Friend Of Daniel Marsh Family Describes Behavior A Couple Years Before Homicides

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2013 Murder Scene on Cowell Blvd in Davis
2013 Murder Scene on Cowell Blvd in Davis

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.”

TRIAL RECOLLECTION

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.”

UPDATE

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…

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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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21 thoughts on “Friend Of Daniel Marsh Family Describes Behavior A Couple Years Before Homicides”

  1. Biddlin

    “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.”

    Total crap.

    The fact that he will be much older and less physically agile is the best news.  Danny is/was a sociopath. They don’t get well. They do get better at masking their defect and manipulating the people who can give them what they want.

    The fact is that Danny never stayed with the recommended treatment of a caregiver long enough for the professionals to accurately diagnose and treat him. His parents were not consistent and obviously failed to use reasonable judgement in their son’s care. The professional caregivers and the parents did not invade an elderly couples home and brutally, and intimately murder them for a rush of dopamine to the brain. Danny Marsh did! That is the sole relevant fact and the one you can’t seem to face in the case of of Danny Marsh

    ;>)/

    1. David Greenwald

      “The fact that he will be much older and less physically agile is the best news. Danny is/was a sociopath. They don’t get well. ”

      Based on the research I’ve read, that’s not necessarily true. Moreover, there will be years of advances between the time that Marsh was sentenced and when he becomes eligible for parole in 25 years or so.

  2. Tia Will

    Danny is/was a sociopath. They don’t get well.”

    I would like to add a bit more to David’s response. Medical research is not a single predictable unified march forward. Progress tends to happen in fits and starts. Very rapid progress may be made in one area, such as cervical cancer prevention and early detection while little progress has been made in the same areas for ovarian cancer.

    There is no telling which route research on the mental aberrations that today we call sociopathy may take. It may be that Mr. Marsh will remain a dangerous individual his entire life. But it might equally well be the case that advancement in this area is rapid and with appropriate treatment, he might never again present any danger.

    30 years ago HIV infection was a death sentence. Now it is a chronic disease that can be managed with appropriate treatment allowing people to live out a normal life span. I would not be quick to predict where we will be with the treatment of sociopaths in the future even though today’s outlook is certainly bleak if not hopeless.

    1. dlemongello

      sane: free from mental derangement; having a sound, healthy mind: a sane person. 2. having or showing reason, sound judgment, or good sense

      Daniel used the NGI defense.  He was found sane, the definition of which I posted because I thought maybe I better look it up, maybe I don’t actually know the definition of the word sane. That Daniel Marsh was found to be sane, evil, and thereby guilty of the crime in the straight sense, is utterly beyond me.  Once the drugs were added to the mix, he became a guinea pig on top of the rest of it and I truly believe his doctors bear some culpability for what happened. And it seems to me that they were not exactly in possession of the second part of the definition when they prescribed those drugs and continued to do so as he worsened.

      1. sisterhood

        “That Daniel Marsh was found to be sane, evil, and thereby guilty of the crime in the straight sense, is utterly beyond me.  Once the drugs were added to the mix, he became a guinea pig on top of the rest of it and I truly believe his doctors bear some culpability for what happened. And it seems to me that they were not exactly in possession of the second part of the definition when they prescribed those drugs and continued to do so as he worsened.”

        I agree. Well written. I personally don’t understand how anyone who commits murder, especially in the heinous fashion this double murder was committed, can be found sane. The jury got this one wrong.

        What strikes me as so sad is he didn’t get better treatment for his mental health. If this child was physically ill and was not getting better, I bet his parents would have kept taking him to doctors until he showed some signs of improvement. It is so sad that we continue to have such stigmas surrounding mental illness. I’m also greatly saddened that this child was bullied and the school teachers and administrators did not handle the situation. Shame on them.

        1. DavisBurns

          The problem is California’s legal definition of sane.  It is quite limited.  In other states he would have qualified for temporary insanity.  We need to change the law if we want to have mental illness treated by professionals rather than the prison system.

