Marsh Trial Continues with Description of Crime Scene

an image of a blue sedan parked outside of a residence with police and police tape around it

by Genevieve Ghamian

The trial of Daniel Marsh continued Wednesday with Assistant Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Cabral laying the foundation for the presentation of photographs of the condo of Claudia Maupin and Oliver “Chip” Northup.

Mr. Cabral began the day questioning Dolanda Jones, the couple’s housekeeper. She described herself as Ms. Maupin’s “fourth daughter,” who chatted and cleaned the condo every Wednesday. Ms. Jones testified that she had to clean cat urine from the couch the Wednesday prior to the couple’s death and left the cushions off. Additionally, she stated that the couple did not lock their windows and doors, but she had asked them to do so, because it made her uncomfortable. Deputy Public Defender Ron Johnson did not cross-examine Ms. Jones.

Ryan Esparza was called to the stand next. He testified that he was the EMT called to the scene to determine if Ms. Maupin and Mr. Northup were deceased. He stated that he entered the residence on April 14, 2013, around 9:00pm and knew immediately they were both dead due to not breathing, no pulse and removal of organs from their bodies. No cross-examination of Mr. Esparza.

The three witnesses that followed were investigators who took pictures, fingerprints, measurements and the physical evidence from the condo.

Janet Chancy obtained three fingerprints from the rented car door in the garage. Additionally, she processed Ms. Maupin’s purse and financial documents, which were sitting out on a table and were taken as evidence. Mr. Johnson cross-examined Ms. Chancy on her qualifications, which simply included field training, and on the lack of fingerprints on the counters and steering wheel, which was explained away as not unusual. Judge Reed asked the jurors if they had any questions, to which two wrote them down. In response to the jurors’ questions, Ms. Chancy explained that the texture of an object dictates whether there are fingerprints, but not whether they have been touched, and that she was told by a detective that the car was rented. Mr. Cabral asked that Ms. Chancy be subject to recall.

Lauren Hartfield, the crime scene investigator, testified that she walked around but she did not collect anything until the next day. At that time, she collected fingerprints from the living room window, sliding glass door, and window and door frames. She measured and took possession of the sliced living room screen. Ms. Hartfield obtained one fingerprint in the master bathroom, but none in the bedroom. She collected the comforter, sheets and six dark hairs for further examination. Mr. Johnson asked questions about her qualifications, the lack of fingerprints (extra clean counters) and her inability to interpret the evidence she collects. Mr. Cabral asked she be subject to recall as well.

The last witness of the day was Mario Alfaro, the supervising crime scene investigator. When he arrived on April 14, 2013, his goal was to document the entire scene before it was disrupted. He took pictures inside and outside of the condo. Mr. Alfaro stated that he assumed that entry was obtained through the window with the sliced screen. He was told that officers had caused the damage to the front door when they came looking for Ms. Maupin and Mr. Northup.

Pictures of the exterior of the condo were placed on the screen in the courtroom. Daniel Marsh looked up from his papers for the first time, glanced at the picture, appeared startled by it and rapidly returned his eyes to the paper on the table.

Mr. Alfaro described taking pictures of the wood chips under the window with the sliced screen. They “seem disturbed” and some were on the couch under the window, as well.

Mr. Alfaro’s testimony carried over into the afternoon. He described returning to the condo to inspect the knives, due to being informed that the injuries were caused by a knife with a one and a half by four inch blade. The knife he found did not turn out to be the weapon.

Upon entering the master bedroom, Mr. Alfaro observed the open shades and some wood chips on the floor. He inspected some tiny blood spots on the bedroom wall, bathroom floor and wall. He observed something that appeared to be a hand print in blood, hairs, a tooth and 57 slits in the top sheet.

After a short recess, Mr. Alfaro described the injuries to Ms. Maupin and Mr. Northup’s bodies. He stated Ms. Maupin was trying to defend herself and was stabbed in her left shoulder. Mr. Northup’s injuries to the back of his legs looked like defense wounds to Mr. Alfaro.

Mr. Cabral asked to show a picture of Mr. Northup from the coroner’s office to the jury, to which Mr. Johnson objected for the first time. Judge Reed overruled the objection and the picture was passed from juror to juror in silence. An X-ray of Mr. Northrup was shown with a drinking glass by his spine, a drinking glass which appeared to be the same as those in the couple’s cabinet. Daniel Marsh watched as the glass was presented into evidence, holding his hands together at his mouth, and he could be seen to swallow.

On cross-examination, Mr. Johnson asked about the stab wounds. Mr. Alfaro testified that some were post mortem as they did not bleed. He did not note the exact number. The defense questioned the existence of  “defense wounds,” as there was very little blood on them so they could have been post mortem.

Mr. Johnson went on to question the lack of blood splatter, implying that most of the stabs occurred after the couple was already deceased. On redirect, Mr. Alfaro stated that the comforter and sheets may have prevented the blood from spattering on the walls.

The witness was subject to recall, and the jury was dismissed for the day.

The admissibility of the exhibits was discussed. Mr. Johnson had left his list in his office, so he looked over the shoulder of Deputy District Attorney Amanda Zambor as they just asked about them. He objected to six of the exhibits, based on due process violations. They were all overruled and admitted.

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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2 Comments

    1. Antoinnette

      @tj….he may have, I can check on that, he made several motions before trial.

      I just recalled something in testimony by CSI experts the day of this article being written about.

      There were 7 dark hairs found on the fitted sheet of the Northrups during the crime scene evidence obtained, I believe…I got to wondering last night if they ever tested those hairs?

      The Northrups had white, graying hair…Daniel had long blondish in color…nothing dark…

      It raises questions…

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