Daniel William Marsh described the April night that ended in the violent deaths of an elderly Davis couple to detectives in a voice at times clear, at other times a mumble, but all horrific.
On Tuesday, Yolo Superior Court jurors silently watched excerpts of the grainy police station video recorded before his June 2013 arrest that prosecutors said showed the Davis teen is a calculated, sadistic killer who thrilled at torturing and mutilating his elderly victims, Oliver Northup and Claudia Maupin. Marsh, 17, faces two counts of murder with special circumstances including lying in wait and torture. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
“Manipulative, calculated, cunning and sadistic – these are all terms that describe Daniel Marsh,” said Yolo County Deputy District Attorney Amanda Zambor. “This is a deadly and dangerous combination.”
Marsh’s murder trial began Tuesday in Yolo Superior Court in Woodland, more than a year after his arrest in the April, 2013 stabbing deaths of Northup, 87, an attorney and musician and Maupin, 76, his wife and a local church official. The pair were found dead by police in their south Davis condominium.
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“It’s finally happening,” Marsh recalled to police detectives on the video of the moment he walked into the couple’s room and stood over their bed as they slept. “It was almost like an out-of-body experience, like it wasn’t real.”
Then the couple woke up, first Maupin, then Northup. Marsh described the violent scene, saying at one point that he continued to stab the couple after they died because “it just felt … right.”
Zambor said Marsh prowled the streets in black and armed with a hunting knife “searching, looking, hunting for his victims,” checking as many as 50 doors in south Davis before finding the couple’s condominium.
Marsh, in a starched white shirt and blue tie, sat with his eyes pressed shut, hands clasped at his chin as the video replayed his words.
In the gallery, family and friends of Maupin and Northup listened silently to the videotaped description of their loved ones’ deaths.
But his attorney offered the jury a different depiction of Marsh – one of a boy driven by demons and persistent thoughts of killing, fueled by the very drugs doctors had prescribed to quell them.
Yolo County Deputy Public Defender Ronald Johnson in his opening statement outlined a years-long chronology of a disturbed young Marsh who was losing his inner battles with deepening depression and rage, whose mind increasingly turned to thoughts of extreme violence.
Johnson cited failed attempts at therapy, involuntary commitments to hospitals for treatment and mixes of medications including Zoloft and antipsychotic medications before the killings. Johnson also blamed doctors, who he said missed warning signs.
“More and more, he becomes a prisoner of his own mind,” said Johnson, who said Marsh’s medications caused side effects that provoked thoughts of suicide and violence. “This is what doctors are supposed to be looking for … Not one said maybe he should get off these medications.”
Outside the courtroom at around noon, Victoria Hurd, Maupin’s eldest daughter, remembered her mother and stepfather as “extraordinary human beings” who were “larger than life to our family and the community they were a part of.”
And she pointedly referred to Marsh’s mental state at the time of the killings.
“I will not make someone’s mental state more important than their lives,” she said.