By Kendra H. and Danielle Eden C. Silva
Expert witness from the D.J.J. called by the Defense in the Marsh trial
By Kendra H.
Today in Department 7 of Yolo County Superior Court the evidence phase in the juvenile transfer hearing for Daniel Marsh resumed under Judge Samuel T. McAdam. If this case is transferred to juvenile court, Marsh, who was tried and convicted as an adult, will be resentenced under juvenile law.
Supervising Deputy Public Defender Andrea Pelochino began the morning by calling an expert witness, Dr. Jonathan Yip to the stand. Dr. Yip holds a PhD in Psychology from Notre Dame University and is the Associate Director of Mental Health and Treatment Services for the Division of Juvenile Justice within the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Dr. Yip testified at great length about the inner workings of the Department of Juvenile Justice and the integrated behavior treatment model that the D.J.J. employs, emphasizing the D.J.J.’s focus on cognitive behavioral therapy. He stated that an interdisciplinary approach and an individualized treatment plan is constructed for each youth who enters the D.J.J. program. The goal of treatment is juvenile rehabilitation. Dr. Yip discussed the importance of teaching youths how to better understand the underlying causes and “triggers” for the behaviors which brought them into custody, and subsequently learn how to better manage their anger or other mental health issues. He outlined for the court the team of numerous persons that are involved in the creation and implementation of these treatment plans, the various risk assessment tests which are administered to youths, as well as the process of determining the physical placement of youths within the various facilities operated by the D.J.J. He discussed a new project which the D.J.J. has undertaken with the University of California at Irvine to assess the success of this approach to rehabilitation. He added, however, that, given the “infancy” of this project, no independent data regarding the success of the D.J.J.’s program is currently available.
Near the end of direct examination, Ms. Pelochino questioned Dr. Yip about the California Welfare and Institutions Code section 1800 (2017) which states:
“Whenever the Division of Juvenile Facilities determines that the discharge of a person from the control of the division at the time required by Section 1766, 1769, 1770, or 1771, as applicable, would be physically dangerous to the public… the Director of the Division of Juvenile Justice, shall request the prosecuting attorney to petition the committing court for an order directing that the person remain subject to the control of the division beyond that time…”
Dr. Yip testified that if a juvenile offender is nearing their 25th birthday and is still considered to pose a threat to society, there is a measure of recourse. A request must be made to the court to keep the offender in custody, and a mental health evaluation would then be conducted by a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist. If the mental health criteria for release are not met, the offender would remain in custody for an additional two years. He further testified that, although this process would have to be repeated every two years, there was technically no limit on keeping a dangerous juvenile offender in custody.
On cross-examination, Deputy District Attorney Amanda Zambor questioned Dr. Yip further about this process and the rigidity of the criteria for release under WIC §1800. She asked specifically if the terms of WIC §1800 and §1800.5 apply to offenders who are diagnosed with a mental disorder that leads to that “individual having the ability to control symptoms.” Dr. Yip answered Ms. Zambor’s questions by confirming that if a patient can control their symptoms, sections 1800 and 1800.5 would not apply.
Ms. Zambor further questioned Dr. Yip about the current data regarding release holds under section 1800. He stated that in 2012, one youth in the state of California was held past their 25th birthday and subsequently released in 2014. He added, however, that he did not recall if a request to stay had been filed in that case.
The witness was asked by the court to return and continue testimony in the afternoon. Continuing coverage of this case will follow throughout the week.
Defendant: The Last Witness before Marsh Hearing Concludes
By Danielle Eden C. Silva
The hearing for Daniel Marsh reconvened this afternoon in Department 7. Jonathan Yip remained on the stand and answered questions from Deputy District Attorney Amanda Zambor. He noted that within the last four years that they had hired new psychologists. He further went into the details about incarcerated youths, that when they are released from their sentence, their care falls entirely on the county.
In redirect, Deputy Public Defender Andrea Pelochino asked if remorse was taken into account. Mr. Yip stated that remorse didn’t have a strong relationship with preventing recidivism and didn’t have much bearing on the judgment of teens. They instead observed behaviors and thoughts to avoid the repetition of crime. He would also mention patients would have journals that they were required to fill out themselves.
Mr. Yip also testified to treatment, specifically the qualifications of the staff.
Psychologists were part of the medical staff qualified to diagnose symptoms, including those of anti-social personality disorder. He mentioned that, prior to 18, adolescents couldn’t be confirmed to have anti-social personality disorder, based on some studies he has seen.
Judge Samuel T. McAdam then asked if there were treatments available at the Department of Juvenile Justice for cases involving the murder of strangers and involving torture, as that would affect his ruling. He wanted to know if the DJJ would be equipped to handle Mr. Marsh’s specific situation. Mr. Yip noted they have had cases concerning murder and torture, but there were no specific treatments regarding the murder of strangers and torture. He stated they would likely follow the unique needs of a patient. Mr. Yip did share that there was no guarantee of inmate rehabilitation.
Mr. Marsh took the stand as the final witness for this hearing, testifying about his childhood.
He mentioned many of these memories began to resurface after he began therapy a year ago. Prior to three years old in Napa, he remembered being physically abused by his father and the verbal conflict between his parents. His sister, 19 months older than him, never offered him comfort and they never did grow particularly close.
At four years old, the family moved to Vacaville where not much changed. Around this time, Mr. Marsh had been sexually abused to one point of collapsing in a school hallway from abdominal pain. At seven years old, the sexual abuse stopped, around the time his mother attempted suicide. His father didn’t really explain the situation to them and, after the attempt, his mother appeared more withdrawn. Mr. Marsh referenced his TED talk, noting how he had felt like a thing rather than a human being.
Around that time, Mr. Marsh also noted that he would visit his grandfather at times. While the grandfather was an alcoholic and hit him, he noted that the grandfather was the one who taught him how to drive and shoot a gun.
At eight years old, the family moved to Davis in an attempt to break an affair his mom had with a teacher. The affair wasn’t a secret but the physical abuse from his father shifted toward more profane verbal abuse toward his mother, sister, and himself. The father stated that if he and the wife divorced, Mr. Marsh and his sister would be to blame. At several points, Mr. Marsh’s mother attempted to leave and, at one point, attempted to bring the children with her. While his sister got in the car, Mr. Marsh ended up in a physical tug of war with his father and mother. Eventually, they would return to the house.
When he was 9, his mother left for three or four months without him and his sister. Upon her return, she moved into another home and Mr. Marsh and his sister would transfer between the two homes. This, however, did not lessen the conflict between his father and mother.
At 12 years old, Mr. Marsh noted how he had seen his father suffering from a heart attack. His father had been through several medical procedures and was on pain medication, but one day he was clutching his chest and claiming he was going to drive himself to the hospital. Mr. Marsh went with him in the car. On the way to the hospital, his father flatlined and Mr. Marsh pulled the car off the road and away from oncoming traffic. He stated he beat his father’s chest until his father began to breathe again. Despite the praise of the press, Mr. Marsh noted he hated everything about the experience.
That same year, his mother was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and would get to a state of dependency on her children to use the restroom and get dressed. She required lots of pain medication and often would be locked up in her room.
His mother’s assistant, a 19-year-old, came around this time, staying in Mr. Marsh’s room and noted to have had intercourse in his bed with her boyfriend while Mr. Marsh stayed on the living room couch. He noted they would eventually get romantically involved.
Mr. Marsh also noted a father figure that his mother met through work. This father figure had encouraged the defendant to pursue karate and had taken him to football games. While he made Mr. Marsh feel special, this father figure would commit suicide four or five years after meeting the defendant, who was 14 at the time. The crushing death led him to turn to narcotics, including marijuana, pain pills he stole from his mother, and alcohol. Around this time, he was also be facing weight problems and was in charge of writing his food blogs and taking care of his own meals.
He did note that he shared his mental health issues with an ex-girlfriend and they would cut and set small fires when they were high on marijuana. The defendant considered himself self-destructive at the time.
To add, Mr. Marsh noted he was also bullied. He had been a “shy, pale, awkward, weird, chubby kid” and would be bullied by both his peers and his sister and father. He would make friends with “A,” who was also socially outcast and bullied.
The defendant noted that there were no rules enforced in his mother’s house, including no curfew. At times, he would stay over at his friends’ places and she wouldn’t even notice. He also had a pocket knife despite his mental health issues. Both his sister and mother had one as well.
Mr. Marsh noted that he became interested in horror movies because of his sister and wanting to fit in. He began to have violent thoughts that were encouraged by someone who provided him with marijuana. This individual got away with beating people and encouraged his intrusive thoughts, Marsh claimed. He noted he also began to listen to death metal, a music he described as “heavy, angry, abrasive, violent.”
He and his friends would also begin searching up gore on an online website. Mr. Marsh would personally view it at home in the living room or in his own room. He also mentioned showing his friends the notes that the police would later find in his room, showing homicidal ideation. However, Mr. Marsh shared specifically that, in the case of another ex-girlfriend, he wouldn’t have had violent sex with her if she told him to stop.
To suppress the thoughts in his head, he noted that he turned to narcotics and alcohol. At times, he would search gore when he couldn’t sleep.
Department 7 will reconvene the Marsh testimony tomorrow at 9 am.