Vanguard Analysis: Profiting from the Marsh Tragedy?

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The verdict in the guilt phase was hardly issued on Friday when an individual, Lloyd Billingsley, a journalist by trade, rendered a very stark analysis of the case. Drawing upon forensic psychologist Deborah Schmidt’s testimony that this was a clear case of “predatory aggression,” Mr. Billingsley goes a step further, recalling 1990s research on “superpredators.”

He writes, “During the 1990s, Princeton political scientist John DiIulio charted the rise of ‘superpredators,’ violent young men who kill and show no remorse. DiIulio has since backed off on this theme but Marsh, who laughed as he described the crime to police, suggests the superpredator type remains active.”

“That could indicate the need for reforms in the way schools handle serious threats of violence,” he writes. “Mental health counselors testified that Marsh spoke freely of wanting to kill and torture people. But without a specific plan or specific victim, officials won’t break confidentiality.”

We agree on one thing here – the school and mental health system failed, in part because they were ill-equipped to handle someone like Daniel Marsh, but they also failed in more benign ways, in that concern was never communicated into action to get Mr. Marsh the kind of care that he actually needed.

Mr. Billingsley attacks the defense, noting that the family found it insulting having “the defense claim that an axis of mental problems and side-effects from medications” caused the tragedy, but we have an adversarial system that does not seek truth and justice, but rather pits diametrically opposing forces against each other in the hope that the competition of ideas will allow a jury of 12 laypersons, none with psychological training, to see the truth.

Never mind that, as even Mr. Billingsley acknowledges, Dr. Schmidt told the jury it was “far more complicated” and “based on a lot of things.” Mr. Billingsley noted that the psychologist said there were no articles linking “Zoloft to predatory aggression and homicide. And Zoloft, she said, does not cause people ‘to research serial killers,’ as Marsh did.”

On the other hand, a lot of people research serial killers, finding them fascinating, and Mr. Marsh’s fascination with the macabre would likely play into that.

Mr. Billingsley continues, “Psychologist James Rokop testified that Marsh, who was 15 at the time of the murders, was a sexual sadist who killed solely to gratify himself. The killings left Marsh elated and he bragged to his friends. Despite that and other testimony from Marsh’s friends, the defense’s view gained traction around Davis.”

The latter is not a fair comment. No one that we saw took the view that the clear mental illness that Mr. Marsh suffered exonerated him. What was far more common is acknowledgement that Mr. Marsh was a troubled youth for whom the system failed. Moreover, as we argued earlier this week, Mr. Marsh was a juvenile, just 15 years of age when he committed the crime – a factor that the system, trying him as an adult, fails to acknowledge.

Mr. Billingsley continues, “Northup, 87, was a lawyer and staunch death-penalty opponent who would have been the first to defend the teen. Marsh took Northup’s life, and Maupin’s, but under current law Marsh not only preserves his own life but someday could be paroled and walk free again. That strikes some friends and relatives of the victims as an injustice.”

Mr. Billingsley, of course, fails to note that he would not even be eligible for parole until he was in his sixties at the earliest. By that time, he would have spent 75 to 80 percent of his life in prison for a crime he committed when he was 15. And that is assuming a parole board would actually release someone who committed a double homicide under these conditions.

Mr. Billingsley continues, “They wonder if juveniles tried as adults and duly convicted of first-degree murder should also be subject to adult penalties such as life without possibility of parole.” He added, “A ‘Maupin’s Law’ along those lines could draw a measure of reform from one of the worse violent crimes in California history.”

That is a strange comment by Mr. Billingsley, because it was just two years ago that Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation banning life without parole for juveniles.

“When California condemns a young person to life behind bars, it utterly disregards the human capacity for rehabilitation and ignores the very real physical and psychological differences between children and adults,” said Ronald Hampton, Executive Director of Blacks in Law Enforcement of America. “Punishment should reflect the capacity of young people to change and mature”

University of Southern California law professor Heidi Rummel, director of the university’s Post-Conviction Justice Project, explained that children differ from adults: “Their brains are still developing. They are impulsive, vulnerable to peer pressure and often victims of their life circumstances. But most importantly, they have a much greater capacity to grow and change.”

