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The Davis Enterprise
September 14, 2014 |
WOODLAND — A clinical psychologist who evaluated accused killer Daniel Marsh found the teenager “overplayed” his reaction to the antidepressant medications he was taking around the time of his alleged crime, possibly in preparation for his insanity defense at trial. Dr. James Rokop testified in Yolo Superior Court on Friday that Marsh, who changed his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity in June, had discussed the defense tactic with others at Juvenile Hall as long ago as September 2013.
During six hours of interviews with Rokop that took place over a two-day period last month, Marsh, 17, disclosed that he felt no change after recently being weaned off anti-anxiety medications, but then halted the conversation to emphasize that he “feels way different being off antidepressants,” according to Rokop.
“I felt that was a little bit overplayed on his part … pushing the NGI defense in the interview, suggesting that everything was related to medications and that he felt so much better not taking them,” Rokop added, noting that Marsh still showed signs of being depressed and homicidal “while trying to convince me that he wasn’t having these urges.”
Marsh’s defense has revolved around the antidepressant and mood-stabilizing drugs he was taking between January and April 2013, when Oliver “Chip” Northup, 87, and his wife Claudia Maupin, 76, were fatally stabbed in their Cowell Boulevard condominium on the early morning of April 14. Marsh is being tried as an adult on two counts of murder with special circumstances.
Deputy Public Defender Ron Johnson has said the medications succeeded only in worsening Marsh’s mental illness, resulting in uncontrollable homicidal urges that his doctors and therapists failed to recognize or treat.
But Rokop said Friday those claims are inconsistent with reports that Marsh’s severe depression and school performance seemed to improve after he began taking the medications, according to the doctors and Davis High School educators who regularly interacted with him.
Still, Marsh continued to have recurrent thoughts of torture and death, several witnesses testified in court last week, though Rokop said he perceived those visions to be images Marsh had seen on the Internet websites he frequented as opposed to “legitimate” hallucinations.
The teen also shared his world view that the people around him were “cockroaches and parasites” and that “everyone deserved to die, except for children,” Rokop said. He said he had admired and studied serial killers such as Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer, at one point stealing a ski mask from Big 5 “with the idea that someday he would commit a murder.”
He cast blame on Northup and Maupin for their deaths, referring to them as “stupid Davis people” for leaving a window open for him to sneak through, according to Rokop, who recalled Marsh’s description of the attack in chilling and graphic terms that brought family members in the courtroom to tears.
As he left the crime scene, “he couldn’t stop smiling and laughing and saying, ‘I’m a murderer,’ ” inflicting two slashes on his arm — one for each victim — as a reminder of what he had done, Rokop said.
Marsh’s father lived two doors down from the slain couple, and although he did not target them for that reason, “he did take satisfaction that it did scare his father and sister that a crime had been committed so close,” Rokop said.
The killings gave Marsh an emotional high that lasted a few days, “and then he got the urge to do it again,” Rokop said. He said Marsh went out two more nights — once armed with a baseball bat, once with a knife — in search of victims, at one point getting within 10 feet of a woman before he noticed a group of kids nearby, so “he decided not to pursue it.”
However, Marsh did say he killed several cats after the murders, which along with earlier killings of a raccoon and a vulture he attributed to the medication side-effects. But Rokop noted that Marsh’s records indicate he had also killed birds as long ago as 2006, indicating he had violent ideations prior to taking the drugs.
Rokop also expressed skepticism in Marsh’s statement that he “didn’t recall” whether he had smoked marijuana on the day of the crime, even though he had reported using it as much as several times a day. “You wouldn’t expect that pattern to suddenly discontinue,” he said.
Police arrested Marsh in June 2013 after two friends he confided in about his crime reported him to police, an act that Rokop said surprised Marsh because he thought they were “OK with it.” He also said Marsh seemed “taken aback” when asked why he hid evidence of the crime at his own home, inside his mother’s garage.
“There’s no way the police would think a 15-year-old would do something like this,” Marsh replied, referring to his age at the time of the murders.
Rokop concluded by saying he diagnosed Marsh with major depressive disorder, conduct disorder — a precursor to antisocial personality disorder, which is a diagnosis limited to adults — and sexual sadism, based on the teen’s reports of feeling aroused when exposed to images of pain and torture.
Deputy Public Defender Ron Johnson got partway into his cross-examination of Rokop on Friday before court adjourned for the weekend.
During that time, Johnson posed questions suggesting it wouldn’t have been unusual for Marsh to discuss possible defenses last fall because he was well into the court process at that point, and that a previous interview with another psychologist gave him insight into what had triggered his alleged crime.
“He’s probably relieved at that revelation and wants to share it with you,” Johnson said, to which Rokop replied: “I believe that he knew what was going on with him for a long time.”
