought about killing as a ten-year-old boy. Mr. Marsh stated he felt that feeling again in 7th grade, after being bullied by kids at his school.

Mr. Marsh also talked about disliking his dad’s new girlfriend and wanting to hurt her too. Mr. Marsh went on to tell Detective Pineda how he left his home somewhere between 2 and 3 am, looking for an open window or door around the Davis neighborhood.

Mr. Marsh found an open window at the home of Oliver Northup. He told Detective Pineda he cut the screen and got in through the window.

Mr. Marsh said he walked down the hall and heard snoring. He said he entered the room to find the two sleeping, but the female woke and saw him. He said the female screamed and it was then that Marsh began to stab her.

Mr. Marsh stated to Pineda it was like an outer body experience – exhilarating, euphoric, a high as his adrenalin was pumping. Mr. Marsh told the detective he kept wounding the female until he thought she was not breathing. It was about then the elderly male awoke. Marsh told Pineda he struck him in the throat, heard gurgling and assumed he was dead. Marsh admitted to injuring the couple with multiple wounds to their bodies.

Mr. Marsh told Detective Pineda after a few days had passed, he felt like doing something again. He wanted to feel the rush again. Mr. Marsh stated to Pineda he had a thought of taking a bat to someone until they were dead. Mr. Marsh could not explain why he had these thoughts, just that they first came to him as a young kid.

After the confession was done, Detective Pineda took buckle swabs from Mr. Marsh for DNA. He advised Mr. Marsh he was being arrested for the crimes, stating he read Mr. Marsh his Miranda rights correctly and Mr. Marsh understood them.

Following a series of rulings against the defense, Deputy Public Defender Ron Johnson filed a motion to have Judge Fall recused from hearing the case and the matter was reassigned to Judge Reed.

The trial was anticipated to begin on March 10, 2014, but will be delayed due to the motions filed. Judge Reed will review the videotape and have another hearing on February 28, when he will give his decision on the motion to suppress the statements made by Marsh in the interview with authorities.

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About David Greenwald

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

4 comments

  1. Davis Progressive

    this is a no-brainer, the courtroom must stay open.

  2. I would agree if it were not a child..but it is and I agree with the defense. But if we must cover this..I hope we can remain respectful and professional.

    • je d’accord. It’s not just him, but his family. At the end of the day, I believe it should be all “public record”, but I think only voyeurs, or folks needing to sell newspapers or need folks active on blogs, we don’t need ‘play-by-play’ or instant replays.

  3. Quite frankly..hpierce….I could care less to have anyone hear this story or make any comments to keep a blog going…you are an adult no doubt and can make the decision. to read or not read…it is still a child and the effects longterm could prove to be disasterous. But that is the risk you take in journalism…isn’t it?

    Not my call….and I’m pretty sure the motive to print is not monetary, for us at least. Prayerfully..I’m not wrong.

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