WOODLAND — The Davis teen once hailed as a hero for saving his father’s life made his first appearance Wednesday in Yolo Superior Court, pleading not guilty to allegations that he took part in depraved, torturous murder.
Daniel William Marsh, who at age 16 is being charged as an adult for the April 13 stabbing deaths of Davis couple Oliver “Chip” Northup and Claudia Maupin, was nonetheless kept separated from the rest of the inmates being arraigned that day, remaining in an adjacent holding area until Commissioner Janene Beronio called his case.
He stood expressionless during much of the brief arraignment hearing, speaking only to confirm his name to Beronio and request a court-appointed attorney to represent him.
Through one of his two assigned public defenders, Marsh also denied enhancements to the first-degree murder charges alleging his use of a knife in the killings, and four special circumstances of multiple murders, heinous and depraved murder, lying in wait and torture.
Yolo County coroner’s officials say the 87-year-old Northup, an attorney and founder of the local folk band Putah Creek Crawdads, and his wife Maupin, 76, were stabbed multiple times in their Cowell Boulevard apartment. Police found their bodies on the night of April 14 after family members who hadn’t heard from them requested a welfare check.
With long, blond hair grown below his shoulders, Marsh came into court wearing an oversized dress shirt and blue-and-gray striped tie, the result of a motion filed by Deputy Public Defender Ron Johnson asking that, unless media cameras are banned from the courtroom, the teen be allowed to attend his hearings unshackled and in civilian clothing.
“The manner in which Mr. Marsh is portrayed by the press will impact (his) ability to receive a fair trial,” Johnson wrote in a nine-page motion filed in court just before the hearing. “Shackles, like prison clothes, are a constant reminder of Mr. Marsh’s condition as a person accused of a crime which may affect a juror’s or potential juror’s judgment of him.”
Beronio agreed to the change in clothes, but said the shackles would have to stay. She assigned the case to Judge Timothy Fall for all future proceedings, including a July 2 pre-hearing conference. In the meantime, Marsh remains lodged at Yolo County Juvenile Hall.
“There is no bail,” Beronio said, after which a woman seated in the courtroom’s fourth row whispered, “Yes.”
Because of his young age — 15 at the time of the murders, according to the criminal complaint — Marsh is ineligible for either the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole. The Davis High School student faces a maximum term of 26 years to life for each of the murder counts, prosecutor Michael Cabral said earlier this week.
Marsh’s father Bill — whose life the defendant saved at age 12 by pounding on his dad’s chest as he suffered a heart attack behind the wheel of their car — watched the proceedings from the court’s third row, occasionally twisting a ring on his right finger as he waited for his son’s case to be called. He declined to comment before the hearing, and afterward was escorted into the public defender’s office to avoid media that had gathered outside.
Relatives and friends of the victims also declined comment as they left the court building.
Ryan Kennedy, one of a group of young adults who appeared in court to support Marsh, told reporters he was struggling to make sense of the allegations against his friend.
“He did have a lot of joy in his life, and personally, I couldn’t ever see him doing what he’s been accused of,” said Kennedy, who recalled seeing and talking with Marsh at a local park just a couple of days before his arrest. He said nothing seemed out of the ordinary at the time.
Like many teens, Marsh “had some anger issues,” often keeping to himself and not trusting people he didn’t know well, Kennedy said.
“But that’s kind of how a lot of 16-year-olds are,” he added. “I know that’s how I was at that age.”
Marsh’s Facebook page shows indications of a darker side, with recent cover photos of sinister-looking clowns as well as an image of a person’s hand, the skin sliced open to show the bones and tendons underneath.
Davis police arrested Marsh shortly before 6 p.m. Monday after receiving what they called “compelling information” that led them to the teen suspect, though investigators have kept specifics under wraps.
He was taken into custody at the Davis police station as police, FBI agents and other law-enforcement officers served search warrants at two South Davis homes — his mother’s on Lillard Drive, as well as a vacant Cowell Boulevard condominium being rented by Bill Marsh at the time of the murders, two doors away from the slain couple.
Marsh remains the only suspect in the killings, police said. There were no indications he knew his alleged victims.
— Reach Lauren Keene at [email protected] or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene
Yolo County Deputy Public Defenders Ron Johnson and Andrea Pelochino stand with Daniel Marsh, 16, during his arraignment hearing Wednesday in Yolo Superior Court. He is charged with the brutal stabbing deaths of Oliver “Chip” Northup and his wife Claudia Maupin in their Davis home. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo
Bill Marsh, center, looks away after his son Daniel, 16, is led away during his arraignment hearing Wednesday in Yolo Superior Court. The younger Marsh is charged with murder with special circumstances in the slayings of a Davis couple. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo
Young people gather outside the Yolo County Courthouse on Wednesday during Daniel Marsh’s arraignment hearing on murder charges. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo