By Tumaris Hone
Daniel William Marsh’s transfer hearing resumes once again with Deputy Public Defender Andrea Pelochino’s continuation of her direct examination.
She began the day with a series of questions concerning Marsh’s lengthy counseling services. On the stand, Marsh testified to his extensive experience managing his childhood trauma. He informed the court of his numerous hours seeing psychiatrists, school counselors, therapists, and being open, discussing with them about his homicidal thoughts. Attorney Pelochino accordingly inquired the reason for his openness. He replied with, “I just wanted help.” This brought her to the next point: his journal.
Marsh’s journal was full of horrifying drawings, but when questioned on why he kept one in the first place, the defendant claimed it was his way of relieving himself of dark thoughts. He further discussed his feelings with multiple doctors, but emphasized feeling detached with many of them because he sensed their lack of care. For instance, one doctor went so far as to call him a monster, while another did not seem to help.
When questioned about his torturing and killing of animals, Marsh recalled spending “his entire life being the victim, the only way to stop being one was to become a monster.” Still, he reached out to various counselors for help, including his mother. But, despite these efforts, he did not feel cared for enough. At one point, he described his lashing out on the furniture at home. Nevertheless, his mom did not wish to help, according to him.
After Marsh’s testimony on childhood trauma, Ms. Pelochino proceeded to discuss Marsh’s year and a half in juvenile hall. He remembered his visits there centering on his family rather than his well-being. Marsh particularly denied his father ever asking him about how he was doing.
Similarly, his mother would merely discuss her work and friends. When his sister visited him, Marsh recalled feeling her insincerity. In other words, he described his family visits as being “too little too late.”
It was then not too long before he was transported to the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), where he was assaulted. He highlighted his refusal to defend himself in the heat of the fight. Still, Marsh was moved to Ad Seg (Administrative Segregation) with no counseling. He also brought the court’s attention to a loose screw he had noticed from his ceiling light. When officers found this screw, he was accused of sharpening it, though Marsh denied this.
During his time in prison, Marsh testified to improving emotionally and mentally. Through the help of books, music, and counselors, he learned a lot about people and the reasons behind their awful choices. He acknowledged it is the environment which produces a terrible person – specifically, the lack of love and compassion. He also testified to the time he spent in group therapy, remembering one “beautiful, awesome” therapist who engaged them in role playing to find solutions for conflicts.
But despite his slow improvements, Marsh did not hide the obstacles along the way. First was when an officer overheard him saying “I like to kill people,” though Marsh denies ever saying this. Additionally, the defendant described his extensive use of cocaine in jail. Strangely, there are no prison records, but he admitted to using drugs and quitting them because he wanted “something better.” Marsh further testified to using a cell phone, and as a result pleaded guilty to that.
The defendant then moved on to discuss his involvement with TEDx. He applied for this non-profit correctional program to be interviewed and filmed, and finally became a core team Member, volunteering behind the scenes.
At the conclusion of his testimony, he confronted the court about his appearance, feeling he did not come across in the way he intended to. Marsh explained that his grimaced expression and monotone voice should not suggest arrogance. “At the end of the day, all (I) can do is try.” He claimed he is no longer struggling with mental illness. He “feels loved now,” and “nothing (I) say or do will be enough.”
In the afternoon, the attorney for the People, Deputy DA Amanda Zambor began her cross-examination. She first disclosed the various doctors and teachers Marsh had for support. The following questions then concerned Marsh’s interest in violent sex. When questioned on this topic, he did admit to having violent sex with his girlfriend, even choking her.
Ms. Zambor asked for details concerning his molestation, although Marsh refused continuously to respond on this subject. After repeated questioning, the judge warned Ms. Zambor about her argumentative tone.
Marsh recalled, at 11 years old, informing Dr. Rollack, one of his many therapists, of his fantasies of torturing people and his desire to make the fantasies real. When asked if he ever wanted to “slit his kindergarten teacher’s throat,” he admitted to it.
Finally, Attorney Zambor discussed the crime itself. She confirmed whether Marsh planned this murder, dressing in all black and stealing a ski mask. He replied, “I did.” He further admitted, when questioned by investigators, that he felt “nervous, excited” during the killing. “It was like a ride at the fair.” When Ms. Zambor inquired if he stabbed the elderly woman 61 times and the man 75, Marsh said that he did.
Approaching the end of her cross, Ms. Zambor highlighted his happy attitude while discussing the murder with police officers. She also recited some of his words: the police “don’t think I can change and I don’t want to change. I want the victims to know I am suffering too.”
In the defense counsel’s redirect, Marsh informed the court he does not identify with the person who committed this crime but still feels “disgusted with [himself].”
At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge decided to accept the letters written in fear of Marsh’s release by victim’s families and community members. Marsh’s trial will resume on Friday.