Closing Arguments for Marsh – Part One

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By Genevieve Ghamian

The complicated closing arguments began September 25, 2014, in the trial of Daniel Marsh. Assistant Chief Deputy District Attorney Mike Cabral commenced by thanking the jurors for their time.

Daniel Marsh is on trial for the deaths of Oliver Northup and Claudia Maupin, who were found dead in their home on April 14, 2013.

Cabral proceeded to discuss the significance of the case and the 1000’s of pages of evidence the jury is going to review. Cabral explained that he did not display all of the pictures of the victims, but the jury would have to look at them.

Then Cabral stated, “His (Marsh’s) life wasn’t ‘Leave It To Beaver,’ ” but “was it really all that tough?” Cabral minimized the bullying Marsh endured by stating, “At some point in his life someone was mean to him. That’s what kids do.”

Cabral addressed Marsh’s parents’ role in his crime, remarking that it was clear his parents loved him and insinuated that teen life in Davis is easy.

The credibility of witnesses was addressed as Cabral vocalized his opinion that Jordan Mulder, the psychologist at Davis High School, was interesting and biased. And Kevin Green, who stated Marsh was not his friend, was reliable.

Jury instructions for homicide were discussed, as Cabral defined murder and told the jury that they could not use Marsh’s statement to determine if there was a killing, only to determine the other elements of the crime (premeditation, torture…). Cabral explained that the photos of the victims were enough to prove there was an unlawful killing.

Cabral described Marsh’s police confession and his attempt to deny the killings and explain away any evidence of being in the house.

First-degree murder was defined as willful, deliberate and premeditated. Cabral listed Marsh’s actions that would apply, including stealing the ski mask, standing by the bed and not wanting to back out.

Malice was explained as Marsh’s intent to kill them, wearing all black, and checking upwards of 50 different homes that evening, among other actions.

The testimony of Dr. James Merikangas, a neuropsychiatrist and neurologist, was attacked next. Cabral stated that Merikangas believed the other doctors in this case were shields for the District Attorney’s office and Kaiser-committed malpractice.

Cabral attempted to illustrate Merikangas’ inconsistencies, starting with the number of hours Marsh’s mother was in labor, Marsh’s Apgar score (the method used to assess the health of a newborn), and his lack of specificity.

Interestingly, Cabral sought to convince the jury that a radiologist’s testimony about Marsh’s MRI being normal should override the opinion of Dr. Merikangas, a neuropsychiatrist and neurologist.

The suggestion that Merikangas was prejudiced became clear when Cabral stated the doctor was biased before meeting Marsh and Marsh knew it. Cabral described Merikangas’ role in the trial as weaving all of the circumstantial evidence together to achieve the insanity defense Marsh had described to Kevin Green.

Cabral addressed the defense of intoxication next. He described involuntary intoxication with unconsciousness, resulting in not guilty. Voluntary intoxication with unconsciousness simply decreases the crime. Cabral stated marijuana “didn’t do it,” and Marsh couldn’t remember if he drank that night, which leaves the issue of involuntary intoxication by prescribed medication, Zoloft.

The rest of the morning was spent sketching a timeline of Marsh’s psychological history.

It began in 2008 with Marsh’s pediatrician, Dr. Honeychurch, and his well-child appointments. Nothing notable.

The same year Marsh began seeing Timothy Hesgard, a therapist at Kaiser. Cabral pointed out that this was two years before Marsh started the medications and his mother described him as “unstable,” “with uncontrollable rages.” Marsh was 11 years old and diagnosed with Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood. Marsh and his family decided not to see Hesgard anymore.

In May of 2010 Marsh started seeing Dr. David Besa, a (now) retired clinical social worker from Kaiser. The intake form describes Marsh as having nightmares, temper outbursts, being nervous and not liking other people. Later that month, Marsh’s father called Dr. Besa’s office, stating that Marsh was in crisis and needed medication. Besa told him to call the “crisis line.”

Marsh was prescribed his first anti-depressant, Prozac, in August of 2010. A doctor at Kaiser, who did not testify and Marsh only saw one time, felt the medication would help Marsh, but “dropped the ball” on follow up. She prescribed one to two capsules daily, 100 in quantity.

Marsh refilled the prescription in September 2010, January 2011 and May 2011, during which time Marsh saw his pediatrician four times without any complaints about the medication.

Cabral described October 27, 2011, as when the “anorexia process begins.”

November 9, 2011, Dr. Besa reported that Marsh was not taking his medication because his mother told him to stop.

November 17, 2011, Marsh told Dr. Bynum he was taking two Prozacs daily, which was then switched to Celexa.

December 5, 2011, Marsh’s father told the therapist (who did not testify) that Marsh was doing better on the medication, but that he did not take it consistently when he was with his mother. Marsh was 14 and a half years old.

December 8, 2011, Dr. Honeychurch noted that Marsh was eating better on Celexa.

