As the prosecution’s case during the guilt phase concludes, the defense called three witnesses to testify to the character of, and relationship they each had with, Daniel Marsh.
One of defense’s witnesses, a young man who was involved in a program called School Of Rock, would testify to Daniel being a good guitar player, polite, quiet and a bright kid. But he went on to tell about witnessing a couple of “strange episodes,” about which he felt deeply concerned.
Daniel Marsh is on trial for the deaths of Oliver Northup and Claudia Maupin, who were found dead in their Cowell Blvd. home on April 14, 2013.
Michael Clements, who runs the program, School Of Rock, talked about meeting Daniel and getting to know a kid who seemed to keep to himself a lot, but was always polite, bright and talented.
Clements said that he learned about Daniel’s past through hanging out with him on more of a one-on-one basis. He said, “Daniel is a good kid, I liked him.”
He said Daniel talked about the hurt he felt, his family strife, and anxiety, and he felt concerned that Daniel may be at risk of suicide. But he continued to mentor Daniel and be a friend to him while Daniel continued to excel in his program.
Daniel enjoyed playing with the group of kids and assisted in the program, he stated.
It was during a practice session the band participants were having that “Daniel had his head way back, sort of out of it for a few minutes but slowly came around, it was strange and I was concerned but he seemed to come out of it,” stated Clements.
He said there was another incident where it happened again, but once again, Daniel was able to slowly come out of it. “It was just strange, I had never seen anything like that before,” stated Clements.
Daniel did not seem to be having any hallucinations or hearing voices during this time, Clements reported, but he thought the episodes to be very strange and kept a close eye on Daniel afterwards.
Another witness for the defense’s case was Daniel’s high school counselor. Courtenay Tessler testified to Daniel always being a philosophical young man, polite and easy to talk to. She said she felt that she and Daniel were making progress toward establishing a bond.
Ms. Tessler said Daniel had more visits with her than most kids. She stated, “Daniel and I talked mostly about philosophical things, like why people would be mean to other people, human relations.” She said she liked Daniel a lot and had knowledge from other schools about Daniel being bullied.
She said, “I think Daniel felt somewhat comfortable with me, he kept coming back.”
When asked if the counselor knew about Daniel bringing the knife on campus, she said, “Yes, I talked with Daniel about it and asked him why he brought the knife to school. Daniel told me, ‘I need to protect myself.’ ” But Ms. Tessler stated that she told Daniel there was no one at the school who wanted to hurt him.
Daniel asserted, “I have to protect myself.”
In a brief cross-examination, Deputy District Attorney Amanda Zambor would ask, “Counselor, do you still like Daniel, even after he has committed these horrific crimes?” “Yes, I do, I know this is horrific, a tragedy for everyone, but yes, I still like Daniel,” replied Ms. Tessler.
“Do you visit him?” Ms. Zambor asked.
“Yes, I do,” she replied.
A friend of Daniel’s sister took the stand to talk about her relationship with Daniel. She testified that during the time when his mother was ill, she stayed with his family to help out.
She said that his mom was in a lot of pain, and it was often difficult for her to talk. She testified that, during the stay at Daniel’s house, they would all help take care of his ailing mom.
But, she said she does not recall ever witnessing Daniel hallucinating or hearing voices.
Interrogation Videotape Concludes
The last part of the videotaped interrogation was played Wednesday for the jurors. During the beginning of his interview, Daniel would adamantly deny having anything to do with the deaths of the elderly couple, even sobbing, pleading with the FBI agent to believe him.
But, after the course of a few hours, Daniel would confess to being the one responsible. He explained the gruesome details of that night and how he felt during and afterwards.
On the video, he stated, “It felt surreal, out of body…like a better high than opium.”
Daniel told the agent that he chose them randomly. It was after he had checked about fifty houses or so before he found the unlocked window on the Cowell Blvd. home. He said he had arrived at the house around 3 am and was back home by 4 am.
He told the agent, “I did feel euphoria….(he chuckled) and as I walked home there was no one around.”
Daniel stated, “My dad moved ’cause he was scared…I didn’t bull— you as much as you think I did…(he chuckles)”
He talked about having these homicidal thoughts in his head for a long time but only about the people he did not care for, those who had hurt him.
The FBI agent asked Daniel why he would place items inside the bodies of his victims, “I just did it to f—with you,” he said, and laughed.
He explained to Daniel they had found DNA but did not know yet if it was Daniel’s.
When asked if Daniel had any thoughts of homicide during the interrogation, “Uh..yes, I thought of ways I could have killed you….like, choked you with your tie, threw you up against the wall, breaking the mirror and using a piece of it to slit your arteries. Bashing your head in the wall..”
The agent told him, “Daniel, you did a good job of executing this.”
A chuckling Daniel responded with, “Thank you.”
As they wrapped up the session, the agent told Daniel, “Daniel, we would heal you if we could. We wish you the best but we have to do our job.
“We have to keep you safe, keep you from hurting anyone else…one day we will know more about science and what would cause this, but for now, Daniel, we have to do our job.”
As Detective Ariel Pineda and the FBI agent went to get Daniel something to eat, it seemed that Daniel became agitated, punching the wall at one point, lowering his head and seeming to be having a conversation with himself. It was brief, with unclear content.
Once the officers returned to the room, the session ended.
Daniel asked, “So am I leaving now? I guess I’m ready…”
“Yes Daniel.,” answered FBI agent.
Daniel Marsh stood up to be handcuffed, arrested and charged with the deaths of Oliver Northup and Claudia Maupin.
Closing arguments will be in the morning. Jurors are expected to be in deliberations by the afternoon.