Childhood Friend and Girlfriend Provide Key Testimony in Day Three of Marsh Trial


murder-davis-4By Genevieve Ghamian

The trial of Daniel Marsh continued with testimony from his closest friend and his girlfriend. Alvaro Garibay was called to the stand first. The small 18-year-old high school senior, wearing glasses and with dark shoulder length hair partially in a ponytail, testified that they were almost like brothers. Daniel’s girlfriend, a beautiful, slim, 16-year-old girl with long straight hair was second, and her name was ordered withheld due to her age. Both witnesses did their best to describe Daniel’s life leading up to the murders.

Alvaro and Daniel met on the third day of school in seventh grade. Both of the boys suffered from depression and helped each other to come out of it by spending up to four nights a week at each other’s house playing video games, listening to metal music, playing guitar and smoking marijuana.

Alvaro testified that Daniel’s first threats of physical harm occurred in the seventh grade. He stated that Daniel’s mom, Sherry, moved her girlfriend, Martie, into the home and Daniel blamed Martie for his parents’ break up. Alvaro said Daniel “wished he could kill her because she is such a b—,” but Alvaro thought he was just joking.

In eighth grade, the boys began dating girls. Daniel began working out and building his muscles. Alvaro thought it was because Daniel was a small person, who wanted to look better for the girls, and who had also been bullied. Daniel began drinking protein drinks (Ensure) and lifting weights. The two began to grow apart, partly because Alvaro was not interested in such activities, and maybe because Daniel started dating Alvaro’s ex-girlfriend.

After several months of not talking, Daniel approached Alvaro to be friends again in the 9th grade. They became close almost immediately. Shortly thereafter, a friend of Daniel’s sister was staying at his house. Daniel had a crush on her, but Alvaro claimed he did not know about it and had sex with the girl once. Daniel became very thin and was not eating. Alvaro was very worried about Daniel and said that his friend “didn’t understand the importance of food” and that he kept nagging Daniel to eat. Daniel was then placed in a hospital for 2-3 months to treat anorexia. In the hospital Daniel “looked really damaged” and seemed scared.

Tenth grade seemed to be a very complex year for Daniel. Alvaro said Daniel’s mother was schizophrenic and was dying slowly of a neurological condition and Daniel stopped living with his dad because his dad was “a dick.” It was their first year in high school, the boys were smoking marijuana three times a week, playing guitar, sexually experimenting on one occasion, and watching violent internet videos of decapitations, torture and death. Alvaro testified that he introduced Daniel to the girl who would become his, Daniel’s, girlfriend, and for awhile the three hung out regularly as friends.

Alvaro said that he and Daniel began to grow apart, and around the same time, Daniel and the girlfriend became more intimate. According to her testimony, during which she was allowed to refresh her memory from the police report, she and Daniel began dating on December 4, 2012. Ironically, she would break up with him exactly six months later, on June 4, 2013. The week after December 4, 2012, Daniel became very angry about his girlfriend talking regularly to Alvaro. She testified that he had “a little breakdown at school” where he punched the lockers. He was placed in the hospital again for a week. Neither Alvaro nor the girlfriend visited him at that time. Both Alvaro and the girlfriend testified that Daniel talked more about violence after Daniel began dating the girlfriend. The girlfriend testified that Daniel would be fine emotionally for a while, but then he would just “crash,” resulting in depression or talk of violence. He would smoke weed to ”calm his head.” Daniel started drawing violent pictures in art class. He talked about killing people and what he wanted to do to them. He talked about beating up scumbags. Daniel killed a cat and asked Alvaro if he could kill his dog – to which Alvaro initially agreed, then backed out. Daniel made a detailed plan to kill his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend in writing, which was entered into evidence. He told Alvaro about how his meds for “psychosis” suppressed his feelings about violence.

About one month prior to the murders, Daniel became very angry with Alvaro over his continuing friendship with Daniel’s girlfriend. Daniel had read Alvaro’s texts with her while Alvaro was out of the room. Daniel “looked down, his face went black and he said he wanted to choke me.” For the first time, Alvaro thought he was serious and became frightened. He started distancing himself from Daniel; there were no more overnights, he did not share things with him and avoided being around him.

On Saturday, April 13, 2013, neither Alvaro nor Daniel’s girlfriend recalled seeing or speaking with Daniel, but they both remembered very vividly Daniel later telling them about the murders. Alvaro was told on Sunday, but, not wanting to hear any more, decided to smoke and then go home. Daniel said to his girlfriend on Monday, April 15, “My dad’s neighbor got murdered.” She said that he paused, then said with apparent pride, “I did that.” He happily described the events of the early hours of April 14, 2013, in great detail. She did not believe him and did not know how to respond, so she simply went with him to a friend’s house to celebrate Alvaro’s birthday.