Of course, Mr. Billingsley and others have already assumed that Mr. Marsh cannot change. And maybe he can’t, but why make the determination when he is 17 rather than when he is 60?

Given the direction of both state and national trends, such a law as Mr. Billingsley proposes seems unlikely.

Then again, this isn’t about enacting new legislation, as we see the real motivation for the sensationalist polemic. Mr. Billingsley, you see, “is the author of a forthcoming book on the Daniel Marsh case.”

That is the real motivation here, selling books by labeling the young Daniel Marsh as a “superpredator” who needs to be locked away for life. Unfortunately for him, Jerry Brown, Leland Yee and “liberal” Davis stand in the way.

Back in June of 2013, I would write in a commentary following the arrest of Daniel Marsh: “If this young man indeed ends up being the killer, this is a failure of our system.  This time it is our failure, our system, our schools that perhaps did not read the warning signs in the right way and find help for a kid who may have been ready to snap.”

“We have a culture of bullying and depression, and we still do not do enough to help those troubled kids when there is still a chance,” I wrote at the time. “We are still, in many ways, a community in deep denial about a group of our young people who do not make it through the system unscathed.  So yes, we did not want this to be one of our own, but now that we realize it might well be, we need to wake up and start dealing with real problems.”

Dr. Steve Nowicki, who specializes in pediatric developmental behavior, illustrates the problem here when he writes, “Reading this testimony has me furious. This is one case in which there are three victims. This testimony illustrates the need for our community to take pediatric mental health, childhood trauma and child development extremely seriously.”

“The Black Box Warning is most important in the first weeks of starting any SSRI as it can cause ‘activation’ which may appear as irritability, increased energy and even the energy to attempt a suicide already contemplated as a result of major depression. It is clear that depression is the root of suicide and SSRIs are quite effective in treating depression. The irritability can persist and that prompts a change in medication, a reevaluation of the diagnosis and intensification of therapy.

“The real issue is the lack of coordination and the obvious lack of patient ownership that should be the cornerstone of a good physician,” he continues. “It is unrealistic to think that we should rely on a school psychologist in this situation and there should have been more immediate response by his psychiatrist.”

The story of Daniel Marsh is a tragedy for all involved. It takes nothing away from the tragedy that the victims and their families suffered in this case to acknowledge that Mr. Marsh was a troubled youth, ending up failed by the system.

It is no insult to the family to figure out what went wrong so that, in the future, we can prevent other families from suffering this type of catastrophic loss.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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69 thoughts on “Vanguard Analysis: Profiting from the Marsh Tragedy?”

  1. Biddlin

    “but we have an adversarial system that does not seek truth and justice, but rather pits diametrically opposing forces against each other in hope that the competition of ideas will allow a jury of 12 laymen, none with psychological training to see the truth.”

    Drinking Dr. T’s Kool-Aid(c), David? Is The Vanguard now championing inquisitorial justice? By the way, you can’t seriously be surprised that writers are going to document the case and events, hoping to profit from their efforts. That is part and parcel of the market place of ideas, an arena in which you tread and treat with frequent disdain. The Vanguard has not been shy about exploiting the family mental health angle, even promoting it’s own religious persuasion.

    The sanity phase is the only relevant part of this trial, as the physical facts have never been in dispute. So far, I think the rial has been fair and the verdict predictable. Now let’s see how the system handles the determinate phase. I’m still betting that they get it right and You and Dr. T will still be opining on that which she knows so little of and you have such contempt for. I hope you and Tia aren’t just pulling this stuff to get out of jury duty.
    ;>)/

    1. Tia Will

      Biddlin

      If you have read my posts, you will know that part of my objection to our current system has been the reasons given for my rejection as a potential juror. I don’t believe that jurors should be excluded for the sole reason of familiarity with a topic.

      1. South of Davis

        Tia wrote:

        > I don’t believe that jurors should be excluded for the sole reason of familiarity with a topic.

        It is rarely the “sole” reason (but it is often easier to point to a single objective reason than to say you want someone off a jury because she looks like a typical everyone deserves a second chance Birkenstock wearing lefty)…

        1. Barack Palin

          SOD, you hit that nail on the head. Picking a jury has to go through all of the PC motions but there’s always underlying factors that are more to the truth.

