Marsh Transfer Hearing Resumes

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Probation Officer Argues against Transferring Defendant to Juvenile Court

By Danielle Eden Silva

The Daniel William Marsh hearing resumed in Department 7, starting with two short witnesses before continuing with their witness from the morning.

The investigating officer, Lieutenant Dave Marshall, testified on the stand, speaking about two interviews he conducted. “GD,” Mr. Marsh’s ex-girlfriend from her 8th grade to the beginning of her 9th-grade year in 2012, was interviewed on August 14, 2014. She stated that Mr. Marsh was nice, and when he got angry he never acted out. GD shared that the defendant admitted to cutting himself and being bullied, and she noted his social media pages were dark.

The ex-girlfriend also noted Mr. Marsh appeared to get along normally with his mother but, at one point, his father disowned him and then reconciled with him following his saving his father’s life. The timeline of the fatherly relationship was not clarified by the ex-girlfriend. She did note that the defendant and his father smoked marijuana together and the defendant appeared very upset at the divorce of his parents.

During her relationship with Mr. Marsh, the ex-girlfriend and defendant would set small fires with wood chips in the N Street Park or with the bark torn off trees from the UCD Arboretum. The defendant also showed he could fight after engaging in a confrontation with GD’s ex-boyfriend before him. She noted that Mr. Marsh did have a tendency to shoot vultures in his backyard.

Lt. Marshall also interviewed the defendant’s former friend, “AG.” on September 10, 2018. AG had talked to Mr. Marsh often and the defendant asked AG to write a letter to an organization on his behalf. The organization focused on helping people out of incarceration. AG denied the request and broke off contact with Mr. Marsh. The former friend noted that he had received calls but no letters, and had not been threatened.

The next witness to the stand was a mental health clinician who interviewed Mr. Marsh. At the jail, she conducted intake surveys of newly-arrived inmates to see if they needed further mental health treatment and gauged their emotional stability. The clinician recorded Mr. Marsh’s responses on a worksheet which she referenced in court. She shared that she didn’t remember Mr. Marsh’s interview independently, as she usually sees 13 to 23 inmates a day. The clinician described Mr. Marsh as intelligent and well spoken. He also told her that he didn’t want mental health treatment, even though she knew he came from a mental health program. Previously, Mr. Marsh had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She gave him contact information should he want to use mental health services.

Next, the testimony of Probation Officer Christina Tranfaglia continued from the morning session. She continued to share her qualifications as a mental health expert and what she had examined concerning Mr. Marsh. She stated he couldn’t be rehabilitated due to his behavior of manipulating others and the law to his own benefit.

Officer Tranfaglia referenced his past behavior, which included shoplifting, participating in gore pornography, abusing animals, and committing crimes in a methodical and unbothered nature. He purposefully went out of his way to be undetected. In the time following the murders, he had been uncharacteristically giddy and silly according to his teachers. This attitude shifted after he was arrested. Mr. Marsh attempted to shift the blame of his behto being psychotic, suffering medication side effects, or childhood trauma. The probation officer stated that he continued to shift the blame instead of addressing the crime.

In therapy notes, he noted that he wanted to get out of prison before reaching 25 or 30. The defendant specifically wanted to have the case apply to him as a juvenile due to the fact that he was younger than 18 when he committed the crime.

Ms. Tranfagalia noted that he manipulated people before, during, and after his custody. In September 2015, for instance, he had hidden a cellphone in his rear – a clear rule violation. However, Mr. Marsh revealed he had suicidal scratches. He would end up in a crisis bed and having the consequences mitigated. The defendant also wished his guitar would not be taken away, as it was his common method of coping through song lyrics and learning songs.

The probation officer mentioned anti-social people often act out at presented consequences. They do this to mitigate circumstances. Mr. Marsh, in this instance, did so through self-mutilation. Ms. Tranfagalia stated a familiarity with anti-social personality disorder as her duty was to keep unqualified people from entering mental health court.

She noted anti-social people change responses to get different results. Mr. Marsh, for instance, told different stories. In the September 2015 incident, Mr. Marsh told officers that he used the phone to call his mother and ex-fiance while telling the probation officer his cellmate told him to hide it.

The defendant would often attempt to receive the lowest amount of consequences possible for his actions. He specifically wanted to leave the mental health program because he wanted to be in the youth program where the consequences were less harsh. As a result, the defendant worked on presenting himself in a more stable light. However, he also challenged the evidence against him. During another occasion in 2017, a sharpened bolt had been found in his cell. The paint on the cell wall had been scratched and he was discovered to have contraband such as food and a pencil extender. Mr. Marsh told the officers they could not prove it was him. He also asked them not to write him up for the incident as it would deter his case.

