Marsh Gets 52 Year to Life Sentence, Eligible For Parole in 25 Years

By Jordan Lee

On Friday, Judge David Reed of the Yolo County Superior Court sentenced a 17-year-old teenager from Davis to 52 years of state prison.  However, because he committed the crime as a juvenile, he will be eligible for parole in 25 years. He will be 42 years old.

Judge Reed during his sentencing comments noted that Daniel Marsh was proud of what he did and mutilated the victims due to morbid curiosity. He said that, while there was always the possibility and potential for rehabilitation, he was unwilling to give Mr. Marsh a reduced sentence of 25 years to life, as Deputy Public Defender Ron Johnson had argued for.

Assistant Chief Deputy DA Michael Cabral had on the other hand argued to the judge that in his 28 years as a prosecutor, he had never seen such a heinous and reprehensible act. He said that Mr. Marsh had “an evil soul.” He argued, “This case screams out for 52 years to life. Nothing else would be appropriate.”

In 2013, Daniel Marsh was charged with the first-degree murder of 87-year-old Oliver Northup and 76-year-old Claudia Maupin, while they were sleeping in their Davis home. The jury found him guilty on two first-degree murder charges with enhancements of an assault with a deadly weapon, lying and waiting, and torture.

Mr. Marsh, during an interrogation by police, said that in April of 2013, he wandered the south Davis neighborhood until he found an open window. He entered the house with the intent to murder. Finding the victims asleep, he stood there for ten minutes until Claudia Maupin awoke. He then sprang at her and stabbed her and her husband repeatedly. He testified, saying, “The old lady just would not die.”

Crime scene investigators later found the two bodies with organs eviscerated from the bodies. They even found Claudia Maupin’s cellular phone lodged into her stomach. He later told investigators that “it felt right,” “it felt amazing,” and “it felt great.” Mr. Marsh was a 15-years-old at the time of the murder.

Deputy District Attorney Amanda Zambor stated in her opening that Marsh’s actions on that night were “calculating, cunning and sadistic.” DDA Cabral stated that Marsh took pleasure in torturing the two victims, “bragging about the crime to friends.”

Mr. Marsh’s attorney argued that his mental health was a factor in this case and asked for a lesser sentence. His attorney asserted that Mr. Marsh is still a young child who deserves at least the opportunity to reform himself. Judge Reed found insufficient evidence of insanity, but took note of Mr. Marsh’s age.

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.”

He was tried as an adult and was found by a jury to be guilty on all counts and all enhancements. However, due to his age, Judge Reed stayed enhancements of lying and waiting and torture. The total term was 52 years in state prison.

Mr. Marsh will be sent next month to a state juvenile detention facility. He will be transferred to state prison when he turns 18.

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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  1. Tia Will

    He said that Mr. Marsh had “an evil soul.”

    This sounds more like a scene from The Exorcist than it does a reasoned argument from a lawyer. The presentation of evidence on the part of the prosecution in this case has constantly been about installation of fear, loathing, and religious interpretation of facts. No one has doubted that Mr. Marsh did the acts of which he is accused, or that he planned them, or that he is not safe to be out in the community. What I find very disturbing is that the prosecution, instead of dealing with the totality of the scientific evidence instead chose to inflame the emotions of the jurors with the  unfounded fear that he would be walking free in little time if consigned to the state mental hospital if found legally insane ( or if we had a reasonable policy of diminished capacity) and to our societally predominant religious view of “evil” as opposed to what some of us view as the acts of a very, very ill individual. What we have done in this case is no better than what used to be done to drive “evil spirits” from what we now know are individuals with the very treatable condition called “epilepsy”.  My prediction is that at some time in the not so distant future ( say somewhere between 20-50 years from now) we will see the punishment that we impose on Mr Marsh today as barbaric as we now see exorcisms as treatment for epilepsy.

  2. Anon

    “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.””

    Let’s see, it was the medication that made him do it, it was the failure of the system that made him do it, it was bad parenting that made him do it.  The jury rightly decided Daniel Marsh was responsible for his own actions.

  3. Tia Will


    The jury rightly decided Daniel Marsh was responsible for his own actions.”

    Agreed. And this has absolutely nothing to do with the best location in which to protect the community by  housing Mr. Marsh. What we have done is to choose the location of confinement to be that in which he is least likely to be able to obtain appropriate medical care and the most likely to be treated with the same type of brutality that we claim we are trying to prevent in our society. We could have fully protected society and provided Mr. Marsh with better prospects for treatment. It is our decision not to do so that I consider barbaric.

    I do not blame this on the jurors. I blame this on a system that does not allow for any nuance or consideration of mitigating factors. California needs to reinstitute consideration of “diminished capacity” instead of retaining our knee jerk reaction to one adverse outcome ( the Twinkies defense), namely the nearly unobtainable defense of not guilty by reason of insanity.

    1. LadyNewkBalm

      “I blame this on a system that does not allow for any nuance or consideration of mitigating factors.”

      Earth to Tia: There were no mitigating factors. He planned his crime out and executed it ruthlessly.

      In this entire commentary from Tia, Greenwald and others note the total lack of considertation for the victims or their families, who are the ones who truly suffered. Instead the narrative is how did others fail poor little Daniel?

      Marsh gets three square meals a day and visits from his relatives. Unfortunately the victims families don’t get to visit theirs.

      Marsh gets to chew solid food. He should consider that a blessing.

      1. Tia Will

        who are the ones who truly suffered. Instead the narrative is how did others fail poor little Daniel?”

        I completely agree with you that the families of the victims suffer. I also feel that Daniel’s family is suffering. What you and others are choosing to ignore is that none of this would have happened had the severity and worsening of Daniel’s condition been appreciated and acted upon by those who had the ability to do so. There are many points at which a tragedy can be stopped and many points at which others could have taken action to avert such a tragedy. To me, the point is, how do we prevent such tragedies from occurring in the future ? That cannot be addressed by simply labeling Daniel as “evil” however satisfying that may be emotionally, but to look at root causes and find means of ameliorating them.


  4. tj

    Marsh was only 15 years old and beset with long term, long time problems.  He ended up being the fall guy for his parents long time problems, Kaiser’s poor psych care, and the school district’s abysmal lack of action.   The adults who did not act responsibly are off the hook, unless someone sues the school district.

    Marsh might have some responsibility, it’s hard to say how much, but the onus is really on the adults.

    1. Biddlin

      While there is plenty of poor judgement and practice evidenced on the parts of those who were ethically, morally and legally responsible for his care, as a child, they did not heinously murder their neighbours.

      “There were no mitigating factors. He planned his crime out and executed it ruthlessly.” Exactly, your ladyship.

      I think it is reasonable to question the adequacy of medical care for all prisoners, Tia. I do not believe that there is a cure for Daniel, and I’m not sure what maximum security setting you think would be more conducive to to a “good” outcome for Daniel? “Evil Soul” does not seem excessive to me, and should not have been overly inflammatory to the judge. One hears greater hyperbole at dui hearings and sentencing. Daniel Marsh has complete responsibility for his actions. He knew the acts were wrong and committed them for self-gratification. I think we can be satisfied that, for the next 25 years, at least, we are protected from him and he is warm, dry, fed and receiving basic medical care. (The same cannot be said for 200,00 US veterans, 200,00o children and perhaps 2 million mentally ill people at any given time, in the USA, who know much less compassion from society.)


  5. Tia Will

    I share your belief that there is no cure for Mr. Marsh at this point in time. That should not prevent us from placing him in the situation in which he is most likely to obtain the best care available which would be a psychiatric hospital, not a prison. And it does not mean that there may never by a cure for his condition.

    I do not believe that lack of compassion for one individual should in any way preclude compassion for all. Why do we feel that compassion for Mr. Marsh would preclude the compassion that we should extend to all.

    1. tribeUSA

      Tia–perhaps there is room for legitimate controversy over whether or not calling someone ‘evil’ for such heinous acts is useful. Of course in the modern world we may not be able to agree that we can talk about such things as ‘evil spirits’ on a rational level. But perhaps we can agree that such things can be categorized as operationally useful myths or spiritual storylines that acknowledge the many mysteries of existence that we can and cannot talk about in modern syntax; and although the modern mechanistic paradigm that frames such behaviors strictly in terms of biochemistry and nueral developmental imprinting and imbalances in nuerotransmitter levels, while often accurate on the physical level, does not acknowledge the existence of other dimensions, including that of consciousness itself, which exist regardless of our inability to perform measurements on them (we can only measure behavior, consciousness can only be inferred, yet when someone states that he/she is indeed conscious, do we contend that they are in error?).