        2. Biddlin

          Indeed, I was seated on a jury for trial involving motorcyclists, revealed in voir dire my many years riding experience and familiarity with the equipment and accessories.(i.e. ‘Do you wear a helmet?’)Attorneys and their consultants must have arcane criteria for selecting jurors. lol.
          ;>)/

        3. Tia Will

          SOD

          We’ll now that is interesting, because on the day in question when I was dismissed, it was simultaneously with three others identified as having done “drug counseling”. No other differentiating questions were asked. We were dismissed together as a group by the judge with no conversation between him and the attorneys.
          At the time, I was wearing business casual,
          blouse, skirt and heels for a meeting later in the day. Hard to make a case for anything other than knowledge of the subject before the court.
          If anyone with more knowledge of the system than I has another explanation given the sequence and timing of events, I would love to hear it.

    2. David Greenwald Post author

      “Is The Vanguard now championing inquisitorial justice?”

      I’ve always been a believer that the current system attempts not to seek truth but rather “wins.” We should therefore not be surprised when an attorney does his best to create doubt and exonerate his defendant, even if we disagree.

      “The Vanguard has not been shy about exploiting the family mental health angle, even promoting it’s own religious persuasion.”

      I take exception to the term “exploiting” in this context.

      1. Biddlin

        “I’ve always been a believer that the current system attempts not to seek truth but rather “wins.” We should therefore not be surprised when an attorney does his best to create doubt and exonerate his defendant, even if we disagree.”
        Historically, which system has been found more just and humane?

        A defendant can, under our flawed system of justice, choose to have a bench trial, where the judge is both the finder of fact and ruler on matters of law and procedure. This means that the judge decides the credibility of the evidence presented at trial and also decides what happens at the trial according to laws and rules of procedure. In this case, I think justice and Mr. Marsh might well have been bettered served by such a proceeding. He or his attorney thought otherwise.

        BTW, David, the standard for a guilty verdict in felony cases is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” No?
        ;>)/

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            The technical standard for a guilty verdict is proof beyond a reasonable doubt, my observations over the last four years lead me to believe in the eyes of many jurors the burden is flipped to the defense.

          2. Rich RifkinWDE 73

            The jury system is flawed. I think there are ways we could improve it, but chances are we won’t.

            The three flaws I see in the jury system:

            1) For a long trial, it largely excludes (or really, excuses) many of the most qualified would be jurors for economic reasons. That is, people who are from say age 30-60 who work full time in order to support their families are almost never on a jury for a long trial. Yet that cohort of our population is the core of the tax-paying public which supports the courts, the schools, the police, fire and so on which makes up our governing system that, in effect, is on trial;

            2) Many trials, civil and criminal, are decided on technical, scientific grounds. Yet we do not exclude from juries people who lack technical or scientific education. It’s not just in cases, like the Marsh trial, where laymen are supposed to decide a medical-psychological question of sanity, which I think takes a lot more judgment than it does scientific knowledge, but we also rely on people with no training (and perhaps a lack of intelligence) to decide highly technical questions in patent disputes, for example.

            3) Advocates excluding jurors. I don’t see any justice in allowing prosecutors in the voir dire process to remove jurors from the jury pool who they perceive (for whatever reason) as possibly being pro-defense; and likewise the reverse, where we allow defense attorneys to remove potential jurors who they suspect might be pro-prosecution. This system often ends up removing a lot of the smartest, best educated people from juries. And if one side–usually the prosecutor–has a lot more money than the other side and can afford to pay a jury consultant, who specializes in picking favorable juries, the monied side has a big advantage, no matter the facts of the case.

            I do favor allowing lawyers from each side to question all the potential jurors; and then (in the judge’s chambers) arguing against specific individuals serving on the jury who they think might be biased. But in the end, I think it should be the solely the judge who picks the jury; and if the judge decides to exclude anyone because she thinks that possible juror is biased, the judge needs to put in writing her specific reasons. Also, if a lawyer for one side thinks the judge was unfair to his side in picking the jury, that could be cause for appeal.

