A Yolo County jury returned to the courtroom on Monday, September 29, to hear statements from prosecutors and Daniel Marsh’s attorney related to his state of mind while stabbing to death a prominent Davis couple in their bed. After deliberating about an hour yesterday morning, the jury comprised of four men and eight women found Marsh was sane when he murdered Claudia Maupin, 76, and Oliver “Chip” Northup, 87, and mutilated their bodies on the night of April 13, 2013.
The jury’s verdict means Marsh, now 17, will serve 52 years to life in state prison, the sentence to begin on his 18th birthday.
Marsh’s attorney, Public Defender Ron Johnson, had argued and called experts to testify that Marsh was in a “dissociative” mental state during the killings. Johnson tried to convince the jurors that Marsh’s mind was “invaded” by homicidal thoughts caused by prescription antidepressant drugs the teen was taking around the time of the murders. Thus, Johnson concluded, the antidepressant drugs had altered Marsh’s brain chemistry. Johnson also reiterated what he called a significant clue to Marsh’s mental state: he decided to tell two friends about the murders the next day after he had committed them. The murders were thus not real to him; he had been acting in a “dream state” while he committed them.
The jury did not buy these arguments. Instead the jurors agreed with crucial points Deputy District Attorney Amanda Zambor made during her brief remarks, which she prefaced by thanking the jurors for their efforts during the month-long trial. “Heinous crime does not equal insane,” Zambor stated. “Mental illness does not equal insane.”
Zambor did agree Marsh was afflicted with severe emotional problems. However, she said there was no evidence of psychosis, delusions or a “dissociative state.” Johnson’s defense had been based on the use of these terms to define Marsh’s mental state. Just the fact that he had meticulously planned the murders–down to wrapping duct tape around the soles of his shoes to foil police criminalistics experts investigating the crime scene—proved he was organized and his mind was engaged with the reality of what he was doing.
A date for the hearing at which the court will pronounce sentence on Marsh has yet to be scheduled.
Davis Enterprise: Jury: Marsh legally sane during Northup, Maupin murders