A hearing to determine whether a prison sentence of 52 years to life would constitute cruel and unusual punishment in the case of Davis teenager Daniel William Marsh will be held next month in Yolo Superior Court.
A jury convicted Marsh, 17, of first-degree murder in the brutal slaying of Oliver Northup and Claudia Maupin in their south Davis home in the predawn hours of April 14, 2013. Jurors subsequently rejected Marsh’s plea that he was not guilty by reason of insanity.
Following the conviction, the Yolo County Public Defender’s Office filed a motion asking the court for an individualized sentencing hearing to consider mitigating factors, specifically that Marsh was 15 when he committed the crime. The motion cites a case in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that mandatory life imprisonment without parole for someone younger than 18 at the time of the crime violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. A sentence of 52 years to life would mean Marsh would not be eligible for parole until he is 68 years old.
Defense attorneys argue in their court filing that a teenager has greater potential for rehabilitation than an adult, that “his traits are ‘less fixed’ and his actions less likely to be ‘evidence of irretrievable depravity.’”
“The question before the court is whether Mr. Marsh will have any meaningful life expectancy at the time he is eligible for parole,” the motion states.
Michael Cabral, Yolo County chief deputy district attorney, said the DA’s Office seeks the maximum penalty of 52 years to life and believes it is within the parameters of the Supreme Court ruling.
“We believe he is irreparably corrupt,” Cabral said.
By statute in California, a maximum of 25 years to life is allowed, and the DA’s Office is seeking 25 years for each homicide, plus an extra year for use of a knife in each slaying, he said.
The District Attorney’s Office disputes the Public Defender’s statement in the court filing that Marsh wouldn’t be eligible for parole until he was 68 years old. Jonathan Raven, chief deputy district attorney, cited a section of the state Penal Code saying that on any sentence if 25 years to life, the defendant will be eligible for parole on his 25th year of incarceration if the offense was committed before his 18th birthday.
“Due to (Marsh’s) age, he is entitled to a parole hearing after 25 years, regardless of whether he was sentenced to 52-to-life,” Raven said in an email. “So he would be eligible at around 41.”
A hearing that is expected to culminate with judgment and sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 12. Cabral said defense attorneys and prosecutors will have an opportunity to present witnesses during the hearing.
Call The Bee’s Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.