            My three reforms:

            1) Pay jurors their full wages lost. That would allow heads of households to participate.
            2) Test for IQ and education for all trials which require scientific or technical expertise, and exclude possible jurors who don’t measure up.
            3) Have the judge pick the jury.

          3. South of Davis

            Rich wrote (three good ideas) to improve the jury system.

            I would like to add find some way to stop most (it was over 80% in LA county ~10 years ago) people from just tossing the jury summons in the trash. Most people I know have never been on a jury because they just toss every summons that comes in the mail in to the trash (since nothing happens, there is no downside and no fine)…

          4. Rich RifkinWDE 73

            Most people I know have never been on a jury because they just toss every summons that comes in the mail in to the trash (since nothing happens, there is no downside and no fine)…

            According to the Los Angeles Superior Court, there is a financial consequence to ignoring a jury summons:

            Q: What will happen if I do not respond to a jury notice?
            A: Failure to report for service on the day instructed may subject you to a fine of up to $1,500. In addition, if you are qualified to serve, you will still have to complete jury duty.

            http://www.lasuperiorcourt.org/jury/faq.htm#4

          5. South of Davis

            Rich wrote:

            > According to the Los Angeles Superior Court, there is a financial
            > consequence to ignoring a jury summons:

            This only happens if you TELL the court that you are ignoring the summons and prove to them that you got a letter (that was sent via regular mail). The courts don’t like to make this public but most people just toss them in the trash and they do nothing.

            P.S. I read something a while back that African Americans have the lowest response rate when getting a jury summons and make up a lower percentage of the jury pool compared to their percentage in the community in every county in America…

    3. Tia Will

      Biddlin

      “That is part and parcel of the market place of ideas, an arena in which you tread and treat with frequent disdain.”

      I believe that the “market place of ideas” would be a very boring place indeed if everyone were limited in their commenting to those areas in which they have expertise. If that were true there are approximately four of us with enough knowledge and experience to be making any comments whatsoever about the medical aspects of this case. I believe in the right to free expression of our ideas. I am not at all offended that those with no medical expertise express their opinions and am happy to discuss with them the differences in how we see medical aspects of the case. You seem very willing to deny that to me while defending it for this author.

      1. Biddlin

        I am offended by your arrogant disregard for and ignorance of the English Common-law system that is the envy of most of the world and your willingness to cast derisive aspersions on an entire profession that has served us well for almost 800 years. Just as I am free to post unpopular ideas, subject to David and Don’s assent, and Antoinette is free to proselytize, you are free to post your elitist view of the court system. When you repeatedly post something ignorant and offensive, expect to get harsh responses.
        ;>)/

        1. Tia Will

          Biddlin

          I have not cast aspersions on the entire profession. I have been very specific in the areas that I see was problematic. I am sure there are areas in which we have strengths in our legal system. I have no problem with “harsh responses”. You are as free as I am, but no more so, to express your opinion.

          We also view arrogance very differently. I view arrogance as a blind unwillingness to even consider points of view that are not in alignment with our own. Doctors have often been accused of this type of arrogance and yet have made tremendous strides in listening to the opinions of other members of our team and to criticisms from outside the medical field. I can only hope that other disciplines will also shed some of their arrogance in favor of a little more open-mindedness.

          1. Don Shor

            Proselytizing is the act of trying to convert people to your faith. Many people are uncomfortable about others making frequent references to their own faith because it seems like they are proselytizing. I was raised that you don’t discuss religion, that it is disrespectful to draw attention to your own religious beliefs (or lack thereof) except with people you know very well. I think there are significant regional differences in America about that, as well as differences between religious and secular people on the subject. Evangelical Christians, in particular, have a history of being somewhat aggressive about talking about and promoting their beliefs, and others find it disconcerting. People from groups that have experienced discrimination about their beliefs may find it particularly disturbing.

  2. Tia Will

    “It is no insult to the family to figure out what went wrong so that in the future we can prevent future families from suffering this type of catastrophic loss.”

    Although I did not know the victims personally, from everything that I have heard about them, they would likely have agreed wholeheartedly with this statement. Perhaps one of the best ways of honoring the couple would be to act with the compassion and caring that they seem to have stood for in their lives.

