WOODLAND — Two weeks before the scheduled start of his trial, the Davis teen accused of fatally stabbing an elderly couple changed his plea Monday to not guilty by reason of insanity.
The new plea requires 17-year-old Daniel Marsh to undergo two separate psychiatric evaluations — one for the prosecution, the other for the defense — and could result in a delay in Marsh’s trial proceedings, which already have been postponed several times.
Marsh is accused of killing Davis attorney and musician Oliver “Chip” Northup, 87, and his wife Claudia Maupin, 76, in the bedroom of their Cowell Boulevard condominium on April 14, 2013.
Yolo Superior Court Judge David Reed ordered the case back to court Wednesday morning for appointment of the psychiatric experts, then asked Marsh directly whether he wished to pursue an insanity plea.
“Yes, your honor,” Marsh replied from his seat in the courtroom’s jury box.
Marsh’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Ron Johnson, could not be reached for comment regarding the timing of the plea change, which comes nearly a year after Marsh’s arrest in connection with the murders and nearly nine months after another judge determined there was sufficient evidence for the case to proceed to trial.
Speculation of a defense bid to delay Marsh’s trial once again met with resistance from the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office, which is trying Marsh as an adult on two counts of first-degree murder with the special circumstances of multiple murders, lying in wait and torture.
“We’re opposed to any continuance of the trial,” Assistant Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Cabral said as he left the Woodland courthouse after Monday’s brief hearing. “We’re going to get our expert figured out, and we’ll be ready to go.”
Though sudden, the switch to an insanity plea wasn’t entirely unexpected in light of revelations that Marsh suffered from depression and anxiety, had been hospitalized in a mental-health facility several months before the murders and, according to a Davis police detective who testified at Marsh’s preliminary hearing, admitted harboring the urge to kill since age 10.
Marsh’s case is now the second recent Davis homicide case to involve an insanity plea. The other is that of Aquelin Talamantes, whose trial on allegations that she drowned her 5-year-old daughter last September wrapped up its sanity phase Monday afternoon.
The jury, which convicted Talamantes of first-degree murder and child assault resulting in death on Friday, is now deliberating whether the 29-year-old defendant was legally sane or insane at the time of the crime.
— Reach Lauren Keene at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene