The Davis teenager accused of killing an elderly couple was severely depressed and stayed at a psychiatric hospital four months before the April slayings, according to court documents obtained Thursday by The Bee.
Divorce and bankruptcy files reveal a family in deep crisis as it faced mental and physical health problems, financial troubles and a vitriolic custody dispute over 16-year-old Daniel William Marsh and his older sister.
Marsh battled depression and anorexia since at least 2011, his parents said.
"Daniel was hospitalized for depression (which he was self-medicating with alcohol, among other problems)," mother Sheri Hosking wrote in a March court document in reference to her son's December 2012 stay at a Sacramento psychiatric hospital.
Prosecutors allege that Marsh killed attorney and local musician Oliver Northup, 87, and wife Claudia Maupin, 76, in their south Davis condominium on or about April 13. Police discovered their bodies April 14 after family members called for a welfare check when the couple did not show up for an engagement with his local folk band, Putah Creek Crawdads.
Marsh pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Yolo Superior Court to two counts of first-degree murder with special circumstances. Prosecutors allege that he planned the killings, laid in wait for the couple, then tortured and stabbed them in a way that suggested "exceptional depravity."
Investigators say the youth's motives remain unknown and that Marsh did not know Northup and Maupin. He is being tried as an adult.
After authorities arrested Marsh on Monday, friends this week described him as anything from a normal 16-year-old to someone who was withdrawn and fell frequently ill.
In custody documents, both parents detailed their son's battle with depression.
Hosking said she "tried for quite some time to get Daniel to go to counseling without a lot of success when I noticed that he was having serious trouble with depression. This began in October 2011."
In a separate statement, Bill Marsh said his son was anorexic and sought treatment at a Kaiser eating disorder outpatient program in Sacramento during the second half of 2011. That program is intended for people with "moderate to severe anorexia or bulimia" to help address "underlying issues that are generally at the core of an eating disorder," according to its website.
The teenager needed more intensive treatment, and he subsequently spent a "tough" six-week stay at a companion Kaiser hospital program in Berkeley, his father wrote.
"It was very traumatic for him," the elder Marsh said in a declaration this year.
Both parents said the youth's mental health issues deteriorated enough that he needed treatment at a Sacramento psychiatric hospital in December 2012. Hosking described the stay as a "voluntary psychiatric hospitalization." Bill Marsh said his son's stay was ultimately "an agreed action" but that his son was initially forced into hospitalization by school and health officials.
Attempts to reach the parents Thursday were unsuccessful.
The revelations were available in an inch-thick public divorce file in Yolo Superior Court. Hosking left her husband in July 2007, moving out of the family's 3,154-square foot Davis home, documents show. She took her children, and the couple engaged in several years of custody disputes. Hosking filed for divorce a year later.
Daniel Marsh stayed primarily with his father at the family's Marina Circle home, while his sister lived with Hosking, documents show.
In 2009, the boy was celebrated as a 12-year-old hero by the American Red Cross of Yolo County for grabbing the steering wheel of the family station wagon as his father was suffering a near-fatal heart attack.
By April 2012, he was no longer living with his father after a late-night argument over alcohol use, Hosking said in a declaration this year. His father called it a "misunderstanding of communication."
After the teenager's hospitalization in December, Bill Marsh sought sole custody of his two children in January, saying he was "truly concerned for both of their mental and physical health and safety."
On March 8, however, Yolo Superior Court Judge Kathleen M. White awarded sole custody of Daniel Marsh to Hosking, including "full legal authority for medical and psychiatric treatment of Daniel."
A separate April 2 court document – issued less than two weeks before the Davis slayings – stated the "primary purpose" of awarding sole custody of the boy to Hosking was so she could "have control of Daniel's medical care, especially mental health."
Call The Bee's Darrell Smith, (916) 321-1040.