  3. DavisVoter

    Given the many challenges facing our justice system, I would think that interested critics would be able to come up with someone more sympathetic than a double murderer who found that butchering a defenseless elderly couple in their bed (while one of his victims pled for her life) was exhilarating, who sought to repeat the experience by beating a random stranger to death with a baseball bat in the street, and who came close to doing so.

    How hard would it be to find a young person who had a dubious drug charge confession tricked out of him/her and now suffers mental problems as a result of abuse in the correctional system?

    1. DavisVoter

      David, I think you know I think you’ve done an amazing job with this site and are a true Davis success story, so please accept the following in that context:

      Maybe an investigative journalist who is interested in criminal justice reform would want to go out and look for such a person?

      1. Tia Will

        DavisVoter

        I think that perhaps the Marsh case may have been chosen not due to the “sympathetic nature” of the defendant, but rather due to the dramatic nature of the crime and the degree of community awareness and engagement in such a unique set of circumstances.
        The example that you used of a drug offender, has become almost mundane in our society. But a double murder of highly respected citizens carries with it an emotional impact that, sadly, the destruction of a life due to mishandling of process in a drug case simply will not muster. I believe that it is the aspect of the choice that may have prompted the suggestion of exploitation for profit.

  4. South of Davis

    David wrote:

    > That is the real motivation here, selling books by labeling the young Daniel Marsh
    > as a “superpredator” who needs to be locked away for life

    So what is the motivation of the other 90%+ of people in this (liberal anti-death penalty) town that are also “labeling the young Daniel Marsh as a “superpredator” who needs to be locked away for life”?

      1. South of Davis

        David wrote:

        > I haven’t seen a lot of that. Some but not a lot

        My main point was what do you think is the “motivation” of the many people that want him locked up for ever who will never sell a book?

        Do you really think you could get OVER 10% of the people in Davis to sign something that they would be OK living next to Daniel Marsh after he is “cured” and gets out?

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          I’m not really that interested in the motivation of people in the public. In this case, it was a writer, from a very slanted view, with an agenda.

          1. Barack Palin

            “In this case, it was a writer, from a very slanted view, with an agenda.”

            Did you just really write this?

          1. South of Davis

            Don wrote:

            > Maybe forty years from now, yes.

            It has been 40+ years sent Charles Manson was sent back to prison and I don’t think that many want him as their new next door neighbor (especially anyone of the people that let him out of prison in 1967 after he had paid “served his time and was safe for release”)…

            P.S. If I had to pick I would live next to Charles Manson before I lived next to Daniel Marsh…

        2. Tia Will

          SOD and justme

          “Do you really think you could get OVER 10% of the people in Davis to sign something that they would be OK living next to Daniel Marsh after he is “cured” and gets out?”

          I sincerely hope that we never arrive at the point where we decide the fate of those who are convicted on the basis of what percentage of the population would choose to have them as next door neighbors !

          1. Barack Palin

            I like how you twist what was said. Nobody is saying that’s how one’s fate shoul be decided. What’s being shown is the hypocrisy of the bleeding hearts who want to go easy on murderers like Marsh but by the same token would never want them ever living next door to them.

  5. Frankly

    There are many things I dislike about our justice and legal system. But I strive to maintain an objective perspective about the good and the bad… and although imperfect, our system is the best in the known universe. Can it be improved? With the exception of the progress of legal precedent, I think we have optimized the system as much as we can. Significant change to “improve” some aspect would result in other negative consequences.

    In the end, the lack of perfection in our justice and legal system is simply a reflection of the individual and collective lack of perfection within humanity. And this applies to the larger pursuit of any perfect system or utopia. Unless we can dehumanize society we will constantly be reminded that the pursuits are fruitless and our time would be better spent accepting what is often a beautiful and tragic mess.

    But in the meantime I would like to raise lake levels by depositing a great number of worthless lawyers into the water.

    1. hpierce

      Not a good idea… doesn’t increase the amount of water available, gives folks who look at lake/reservoir levels a false sense of security, and makes the water unpotable/unusable… except to grow weeds, perhaps.

    2. Tia Will

      Frankly

      “our system is the best in the known universe.”

      Other than the fact that this is what you were taught in school or by those who raised you, what evidence do you have to support this claim?