Alvaro went over to Daniel’s house on the Tuesday after the murders, seeking more information about the murders – he just could not believe his friend could do such an act. He said it felt “surreal.” Daniel described the events on the night of the murders to Alvaro as the “best feeling in his life.” He then got several items out of his closet to show him, including the knife, gloves, ski cap, boots, and jacket worn the evening of the murders. (Daniel would eventually show his girlfriend the same items.) Alvaro did not know how to respond. He was scared so he said, “That’s cool,” smoked in the backyard, played Call of Duty and went home.

Alvaro and Daniel’s girlfriend were afraid of Daniel, but felt conflicted about telling anyone. Daniel asked his girlfriend’s mom if she heard about the murders and made the remark that “only sick people do that,” which made his girlfriend extremely uncomfortable. At least for the first couple months, Alvaro and the girlfriend did not fear much for their own lives, but mainly feared for each other’s life. Alvaro eventually informed the school that Daniel was carrying a knife at school, which got him suspended, but made Alvaro feel somewhat safer because Daniel was no longer carrying a knife around.

Daniel’s girlfriend, as stated previously, broke up with him on June 4, 2013, because she felt “intimidated” by him. A week or two later, Daniel sneaked into his girlfriend’s house around midnight. She rapidly texted Alvaro, at that point fearing for her life, but Daniel simply wanted to talk. The next day, Alvaro tried to tell Daniel’s dad about the murders, but the father did not believe him. After driving all over Davis looking for a payphone to place an anonymous tip, he called the police. They convinced him to come into the station and questioned him for several hours, even accusing him of taking part in the murders. Daniel was arrested the next day.


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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51 thoughts on “Childhood Friend and Girlfriend Provide Key Testimony in Day Three of Marsh Trial”

  1. Tia Will

    This case, like the Santa Barbara killings, illustrates a tragedy, but also an opportunity for prevention of future similar cases. In both of these events there were warning signs of escalating violent thought processes in the setting of known mental illness. In the Marsh case, we had two children who were aware of the increasing abnormal behavior to the point that they themselves were afraid, but apparently ignorant of or feeling un empowered to take any action or alert anyone capable of intervening.

    I think it is critical that Mr. Marsh who has proven himself to be dangerous, be confined in a setting in isolation from the general public (in my opinion the state mental hospital) most likely for the remainder of his life. I think what is much more critical is that as a society, we rethink our reactive approach and take on a preventive, proactive approach to intervention in the case of individuals whose violent ideation is escalating. This would mean actively educating all citizens ( especially children and teens ) on the importance of reporting to appropriate authorities be that at the school, health care workers, police, or even just their parents of these kinds of threats, posts, or actions (such as animal killing). It would also mean that those who are informed of such information would have to consider it “their business” and take action rather than considering it to be “a family matter” or “someone else’s job”.

    How sad to think that this tragedy, like many of the others perpetrated by the mentally ill might have been prevented by changing our societal mentality from one of shame and covering up mental illness to a proactive stance of identification and help for the individual who is descending into the abyss of violence driven by mental illness.

    1. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > I think it is critical that Mr. Marsh who has proven himself to be dangerous,
      > be confined in a setting in isolation from the general public (in my opinion the
      > state mental hospital) most likely for the remainder of his life.

      I agree with Tia that we need to lock up Mr. Marsh for the rest of his life, but I’m wondering why Tia (and many others on the left side of the aisle) seem to prefer locking people up in a “state mental hospital” vs. a “state prison” even in the (rare) case when we both agree that someone is so scary that they should be locked up for life…

  2. ryankelly

    His Attorney is putting forward defense that his psychiatric treatment including psychiatric drugs contributed to, or were flat out the cause, the deterioration of Daniel’s mental health and eventual violent actions. If this is found to be a plausible explanation, wouldn’t putting him in a mental hospital sentence him to continuing psychiatric medications and a continued torturous existence? Wouldn’t life in prison actually be a healthier option in that case?

    1. Tia Will


      “If this is found to be a plausible explanation, wouldn’t putting him in a mental hospital sentence him to continuing psychiatric medications and a continued torturous existence?”

      This would be a reasonable point of view if the medications he was on were the only medications available. However, this is far from the case. There are many different medications that can be tried and tried in various combinations. Also in the hospital setting a trial off all medications but with intensive non medical forms of therapy might be a possibility which would not exist in the prison setting. Mr. Marsh has a much higher chance of achieving some form of mitigating treatment if not curative treatment in a hospital than he does in a prison to say nothing of he himself standing a lesser chance of being abused by the hospital residents than he does in a general prison population. I know that many will not care about Mr. Marsh’s fate given his actions. However, I do not believe that Mr. Marsh
      has surrendered his humanity. I believe that he is very, very ill and should be treated as such.

