Daniel William Marsh, the onetime boy hero who saved his father’s life, was sentenced Friday to 52 years to life for brutally murdering an elderly couple in their south Davis home last year.
Yolo Superior Court Judge David W. Reed detailed the horrors in chillingly simple terms as he sentenced Marsh to the maximum of 25 years to life, plus an extra year for use of a knife, one term each for the killings of Oliver “Chip” Northup and Claudia Maupin.
“The murders in this case were brutal, the victims were random. He tortured them and took pleasure in what he had done. He told his friends. He slaughtered Northup and Maupin out of morbid curiosity,” Reed said.
“This is a sad case,” Reed continued. “They did not deserve to die. They did not deserve to be killed by Daniel.”
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The sentence followed emotionally raw statements from an extended family devastated by the brutality that visited them in April 2013 and that haunts them still.
Marsh “stabbed, dismembered, dissected and murdered my cherished parents. ... His actions are irredeemable” said Victoria Hurd, Maupin’s youngest daughter and a constant presence throughout the trial, calling for the maximum sentence as family and friends crowded the rows of the tiny courtroom. “If he is freed, people will die.”
Marsh, sitting with his attorney, Yolo County Deputy Public Defender Ronald Johnson, his back to the gallery, bowed his head and closed his eyes. Marsh’s father, Bill, and sister, Sarah, occupied a far corner at the back of the courthouse.
As a 12-year-old, Daniel Marsh was honored by a local American Red Cross chapter for saving his father’s life when the elder Marsh suffered a heart attack behind the wheel of the family’s car.
Marsh was 15 when in the predawn hours of April 14, 2013, he dressed in black, donned a shoplifted ski mask, grabbed a hunting knife and set out into the dark, breaking into the home of Northup and Maupin. Marsh stabbed the pair in their bedroom as they awakened, and tortured, then mutilated the couple in a crime so savage that jurors at his murder trial were moved to tears and that prosecutors called it the most heinous they had seen.
“I’ve been a prosecutor for 28 years, and never have I seen a defendant with such an evil soul,” said Michael Cabral, Yolo County assistant chief deputy district attorney and lead prosecutor on the case.
Northup, an attorney and locally popular folk musician, was a Yolo County prosecutor early in his law career who once tried cases in the very courthouse where his killer stood trial. He was 87.
Maupin, 76, was a pastoral associate and spiritual director at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis, where Northup was a founding member. The couple would have celebrated their 18-year anniversary in November.
The killings shocked the college town and terrified residents in the weeks after police found the bodies of Northup and Maupin. The gruesome discovery came hours after the two failed to show for a memorial service and a later engagement where Northup was scheduled to perform with his folk band, the Putah Creek Crawdads.
A Yolo Superior Court jury convicted Marsh, now 17, of first-degree murder in September after weeks of disturbing testimony that plumbed Marsh’s mental state in the months and years before the killings and featured Marsh’s marathon confession to authorities that detailed the grisly murders and the exhilaration he felt by committing them.
A counselor testified during the trial that Marsh daydreamed of torture. A state psychologist testified that Marsh studied serial killers. He surfed websites with images of beheadings and disembowelment in the weeks before the killings, investigators testified.
Marsh sought to be found not guilty by reason of insanity, but jurors determined him to be sane at the time of the killings. He was remanded to Yolo County juvenile custody and will be sent to state prison when he turns 18.
One by one on Friday, members of Northup and Maupin’s families remembered the couple for the rich, encompassing lives they shared, the love they had for their families and the November day 18 years ago when they were married.
On their wedding day, the two families stood behind the couple as they recited their vows. Instead of Northup and Maupin saying “I do,” the family, in unison, said “We do.”
They also described the emotional, psychological and financial wreckage Daniel Marsh left in his wake, miles-deep and widespread.
Mary Northup, Chip Northup’s youngest daughter, works just blocks from where Northup and Maupin lived and she saw him daily on her walks before her father’s home became a crime scene sealed with police tape.
She broke down, couldn’t work, struggled to keep the family together. Across town, her son was in middle school, the killer of his grandparents the talk of the town. She pulled her son from school, re-enrolled him at a private school in Sacramento. The costs of a new school, months of intensive therapy and lost wages has totaled more than $80,000. The money she hopes to recoup, but her father is gone.
“My father’s murder ripped him from us,” Mary Northup said. “After watching the defendant for the last year and a half, the only thing he learned is that he should not disclose the details of his next murder. No sentence can bring my parents back.”
Hurd, who saw her mother’s and Northup’s bodies carried away by medical examiners, said she’ll never forget the sound of her daughter’s screams over the phone when she heard the terrible news. Hurd’s sister discovered the bodies with Davis police.
“My sister lost her mind that day,” Hurd said. “It has not come back.”
When the family was finally able to enter the home to carry away effects, Hurd found blood on furniture that crime-scene cleaning crews had missed. She sobs in her sleep when she does sleep.
“The ramifications of this gruesome crime are unending,” Hurd said.
James Northup, Chip Northup’s son, battling the ravages of Lou Gehrig’s disease, rose from his wheelchair to address the court. A week before the killings, the Northup family hosted a baby shower to celebrate the birth of James’ granddaughter and Chip’s great-granddaughter.
“We were looking forward to a beautiful spring,” he said. “A week later, Daniel Marsh murdered our joy.”
Call The Bee’s Darrell Smith, (916) 321-1040.