    2. Biddlin

      “Medical research is not a single predictable unified march forward. Progress tends to happen in fits and starts. ”

      Or, as with many illnesses, it does not happen, at all, as with  ALS, Creautzfeldt-Jakob and epilepsy, which has been with us from the beginning of humanity and we know little more about than Hipocrates or the Mesopotamians of 4000 BCE, who described in detail the same assortment of seizures we see today.

      “It may be that Mr. Marsh will remain a dangerous individual his entire life.”

      Almost certainly.

      ” I would not be quick to predict where we will be with the treatment of sociopaths in the future even though today’s outlook is certainly bleak if not hopeless.”

      Unless some incredible leap in our understanding comes coincidental to acne treatment, hair growth or erectile dysfunction treatment, it will not happen, because there is no money to be made in curing it.

      ;>)/

       

       

       

    3. Alan Miller

      I would not be quick to predict where we will be with the treatment of sociopaths in the future

      Yes, perhaps by 2040 we will have a surgical procedure that can implant a human soul.

      1. Antoinnette

        FYI. .Miller, We all have a SOUL. ..of course,  if you so believe. ..

        God is in charge of changing the heart, fixing it,  HE is the great Physician. .I’d leave that up to HIM….I’ll take the risk of criticism for being religious.

        @hpierce…

        I understand your point but personally,  it is not about putting a story out for any worldly gain, in fact, I make Nothing at present and would like to think my work is not done in vain.

         

        I may very well be a,”hack author,” as you state but I am nonetheless optimistic about shedding light on an important topic.

        Our youth who struggle with mental health issues need more attention.

        Our families need support, authorities and our school system need greater awareness.

        I feel if we allow these to be forgotten,  we cannot bring change.

        Having said that,  I’m pretty sure that we all dearly love our children,  our families,  and of course we all make poor choices in parenting at times and my intention to write is never to hurt anyone,  if so, forgive me.

        My empathy goes out to the Marsh family and Northrops and to any person who must endure the negative parts of publishing. It remains my hope that we can be a positive force for those suffering injustice of any sort.

        But I’m not saying he doesn’t have to be punished,  for those who think that?

        Just always felt Daniel had odds stacked against him and for personal reasons,  feel greater empathy for children.

        I apologize if this piece or any comments offend…

        I appreciate your words too…thank you.

         

         

         

         

        1. Alan Miller

          FYI. .Miller, We all have a SOUL. ..of course,  if you so believe. ..

          God is in charge of changing the heart, fixing it,  HE is the great Physician. .I’d leave that up to HIM….I’ll take the risk of criticism for being religious.

          Be religious all you want.  The ability to recognize a joke is also one of HIS gifts

        2. hpierce

          Antoinette… the craven author I referred to was CERTAINLY  NOT you, but the jerk who “covered” the trial, wrote a book, and then promoted his book both on the VG, and in op-eds/letters to the editor in the Emptyprize.  Would have named him had I remembered his name, but I guess part of me doesn’t want to give him any credit for being anything other than a cretin.

          Please trust me on this Antoinette… I have found your writings to be pretty accurate, fair, non-sensational, and for the most part, well-written.  Count me as a “fan”.  My comments re:  posters on this blog were related to the pirahnas  that feast when they smell blood, often to advance their own twisted views, not caring at whose expense that falls on.

          If, in any way, you were thinking I was aiming at you, even peripherally, you are mistaken, and I apologize for anything I might have written to lead you to that conclusion.

  3. Antoinnette

    Biddlin. …no one disputing what or how he did what he did. This is an outsiders perspective on what she observed before the acts.

    We all know he has a sentence to serve but we, like you, May have a different perspective about the case and/or his mental health.

    Thanks for reading!

  4. dlemongello

    And I do not want anyone to misunderstand what I am saying.  I certainly do not think he should be out and free, of course not.  But HOW this happened is not so simple, few problems  are.