      So perhaps calling someone who has committed acts like this ‘evil’ is not a coverup of our ignorance of the physical mechanisms that have led to his state of mind, but rather of an acknowledgement of our ignorance and an acknowledgement there may be other factors or dimensions at play, which remain a mystery to us (we still don’t know all in 2014), and an acknowledgement of that mystery (perhaps talk of spiritual realms isn’t all gibberish with a modification of the syntax with which we talk about it).

      1. Tia Will


        I truly appreciate your very thoughtful perspective on this issue. My major concern about how we utilize our myths used to describe the mysteries of our existence is how we often choose to use our own constructions not only as soothing and unifying explanations, but also as justifications for our own brutality.

        I think that this aspect of our behavior can be seen not only in the apparent desire for what I consider revenge ( placing Mr. Marsh in the worst possible of  options) rather than providing him with  best medical care available for his condition in a setting which would also ensure the safety of the community.

        We also see this justification of torture in the minds of those who truly believe that American, or Christian lives are worth more than the lives of others. This is often characterized as “fighting for our lives’, conveniently omitting the fact that this is exactly the same justification being used by our “enemies”. The same people who condemn  the torture of our soldiers including John McCain continue to defend the same actions performed on those we have identified, whether accurately or not, as our enemies.

        While I am very supportive of what ever form of religious or philosophic belief that allows an individual or a community to develop a deeper appreciation for the wonders of our existence, I do not support those aspects that support our own actions lacking in compassion and humanity.

        For me the morality of an action is based on the action itself, not the religion, nationality, cultural or ethnic background of the person performing the action. Religion, and the invocation of “evil” is far too often confined to the acts of others while allowing us to excuse the darkness in our own actions.

  6. Frankly

    I have no doubt that if Marsh was a black kid his maximum sentence would be decried as evidence of racial bias by those unable to see the world without their race-tinted glasses.

  7. Anon

    Tia: “What you and others are choosing to ignore is that none of this would have happened had the severity and worsening of Daniel’s condition been appreciated and acted upon by those who had the ability to do so.”

    What you and others are choosing to ignore is that all of this might have happened anyway even if the severity and worsening of Daniel’s condition had been appreciated and acted upon by those who had the ability to do so.  And you are assuming that all the defense said in this case is true – that somehow everyone failed Daniel, which is not necessarily the case.  Secondly, I would point out, that as parents, none of us is perfect.  Most of us do what we think is the right thing at the time, but it is human to err.  That does not relieve any child from the responsibility for their actions at Daniel’s age.  He was old enough to know better, he knew better, and chose to kill heinously anyway.  The assumption that mental health services would help him is extremely idealistic and unrealistic, if you know anything about mental health services.  We can’t even keep people from wanting to be homeless through mental health services!  Ask anyone who has dealt with the homeless.  Mental disease is probably one of the most difficult of all diseases to deal with…

    1. David Greenwald

      I agree it might have happened even if authorities had done everything right here. But why not try to do things better in hopes that it might help.

      Daniel has as much responsibility as any other child his age would have in such a situation. I don’t think the issue really whether he was old enough to know better, so much as too young to be able to be fully responsible for seeking out the help and treatment he needed, ability to control his impulses, etc. It’s not 100 or 0. The question is how much less culpability.

      For me 25 years and then a parole board decision seems reasonable.

  8. tj

    There’s no reason to believe that psych medications would not work for Daniel, whether before the crime, or now.

    The right psych meds can change things from night to day.

    It’s tragic that Davis high school didn’t place Daniel in a residential psych hospital.   As long as he was quiet on campus, they ignored his special needs.

    (It seems pretty obvious that desperate Daniel thought that killing would make the crazy thoughts in his head go away.  And he was right, for a few days he did feel better.   Imagine having a migraine headache every day for years.  One would be desperate for relief.)

    1. Miwok

      I had a time in my life when I could not sleep and had a migraine every day. Meds were not the answer, less stress and holistic therapy helped more. When I talked with people whose meds MADE a difference, like you describe, night and day, I quit any I was taking. I never went back to the so-called healers. They were guessing most of the time.

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