    2. Elizabeth Bowler

      The simple answer to your question is no. Thee reason is the difference between someone who is “mad” (either due to a mental illness, or a reaction to a psychiatric medication as the defense is arguing in this case, or a combination of the two as is the most likely scenario) versus “bad”. The former individuals are better treated in a state hospital whereas the latter are more appropriately incarcerated in a state prison. To my knowledge, the defense is not denying the presence of a mental illness but rather they are claiming that it was the medications that caused the defendant to become homicidal. If this is true, then locking him up for the rest of his life would not seem to be appropriate.

      1. ryankelly

        I think that the majority in our community believes that locking him up in some fashion for the rest of his life is an expected outcome. Would you ever trust him again to live near you?

        I don’t think vengeance is a factor. I think public safety is the real issue here. If we can trust psychiatrists to treat this individual without increasing the intensity and depth of his illness, then a secure mental hospital would be appropriate, but, if not, then straight incarceration in a location that can offer some quality of life might be healthier for him. I believe that we are left with choosing the lesser of two evils.

          1. ryankelly

            How do you know this? Do you understand how the prison system works for juveniles convicted of adult crimes? I think you are making an assumption that may be incorrect.

          2. Elizabeth Bowler

            he will not be a juvenile by the time he gets to prison if convicted of this crime, or at least he won’t be for long – it is my understanding that he is already 17

          3. Davis Progressive

            ryan: you understand that he’s currently being held in juvenile detention center, right? he’ll be sentence to a juvenile facility and then transferred to an adult facility when he comes of age.

  3. Tia Will

    South of Davis

    “I’m wondering why Tia (and many others on the left side of the aisle) seem to prefer locking people up in a “state mental hospital” vs. a “state prison” even in the (rare) case when we both agree that someone is so scary that they should be locked up for life…”

    The answer is simple. Mr. Marsh is clearly ill. His illness being mental rather than physical does not alter the fact that he is ill and in need of treatment which he will receive in the mental hospital and which he will not receive in an appropriate manner in prison. Would you advocate that a patient needing surgery be maintained in a state prison rather than in a hospital ? My guess is “no”. Our society stigmatizes mental illness as somehow separate and distinct from “legitimate” physical illnesses.
    And yet we are at a time when brain imaging is clearly demonstrating that mental illness has real definable biochemical causes. This science is in its infancy but should not be ignored and “insanity” while an archaic term, should not be ignored as a driver of the actions of the mentally ill. I think of this in much the same way that people used to believe that individuals with seizure disorders were possessed by the devil. We now know that their seizures are due to disorganized electrical discharges in the brain and are now treating these individuals with medications allowing them to live productive lives instead of torturing them in the futile attempt to drive out the evil spirit. Some day we will doubtless have identified the dysfunction that causes this kind of descent into violent, destructive behavior. In the meantime, I am advocating for humane treatment with the best medical care we are currently able to provide for these very ill, very dangerous, but not possessed individuals.

    1. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > Would you advocate that a patient needing surgery be maintained
      > in a state prison rather than in a hospital ?

      I like to fix things so if some surgeons said they could fix the problem I would want to send him to the hospital. I don’t think that sending Mr. Marsh to a “hospital” would “fix” anything (and would probably make him worse/more dangerous). It is unfortunate but (as far as I know of) we don’t have anyone (or any process) yet that can “fix” killers or child molesters. I tend to agree with Mr. Marsh’s own attorney that “his psychiatric treatment including psychiatric drugs contributed to, or were flat out the cause, the deterioration of Daniel’s mental health”. I know that psychoactive drugs help millions but just like some “regular” drugs have side effects that cause one in a thousand to drop dead it is unfortunate that psychoactive drugs cause some people to become suicidal or violent (according to the people that make the drugs and the warnings that come with them). I’m hoping that we look a little harder at the risks (close to 100% of the school shootings in the past 20 years have been young men pumped full of psychoactive drugs) before pumping every kid that is a little sad about something or has a hard time sitting through a boring lecture full of drugs (that in addition to causing problems are making a lot of people rich)…

      1. Tia Will

        South of Davis

        “I don’t think that sending Mr. Marsh to a “hospital” would “fix” anything (and would probably make him worse/more dangerous).”

        I am wondering on what evidence you are basing this opinion. You are correct in your statement that “psycho active drugs help millions”. So I am wondering why, even if you believed that the drugs Mr. Marsh was on contributed to his illness, that you would believe that non medication related treatments, or different mediations or in different combinations might not be helpful to him in gaining better control over his violent tendencies and allowing him to lead a more productive life. These services are available within the hospital setting and virtually unavailable in a prison setting although there are active ongoing attempts to improve this situation.

        On your point about fixing things. I feel that we are very fortunate that with most illnesses we are not limited to only two options, nothing vs cure. If this were the case we would have no individuals living productive lives while managing their chronic illnesses. Medicine is more often about living as fulfilling a life as possible while coping with chronic conditions and illnesses than it is about “fixing” things with surgery being one of the exceptions.

        One other thought. Medicine has made tremendous strides in multiple areas of treatment over the past couple of decades. So even if we do not have a “cure” today does not mean that one will not be found. Why would we choose to consign anyone to the much more violent prison setting due to an illness that while not curable today, may be curable within the lifetime of this individual ?

        1. Tia Will


          “When they do make an effort to reach out, they are punished. No wonder they keep things to themselves,”

          I completely agree with you here. What I feel is needed is a complete change in societal attitude about the issue of mental health. Over the span of my career, I have seen improvements in attitudes about mental illness.

          When I first started practicing medicine, mental illness was literally walled off from the remainder of a patients health care. Non psychiatric providers did not have access to the patient’s psychiatric records. If you were treating a patient whose psychiatric medication regimen was complicated, you had to either take the patient’s word for what they were taking for what condition, or directly contact the prescribing psychiatrist, or just make your best educated guess about what they were taking for what diagnosis. As you might imagine this led to significant problems in adjusting meds for other conditions. This has improved in the sense that we now have a direct access to diagnoses and treatment plans for psych patients just as for all other patients. But the process of de-stigmatizing mental illness, even enough to let other doctors have access has been a long, drawn out and complicated battle.

          Attitudes about something considered as private as one’s own health change very slowly and sometimes need some societal pushes and or legal changes in order to protect the ill individual as well as the rest of the society.

          An example that comes to mind for me is the forced medication and / or isolation of individuals with active TB so as to prevent its spread to the general population.

          What I think is needed:
          1. An awareness that mental illness, unlike a non contagious disease, has implications for the safety of others, not
          just the individual who is ill.
          2. A willingness to act on word or suspicious of violent ideation by any individual in our community
          3. A mandated process for law enforcement or their designees to investigate immediately upon notification of
          such a suspected situation. This has precedent in our community in the form of mandated reports for suspected
          domestic violence even if the victim does not admit what has happened as a health care provider I must report
          my suspicions.

          1. ryankelly

            I agree with this, with the addition of more attention paid to the negative side affects for children, in particular. A requirement that children prescribed with psychotropic medications be monitored closely (i.e. every day) and the particular medication is ceased if the targeted symptoms become more severe or, even, remain unchanged. We would expect this with physical illness. Why not mental illness?

          2. Elizabeth Bowler

            “A requirement that children prescribed with psychotropic medications be monitored closely..”

            Completely agree with this ryankelly, in fact, the Black Box warning on this class of medication recommends very close monitoring in individuals under 24 years of age. I also believe that the issue of the dramatic increase in psychiatric medications that are prescribed to children needs to be closely scrutinized at because of these severe side effects that sometimes have tragic consequences.

        2. Antoinnette

          @Tia…it took five different medications to find out what worked for my son’s seizures and another near death last year, as I talked about in earlier posts. I will tell you, some of the first meds gave him the exact same side affects as Daniel experienced. He often woke up in hysterics over nightmare about killing people…He even at one point felt it was a matter of time before he hurt someone and was so terrified to be alone. He had suicidal thoughts…the whole thing…it was a terrifying experience but thankfully we kept changing meds until we found what took all those side affects away and kept his seizures under control.

          I am thankful to UCD doctors for listening to my pleas and acting immediately and today he is functioning quite well in college and as a chef at Washington State University.

          I agree, it takes time to figure out what works..we are living proof of that one…

          I do not know what they offer in a Prison setting? but he will need continuous help, pretty sure.. I know what he did can’t possibly be more terrifying to anyone more than him and my sympathy goes out to all family members, but I do pray Daniel will at least get the help he needs wherever the Lord wills…

          @E. Bowler….agree…a close monitoring is imperative! Well said…ladies..

  4. ryankelly

    I am concerned that one of these teens reached out to adults in their life and were dismissed, then when finally reaching out to the police, he was subjected to hours of interrogation and even accused of participating in the murder. Daniel’s father was made aware of his son’s actions and did nothing apparently – maybe what he was told was too difficult to fathom. We may think we have a great community, great schools, but we adults seemingly dismiss on a regular basis children in trouble or troubled in our community. When they do make an effort to reach out, they are punished. No wonder they keep things to themselves, try to fly under the radar. We need to wake up and see what is really happening in our community.

    1. South of Davis

      Ryan wrote:
      > I am concerned that one of these teens reached out to adults in their life
      > and were dismissed, then when finally reaching out to the police, he was
      > subjected to hours of interrogation and even accused of participating in
      > the murder

      The Davis PD recently arrested a violent drug dealer (with over 20 guns in his home) and his child abusing girlfriend. I know someone that called the cops OVER two years ago about the guy but they would not do anything unless the guy put his family at risk and went “on the record” to publically accuse the guy of being a violent drug dealer and abusing kids. The term “no good deed goes unpunished” comes to mind when the system ruins the life of someone trying to make the city safer, protect abused little kids or reach out to the police about a violent friend…

      1. Davis Progressive

        you’re description probably does not accurately reflect what likely happened. an accusation requires substantiation. the police probably needed him to be a witness even just to get a search warrant. if he refused to get involved, police probably lacked the information to get a warrant.

