Daniel William Marsh, the onetime boy hero lauded for saving his father’s life, was found guilty Friday of first-degree murder in the savage April 2013 stabbing deaths of a Davis couple.
The verdict Friday in Yolo Superior Court came less than 24 hours after testimony concluded Thursday in the grisly case that shocked the college town.
Jurors also determined the 17-year-old Davis teen lay in wait and tortured attorney and musician Oliver Northup, 87, and his wife, Claudia Maupin, 76, a pastoral associate at their church, after breaking into the couple’s Cowell Boulevard home.
Marsh faces life in prison. Jurors will next determine whether Marsh was sane when he committed the murders, which will determine whether he is sent to a state hospital or prison. He had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
The sanity phase of the trial is set to begin Monday, but for a moment Friday, relief replaced two families’ anguish as the verdicts were read.
A white-haired man, wearing a T-shirt bearing a photo of Maupin and the man family and friends knew as “Chip,” quietly sobbed in the aisle of the packed Woodland courtroom. Maupin’s daughter, Victoria Hurd, surrounded by friends and family after being a constant presence at trial, expressed gratitude at the swift verdict.
“We’re pleased and grateful the jury did the right thing,” she said. “We feel that justice was served today. My mother and Chip were the greatest people. They didn’t deserve this. They didn’t deserve it.
“I’m grateful this monster’s been caught and that this won’t happen again at his hand. I think our family can start to put this behind us and heal.”
Davis was a community shocked and terrified in the weeks after police found the bodies of Northup and Maupin the night of April 14, 2013. 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.
For two more months until his arrest that June, Marsh went to school, walked the streets and planned, but failed to carry out, at least two more killings, prosecutors said. He stowed his blood-soaked clothes and knife in his mother’s garage while police, state and federal investigators worked to find the killer.
The community was stunned again when they learned of the accused killer. Marsh was honored for heroism in 2009 by the local Red Cross after grabbing the wheel of the family station wagon, then reviving his stricken father, who blacked out while driving as he suffered a heart attack.
The killings were the horrific culmination of years of homicidal and suicidal thoughts, violent dreams and fantasies, court testimony revealed. Raised in a family in deep crisis that faced its own mental, physical and financial troubles, according to court filings, Marsh was diagnosed with depression and anorexia that were treated with antidepressants, therapists’ sessions and hospital stays.
But darker thoughts were behind the depression, testimony revealed. Marsh studied serial killers in the year before the murders, his thoughts of torture and killing increasingly fed by Internet images of sexual violence and gore.
“He had a general hate of everybody,” testified James Rokop, a Department of State Hospitals clinical and forensic psychologist who spoke with Marsh twice in August. “He said he thought about (killing) a lot.”
Yet those warning signs were missed by doctors, said Marsh’s court-appointed attorney, Yolo County Deputy Public Defender Ronald Johnson.
“He’s spinning out of control,” Johnson told the jury Thursday in his closing argument, citing Marsh’s “thoughts of morbidity, killing people, the violent thoughts.”
“ ‘I can’t control these thoughts,’ he says. ‘They’re not working,’ ” Johnson said. “He’s taking the drugs. They’re not working.”
The jury soundly rejected Marsh’s defense that the assortment of antidepressants prescribed to alter his mood aggravated his homicidal and suicidal thoughts and left him in a “dissociative state” at the time of the killings.
Jurors were shaken by Marsh’s clear-eyed, disturbing videotaped account of the murders in the June 2013 interview in a Davis Police Department interrogation room that led to his arrest. At times, he laughed as he recounted the horror.
Marsh dressed in a black jacket, jeans and shoes, donned a shoplifited ski mask, grabbed a hunting knife and headed out, roaming in the predawn hours through south Davis house by house until he made his way into a condominium on Cowell Boulevard. He cut through a screen, walked into a bedroom and watched the couple as they slept. Maupin awakened first, then Northup.
In 30 minutes, Marsh told investigators, it was over.
On Friday, Marsh sat silently as the verdicts were read, his hands clasped at his chin. Color reddened his face as the jury was polled, his eyes cast downward as one by one the jurors affirmed their belief in his guilt.
His father, Bill Marsh, was not present.
Minutes later, Marsh, head bowed, was led by bailiffs through the courthouse’s corridor to a waiting elevator past Hurd, her family and friends. The elevator doors closed as Hurd sobbed and reached for a long embrace.
“We’re OK,” she said through her tears. “We’re OK now.”