Marsh’s Mother Testifies About Her Son’s Mental Condition

Davis-Murder-3By Justine Joya

Both parties in the Daniel Marsh case arrived in court on Monday morning for the conditional examination of the defendant’s mother, Sheri Hosking. Due to the witness’ unavailability for the trial in August, she was called to testify early.

The defendant’s mother testified early because she is scheduled to to undergo surgery for a neurological condition next week that will require a lengthy recovery. Her testimony was recorded and will be played in front of the jury, come the actual trial that has presently been delayed until August.

Daniel Marsh is accused of two counts of murder in connection with a brutal double homicide that occurred in the spring of 2013. Police found Oliver Northup and his wife Claudia Maupin, a prominent elderly couple in Davis, brutally stabbed.

Beginning her testimony, Ms. Hosking recalled her rocky marriage with the children’s father, Bill Marsh. She reported that their relationship began experiencing trouble right around the time the kids were born.

She described Bill as having a short temper and being quick to resort to screaming and yelling. When asked if she believed that the issues between her and her husband affected the children, she stated yes and told the court that Daniel Marsh and his older sister Sarah Marsh were much quieter around their father and were visibly tense. In an effort to mend their relationship, the couple visited a family counselor. However, the counselor informed Ms. Hosking that her husband was unwilling to change his behavior and advised her to leave.

Once Deputy District Attorney Amanda Zambor began questioning Ms. Hosking about the events leading to her and Mr Marsh’s separation, Hosking’s demeanor grew glum. Remembering the horrible names and verbal attacks she endured from her ex-husband, the witness told the court that she had an affair with the children’s kindergarten teacher shortly following her separation from Bill Marsh.

After the couple separated, Sarah lived with her mother, while Daniel would split time between both parents.

While her daughter Sarah was supportive of her new relationship and wanted her mother to be happy, Daniel was very angry and avoided his mother’s partner at all costs. In addition to his blatant disapproval, Hosking noticed recurring patterns of angry outbursts from Daniel after visits with his father, marking the beginnings of change within the defendant.

Ms. Hosking testified that her son would start cursing her with names he learned from his father. She said that he had always been a caring and loving person, but these outbursts of anger marked a change.

She would testify that the first sign of trouble with her son was the incident where Daniel’s father suffered a heart attack while driving the car. Daniel had become a community hero when he steered the car to safety and then performed CPR to revive his father.

He would receive an American Red Cross award for his efforts, but his mother felt that the media attention actually served to remind Daniel of the incident, and that would end up harming him in the long run.

As he entered his teenage years, he began to use marijuana and alcohol. Ms. Hosking testified that he became very angry and seemed to shut down. He suffered from bullying by his peers, he began skipping school and letting his grades slip, and he had a blow up that led to his staying for a week in a Sacramento mental health facility.

After he returned, he would have episodes where he was normal and episodes where he was extremely angry and acted out.

Ms. Hosking testified that, to her knowledge, Daniel Marsh never described hearing voices or experiencing hallucinations. He told police about them in their interrogation, but she had no knowledge of them.

She broke down crying and stated, “I wish he would have if he did, but he didn’t talk to me.”

The first signs of trouble with the law occurred just before his arrest when he was caught with a pocket knife at school. She testified that, upon returning home from work, she found her home surrounded with crime-scene tape and that was how she found out about her son’s arrest on suspicion of double homicide.

She regularly visits her son in juvenile hall, but was told not to talk to him about the murders. She said that she believed he was capable of angry violence, but nothing like this.

On June 6, after the defense entered a change of plea to not guilty by reason of insanity, Judge David Reed vacated the trial that was to begin on Monday and pushed it back until August in order to allow two court-appointed mental health experts — James Rokop and Jason Roof — to independently evaluate Daniel Marsh, as required by law.

The judge indicated that they would need about 20 to 30 days to complete the required evaluation and the reports would not be ready until July 3.

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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  1. Davis Progressive

    i understand the fits of anger, but the act he committed was not a heat of passion, it was cold, calculated and there is some evidence of thrill seaking and sadism.

    1. South of Davis

      DurentFan wrote:

      > Mr. Marsh appears to have had a traumatic childhood (which didn’t
      > automatically end at 15), and should be tried as a juvenile.

      Wondering if DurentFan would like Marsh to move in next to his family in 5 years after he is released from the Juvenile justice system (that will be FAR more traumatic and probably mess him up more than anything he experienced in his childhood)?

      1. Davis Progressive

        that’s a sad commentary. we hear this all the time. people serve their time but once they are out, they can’t have a chance to live a normal life ever again. i’m not talking just about a murderer, but anyone released from prison. no wonder we have a recidivism rate as high as we do.

        1. Barack Palin

          Oh poor little Marsh will never lead a normal life again. Claudia and Oliver won’t have a life to live at all and I doubt their family will never feel normal again. Sorry, but I don’t have any compassion for the poor little murderer.

          1. Tia Will


            Just as you have no compassion for Mr. Marsh, it would appear that he had no compassion for Claudia and Oliver.
            He would also appear to suffer from a mental illness. A dangerous combination of attributes.

