BREAKING: Yolo County Jury Finds Marsh Sane

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A Yolo County jury found Daniel Marsh to be sane when he committed the double murder of Oliver Northup and Claudia Maupin on April 14, 2013, in Davis.

The jury deliberated for a short time this morning before the verdict was announced just after 1:30 pm.  The jury had, last Friday, found Marsh guilty of all charges, including the two murders with enhancements, and special circumstances.

The attorneys both delivered their closing arguments, with Assistant Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Cabral going over Dr. Rokop’s testimony, stating that he is an expert while the other doctors were less than knowledgeable in their field.

Mr. Cabral argued that Mr. Marsh was a “very messed up boy” and suffered thoughts for which he had no explanation.

Ron Johnson, Deputy Public Defender, argued that this is not the simple case the prosecution wants the jurors to believe.  Dr. Pollack’s report was important because he wanted doctors to know that Mr. Marsh’s medicine needed to be changed.  He had warned others about Marsh’s dangerous thoughts but they were ignored. Dr. Merikangas, with impressive credentials, corroborated that Marsh’s medications were causing severe negative side effects. Mr. Johnson pleaded with the jurors to consider his client’s state of mind.

Mr. Cabral, however, firmly believed that Mr. Marsh acted with premeditation and malice of forethought.  Marsh bragged about his killings, knew right from wrong and even planned his defense.

Mr. Marsh was old enough to know consequences, Mr. Cabral said, concluding,  “Hold him sane.”

Earlier Story: Brief Sanity Hearing Features Contradicting Experts on Marsh

by Antoinnette Borbon

It was very brief but contradictory testimony between experts today, in the case against young Daniel Marsh.

On Friday, a jury of his peers found Daniel Marsh to be guilty of first degree murder, with enhancements and finding special circumstances to be true.

Daniel Marsh, now a 17-year-old boy, is responsible for taking the lives of Oliver Northup and Claudia Maupin.

Daniel told FBI Special Agent Chris Campion that, during the early morning hours of April 14, 2013, he checked up to fifty houses before finding an open window at the home of the elderly couple.

Daniel, adorned in black, with ski mask and boots, climbed in the window and walked to the couple’s bedroom. As he stood there watching them sleep, he decided “it was too late to turn back, I knew I had to do something,” he said to Campion.

Prosecutor Mike Cabral told jurors, “Daniel was blood thirsty.” He once again painted a picture for jurors of a young man who was responsible enough for his actions.

But the defense had another explanation for Daniel’s behavior.

Lead Deputy Public Defender Ron Johnson told the jurors that “to expect a 14-year-old kid to know why he is feeling this way, having morbid intrusive thoughts, is absurd!”

Johnson said the medication, the SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), were worsening Daniel’s already troubled mind.

In today’s testimony, a defense witness was called back to testify about the MRI.

Dr. James Merikangas explained that, when viewing Daniel’s MRI, he found it to be suspect so he had a neurologist look at it. He testified that the neurologist found a gap between brain regions.

Dr. Merikangas said that “he had space in the cortex, reduction, physiological changes in his brain.”

He said there are a lot of things that can cause “too much space, brain tissue loss, but it could be caused from trauma, drugs, alcohol, fever, we don’t know exactly what the cause is.”

But he said this damage can lead to depression and can worsen with the wrong medicine.

Dr. Merikangas stated boldly, “Giving him drugs that are not for kids made his symptoms worse.”

He explained that Daniel’s corpus callosum, that connects the left and right cerebral hemispheres, was abnormally shaped. People with abnormal brains are more likely to suffer psychiatric disorders.

The axons, the nerve fibers at the ends of neurons which connect to axons of other neurons, are damaged as well, stated the doctor. This could be from pregnancy. He said if the mother drank during pregnancy it could cause the axons to be damaged.

Dr. Merikangas stated, “Some medications can double the homicidal thoughts, make him worse, and some can make him better.”

Johnson asked Merikangas if it was his opinion that Daniel may have been in a dissociative state on April 14 when he carried out the gruesome act, and the doctor said, “Yes, I believe Daniel had stress factors that overwhelmed him, putting him in a dissociative state during the act.”

He said the combination of depression and stress can cause the episodes of dissociative disorder.

The defense asked the doctor whether it is typical for a person to have intrusive thoughts with the dissociative disorder, and the doctor answered, “Yes, it’s like they are watching a film, they see things played out.”

He stated, “Risk factors such as emotional abuse, trauma, can cause disassociation.”

The prosecution declined to cross-examine the witness.

Dr. James Rokop, a court-appointed psychologist, was called back to testify for the state’s case.

Assistant Chief Deputy District Attorney Cabral asked Dr. Rokop about testifying to the totality of his findings, but not the insanity/sanity part.

Dr. Rokop reiterated his diagnosis of Daniel to include depression, sexual sadism, cannabis abuse and conduct disorder, but “I did not find psychosis or disassociate disorder.”

He testified that Daniel knew what he was doing, both legally and morally.

“We know this because he planned it, told his friends and tried to conceal the clothing, and he told his friends [that] cops wouldn’t suspect a 15-year-old.”

Dr. Rokop said Daniel wanted to be known as a killer by his friends, so he studied serial killers.

Daniel feared being apprehended and his behavior was logical, stated Rokop.

Daniel had fantasies about killing, Dr. Rokop testified.

It was Dr. Rokop’s opinion that Daniel wanted to change his “M.O.” (modus operandi) and this is why he set out to kill again, but using a bat.

In cross-examination, the defense asked Dr. Rokop why he thinks Daniel believed society would sanction him. “I asked him directly,” the doctor said.

“But wouldn’t telling your friends be more like he wanted them to justify his actions?” Johnson asked.

