by Antoinnette Borbon
Daniel Marsh’s defense attorney, Ron Johnson, filed a motion detailing claims of cruel and unusual punishment being imposed on a defendant by the government.
The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the United States Bill of Rights that prohibits the federal government from imposing excessive bail, excessive fines or cruel and unusual punishments, including torture. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that this amendment’s Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause also applies to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. The phrases in this amendment originated in the English Bill of Rights of 1689.
It is defense’s contention that Daniel Marsh may be able to be rehabilitated and that giving out a sentence of 52 years to life would be cruel and unusual, since he was so young at the time of the crimes.
Daniel Marsh has been convicted of lying in wait in the early morning hours of April 14, 2013, then entering through a window into the home of Oliver Northup and Claudia Maupin, where he took the lives of the elderly couple.
Authorities learned of Marsh’s involvement through Marsh’s best friend and ex-girlfriend, after they made a call to police. According to the two, they had knowledge of what Marsh had done for two months.
Deputy District Attorney Amanda Zambor stated in her opening that Marsh’s actions on that night were “calculating, cunning and sadistic.” Deputy District Attorney Mike Cabral stated that Marsh took pleasure in torturing the two victims, “bragging about the crime to friends.”
After the murder phase was over, jurors had to determine Marsh’s sanity during the commission of the crimes. It took jurors a little over two hours to decide that Marsh was sane at the time.
A few jurors were seen to be shedding tears as the clerk read the verdict.
During the four-week trial, several doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists and counselors took the stand to talk about Marsh’s background and his state of mind for the previous couple of years.
Medical and mental health witnesses, including those designated as experts by the Court, had contradicting theories as to Marsh’s mindset, some stating, “He was playing up his statements for the NGI [not guilty by reason of insanity] defense.”
But other health professionals who testified said that Marsh could very well have been in a “dissociative state during the commission [of the acts].” Even the state’s forensic doctor could not rule out the possibility of a “dissociative state,” opining that the possibility had just not been looked into further.
Marsh had expressed his suicidal and homicidal thoughts for a period of at least two years before the deaths of the elderly couple. But, keeping confidentiality, health professionals did not report it to the police.
Defense attributed much of Marsh’s actions to the SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) doctors had prescribed. Deputy Public Defender Johnson expressed to jurors during his closing how the system had failed Marsh, and “we also know that his parents were not on top of things.”
After more than a few suicide attempts, Marsh continued to spiral out of control with his thoughts. He expressed to his therapists that he felt “agitated, angry at having thoughts he wanted to go away, that he wanted to feel better,” as the defense stated during the trial.
Some health professional witnesses had little knowledge of the “black box warnings” for the SSRIs, nor the effects of such drugs on a child. Marsh was a Kaiser patient and had been treated by several doctors, therapists and other professionals during the years prior to his arrest and conviction.
A hearing will be held on December 12, 2014, to determine whether or not the sentence is appropriate for Daniel Marsh and does not violate his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.