      2. TrueBlueDevil

        Do we have any idea how many ‘violent drug dealers’ reside in Davis? I figured since we had lower crime than most big cities and suburbs, when a problem popped up I’d figure we would be on it immediately.

    2. Robin W.

      The police reaction to the report by Marsh’s friend and their treatment of the friend is precisely why kids/teens do not “rat out” other kids/teens, even when they are afraid of them or very worried about them. We will never get kids/teens to report these concerns until the police, school authorities and other adults stop responding this way and instead create an environment where it is safe for kids/teens to share their concerns.

      1. KSmith

        Not all teens are reluctant to report on each other. I’ve had two situations so far where my daughter reported to me behavior that she felt was dangerous/threatening: in one case, someone she knew was self-harming; in another, a classmate was exhibiting some “off” behaviors and making some comments involving violence that my daughter felt were possibly of concern.

        In both cases, I reported these concerns to the school (Da Vinci Jr. High), and in both cases, I felt the situation was handled positively. There were meetings with the students in question, along with parents and the counseling staff, and my daughter’s name wasn’t ever brought into it. In both cases, also, there was a follow-up call to me re-assuring me that my daughter was safe and offering to help her if she was worried about the issues she reported.

        I think willingness to report might depend on the individual teen’s temperament, relationship with authority figures, and severity of the behavior/comments s/he is witness to. I also think, though, that the smaller student community of Da Vinci might have led to a greater feeling of having each other’s backs, since they seemed to make a point of developing community among the students.

  5. ryankelly

    There has been a lot of work done at Emerson over the last decade to develop multiple avenues for students to report situations of concern and the administrations effective handling of them. This seems to be unique to Emerson, though each school seems to have made efforts to develop this kind of environment. At the Junior High level and below, there aren’t other options for troubled students (only DSIS or County schools) so they’ve had to figure out how to deal with issues. This supportive environment both for the reporter and the reportee disappears as the students move into High School. Large school, students not knowing each other, tracking of different student groups resulting in separation and cliques, focus on academic achievement and college acceptance and an administration whose go to response is suspension, expulsion or referral to other schools.

  6. Offering Balance

    There was a March 1st article on this case that hinted at the possibility of a coerced or false confession. Judge Reed dismissed the accusation of a coerced confession and now Mr Marsh’s own friends eliminated of the idea of a false confession.

    1. Antoinnette

      Yes, @Offering Balance…I believe I wrote on that?

      I believe the defense opined that during the length interrogation, Marsh begged to call his mother. It was ignored. Also, some questionable statements from FBI agent and the idea that he was NOT a child psychologist?

      A few corrections/additions to this article, although, very good!

      The girl is no longer current girlfriend.
      Neither best friend or ex could tell if or when Marsh was taking his meds
      Daniel described to friends and law enforcement about what he called, “an out of body experience,” stating he had them on occasions and night of April 14th,2014 (which to me is extremely important for the insanity element of the case, I am assuming?)
      Daniel only went to the hospital once for a breakdown, suicidal thoughts, tendency, afterwards put on heavier meds.

      In Opening, we learned Daniel had been reaching out for help for two years at least, via teachers, counselors and doctors.

      He was only given different meds, higher doses in which his condition continued to worsen. Mom repeatedly expressed concern, dad had kicked him out after he could not deal with Daniel.

      Sadly, it appears Daniel was a guinea pig for the meds he was put on, however, he did exhibit questionable behaviors prior to meds (heard in testimony)

      This is a tough one all around….Insanity may be hard to prove but there are some good evidentiary points that may give light….but it will still be up to a jury.

      I believe the definitions of, “Insanity,” may need to be re-evaluated? At least legally.

      Both the two elements must be proven per law and this one could go either way.

      But I agree, this child, and that is what he is, needs help for the rest of his life…I am hoping they can find something more natural, organic to help him and keep him off of meds that only worsen the mind. It’s a 50/50 he could repeat….so it may be best to place in an institution where he can get the help he needs.

      Albeit, either way, he won’t be a free man for a very long time, if ever….prayers for him and for the Northrup family as some of them are still extremely emotional.

      1. Tia Will


        “Sadly, it appears Daniel was a guinea pig for the meds he was put on, however, he did exhibit questionable behaviors prior to meds (heard in testimony)”

        While I very much appreciate your reporting and insights into what is a very difficult case, I would urge caution with regard to use of such inflammatory language as “used as a guniea pig” in addressing attempts to help individuals suffering from very challenging mental illnesses.

