Daniel Marsh told an emergency nurse in the months before the April 2013 stabbing deaths of an elderly Davis couple that he had tried to end his life on three separate occasions. The Davis teen’s growing anger and ever-increasing thoughts of suicide, homicide and torture alarmed a school counselor enough to alert officials of a possible threat to fellow students and to call police.
“He said he’d had these thoughts for years,” said Monica O’Brien, a Yolo County Office of Education counselor who was assigned to Davis Senior High School and counseled Marsh there in January 2013. “He said he used to fight them but he doesn’t anymore.”
O’Brien testified Tuesday in Yolo Superior Court in the murder trial of Marsh, 17, who is accused of murder with special circumstances in the deaths of Oliver Northup, 87, and Claudia Maupin, 76. The couple were found dead in their bedroom April 14, 2013, by Davis police.
Marsh has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
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Much of the testimony last week in the trial also focused Marsh’s mental state.
On Tuesday, O’Brien testified that she was just weeks on the job as a counselor after stints at Sutter Davis Medical Center and a local psychiatric hospital. Marsh was her first client.
She said Marsh smiled as he described daydreams of cutting away eyelids and removing eyes and that he had only “scratched the surface of these thoughts.” O’Brien said in a later session Marsh told her he was “fighting the thoughts” and “tried not to have them.”
O’Brien said Marsh told her he smoked marijuana and that it helped to keep the thoughts at bay, but that he still wanted to hurt people at his school.
O’Brien said she felt she was building rapport with Marsh, but knew she also had to go to authorities.
“The safety of students takes precedence over building rapport,” she said.
A month earlier, in December 2012, Marsh was in a Davis hospital’s emergency room with his mother, emergency nurse Patricia Prentice testified.
Prentice said Marsh appeared sad and told her he had increasing trouble trying to control his anger, described an at times volatile relationship with his mother, with whom he was living, and had adamantly rejected medications prescribed to regulate his mood.
He said he also talked about ending his life, Prentice said.
She said Marsh said he had tried to end his life on three separate occasions in the year before the April 2013 stabbings, first by attempting to drink himself to death; by trying to overdose on morphine; then, attempting to be struck by a train. Prentice said Marsh said the train abruptly switched tracks and avoided hitting him.