Once a 12-year-old hero, now a 16-year-old accused of a ruthless double killing, Daniel William Marsh spoke in a hushed voice Wednesday and declared his innocence.
Obscured in a crowded Woodland courtroom, the Davis teen, who is being tried as an adult, entered not-guilty pleas to first-degree murder in the slayings of local attorney Oliver J. Northup, 87, and his wife, Claudia M. Maupin, 76.
The teen's court-appointed attorney also declared Marsh was innocent of alleged circumstances that could increase his sentence if he is convicted. The alleged circumstances, read in court, were lying in wait, torture and "heinous and depraved murder."
The case has baffled and unnerved the Davis community since Northup and Maupin failed to appear for a memorial service in which he was due to sing April 14.
Maupin was a pastoral associate and spiritual director at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis. Northup was a founding member of the congregation and also a guitarist and singer in a popular local folk combo, the Putah Creek Crawdads.
Police found their bodies after a welfare check at their home. They had been stabbed to death. There were signs of a break-in at their condominium in the 4000 block of Cowell Boulevard.
Wednesday, Marsh, a youth once honored for saving the life of his father, faced his arraignment charged as an adult for killing of two people allegedly randomly chosen. With long blond hair, he stood in a dress shirt and striped tie as the charges were read, looking frail and glum.
His father, Bill Marsh, and family members of the victim looked on as Yolo Superior Court Commissioner Janene Beronio set a prehearing for July 2 and let the teen defendant know he wouldn't be going free anytime soon.
"There is no bail," she said.
When he was 12, the American Red Cross of Yolo County had honored Marsh for courageously grabbing the steering wheel of the family car as his father was suffering a near-fatal heart attack.
The image of that boy, who pounded on his father's chest to keep him alive, contrasted with that of the teenager charged with brutal stabbings that prosecutors called "willful" and "premediated."
Outside the courtroom, Ryan Kennedy, a friend of Daniel Marsh, tried to make sense of seeing a "normal 16-year-old," who played video games, joked and hung out with friends in downtown Davis, charged with such a crime.
Kennedy, who last saw the teen at a Davis city park days before police arrested him on Monday, said Marsh "had a lot of joy in his life" but also troubles. He said his friend had "some anger issues" and his "family dynamics weren't great."
The teen's parents had divorced and struggled with financial problems in the last few years. Address records show Marsh's mother, Sheri Hosking, moved out of the family's upscale 3,154-square foot Davis home in 2008. His father, Bill Marsh, a retired building inspector, remained there.
In June 2011, Hosking filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The Davis home she and her former husband bought in 2006 for $805,000 was in default and being sold, according to her filing.
An office assistant for the city of Davis, Hosking listed more than $70,000 in combined credit card debt for her and Bill Marsh, as well as $58,389 from a lingering second mortgage on a foreclosed Vacaville home.
Shoko Tanaka, a neighbor who lived across the street from the family's former house on Davis' Marina Circle, said she saw no hint of discontent nor anything unusual about Daniel Marsh before the family moved out.
At Baciarini's Martial Arts in Davis, Richard Baciarini, who for four years taught Daniel Marsh blocks, strikes, flexibility and young life skills, said there was no explaining the violence for which he is accused.
"I am really shocked by this," Baciarini said. "It shocked us."
Baciarini remembered a calm and quiet youth drawn to the martial arts studio's teachings and its "core belief that we're helping our students live their best lives."
Marsh had attended the Davis Waldorf School and Oliver Wendell Holmes Middle School. He was known back then as "really intelligent" and "one of the calmest, sweetest guys," said Cara Sheeran, a former classmate.
Another former Waldorf friend, Eva DeNardi, 16, recalled him as "a cute little kid" who bought her earrings and necklaces. She also described Marsh's mother as "really sweet."
Ana Augustine, 15, who got to know Marsh this year at Davis Senior High School, said he became known for his combat boots, his jacket for the nu metal band Slipknot and his perpetually dark clothing.
Once, she said, Marsh introduced himself to a circle of classmates by saying, "I'm Dan and I like the dark." Kids at the school took to calling him "Dan Who Likes the Dark."
The teacher for the world civilizations class Augustine attended with Marsh discussed the slayings with students at one point this spring, she said.
In the months after the slaying of the Davis couple, Northup and Maupin, an FBI forensics team joined Davis and West Sacramento police and Yolo County investigators to search for a suspect in a crime difficult to fathom.
The city hadn't had a homicide since 2011.
Ca1l The Bee's Darrell Smith, (916) 321-1040. Bee staff writer Peter Hecht and researcher Pete Basofin contributed to this report.