Daniel Marsh

Hearings on Davis couple's slayings to stay public, judge rules

Published: Friday, Aug. 30, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3B

A Yolo Superior Court judge ruled Thursday that the preliminary hearing for the teenager accused of killing a Davis couple in April will remain open to the public.

Yolo Superior Court Judge Timothy Fell rejected efforts by Daniel William Marsh's attorney to bar the public and media from the proceedings.

Ronald Johnson, Yolo County deputy public defender, had argued that media coverage surrounding Marsh and the violent deaths of Davis attorney Oliver Northup and Claudia Maupin was "sensational" and jeopardized Marsh's ability to have a fair trial.

Marsh, 16, faces two counts of murder with special circumstances in connection with the Davis couple's deaths. A preliminary hearing is set for Sept. 13 in Yolo Superior Court.

Marsh remains held without bail at Yolo County's juvenile detention facility.

Attorneys representing several news organizations, including The Sacramento Bee, disputed the defense claims, saying a closed hearing would violate the First Amendment.

The Yolo County District Attorney's Office filed its own motion, arguing that a closed hearing would keep family and friends of Northup and Maupin from attending the proceeding.

On Thursday, Johnson said media coverage would "increase the sensational nature of the case" and make it more difficult to seat a jury in Yolo County.

But Fell quickly denied the defense motion, ruling it was unlikely potential jurors would be prejudiced by media coverage.

Attorneys Stephen Burns, who was representing The Bee, Davis Enterprise and Woodland Daily Democrat, and Paul Nicholas Boylan, representing the community website People's Vanguard of Davis, praised the ruling.

"We think it's important that we have these hearings open," Burns said. "There's no reason for a gag order."

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

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

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