        Diagnosis and determination of best treatment methods in mental illness is in its infancy. All medical treatments started out with little knowledge of how to proceed followed by improvements as more evidence of safety and efficacy is acquired over time. No medication that is ever prescribed to an individual is guaranteed to be the best choice or the best dosage for that individual. The 800 milligrams of Motrin needed to cure my headache, may be enough to trigger your gastritis. This does not mean that you were being “treated as a “guinea pig”. It merely means that you had an undesired side effect. As one poster pointed out previously, psychoactive drugs have helped millions of people. Sometimes they have undesired consequences. This is inevitable. While the drugs may or may not have been a factor in Mr. Marsh’s actions, without a thorough review of the medical record, there is no way of knowing whether or not his treatment plan was appropriate.

        Hopefully, on going studies will identify specific patterns on brain imaging and or neurotransmitter markers that will allow us to develop specific treatments targeting specific mental illnesses thus avoiding the current necessity of a “trial and error” approach as is currently needed. My concern about use of derogatory terms for medical treatment is that it has the potential to discourage those in need of help from seeking it.

        1. Elizabeth Bowler

          “I would urge caution with regard to use of such inflammatory language as “used as a guniea pig” in addressing attempts to help individuals suffering from very challenging mental illnesses.”

          Given that the SSRI class of medications carries a Black Box Warning for use in individuals under 24 years of age, and the fact that their use in children has been minimally studied, I don’t think that it is either inflammatory or inaccurate to characterize their use in a 14-15 year old as experimental. I am becoming increasingly concerned about the dramatic increase in recent years in the use of psychiatric medications including SSRIs in children.

          1. Tia Will


            I agree with your specific point about the Black Box warning with regard to the SSRIs. I also would not have objected if the article had noted the
            “experimental nature” of this usage as you did in your post. My comment was limited to what I consider the unnecessarily inflammatory term,
            “guinea pig”.

          2. Elizabeth Bowler

            well, it is not an expression I would use, but I consider “guinea pig” to be nothing more than a colloquialism for “experimental” so for that reason I don’t have a problem with it, and in this case I even think it is appropriate

    2. David Greenwald

      My concern was not that I believed the confession in this case was false, but rather the tactics used in this case deviated markedly from research based best practices.

        1. David Greenwald

          You can obtain accurate results with suboptimal processes. A minor subjected to a lengthy interrogation, under false pretences, without parental presence, failure to stop the process after the minor requested an attorney (Judge Reed ruled that he didn’t articulate the request forcefully enough, an appellate court could potentially overrule that down the line). While they may be in the legal gray area, none of those are recommended procedures. See my article today on the death penalty and the case that got overturned where the defendants were coerced into a confession and were 15 and 19 years old. As far as I can tell, the only thing they did properly was video the interrogation, so at least a court can review it.

          1. Offering Balance

            I haven’t read a prior article on this case where Marsh asked for an attorney. If that has been reported please link to it. I would like to know.

            “As far as I can tell, the only thing they did properly was video the interrogation,….”

            Judge Reed disagrees.

  7. hpierce

    After reading the Vanguard and Enterprise versions, am struck with the voyeurism of the “reporter” for the Vanguard, and the lack of any attempt by David &/or the advisory board to curb it… using mother’s name? Her ‘alleged’ relationship to another? The ‘other’ s name?… whatever generates ‘hits’ on the blog are fair and ethical? Hell, be brave, ignore the judge’s order and name the minor girlfriend who testified! Gotta be transparent even if it is not germane to the real issues…

    1. Antoinnette


      I half-way agree about using the name of the ex…especially when Daniel is also a minor? However, for the more part, this girl was in tears once off the stand and actually a whole lot more testimony given about their relationship which in turn may have damaged her for the rest of her life.

      Gabriel Roxas of News10, agreed with me and chose not to tell of some of it and he is a professional…

      I always felt there could be a less violent way of letting readers hear what happened, especially beings they get it in other news reports but, only my opinion…

  8. Tia Will

    hpierce and Antoinette

    I agree that naming is unnecessary and potentially damaging.

    I feel that this should be extended to all unnecessarily dramatizing and stigmatizing coverage of everyone involved including what I on previous posts indicated that I felt were unnecessarily graphic depictions of details and close shots of Mr. Marsh at moments of vulnerability. I was roundly scolded for those sentiments by Vanguard posters who made the claims that they had the “right to know” and that I was advocating for censorship when what I was advocating for was self restraint.

    One technical point that i would like to make clear again. Members of the editorial board have no access to the articles for review prior to publication and no ability to edit once the article is posted. On those occasions when I have found something that I felt to be either inaccurate or unnecessarily inflammatory early enough to make a difference, I have emailed David and he has been very quick to edit appropriately.
    This process is obviously dependent on a member of the editorial board being the first to view the article and as is illustrated above, all members of the editorial board and Vanguard readership have different thresholds for what is appropriate and what is not.

  9. Biddlin

    “I would urge caution with regard to use of such inflammatory language as “used as a guniea pig” in addressing attempts to help individuals suffering from very challenging mental illnesses.”
    LOL, not like calling attorneys, “Paid actors and actresses.”

    1. Tia Will


      I can see how you would make the association, but I do not believe that you have established an equivalency.
      My concern was not about hiring doctors feelings by calling their attempts ( even if flawed) to help someone with a medical problem. My point was about making people unduly fearful to seek help when needed.
      I certainly doubt that my comment about paid actors and actresses will cause someone in need of legal representation to do without. However, you do have a point, and I will attempt to tone down my own inflammatory comments.

  10. Antoinnette

    @Biddlin….not sure how you mean that one? Sarcasm? Or agree with what I put in my comment.

    @TiaWill….I don’t feel it is inflammatory at all to make an opinion, however ill or ignorant it may be? But I do understand that there are some decent doctors out there who honestly do try to help people.

    I am sorry if I do not share the sentiment that people who have not properly, physically, mentally and emotionally been examined to see if an anti depressant or antipsychotic drung is necessary as to not make things worse for the individual. What I mean is, taking a PetScan of the brian, running a lot more tests to be absolutely positive there is such a chemical imbalance that a person has to be on these dangerous drugs. Yes, I believe they are dangerous too, unless absolutely needed.

    Just take a look at the cases we have already seen where some of these meds were prescribed and they failed them: People vs. Talamantes, People vs. Kleinsassucer, for example. She was on Prozac also, right? and she was never really diagnosed with a mental health disorder other than PTSD and borderline personality, both of which several doctors around the country treat only with Psychotherapy.

    NOw, I am not saying that this kid did these acts due to the meds, because I have information that he had these thoughts long before, long before, but is it or can it be a factor? Absolutely…

    I am against anyone taking any type of medication unless there is a proven need. But I agree, it is an ongoing process to get the one that works for the individual. Not a fan of prescription drugs, just an opinion…

    I did not know the editorial board did not look over these articles? Perhaps they should…

    Yes, Tia, agree some things are unnecessary to be said on here…

    @David Greenwald….agree, interrogation may have had a confession but the manner taken was inappropriate. It does not change what he did, but it could be grounds for an appellate court to overturn….

    It would hurt to do the procedure right according to the standards of the law.

    One of the main reasons for a program such as the “Vanguard.”

    People may play by the rules best if they know someone is watching….just an opinion…nothing else…lol..

    1. Offering Balance

      “It would hurt to do the procedure right according to the standards of the law.

      One of the main reasons for a program such as the “Vanguard.”

      People may play by the rules best if they know someone is watching….just an opinion…nothing else…lol..”

      Are you implying the police did not play by the rules? Judge Reed was pretty clear that they were.

    2. Tia Will


      “What I mean is, taking a PetScan of the brian, running a lot more tests to be absolutely positive there is such a chemical imbalance that a person has to be on these dangerous drugs. Yes, I believe they are dangerous too, unless absolutely needed.”

      The problem we have with imaging studies and running more tests at this point in time is that they are not diagnostically useful.
      We simply do not have any blood markers that will tell us when a person is for example only “too low on serotonin” as we do for
      TSH as a marker of thyroid function. We are in the very infancy of PET scanning the brain and have not worked out the specifics of brain patterns, basically only that areas are lighting up differently than they do in the “normal ” individual.

      I do see a very different but very worrisome point that was brought up in the psychiatrists testimony that he had never reviewed the previous records from Kaiser. There are many options for obtaining previous doctor’s records. Same day consultation can be obtained. Records can be faxed or sent electronically so there is no need for a long waiting period. In my opinion there is currently no reason to be treating a hospitalized individual without access to harmful objects without first obtaining previous records. Even if not attempting to deceive a doctor, patient’s and their parent frequently forget key points, side effects, or even misinterpret which medication they were taking when the experienced side effects and often only remember correctly when prompted by what was written at the time by the clinician.

  11. Antoinnette

    @Offering Balance….no, just that things could have been more professional, is all. I felt they could have been more forthcoming with Marsh and also allowed a phone call to mother and/or an attorney. A certain Attorney for the State’s office once told me that the reasons most of these cases get turned over is not “lack of evidence that they committed the crime, but rather technicalities,” and to an appellate court, this confession may have some thinking differently…that is all…but again…opinion based. Albeit, ignorant or not…lol..

    I appreciate our law enforcement and have made several friends over the past two years…does not mean they don’t make mistakes…same as any one of us…

    oh, meant to say, It wouldn’t hurt to do things right…oops…

  12. Tia Will


    I think that we just have to agree to disagree on this particular point. I doubt that either of us have reviewed the medical records to make a determination of what other modalities had been tried and what the responses had been, what the specific indications were and whether an in depth risk benefit analysis had been made prior to the use of the SSRI. Off label and even black box warning drugs may be appropriate in some situations I would reserve the use of terms such as “guinea pig” for cases in which a reckless regard for medical best practices has been demonstrated which can only be done after a records review. Here we simply do not know because we do not have access ( appropriately) to the medial records.