  6. DavisBurns

    “the school and mental health system failed, in part because they were ill-equipped to handle someone like Daniel Marsh, but they also failed in more benign ways, in that concern was never communicated into action to get Mr. Marsh the kind of care that he actually needed.”

    Once again, they served Marsh as well and probably better than most. Most kids either suffer without the help they need or do not become violent…or if violent they don’t murder. Because Marsh murdered, we say we failed him but for all those who only suffer and have diminished lives, we have no sympathy and there is no talk of reform or improving the system. They are quiet, lonely, depressed, isolated…but as long as they keep the suffering to themselves, they don’t count as a failure of the system. Maybe that is what success looks like. I wouldn’t call it benign.

  7. tj

    The jury system certainly has problems. Selecting only those jurors who know nothing is good for prosecution but not fair to defendants. Paying jurors a living wage, $200/day would provide a better pool to draw from.

    Pistorius’ case was decided by the judge, no jury. That might be better except most judges here were prosecutors before they became judges. Prosecutors tend to play fast and loose with the truth.

    Who knew that crime labs are part of the Sheriff’s dept or DA’s office? That’s a recipe for tampered results.

    Thanks to the Vanguard we got real reporting. Unlike the biased reporting of the Davis and Sacto newspapers.

    Last, it was sad to see Maupin’s daughter refer to Daniel as a monster. She didn’t absorb her mother’s values, and takes her privileged life for granted.

    1. Don Shor

      Last, it was sad to see Maupin’s daughter refer to Daniel as a monster. She didn’t absorb her mother’s values, and takes her privileged life for granted.

      Wow. Easy for you to say, I guess.

      1. South of Davis

        Don wrote:

        > Wow. Easy for you to say, I guess.

        I wonder what adjective tj would use for the guy that tortured and killed his parents (or other family member)…

          1. South of Davis

            I feel “compassion” for Marsh (and any other kid that has a family life described by “experts” as a “train wreck”) but I would not use the adjective “compassion” to describe him.

            tj never answered my question “what adjective would he use for the guy that tortured and killed his parents (not how he would feel about the person who “murdered a close family member”)

          2. justme

            So tj, is it safe to assume you would use that “compassion” and let this monster move in with you or next door to you and your family????? I dont care where they send him as long as it is for a very long time and never lives near me or my family!

          3. Barack Palin

            Good post Justme. You can bet the house that most of these compassionate and forgiving bleeding hearts would squack like Hell if a brutal killer was released and tried to rent the house next door to them.

          4. Davis Progressive

            i think a key question here is – what is compassion? there seems to be a misunderstanding that the only way to be compassionate towards daniel is leniency. i think compassion here is trying to find a way to heel him. the only real argument for leniency that i see is for daniel to be recognized that he is a kid who did something beyond horrible, to find ways to promote heeling for him and the community. a restorative justice approach is probably at best years off.

          5. Davis Progressive

            why is wanting or not wanting him to live next door the only measure of compassion? in forty years, if he’s in a better place, who knows. someone mentioned manson, manson’s clearly not changed at all, so he would not be someone you would want paroled.

          6. Barack Palin

            “a restorative justice approach is probably at best years off”

            Sorry, but restorative justice should never be used for brutal murders like this.

        1. Tia Will

          South of Davis

          You don’t have to wonder what adjective tj would use for such a killer. tj has said this expressly as have I. The adjective is ill. In this case, very, very ill. I say this as someone who has had a cousin murdered and left on the side of a road.

    2. Barack Palin

      “Last, it was sad to see Maupin’s daughter refer to Daniel as a monster. She didn’t absorb her mother’s values, and takes her privileged life for granted.”

      Do you mean her privileged life that she gets to live without both of her parents and the memory of how they were brutally slaughtered. How dare she.

        1. Barack Palin

          Sure she can live without them, who said she couldn’t? Do you think in all your wisdom that she might actually miss them and miss out on any interactions they would’ve had in the next 10 to 20 years if they hadn’t been taken from her by a brutal killer?

        2. hpierce

          Talk about lack of “COMPASSION”! Just because one victim was not a biological ‘parent’, doesn’t mean she (daughter of Maupin) doesn’t grieve the loss of a “father”, ‘step’ or otherwise.