          2. Barack Palin

            “Just as you have no compassion for Mr. Marsh, it would appear that he had no compassion for Claudia and Oliver.”

            So what’s your point? Am I to feel bad or apologize because I have no compassion for a thrill seeking killer?

        2. South of Davis

          DP wrote:

          > people serve their time but once they are out, they can’t
          > have a chance to live a normal life ever again

          It is important remember that people like Daniel Marsh and OJ Simpson who hack other people to death with a knife are not “normal” people who just need time in prison to get “better”.

          I was trail running in Tahoe this weekend and saw a bear. If the bear killed me and was sentenced to 5 years in prison he would be just as (or even more) dangerous after “serving his time”…

        1. Rich RifkinWDE 73

          “When released, no need to be afraid of him.”

          I am not sure of what Daniel Marsh’s diagnosis is. I read he was put in a psychiatric hospital roughly a year before he murdered the elderly couple. A Bee story said he was suffering from “depression” at that time. Perhaps he is bipolar. I don’t claim to know or to have any expertise on his disease.

          However, I think TJ is wrong to think that a person with such a serious malady, which would lead to such a serious crime, could ever be released and one should think he is cured and there is no need to fear him. Chances are–please correct me if you know I am wrong–he will never be cured; and there will always be some risk that his disease gets worse; and, if his disease needs anti-psychotic meds to keep him “normal,” there is also a risk that he will go off his meds at some point, if he is released.

          My view is that, even if a murderer is found “guilty by reason of insanity,” he should never be given full freedom, no matter how long he is locked up or no matter how “safe” a doctor says he is on his own recognizance. I also don’t believe in placing insane people in prisons. The best solution would be a locked mental hospital where he gets treatment. And, if at some point he is well enough to leave the locked facility, he should always be under the supervision of some sort of guardian who makes sure constantly that he is taking his meds and he is no threat to society or to himself.

    2. tj

      Yes, it’s barbaric to try a 15 year old as an adult. Brains, esp in the area of executive function/decision making, don’t finish growing until the age of 25 or 26, on average. In Marsh’s case, with the family upsets, it would likely take longer to finish growing.

      1. South of Davis

        tj wrote:

        > Brains, esp in the area of executive function/decision making,
        > don’t finish growing until the age of 25 or 26, on average

        Yet NONE of the other “kids” (except Mash) under 25 in Yolo County have hacked an older couple to death…

      2. Wow

        Wow, TJ. I hope nothing like this ever happens to your family, because with these views your own family will desert you. Yes, mental illness is complex, but a brutal, horrific murder of 2 innocent people just for fun and thrills should absolutely be tried as an adult and he should absolutely be locked up for life. How you can say that with the lack of mental illness focus in this country at this time (which I think is awful, btw), that he should be tried as a juvenile and sent to a mental hospital and once he’s out, he’s good as the person down the road who’s lived a normal life? If you truly think that you clearly have no knowledge of mental illness and it’s complexities. Who cares if his brain hadn’t fully finished developing? I don’t know any other 15 year old kids who are fantasizing about brutally murdering people for thrill. Barbaric is what this kid did to two contributing members of society, not the court system determining to try him as an adult.

        1. Tia Will


          “Who cares if his brain hadn’t fully finished developing? ”

          With this one sentence, I believe that you have illustrated that you, like all the rest of us commenting here “have no knowledge of mental illness and it’s complexities.
          Obviously our society as a whole cares deeply about the full development of mental capacities. We care enough to limit the age of driving, marriage, entry into the military, voting…. We correctly do this because we appreciate that adults have capacities that children have not yet attained. One should not use the heinous nature of the crime to determine whether or not immaturity may have played a role or that increasing maturity might not lessen risk of repetition.

          What I see happening here is that commenters are allowing their emotional response to the horrendous nature of this crime to cloud their judgement about that factors that may have contributed to it, or in some cases to just not care about those factors. While this kind of emotional response is completely understandable, it should not be the basis for rational decision making which is what is called for here.

  2. Clem Kadiddlehopper

    If I sat on the jury, this is what would be going through my mind.

    I know evil can make a person mentally ill, but not every mentally ill person becomes evil. But a person can be evil without becoming mentally ill.

    This would be my conclusion.
    I think Daniel Marsh was an evil person who became mentally ill. Therefore, I would vote to give him life in prison with LOTS of mental care.

    1. Rich RifkinWDE 73

      “I know evil can make a person mentally ill.”

      You don’t “know” that. Your claim is one you believe, perhaps informed by your religious beliefs. If anyone claims to “know” what you think you know, then such individuals should never serve on a jury in a case like this.

        1. Davis Progressive

          i agree with you guys, there is no basis for this claim. that’s why we have psychiatric evaluations, but i’m not even aware of the science that would support such a claim.

    2. David Greenwald

      I don’t think you have a factual basis for that belief. You’re certainly entitled to your opinion, but I’m not particularly comfortabble prejudging a case like that.

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