Name: Daniel William Marsh
Age at time of murder: 15 & 11 months
Crime date: April 14, 2013
Crime location: Davis, California
Crimes: Burglary, home invasion, double murder, & corpse mutilation
Weapon: Hunting knife
Murder method: Stabbing–over 60 wounds on each victim
Murder motivation: Thrill, excitement, & enjoyment
Sentence: 52 years to life (but eligible for parole after 25 years due to CA laws)
Incarceration status: Incarcerated at the RJ Donovan Correctional Facility and eligible for parole in June 2037
Marsh invaded the home of Chip, a lawyer and WW2 veteran, and his wife Claudia. He stabbed them both to death and then disemboweled and dissected their bodies. Marsh extensively planned for the murders, wearing tape on his shoes so as to not leave footprints and wearing all black. According to the trial court, the crimes were highly sophisticated even for “the most hardened and seasoned adult criminal.” Marsh was a highly depraved and disturbed offender, with the hallmark sociopathic trait of animal cruelty deep interests in murder and gore. He murdered Chip and Claudia purely for fun. He later described the murders as giving him the most enjoyable feeling he had ever experienced, which was heightened when the victims were conscious and resisting. Marsh planned additional murders as well. He was tried as an adult and his adult sentence was upheld at a later hearing. Should Senate Bill 1391, which prohibits 14 and 15 year olds from being tried as adults, be upheld, Marsh may be released upon turning 25.
The details of this murder, like many other murders committed by juveniles, are extremely graphic and disturbing. Read with caution. On the night of April 15, 2013, Marsh went on a hunt through the normally quiet Davis, CA, neighborhood Chip and Claudia resided in, with the desire to find a house with an open door or window, invade it, and then murder the occupants. Marsh brought with him a sharpened hunting knife and wore all-black clothing and a black face-mask, along with tape on his shoes so that he would not leave any foot prints. He found Chip and Claudia’s house, sliced open the screen, and entered. He followed the sounds of snoring to the couple’s bedroom. Marsh, who was one month away from turning 16, entered it and stood over the sleeping couple feeling “nervous but excited and exhilarated” about his plan. He then carried out that plan and stabbed Claudia and Chip to death. After they were dead, he continued stabbing and punching them. In total, each victim suffered over 60 separate wounds. He disemboweled and dissected the couple. He placed a cell-phone in Claudia’s body cavity and a drinking glass in Chips’s body “to fuck with the people who had to investigate it.” Marsh described the murders as giving him the most enjoyable feeling he had ever experienced, which was heightened when the victims were still conscious and resisting. That good feeling, he said, lingered for weeks. Marsh later made expeditions on the streets with a baseball bat (so that these crimes would not be associated with the stabbing murders of Chip and Claudia) but could not find any victims. Marsh later bragged about the murders several times, telling his girlfriend and friend the details of the crime and how great it felt.
Marsh was a highly disturbed and twisted teen. As described by California’s Third Distinct Court of Appeals:
From seventh grade on, he shared his preoccupation with violence with his intimates, starting with a desire to kill his mother’s girlfriend for ruining his parents’ marriage. Beginning in 2012, he became preoccupied with a deviant Web site that promoted amateur videos of actual gory events, “really fucked up stuff.” He and his intimates shared an interest in serial killers such as Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer, and his physical relationship with his girlfriend included consensual violent elements, such as choking. Defendant began to talk more persistently with friends about torture and killing random people, seeming to become more vicious and drawing graphically violent pictures of killings with morbid details of the methods. Defendant additionally had the hallmark sociopathic trait of animal cruelty, which his medications helped suppress.THE PEOPLE v. DANIEL WILLIAM MARSH
As stated by the trial court, the home invasion and subsequent slayings were highly sophisticated even for “the most hardened and seasoned adult criminal.”
WOODLAND — Adult court remains the proper jurisdiction for Daniel William Marsh, ruled a Yolo Superior Court judge who presided over a two-week hearing to determine whether the convicted killer of an elderly Davis couple should benefit from a change in juvenile sentencing laws.
Judge Samuel McAdam’s ruling, delivered Wednesday afternoon, rejected the 21-year-old Marsh’s bid to have his case remanded to the juvenile justice system that typically paroles its offenders at age 25.
Tension gripped the packed courtroom as McAdam read aloud his 17-page decision, which concluded that the sophistication of Marsh’s crime, combined with the gravity of the slayings and Marsh’s lack of progress in seeking rehabilitation during his five years of incarceration, support the adult-court finding.
