by Antoinnette Borbon
It has been a little over two years now since the tragic case of a Davis elderly couple, slain in their home by, as most considered, “a deeply troubled kid.”
In the early morning hours of April 14, 2013, a young Daniel Marsh, then 15 years old, decided to adorn himself in black and search out a place to act out the morbid thoughts that had long troubled his mind.
It took authorities two months to make the arrest of Daniel Marsh.
During the interrogation, Daniel told investigators that he had spoken of these thoughts since he was about 13. Those thoughts became more dominant once he had been prescribed SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors).
Going in and out of the hospital for anorexia and depression, therapists were fully aware Daniel’s behavior was worsening. But they continued to administer medication in the hopes his troubling feelings/thoughts would eventually subside.
According to Daniel and his parents, the medication only exaggerated those thoughts and feelings.
Daniel pled with his doctors, “I don’t like having those thoughts, I want them to stop, and I don’t want to feel this way!”
However, Daniel’s Kaiser doctor thought that perhaps the dosage needed increasing and/or another medication should be added to help stabilize him.
But even with the added medication and the higher doses, the only result was that Daniel’s symptoms worsened.
Daniel had also explained that he had been abusing marijuana and alcohol, and had been watching gory videos. These may well have been contributing factors to Daniel’s state of mind, according to testimony from medical and psychiatric professionals during the trial.
Daniel explained to detectives that, when he entered the bedroom of Oliver Northup and Claudia Maupin, “it was too late, I knew I had to follow through.”
FAMILY FRIEND SPEAKS OUT
Two years later, the Vanguard sat down with a family friend who knew Daniel prior to the homicides.
During trial we learned Daniel had an ailing mother and his parents had divorced. He expressed anger towards his mother for the separation. Daniel had also described emotional abuse from his father.
When Daniel spoke about his mother’s health to therapists, he talked about her seizures and how he had to help with her care. He explained to therapists how stressful it was on him.
However, according to the family friend, Daniel wasn’t much help with the care of his mother.
The friend went on to explain that long before his mother was ill, Daniel appeared to be detached from both his parents. It became apparent, in her opinion, that Daniel was not a normal-acting kid.
She said, “Daniel showed no emotion towards his mother even while she cried, even as she lay in pain – it was odd to me.”
“Daniel was just really detached, cold and uncaring for the most part. It was weird, nothing like a normal kid or relationship between parent and child. I knew there was something wrong for a long time before the tragedies,” she stated.
The friend said that Daniel’s mother was in so much pain from her illness that most of the time she was bedridden. According to the friend, Daniel didn’t seem to care and the responsibility of taking care of his mother was put onto his sister.
The friend said, “I helped out a lot – my mom dropped me off about every day to help take care of her. She had seizures and we would have to clean her, change the sheets afterward. She was always in a lot of pain, taking pain meds,” asserted the friend.
Daniel had serious symptoms of emotional detachment early on, according to her description.
“It never stopped me from helping out, though, I liked being there and would do everything I could to help make his mother comfortable and give the sister rest,” she explained.
“Daniel was with friends a lot, avoiding the situation at home maybe, I didn’t know.”
She said, “I was shocked when I heard what he confessed to but never felt he was capable of doing something like that, much less by himself. I question his story to authorities. Some of the things he told seemed to be more for the attention of police.”
She described a very detached boy, reiterating what we learned in trial about Daniel being bullied.
“Daniel was made fun of in school and I know that affected him deeply.” She said kids knew him as the weird kid, the dark kid, and it was awful.
“Daniel was smart and talented,” she stated, “but he let it all go, being overwhelmed by something that troubled his mind, [we] just never knew what it was.”
Daniel’s trial lasted about four weeks and entertained many witnesses, some deemed to be experts in their field, from medical doctors to psychiatrists and seasoned law enforcement.
During trial we heard contradicting beliefs from these professionals, but none could deny there was definitely something going on in Daniel’s mind.
Some of the medical professionals testified that Daniel struggled with problems long before he committed the acts.
One even stated repeatedly that the habitual use of marijuana was the cause of Daniel’s behavior, feelings and thoughts. But that theory was quickly countered by the defense’s witnesses.
A witness for the state believed Daniel was playing on the NGI (not guilty by reason of insanity) defense. However, he had not reviewed the history of Daniel’s background thoroughly.
Thus it became a battle among experts and other professionals, one continually contradicting the other on the theory of what made Daniel feel so bad that it would result in horrific acts.
Ultimately, jurors were convinced that Daniel was capable of premeditating and following through with a sane mind on the early morning of April 14, 2013.
It sparked one of the year’s most controversial cases, as it highlighted many questions into the use of SSRIs with a child, for instance.
As for the family friend, she stated, “I’m just glad I was able to help his mom and family during her illness. But sad for Daniel that no one could figure out how to help him.”
Daniel Marsh is now serving out his 52-year sentence in a state facility.
According to one juvenile officer, “Daniel [has been] behaving like a pretty normal kid since he’s been taken off the SSRIs.”
It is a good sign for complete rehabilitation of Daniel’s troubled mind, even though he may have to serve the entire 52 years.
On another positive note, Daniel’s case has opened up the grim reality into the misuse of medicine.
It may also change the format of patient confidentiality, so authorities are aware of the dangers that mentally ill persons can pose.
One can hope…