Ms. Tranfagalia returned to psychopathy and anti-social personality disorder. She mentioned that in the books she’s read, psychopathy is settled and nearly impossible to rehabilitate once the individual reaches 18. She stated he should be brought to adult court.

She again referenced his animal abuse and arson. The probation officer mentioned he had gone out of his way to commit crimes and not be caught. He harmed family pets and stray animals, searched for victims at night, stole his mother’s car, narcotics, and alcohol, and broke into his ex-girlfriend’s home. On one occasion, he pursued a female victim and only stopped when he saw people nearby. At his home, he had a list of all the actions he had done and in the corner writing, “he’s ready with an exclamation point and smiley face.” He planned on committing another crime but feared getting caught.

The probation officer restated that she believes he should go to adult court due to the gravity of the crime. “The gravity of the offense is so significant and far-reaching,” Ms. Tranfagalia further stated after noting several opportunities within the crime to snap out of his vision of the crime. She stated he moved passed the severity with ease. “What [homicide cases] I’ve dealt with, this is the most severe I’ve seen.”


Defense Cross Examines Officer

By Tumaris Hone

Daniel Marsh’s chapter continues, as Deputy District Attorney Amanda Zambor resumed her direct examination of Probation Officer Christina Tranfaglia. Officer Tranfaglia emphasized that her 10 to 15 years of therapy, counseling, and in- and out-patient care exceeds in quality the services which would have been provided in Juvenile Hall. In fact, she brought the court’s attention to two articles, claiming there is no possible rehabilitation for psychopaths like Daniel Marsh. During her interview with the defendant, she described his grimaced face, slouched body, and monotone voice like “he’s choosing his words and reading from a script.” According to Officer Tranfaglia, there is no actual report detailing his remorse, just regret. She concluded her testimony by disclosing the moments he bragged about making the news, demonstrating excessive pride.

After a short silence, the defendant’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Andrea Pelochino, began her lengthy cross-examination of Officer Tranfaglia.

She first attempted to diminish the credibility of the witness, pointing to her lack of a Ph.D., her shortage of psychopathy seminars, and her inadequate amount of background information on Daniel Marsh. In fact, Attorney Pelochino went so far as to point out that doctors often misdiagnose psychotherapy. She further depicted the defendant’s parents as frequently neglectful, referencing  Marsh’s testimony to support her argument. For instance, in order to have counseling, parents must sign off their children and bring them to these services. Despite these requirements, his mother signed off his entrance to IEP (Individualized Education Program), a special education program, one month after it was due in 2010.

Moreover, neither parent presented themselves at the IEP meeting. Marsh personally demonstrated concern for his parents’ lack of interest in him.

Pelochino then shifted her focus to the defendant’s traumatic experiences and reduction in self-care. In his young years of high school, Marsh began to lose weight and avoid eye contact. He became “high risk” and commenced his 180 hours of counseling after a school psychologist noticed failing grades and diagnosed him as “emotionally disturbed.”

On September 1, 2012, his therapy discussion with a Ms. Neil brought new disorders to light. For example, he expressed that his fears tend to ignite violence. A different counselor by the name of Ms. O’Brien also noted his desire to torture people, as well as his access to weapons. She defined his behavior as “homicidal idealization,” according to the reports. But despite this rapid progression toward violence, Ms. Pelochino asks Officer Tranfaglia if there were any expansions to his mental health services. But his 180 hours of counseling actually remained the same.

Evidently, it became worse when his mother pulled him out of a program called Kings View counseling.

The defense further delved into Marsh’s traumas, where he reported school yard bullying, anorexic behavior, and parental divorce. She subsequently resumed her focus on the parents, highlighting their neglectful behavior when his father did not monitor Marsh’s eating disorder. Dr. Pollock, a different psychologist, noted that he diagnosed the defendant with PTSD. Regardless, there was no follow-up on treatment.

Attorney Pelochino finally established foundation and asked Officer Tranfaglia if family should be addressed as part of his mental illness. While the witness agreed, the defense inquired whether his parents ever attended family counseling when he was young. According to reports between 2008 and 2010, his mom attended one group session when Marsh was 11 years old, and then withdrew her son from counseling until 2010.

However, despite his reported suicidal thoughts, major depression, anxiety, and marijuana use, Marsh expressed a desire to fix himself. He described seeing texts sent between his girlfriend and friend, and explained he had to “do everything in his power not to kill his friend.” This open express is a step toward improving, according to his attorney. In fact, on March 4, 2013, he admitted to killing a racoon and soon after that, kicking a dog. It then became clear to him that he needed to work on his empathy, as written in the reports.

Attorney Pelochino progressively moved to address Marsh’s time at Juvenile Hall soon after his arrest.

During his time there, he was assaulted but did not react. He acquired high school proficiency, respected staff, and did not engage in misconduct, except for a couple of write ups and a phone theft.

When the defense asked Officer Tranfaglia about Marsh’s mental health, she responded, assuring the court the defendant did not have a significant mental illness around the age of 15. He was, in her words, “connected to reality.” But Attorney Pelochino rebutted with a list of disorders he reported: insomnia, depression, anxiety, homicidal idealization, and more.

Nearing the end of cross, the defense emphasized that over four doctors heard Marsh express “morbid thoughts” before he committed the crime. He never hid away his behavior or feelings. In February of 2016, Marsh announced having difficulty connecting the 2013 murderer to his current identity. She then finished her examination, reciting a couple of quotes highlighting Marsh’s remorse, including his wish to “undo it and take all the pain [he] caused.”

In the final half hour, the prosecution on redirect asked Officer Tranfaglia about this specific “remorse” mentioned by defense council. She claimed that in no previous report did the defendant apologize to the victims. At this moment, the judge asked if those “remarks” were seen on any other report, aside from the one the defense provided. The witness denied seeing any.


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7 thoughts on “Marsh Transfer Hearing Resumes”

  1. Tia Will

    For me as a health care professional, the wrong question is being addressed in the Marsh case. The question is not whether or not Mr. Marsh should be treated as an adult or as a juvenile offender. The question is how can we assure the safety of the community while assuring the safety and most appropriate treatment of Mr. Marsh. We as a society are failing abysmally at sorting out the boundaries of mental illness and criminality.

  2. John Hobbs

    ” We as a society are failing abysmally at sorting out the boundaries of mental illness and criminality.”

    We, as a society, are barely advanced over medieval exorcists at managing mental illness, especially for those lacking a strong support system and sufficient material assets. From my admittedly limited viewpoint, Danny Marsh was let down by everyone who should have been there for him. I think the issue of appropriate placement in the justice system is more complex than codes and statutes, which is why we used to give judges more latitude in juvenile cases. I had breakfast at Starbuck’s on Mace a couple of days ago and heard a couple of folks talking about Danny and how they would react if they saw him on the street. How sad. If anyone had stuck by him and made the missed psych and med appointments, taken his condition seriously before he committed murder, we would never have known him for anythig but saving his father’s life.

      1. Tia Will

        Sharla

        Oh goodness. Where to start?

        1. Psychology Today should not ever be referenced as an authoritative view of psychopathy.

        2. There seems to be a false dichotomy at play here. What would we think if “we saw him on the street”? vs. We must lock him up and throw away the key.

        I do not believe that there is anyone arguing for just letting Mr. Marsh be released to the streets. The issue is not a cure, which we do not have. It is how best to keep both our community and Mr. Marsh safe. I argued previously, and again now, that once the crime had been committed, the most secure and safe location for Mr. Marsh was a locked ward mental hospital.

        As to whether or not this crime could have been prevented with earlier or more assertive intervention up to and including hospitalization on a locked ward which certainly might have been appropriate during his expressions of suicidal & homicidal ideation, both of which had been expressed to health care professionals we will never know.

        What I do know is that as a highly involved mother, when my son had suicidal ideation, I had to move heaven & earth pulling multiple medical strings to get him hospitalized. I doubt a non MD would have been able to do so. I know for a fact that should never be the case.

        1. Sharla C.

          Tia,  Then provide a better reference.  This was the first thing that I found and this blog is not a medical journal.  ( And I don’t think that the description and commonly recognized attributes of a psychopath will be much different.)  The Assistant Probation Officer notes most of these attributes in her testimony and notes that he was diagnosed as psychotic.  Regardless, others are not to blame for his actions and his crime was not caused by missed medical appointments.  This is a hearing in juvenile court on whether he should be treated as a juvenile delinquent, with hope of rehabilitation and change in behavior.  I think that he, alone, is responsible for meticulously planning and executing his crime and, since you say there is no cure, it matters not where he is housed at this point.  His only youthful mistake, it seems, was bragging to his friends afterwards.  He appears to be doing fairly well where he has been currently housed.

        2. David Greenwald

          It was interesting watching the testimony today.  Basically the Probation Officer testified, the defense objected that she wasn’t qualified to render such opinions, and the judge basically said, well yes, she can testify but she’s probably not going to carry the weight of a 30 year veteran research psychologist with a PhD.  I’m heavily paraphrasing, but basically his point.  There was a lot of time wasted from what I could see even though the judge basically told the DA what information he needed.  She insisted of going through the details.

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