“Wouldn’t telling his friends make him think they would accept his actions?” added Johnson.

“That’s a complicated question, but yes, I think you’re right, he was shocked at their reaction,” Dr. Rokop replied.

Rokop said there was not a lot of evidence of side effects from medications, but he admitted no other doctors diagnosed Daniel with sexual sadism.

He said it was possible that Daniel could have had side effects, but there was not enough evidence to know.

The prosecution’s last witness was Dr. Deborah Schmidt. She testified to her conclusion that Daniel did know what he was doing. He was able to understand, she said.

Dr. Schmidt explained that Daniel tried concealing evidence, preventing himself from getting caught.

She stated, “Daniel planned it and was determined, this was not a rampage and it’s my opinion that he understood both morally and legally what he did.”

She felt Daniel could control his impulses.

He was able to control his emotional aggression when he felt like killing his best friend, said Schmidt.

“His acts were sadistic,” she said.

In cross, Johnson asked her if she did any research on black box warnings on medication labels, and she replied, “Yes, but I didn’t see any homicidal warnings.”

The sanity phase ended and the trial will resume in the morning with closing arguments.

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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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21 thoughts on “BREAKING: Yolo County Jury Finds Marsh Sane”

  1. Tia Will

    Hi Antoinette

    A question for clarification

    “He testified to the neurologist finding a gap between legions.”

    I think that there must be a typo here as their are no “legions” in the brain. I am wondering if the word was “lesions” or perhaps “regions”. This is important to know as which word is selected would change the meaning entirely.

    1. Highbeam

      Tia, please refresh – I was editing while you were reading. I had put “regions” for now, with a question in to Antoinnette about whether she meant to say lesions, with loss of brain tissue.

        1. Barack Palin

          I see the story line just changed, I thought you were referring to the first guilty verdict which I can understand why it was rendered so quick, not the “sane” verdict that just came out. I can agree with you that a quick verdict on whether someone was sane or insane has a lot more nuances and should take longer to deliberate.

  2. GenevieveGhamian

    I feel extremely sad for the victim’s family and the heartache they have had to endure because the system is flawed. Daniel Marsh cried out for help continuously. He knew he was turning into a monster and tried to resist, until his only option (in his mind) was to become that monster. I hope that this case will change the way psychiatric medication is dispensed and monitored, we cannot rely on the patient’s self reporting, especially when they are mentally ill.

  3. TrueBlueDevil

    I am generally tough on crime, but trying him as an adult at 15 raises concerns for me. I’m sure there will be appeals. I would think at some point a medium-security facility might be more applicable, but with his crimes, I’m not sure if that is possible. He may not survive into manhood unless he is given numerous years to mature and gain size. (I thought I read he was very small and slight.) This is all very sad, and we’d typically articles on his parents and family but I have not seen such. Like Barretta said, you do the crime, you do the time.

    1. WesC

      On a day to day basis, living in a medium security prison is not much different than living in a maximum security prison. I do not know if he really behaves himself for the 3 years that he will be in a juvenile facility he might then be able to go to a medium security facility. Even if he goes into a maximum security facility due to having enough “points” he can with good behavior reduce those points and be transferred to a medium security facility. Any way you look at, a young slender guy like Marsh is going to have a very tough time surviving in either a medium or maximum security prison.

        1. WesC

          Hi Robert, Marsh is now 17 yrs old isn’t he? Or is he already 18? I thought juveniles (under age 18) sentenced to long prison terms stayed in juvenile facilities until age 21, and then were transferred to adult facilities. Does the fact that he was tried as an adult mean he goes straight to an adult facility?

          1. WesC

            I stand corrected…..According to the following info Marsh will go to an adult facility when he turns 18, not 21, (and that will be pretty soon for him if he is not already 18).

            http://www.youthlaw.org/publications/yln/2012/jan_mar_2012/new_report_analyzes_prosecution_of_youth_in_ca_adult_court/
            Youth tried and convicted in adult court face a number of possible sentences. Just as in juvenile court, the adult court may sentence them directly to the state Division of Juvenile Facilities (DJF), formerly the California Youth Authority, where the most serious youth offenders are sent. If the juvenile offender is under 18, the adult court can also sentence him or her to an adult state prison, but house them at DJF. If the court makes no determination of where the youth will be housed, they are admitted to DJF. If they can complete their sentence before they turn 21, they will stay at DJF, but if not, they will be transferred to adult prison when they turn 18.

    2. Rich RifkinWDE 73

      I am generally tough on crime, but trying him as an adult at 15 raises concerns for me. I’m sure there will be appeals.

      All persons charged with murder age 14 and higher have to be tried as adults. It is state law, it was not the decision of the judge or the DA, and it is not appealable.

    1. Tia Will

      tribeUSA

      “reference to imps”

      Thanks tribeUSA. You have given me my only smile in this very, very sad situation in which it has been decided that the best way to achieve justice is to treat such a troubled young man with exactly the degree of compassion that he showed his victims.

      For who celebrate this finding of sanity, it would be good to realize that this decision which will place Daniel in circumstances of extreme peril where he will likely be raped and tortured is being made dispassionately by men and women who presumably themselves are not being tortured by neurologic impulses beyond their control. How shameful that those who are so self righteous are willing to condemn Daniel to essentially the same fate as they so thoroughly abhor and decry when it was him doing the victimizing.

      1. Antoinnette

        Tia…I felt the same today….saddened. Calling him the “devil,” and a “monster,” it felt horrible….did the devil use him, certainly, but is he the devil? Not hardly….just a disturbed young man who, Lord willing, will be healed one day.

        But…there I go again, pushing my religious beliefs….won’t deny my faith, unless I expect to be denied.

        Glad this is over…:(

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