WOODLAND — Nine women and three men were sworn in as jurors Wednesday in the trial of Daniel William Marsh, the Davis teen facing two counts of first-degree murder in connection with last year’s fatal stabbings of local couple Oliver “Chip” Northup and Claudia Maupin.
Five alternate jurors also were chosen for the proceedings, which resume Tuesday with attorneys’ opening statements followed by the start of witness testimony.
The trial could last through the end of September, Yolo Superior Court Judge David Reed told the several hundred potential jurors who were summoned this week for the high-profile case.
Marsh, 17, has entered a dual plea of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity, with the former applying to the guilt phase of the trial. Should Marsh be convicted, the case moves on to a sanity phase, at which time jurors must decide whether he was legally sane or insane at the time of his alleged crime.
The 87-year-old Northup, a longtime attorney and guitarist/lead singer for the Putah Creek Crawdads folk band, and his wife Maupin, 76, who was active in local theater as well as in the couple’s church, were found slain in the bedroom of their Cowell Boulevard condominium on the night of April 14, 2013.
Their violent deaths stunned the Davis community, which reeled again two months later when police arrested Marsh, then a 16-year-old Davis High School sophomore, on suspicion of committing the murders. A detective testified during Marsh’s preliminary hearing last fall that the teen confessed to the killings, saying he had harbored the urge to kill since the age of 10.
Less than four years earlier, Marsh had been hailed a local hero by the American Red Cross for coming to his father’s aid as he was suffering from a heart attack while at the wheel of his car. Marsh, then 12, steered the vehicle into a sound wall before pounding on his father’s chest to revive him.
Although he is a juvenile, the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office is trying him as an adult due to the nature of the charges. In addition to the two murder counts, each of which carries an enhancement for use of a knife, Marsh faces the special-circumstance allegations of multiple murders, torture and lying in wait.
Marsh’s young age does preclude him from facing the death penalty, however. If convicted, he could receive a sentence of 52 years to life in state prison or, if jurors conclude he was legally insane, be committed to a locked mental-health facility until the state deems him suitable for release.
It took more than a year for the case to reach the trial stage, with the June 2 entry of the insanity plea requiring the court to appoint two mental-health experts to conduct independent psychiatric evaluations of Marsh. The plea followed revelations that the teen had been hospitalized for clinical depression and severe anxiety several months before the murders.
Jury selection in the case lasted a full three days. In addition to filling out 14-page questionnaires, some potential jurors underwent extensive questioning by attorneys on subjects including their exposure to people suffering from mental illness, knowledge of psychiatric drugs and attitude toward the insanity defense.
Some of the questions posed by Marsh’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Ron Johnson, indicate he may argue during the trial that his client’s alleged actions were influenced by what he called “organic” mental illness, worsened by the side effects of psychiatric medications.
Assistant Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Cabral, the case’s lead prosecutor, appeared to seek out jurors who agreed that one need not be mentally ill to carry out a heinous crime, and that mental illness does not necessarily equal insanity.
Ultimately, both sides urged potential jurors to keep an open mind about the case.
Judge Reed, meanwhile, had further instructions to the 17 women and men who were sworn in to the jury panel: avoid media coverage of the case, don’t discuss the proceedings with others and refrain from seeking out evidence other than what’s presented in court.
Openings statements are slated to get underway at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
— Reach Lauren Keene at [email protected] or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene