The man who murdered an elderly Davis couple and later said he dreamed of being a serial killer will remain in prison despite an attempt to retry him as a juvenile in accordance with a controversial California ballot measure, a Yolo judge decided Wednesday.
Daniel William Marsh will continue to serve his life prison sentence for the gruesome murders of Oliver Northup, 87, and Claudia Maupin, 76, in 2013, Yolo Superior Court Judge Samuel McAdam ordered Wednesday in a decision that left the families of the victims sobbing with relief.
“The harm caused by these crimes is incalculable,” McAdam said in issuing his 17-page order that upheld Marsh’s sentence. “The pain and suffering was palpable.”
Marsh was 15 at the time of the killings. By the time Marsh was 17, he had been tried and sentenced as an adult. Now 21, his case became a political flashpoint this year during a political fight on how juvenile killers should be tried.
Approved by voters in 2016, Prop. 57 requires that judges — not prosecutors — determine whether minors charged with certain crimes are tried in juvenile or adult court.
Marsh was convicted and sentenced before Prop. 57 went into effect, but an appeals court earlier this year ruled Marsh should be given a hearing under the new law.
Marsh was serving an indeterminate 52-year-to-life sentence at a San Diego-area prison when a state appellate court ruling sent him back to Yolo.
Had Marsh won Wednesday’s hearing, a reduced sentence could have meant his release at age 25.
The prospect angered Maupin and Northup’s survivors and gave fuel to opponents of Prop. 57, though the appellate court said Marsh had virtually no chance of winning the reduction.
After McAdam’s decision, Maupin’s daughter Victoria Hurd and Northup’s daughter, Mary Northup, found each other in the gallery for a long embrace.
“We’re so relieved, so relieved,” Hurd said. “We got our justice in 2014 (with Marsh’s conviction). It’s not about justice, it’s about safety.”
Northup and Maupin were each stabbed more than 60 times. Marsh left objects — a glass tumbler and a cellular phone — inside their wounds before leaving. In testimony, he confirmed he dreamed of killing others and made plans to do so before his arrest in June 2013.
At one point, Marsh testified that he was “horrified” and “disgusted” by what he did. Doctors spoke of childhood trauma, dysfunctional family life and his years-long mental and emotional slide that led to the killings.
Marsh had no criminal record prior to the slayings, and had briefly served as a police cadet.
McAdam said there were “no mitigating considerations.”
“He studied the acts and lives of serial killers. ... By his own admission, his main objective was to remain undetected and to become a serial killer,” McAdam said Wednesday. “This was a highly sophisticated and rare crime even for the most hardened and seasoned adult criminal.”
Marsh was silent as he was ordered to return to prison.