  5. TrueBlueDevil

    Ms. Borbon wrote: “One even stated repeatedly that the habitual use of marijuana was the cause of Daniel’s behavior…”

    I don’t recall reading that. I recall one or maybe two professionals stating that marijuana was a complicating factor (my term), and that in tandem with prescribed drugs and alcohol and numerous other social / family issues, made rendering treatment more difficult and complicated. I do recall one psychiatrist saying that he wasn’t a fan of marijuana, that he never liked it.

    Recent medical studies have shown that marijuana affects three parts of the developing teenage brain, can reduce IQ by up to ten percent, and various other affects. It is not a “harmless drug”, especially for teenagers.

  6. hpierce

    for those of you who have children, nieces or nephews… for those of you are are grandparents…

    May you never suffer the challenges of the Marsh family… if you suffer challenges, may you never have to have the scrutiny of the public, where your lives, including errors, mistakes, terrible transgrssions, are paraded around, for the amusement, commentary (or profit) of others in a local blog/newspapers/(hack authors).  May you love and take care of your family and friends, and may they love and take care of you.

    “May the road rise up to meet you.

    May the wind always be at your back.May the sun shine warm upon your face,and rains fall soft upon your fields.And until we meet again,May God hold you in the palm of His hand.”

    Paix. Salaam. Shalom. Pax.  Peace.

     

    1. Tia Will

      God is in charge of changing the heart, fixing it,  HE is the great Physician. .I’d leave that up to HIM….I’ll take the risk of criticism for being religious.”

      Regardless of whether or not one is religious, if one were to leave all the medical activity at any time believed to be related to “the heart”, we would have no cure and no management plan for any of the numerous conditions once felt caused by the absence of a “soul” or the presence of “demons”. Sometimes, for the religious, one has to believe that God works through the actions of men and women including medical researchers and doctors. For the non religious, many believe that we have as part of our nature the ability to change our world for the better by understanding and acting on how the world operates, regardless of accepting that we will never understand fully how or why it came to be. But if I allow my lack of understanding, or my willingness to “leave something “up to  HIM” to cause me to remain passive when I could have acted in order to help someone else, then I do not believe that I am fulfilling all that I am capable of being as a person.

  7. Tia Will

    But I’m not saying he doesn’t have to be punished,”

    Well, I am. Why does he have to be “punished’.  I ask myself what positive does the “punishment” of an obviously ill individual attain for anyone beyond someone’s selfish, and in my opinion sadistic desire to see more hurt, believing some how that still greater pain will in some way help with the enormous pain already inflicted ?  A desire by the way which reportedly would not have been in keeping with the philosophy or values of the victims.

    Ensuring the safety of society by keeping Mr. Marsh isolated from anyone he might hurt ?Of course this should occur. But punishment ?  Who will this help ? Who will it deter ? Does anyone actually believe that a future sociopath will be deterred from engaging in these deranged activities because others have been caught and incarcerated ? Unlike with individuals acting for monetary gain where deterrence may play a role, harsh treatment of Mr. Marsh will simple do nothing to prevent the next case. So what do we gain with “punishment” other than revenge ?  And how does revenge move us forward as a society ?

     

    1. tj

      Yes Tia ~~

      It’s a  crime that he’s the one being punished, while all those adults, especially the professionals – doctors, teachers – did nothing effective to help him.   He is and was so young and helpless.

      1. Tia Will

        tj

        It’s a  crime that he’s the one being punished” 

        I would prefer that as a society we were less quick to look for whom to punish, and more diligent about improving systems, research, and education to improve the safety and well being of all of our members, with both Mr. Marsh, his care givers and his victims included.

  8. Antoinnette

    @hpierce. Oh, thank you, Lol..yes, I know who you are talking about, ..he constantly made digs at us during trial. ..yes, awful man.

    Agree, I wouldn’t give him credit either.

    I appreciate your kind words and support!

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