  8. Robin W.

    “We all agree on one thing here — the school and mental health system failed . . . ”
    What makes you think we agree on this?

    The school system did not fail here because the schools have limited resources and their primary responsibility is to educate all of the students, not to provide mental health treatment to the severely disturbed.

    There were communications/coordination glitches between Marsh’s numerous mental health care providers over the years, but he received way more mental health services that the average kid with problems. Were his therapists and psychiatrists perfectly effective? Obviously not, but Marsh was not ignored. What actions on their part do you think would have prevented Marsh from committing murder?

    The only sure way to have prevented these murders would have been to lock Marsh up when he told doctors that he thought about killing people. Would those of you now wringing your hands over the failures of the systems have supported locking up a 14-year old for telling doctors his fantasies?

    1. Tia Will

      RobinW
      “Would those of you now wringing your hands over the failures of the systems have supported locking up a 14-year old for telling doctors his fantasies?

      As one of those “hand wringers” my answer is “yes”. I did support locking up my own son when he expressed his “fantasies” about killing himself. It turned out the he was serious and “locking him up ” probably saved his life. System “failure” to me simply means that we had a very bad outcome that had the potential to have been averted had someone made the realization of the seriousness of the process that was escalating within Mr. Marsh. It doesn’t mean that anyone was incompetent, or negligent, or bribed, or any of the other wild accusations that have been expressed. However, I do not see how anyone can not appreciate that the community failed to act in an integrated manner so as to prevent this tragedy.

  9. Antoinnette

    I believe I have made it abundantly clear that my opinions, are solely “my opinions”

    But it is certainly Not my intent to ,”religiously persuade” anyone.

    Merely pointing out God’s view understanding…we are only MAN….using our own human wisdom but I realize to a Non believer…that will never be understood.

    I will Never apologize or deny His opinion…Gods….and I will defend Him always…again that’s me…I’ve got no rule over David’s thoughts or anyone else’s.

    Hopefully this is well understood…

  10. Biddlin

    “Test for IQ and education for all trials which require scientific or technical expertise, and exclude possible jurors who don’t measure up.”

    On what constitutional basis? Do you want to require IQ tests and diplomas to vote, as well?
    Is there any evidence that higher IQ or educational level correlates to better verdicts? Sounds like typical Davis Chauvinism to me.
    ;>)/

  11. Anon

    Is it just possible there are people in the world who are inherently evil, for whatever reason, that no amount of mental health assistance can undo? It would be wonderful if there was some sort of genetic test that could determine a “bad apple” – perhaps that will happen in the future. But make no mistake, there are “bad apples”.

    1. Tia Will

      Anon

      I do not believe in “bad apples”. I believe in bad behavior. I believe in acts that should never happen. I believe that we our in our infancy with regard to medical understanding of what leads to these truly terrible behaviors. What I do not believe is that anyone is beyond some kind of redemption. What I hope will occur medically is that we will eventually find the biologic causes just as we previously found the causes of seizures. It was not so long ago that people were torturing sufferers of epilepsy to force out the demons. Just because we lack understanding does not mean that we should label, torture, or fail to treat to the best of our ability.

  12. Tia Will

    Rich and SOD

    I agree with your suggestions for jury selection improvements. I have long believed that there is an irony in maintaining the rhetoric that we are being tried by a “jury of our peers” and then deliberately choosing only those that in no other way could be considered by any stretch of the imagination to be “peers” in the area of knowledge where there is need for comprehension. It would be a definite injustice to the defendant to place me on a jury in which comprehension of matters requires a capacity for mental mathematical manipulation since I am woefully deficient in this ability. And yet our selection process would seem to depend heavily on choosing those with the least amount of knowledge.
    I especially like the idea of the judge making the final determination with the understanding that a written explanation of the reasoning be made available. After all, judges are human too as has been recently and dramatically pointed out by the recent case of one judge convicted of essentially “selling” youth offenders into a juvenile detention center, and a second judge who recently backtracked and apologized for his initial judgement that a 14 year old girl was as responsible for sexual activity that occurred with a teacher a couple of decades older. A written record of reasoning would go a long way towards preventing errors in reasoning from the bench from destroying someone’s life.

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