“By his own admission his main objective was to remain undetected and to become a serial killer,” McAdam said after outlining Marsh’s careful planning of the murders that left no physical evidence behind. “This was a highly sophisticated, extraordinary and rare crime even for the most hardened and seasoned adult criminal.”
Read the full ruling here: Marsh transfer ruling
Marsh’s attorneys could not be reached for comment following the ruling. They have 20 days from the decision to file a writ demanding a review of McAdam’s order.
An appellate-court decision granted the transfer hearing retroactively as a result of the 2016 passage of Proposition 57, which did away with the direct filing of juvenile cases in adult court, as the law allowed when Marsh was arrested at age 16. That decision now requires a judge’s ruling.
Transferred to Yolo County in July to undergo the juvenile transfer hearing, Marsh was expected to be returned Thursday to the R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego to continue serving his sentence of 52 years to life for the April 14, 2013, mutilation stabbings of Oliver “Chip” Northup, 87; and his wife Claudia Maupin, 76.
The families of both victims rejoiced at McAdam’s ruling, reached following eight days of detailed testimony.
“It’s not about getting justice for Mom and Chip. We got that in 2014,” said Victoria Hurd, Mapuin’s daughter. “This hearing was about safety for our family and our friends and the community of Davis.”
According to Hurd, Davis citizens sent more than 300 letters to the court opposing Marsh’s remand to the juvenile justice system.
“There was an outcry, that they would not feel safe with him in the community, and rightfully so,” said Deputy District Attorney Amanda Zambor, who tried Marsh’s murder trial and led the transfer hearing four years later. “I don’t think he’ll ever be truly rehabilitated. I believe firmly that if he’s ever let out, he’ll kill again, and he’ll get away with it.”
Mary Northup, Oliver Northup’s daughter, said Proposition 57 — a measure that she supported — worked as it should.
“He got a fair hearing, the appropriate information was presented and weighed, and the decision that he should have been sent to adult criminal court was made,” she said.
Among the factors McAdam considered in reaching his decision were Marsh’s degree of criminal sophistication, capacity for rehabilitation while in juvenile court jurisdiction, prior delinquent acts, success of prior rehabilitation attempts, and the circumstances and gravity of the offense.
Though he didn’t testify at his 2014 trial, Marsh took the witness stand during this month’s hearing, offering an apology to the relatives of his victims and proclaiming himself a changed man who no longer harbors mental illness or embraces violence and hate.
“I was a really damaged, sick, screwed-up kid, so I don’t blame anybody for seeing me through that lens,” said Marsh, who claimed that childhood traumas — including physical and sexual abuse, negligent parents and suicidal and homicidal urges that went improperly treated — contributed to his offenses.
Marsh testified that individual therapy and group counseling programs in prison taught him about love and compassion. “All of these things have really changed my life, the way that I see the world, the way that I see myself,” he said.
But Yolo County prosecutors were having none of it, saying Marsh was highly calculated in planning his crime that occurred a month shy of his 16th birthday, proclaimed that it gave him an “exhilarating” feeling, and tried several times to kill again in the two months before his arrest, which came only after two friends reported to police that Marsh had bragged to them about the killings.
Prosecutors also alleged that Marsh demonstrated little interest in seeking consistent treatment until late last year, as the appellate-court ruling regarding his transfer hearing bid neared.
This aspect wasn’t lost on McAdam, who noted in his ruling that while Marsh likely did experience a traumatic childhood along with severe mental illness, “he has made no real effort at family therapy or understanding what really caused his trauma.”
“In other words, given Marsh’s emotional makeup, the effort and scope of his counseling, therapy and rehabilitation would need to match the degree of risk that he poses,” McAdam said. “It would require reflections of insight that are presently nowhere in sight.”
In light of that, “there is virtually no chance that Marsh will be rehabilitated before he turns 25 years old,” the ruling says. The state Division of Juvenile Justice “does not have any programming directed at someone like Marsh, who when he committed the murders desired to be a serial killer.”
And while a forensic child psychologist who twice evaluated Marsh over the past five years faulted Marsh’s parents for the “psychiatric emergency” he posed in the spring of 2013, “placing the blame on the mother and father really misses the point,” McAdam said. “No one is to blame for the crimes except Daniel Marsh.”
McAdam’s ruling is not the county’s last dealing with Marsh, however. Local prosecutors say his case also could be affected by Senate Bill 1391, which as of Jan. 1 amends Prop. 57 to eliminate the prosecution of 14- and 15-year-olds in adult court under any circumstances.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill into law on Sept. 30 — the day before Marsh’s transfer hearing began. Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig said his office plans to fight the measure, which is under appeal by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office on grounds that it is unconstitutional.
NOVJM amicus brief pages 12-15