Sometime between November and December of 2011, Marsh was hospitalized for anorexia. Marsh had gotten down to 93 pounds.

Dr. Pollack, who was not called to testify, performed some psychological testing on Marsh. He found no overt psychosis, no evidence of flashbacks, although Marsh was bothered by unpleasant memories and occasional mood swings. Marsh denied he was depressed, said he did not have suicidal thoughts and that Prozac did not work.   Marsh also stated he had four to five violent dreams and out-of-body experiences per week.

Dr. McKnight’s discharge summary switched Marsh’s medication to Abilify and Lexapro.

January 27, 2012, Marsh was seen at Kaiser, but the hospital discharge summary from Dr. McKnight was not available to aid in his treatment. In fact, the summary would not be signed until February 6, 2012.

Cabral listed January 15, 25 and 29 of 2012 as dates Marsh received prescriptions from Dr. Bynum. The medication was switched back to Prozac, but Dr. Bynum refilled Lexapro as well. Dr. Bynum had Marsh stop Abilify and start Seroquel.

February 29, 2012, Marsh said his dad was clueless about anorexia and had some “issue” with one of the therapists.

March 30, 2012, Marsh’s dad called and said he needed an appointment because Marsh was angry and irritable.

May 7, 2012, a refill on Prozac is approved by the original prescribing doctor Marsh saw one time back in 2010. Marsh received a 30-day supply.

June 11, 2012, Marsh’s father called Hesgard and told him Marsh was off of the medications, drinking and was kicked out of his house. Hesgard told him to come in, but he didn’t.

Brenda Neal, from Kings View Behavioral Health Systems testified that in October and November 2012, Marsh was not taking his medication and started talking about wanting to hurt people.

December 2012, Marsh was involuntarily hospitalized and medication was changed to Zoloft with Seroquel.

December 24, 2012, Marsh started seeing Hesgard again for therapy. No suicidal or homicidal thoughts, but nightmares and homicidal thoughts continued.

January 16, 2013, the police were called to Marsh’s school after he described some violent thoughts to DJUSD school counselor Monica O’Brien.

January 18, 2013, Marsh told Hesgard he was improved, that things were great. He said, “It is nice to feel good.”

Marsh told Dr. Cheyenne He that he stopped taking Seroquel.

Marsh’s mother removed Kings View Behavioral Health services from Marsh’s IEP (individualize educational program).

February 7, 2013, Marsh had a visit with Hesgard where he stated, “I did everything I could to keep from killing him (Alvaro).” Marsh suspected Alvaro was “making the moves” on his girlfriend.

Adjourned for lunch.

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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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4 thoughts on “Closing Arguments for Marsh – Part One”

  1. Tia Will

    Two thoughts about the arguments to date:

    “Cabral sought to convince the jury that a radiologist’s testimony about Marsh’s MRI being normal, should override the opinion of Dr. Merikangas, a neuropsychiatrist and neurologist.”

    At this stage in our knowledge, a normal MRI is basically meaningless in helping to determine whether or not an individual was capable of determining
    the morality of actions at the time of any given act. This is a misuse of the information. Unfortunately, the jury will have no way of appreciating this.

    “his mother described him as “unstable” “with uncontrollable rages.” Marsh was 11 years old”
    “Marsh also stated he had 4-5 violent dreams and out of body experiences a week.”

    These types of “uncontrollable rages” at age 11, violent dreams, and “out of body experiences” are clearly not normal experiences and behaviors.
    The fact that they are being reported years in advance of the murders would seem to me to make it unlikely that Mr. Marsh was deliberately laying the groundwork for an insanity defense at that time. Despite a “normal MRI” it seems clear that Mr. Marsh was struggling with multiple symptoms, including descriptions of dissociative states ( times in which he might well not be able to discern the moral implications of his actions) well in advance of his planning of the murders. It seems clear to me that these repetitive testimonies to the abnormal nature of Mr. Marsh’s mental state would over ride the single finding of a “normal MRI”.

  2. Elizabeth Bowler

    “Cabral sought to convince the jury that a radiologist’s testimony about Marsh’s MRI being normal, should override the opinion of Dr. Merikangas, a neuropsychiatrist and neurologist.”

    That is absolutely untrue! I am extremely surprised to hear that the DDA was making such outrageous claims to the jury in closing arguments. I even wonder if this might be the basis of an appeal if the jury decides to convict.

  3. Tia Will

    Elizabeth

    “I even wonder if this might be the basis of an appeal if the jury decides to convict.”

    Unfortunately it would seem to me that either side is allowed to say almost anything they like in their closing arguments. I could not agree with you more that this statement is absolutely not true. But then, “truth” does not appear to be the goal here. I find this deeply disturbing. However, unlike you, from following the arguments ( at least as presented on the Court Watch site) for the last couple of years, “truth” often seems to be sacrificed in service of “winning” and I was anything but surprised by this line of argument.

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