by Charmayne Schmitz
After a year and a half of motions, charges, and counter charges, the trial of Daniel Marsh finally opened on Tuesday.
On September 2, 2014, opening statements were given in the Yolo County murder trial of Daniel Marsh, accused of killing two Davis residents in their home on April 14, 2013.
Deputy District Attorney Amanda Zambor briefly described the victims, Oliver “Chip” Northup and Claudia Maupin. DDA Zambor related the timeline and facts that resulted in the arrest of Mr. Marsh. Despite objection from Deputy Public Defender Ron Johnson, a small portion of the defendant’s recorded confession was played. Zambor ended by describing the defendant as sophisticated, masochistic and guilty of premeditated murder.
Mr. Johnson told the court he won’t focus on what happened in this case, but why it happened. Statistics show that certain mental states along with prescribed medications may cause people to act out and think more violently.
There was a failure to recognize what was going on with Mr. Marsh. When Daniel was 11, he was taken to Kaiser Hospital by his mother for treatment of depression and suicidal tendencies after his parents separated.
Two years later, at the age of 13, he was given Prozac. Daniel began withdrawing from society, began to express hatred of people, morbid thoughts and anger. These symptoms are described in the warnings on the drug paperwork. Instead of stopping the drugs, narcotics were added to his prescription.
In November, 2011, Daniel’s primary care doctor noticed he had lost a dangerous amount of weight and referred the teenager to an eating disorder group. Daniel was then switched to Lexapro, another antidepressant. Daniel entered an inpatient anorexia program.
A doctor noted that Daniel had feelings of derealization with out-of-body experiences four to five times a week. Still, Daniel was not taken off the medications. Instead he was switched back to Prozac. As time went on, various doctors and his school counselor noted his increasingly violent tendencies.
In December, 2012, he was involuntarily committed because of possible danger to others and his medications were changed to Zoloft and Seroquel. Daniel kept telling people the violent thoughts were getting worse. In early 2013, Wellbutrin was added to the other drugs he was taking. In February of that year, his dosages were increased.
His school counselor discussed the problem with his therapist at Kaiser. The therapist believed that Daniel was just acting out to get attention. In March, Daniel kicked the family dog and said nothing is working.
Two weeks later, he committed murder. Deputy Public Defender Johnson finished by saying not one doctor said, “Take Daniel off the prescriptions.” He warned the jury they’ll hear gruesome details of the murder and then asked them to reserve their judgment until they hear all the evidence.
The remainder of the court day was filled with testimony that related to how the victims’ bodies were found. A friend of Chip Northup’s, a fellow band member in the Putah Creek Crawdads, notified Claudia Maupin’s daughter Laura that Chip had not appeared that day for either of their two scheduled performances.
A friend of Laura’s testified that he accompanied her to the home because she was worried. After walking around the outside of the house, Laura decided to notify the police. The three officers who were first on the scene testified about how they discovered the bodies and secured the scene.
The officers’ testimony took most of the afternoon, as Assistant Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Cabral kept glancing at the clock and presenting numerous photos of windows and doors at the victims’ house. The day ended after Mr. Cabral asked the officer to confirm the identity of a photo of Mr. Northup’s body. The photo was not presented on the screen for general viewing. It was circulated among the jurors, leaving them with a gruesome image to mull over.