The trial resumes Monday with Rokop’s continued cross-examination. Judge David Reed informed the jury that the guilt phase of the case could be in their hands by the week of Sept. 22.
If Marsh is convicted, the trial moves to a second phase where jurors must determine whether Marsh was legally sane or insane at the time of the murders.
— Reach Lauren Keene at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene
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Davis teen Daniel Marsh gets 52 years to life for slaying elderly couple | The Sacramento Bee
Teenager Daniel Marsh was sentenced Friday to 52 years to life for brutally murdering an elderly couple in their south Davis home last year.
Daniel William Marsh, the onetime boy hero who saved his father’s life, was sentenced Friday to 52 years to life for brutally murdering an elderly couple in their south Davis home last year.
Yolo Superior Court Judge David W. Reed detailed the horrors in chillingly simple terms as he sentenced Marsh to the maximum of 25 years to life, plus an extra year for use of a knife, one term each for the killings of Oliver “Chip” Northup and Claudia Maupin.
“This is a sad case,” Reed continued. “They did not deserve to die. They did not deserve to be killed by Daniel.”
The sentence followed emotionally raw statements from an extended family devastated by the brutality that visited them in April 2013 and that haunts them still.
Marsh, sitting with his attorney, Yolo County Deputy Public Defender Ronald Johnson, his back to the gallery, bowed his head and closed his eyes. Marsh’s father, Bill, and sister, Sarah, occupied a far corner at the back of the courthouse.
As a 12-year-old, Daniel Marsh was honored by a local American Red Cross chapter for saving his father’s life when the elder Marsh suffered a heart attack behind the wheel of the family’s car.
Marsh was 15 when in the predawn hours of April 14, 2013, he dressed in black, donned a shoplifted ski mask, grabbed a hunting knife and set out into the dark, breaking into the home of Northup and Maupin. Marsh stabbed the pair in their bedroom as they awakened, and tortured, then mutilated the couple in a crime so savage that jurors at his murder trial were moved to tears and that prosecutors called it the most heinous they had seen.
Northup, an attorney and locally popular folk musician, was a Yolo County prosecutor early in his law career who once tried cases in the very courthouse where his killer stood trial. He was 87.
Maupin, 76, was a pastoral associate and spiritual director at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis, where Northup was a founding member. The couple would have celebrated their 18-year anniversary in November.
The killings shocked the college town and terrified residents in the weeks after police found the bodies of Northup and Maupin. 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.
A counselor testified during the trial that Marsh daydreamed of torture. A state psychologist testified that Marsh studied serial killers. He surfed websites with images of beheadings and disembowelment in the weeks before the killings, investigators testified.
Marsh sought to be found not guilty by reason of insanity, but jurors determined him to be sane at the time of the killings. He was remanded to Yolo County juvenile custody and will be sent to state prison when he turns 18.
One by one on Friday, members of Northup and Maupin’s families remembered the couple for the rich, encompassing lives they shared, the love they had for their families and the November day 18 years ago when they were married.
On their wedding day, the two families stood behind the couple as they recited their vows. Instead of Northup and Maupin saying “I do,” the family, in unison, said “We do.”
They also described the emotional, psychological and financial wreckage Daniel Marsh left in his wake, miles-deep and widespread.
Mary Northup, Chip Northup’s youngest daughter, works just blocks from where Northup and Maupin lived and she saw him daily on her walks before her father’s home became a crime scene sealed with police tape.
She broke down, couldn’t work, struggled to keep the family together. Across town, her son was in middle school, the killer of his grandparents the talk of the town. She pulled her son from school, re-enrolled him at a private school in Sacramento. The costs of a new school, months of intensive therapy and lost wages has totaled more than $80,000. The money she hopes to recoup, but her father is gone.
“My father’s murder ripped him from us,” Mary Northup said. “After watching the defendant for the last year and a half, the only thing he learned is that he should not disclose the details of his next murder. No sentence can bring my parents back.”
Hurd, who saw her mother’s and Northup’s bodies carried away by medical examiners, said she’ll never forget the sound of her daughter’s screams over the phone when she heard the terrible news. Hurd’s sister discovered the bodies with Davis police.
“My sister lost her mind that day,” Hurd said. “It has not come back.”
When the family was finally able to enter the home to carry away effects, Hurd found blood on furniture that crime-scene cleaning crews had missed. She sobs in her sleep when she does sleep.
“The ramifications of this gruesome crime are unending,” Hurd said.
James Northup, Chip Northup’s son, battling the ravages of Lou Gehrig’s disease, rose from his wheelchair to address the court. A week before the killings, the Northup family hosted a baby shower to celebrate the birth of James’ granddaughter and Chip’s great-granddaughter.
“We were looking forward to a beautiful spring,” he said. “A week later, Daniel Marsh murdered our joy.”
Call The Bee’s Darrell Smith, (916) 321-1040.