WOODLAND — A bid to strike down torture allegations against a Davis murder suspect received opposition this week from Yolo County prosecutors, who say the sheer number and severity of the wounds Daniel Marsh allegedly inflicted on his victims is sufficient to keep the charge intact.
“While a few stab wounds might be solely indicative of an intent to kill, the defendant covered the victims with 128 stab wounds and went far beyond what was necessary simply to kill the victims,” Assistant Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Cabral wrote in a document filed this week in Yolo Superior Court.
And while Deputy Public Defender Ron Johnson has argued that testimony offered at Marsh’s Sept. 13 preliminary suggests many of Oliver “Chip” Northup and Claudia Maupin’s injuries could have been inflicted after they died, Cabral countered there’s no telling how long Marsh allegedly stabbed the elderly couple before they succumbed to their wounds.
“Furthermore, given the lack of testimony about the time of death of each victim, one reasonable inference from the evidence is that the victims were alive throughout the entire time the defendant stabbed and mutilated their bodies,” Cabral wrote.
A hearing on the dismissal motion is slated for Friday morning before Judge Paul K. Richardson.
The torture allegation is one of three special circumstances that accompany the two counts of first-degree murder prosecutors filed against Marsh, 16, in connection with the April 14 homicides. The other two allege multiple murders and lying in wait.
Marsh has pleaded not guilty to the charges. The onetime Davis High School student is being prosecuted as an adult but, because of his young age — 15 at the time of his alleged crime — he is ineligible for either the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole, even if the special circumstances are found to be true.
Davis police Detective Ariel Pineda testified at Marsh’s preliminary hearing that the teen confessed to the murders, saying he had harbored homicidal urges since the age of 10. Marsh reportedly targeted the elderly couple after finding an open window at their Cowell Boulevard window and cutting through a screen.
According to Pineda, Marsh described feeling “exhilarated” in the moments before the fatal attack, and said he continued to stab the couple even after they had died because “it just felt right.” A coroner’s official testified Maupin suffered 67 stab wounds, and Northup 61.
“The defendant’s own statement indicates that he spent minutes, if not years, contemplating how he was going to kill the victims,” with no evidence to suggest Marsh acted in the heat of passion or an explosion of violence, Cabral wrote in his opposition motion.
“To the contrary, the defendant’s statements reveal he was quite calm and contemplative as he prepared to murder two people asleep in their bed,” he added.
A trial in the case is scheduled for early March. Marsh, meanwhile, is being held without bail at Yolo County Juvenile Hall.
— Reach Lauren Keene at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene