Dissociative justice in California
By Lloyd Billingsley
April 14 marks five years since Daniel Marsh, 15, murdered Oliver “Chip” Northup, 87, and his wife Claudia Maupin, 76, in their Davis home. A police report said the two were killed “in a way that manifested exceptional depravity,” which was no exaggeration.
The autopsy report runs 16 pages and 6,658 words, noting that the murderer stabbed Maupin 67 times and Northup 61 times. Marsh disemboweled both victims then placed a cell phone inside the corpse of Maupin and a drinking glass inside Northup.
In his lengthy interview with police, Marsh said that Maupin told him to “please stop.” Marsh kept on stabbing because “she just wouldn’t die.” The stabbing “just felt right,” and the double murder and mutilations, Marsh said, “felt amazing,” gave him “pure happiness,” and “the most exhilarating enjoyable feeling I’ve ever felt.”
In December 2014, Judge David Reed sentenced Marsh to 52 years to life in state prison. The killer received an additional year for use of a knife but got no extra time for lying in wait or committing torture. The double murderer, now 20, would be eligible for parole after 25 years, when he would be in his early forties.
That hard-fought conviction has now been set aside and Marsh has a chance for release in 2023, when he is only 25 years old. This is not due to discovery of new exculpatory evidence or some procedural problem in the trial. It is all due to the 2016 Proposition 57, which “reduces the possible punishment for a class of persons, namely juveniles.”
On February 22, the Third Court of Appeals ruled that the case of Daniel Marsh was not fully briefed until July 2017. So the court reversed Marsh’s conviction for the proceeding in juvenile court.
Whatever one chooses to call it, the proceeding is clearly a new trial for a sadist who has never shown the slightest remorse for his savage actions. In effect, the proceeding puts the district attorney and prosecutors on trial for their legal and fully justified decision to try Daniel Marsh as an adult.
In 2014, when the court declined to toss Marsh’s detailed confession, Maupin’s daughter Victoria Hurd told reports the decision “restores faith in humanity in the midst of this depravity.” In 2018, when Hurd got word of the reversal, she told the Sacramento Bee: “This is so wrong” and she is right about that.
The new hearing for convicted murderer Daniel Marsh is an affront to justice, a waste of time and money, and utterly callous to victims of violent crime. Daniel Marsh, meanwhile, is not the only shut-and-open case in the Proposition 57 pipeline.
According to California’s attorney general, there were 71,923 juvenile arrests in 2015, 29.7 percent for felonies. As the Lompoc Record headlined, “Prop. 57 could turn back time for minors charged with murder.”
As with Daniel Marsh, that would be without any new evidence or procedural issue. As Victoria Hurd said, this is so wrong.
Lloyd Billingsley’s Killer Confession contains the entire Marsh interview with Davis police. His latest crime book is Lethal Injections: Elizabeth Tracy Mae Wettlaufer, Canada’s Serial Killer Nurse.