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Daniel Marsh, 16, is accused of murdering an elderly Davis couple in April.

Closed proceedings requested for Yolo murder trial

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3B
Last Modified: Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013 - 8:08 am

The attorney for Daniel William Marsh, the teenager accused of killing an elderly Davis couple in April, has asked a judge to bar the public and media from the teen's preliminary hearing next month, saying news coverage has jeopardized Marsh's chance for a fair trial.

Deputy Yolo County Public Defender Ronald Johnson called for the ban in a motion stocked with press clippings filed Monday in Yolo Superior Court in Woodland.

A hearing on the motion before Yolo Superior Court Judge Timothy Fall is set for Aug. 29. Marsh faces a Sept. 13 preliminary hearing in Yolo Superior Court.

"The media surrounding Mr. Marsh has been extensive and sensational," Johnson wrote.

"The media coverage regarding the deaths of the victims has been pervasive, lasting for months."

Neither Johnson nor Yolo County Public Defender Tracie Olson was available Tuesday for comment.

Yolo County Assistant Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Cabral declined to comment on the defense motion Tuesday, but said prosecutors plan to file a response by the end of next week.

The violent stabbing deaths of Oliver Northup, 87, and Claudia Maupin, 76, and the boy-hero-turned-slaying-defendant have garnered national and international headlines.

Johnson cited more than 70 print, broadcast and online items this year dedicated to the Marsh case in his motion and said his office was contacted by the syndicated daytime talk show "Dr. Phil," requesting that Marsh appear on the program.

USA Today, New York Daily News, the London Daily Mail, and even the supermarket tabloid Globe have picked up the story with the Globe characterizing the 16-year-old Marsh in its Aug. 5 issue as a "twisted teen," and "bloodthirsty monster."

"The media coverage has made a spectacle out of this case," Johnson wrote, asking Fall to close the courtroom and seal transcripts.

Maupin was a pastoral associate and spiritual director at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis.

Northup, a longtime criminal appellate defense attorney, was a founding member of the church and also a guitarist and singer in the Putah Creek Crawdads, a popular local folk combo.

Marsh was hailed a hero as a 12-year-old in 2009 when he revived his father, who had suffered a heart attack behind the wheel of the family's car. He now faces first-degree murder charges with special circumstances, including lying in wait and torture.

Prosecutors allege he tortured and stabbed Northup and Maupin "in a way that manifested exceptional depravity."

Marsh has pleaded not guilty to the allegations and is being held without bail at Yolo County Juvenile Detention Facility.

Call The Bee's Darrell Smith, (916) 321-1040.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

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