  13. TrueBlueDevil

    Sad story. Having had close interactions with teenagers the past few years with their own similar ‘issues’ (but not this extreme), the lives of many of these young people are far different than how many over 50 grew up.

    First, from talking with kids and seeing their twitter posts, the use of mood meds and ADHD medications are almost commonplace. Add in divorce and immaturity, the kids take / don’t take their medications consistently, eat / don’t eat healthy on a consistent basis, some are drinking energy drinks to combat being up all hours of the night texting, watching porn (on their iPhone), and / or sexting. Then add in large amounts of fast food (sorry, no “Twinkie defense” here). iPhones, cars, easy money and drugs give these young kids the false bravado of seeming older, but many seem less mature than kids I met 20 or 30 years ago.

    There have to be a certain percentage of these cases which are mis-diagnosed or where drugs are over prescribed. I’ve also seen what appears to be a huge amount of parents who are either 60s laissez-faire, unable to parent, or unable to say ‘no”. If your parents can’t model proper behavior and boundaries, how do we expect children to do such? How will children learn self control and self regulation?

    I find it interesting that after almost 50 posts, no one has mentioned the role of frequent marijuana use, especially given the recent scientific studies which pinpoint the harm done to the teenage brain. From a USA Today article: “A close look at the under-25 age group shows cognitive decline, poor attention and memory and decreased IQ among those who regularly smoke pot — defined as at least once a week”.

    The Journal of Neuroscience – which published a study conducted by Northwestern University’s medical school, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School – which revealed that even once-a-week pot usage causes harm to the teenage brain in three areas. Add in that pot is now stronger, and the new “dabbing” phenomena (the crack cocaine of pot), and we are sailing in dangerous, uncharted waters. (Barack Obama should e challenged on his recent assertion that smoking a joint is no more dangerous than alcohol.)

    Yes, he should be treated humanly. I’d also want to know where he was getting marijuana (friends? parents?), how he was paying for it (did he have a job?), and wonder how diligent the doctor’s were who were prescribing his medications.

    1. Antoinnette

      I absolutely agree, Elizabeth…could have been a better word, but it was still meant to state the same..

      @TrueBlueDevil….you are right on target about the effects of Marijuana use and about our examples as parents. After learning what really ailed this young kid today during testimony…I think one can get quite a picture.

      However, in all my years on this earth…I have Never known a case where Marijuana caused a kid to commit such an atrocity…diet is certainly a paramount figure too, along with home environment and genetics, agree fast food, sugars, all of it can affect the brain. Add horror flicks and other influences, alcohol, peer pressure, bullying, abuse and you just made a ticking time bomb….

      We have no idea what he was on on the night of…just had Prozac in system, I believe at time of arrest, so all we can do is speculate or assume he may have be under the influence of something more than his prescribed meds…that night? and none of which may have been the cause, right?

      Again, I can personally say, I Do know what both prescribed meds and recreational drugs can do to a teen and why they would want to abuse them…lived thru it with my siblings…

      Marijuana can cause irritability but never witnessed psychosis in anyone? But when my son was put on seizure meds…his experience on certain types of the medication was almost identical to those of Daniels….fortunately we changed them immediately; nightmares, lucidity, fear of harming other, himself…he had it all…and was terrified, waking up in hysterics and describing to me what he saw in his nightmares. Listening to some of the testimony in this case is as if I hearing the same thing…just in another kid…sadly, his story ends differently…

      I agree with Elizabeth, I think some of these meds need more research before given, if at all to a child.. and too, what else would you call it if a doctor is trying different meds on a child. I call it experiencing, correct? Isn’t that what they do on rats in a lab? just saying…

  14. Tia Will


    I see the prescription of meds somewhat differently. If you come in to my clinic for birth control pills, I do not have an objective way of determining which type of pill will be the absolute best for you. I have my experience of 30 years of prescribing and adjusting meds. I have your medical and medication history so as to avoid prescribing any medication that you did not do well with previously. I know the combination and relative strength of any medication we are considering using. I know which pills commonly produce which types of benefits and / or have a greater likelihood of certain side effects. What I do not know is which pill will be the best for your particular biochemical make up. Would you consider me to be “experimenting” in this setting ?

    The difficulty here is that we are looking backwards from a terrible, terrible event and saying “how horrible, someone should have done something differently”. Had Daniel experienced relief from the medication, gotten better, and proceeded to do well in school, bond more closely with this family, make good friends and generally thrive, we would be saying “how fortunate that these meds were available to him.”

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