Crime, Fire + Courts

Witness recalls victim as ‘caring and wonderful’

By From page A1 | September 04, 2014


Oliver "Chip" Northup, 87, and his wife Claudia Maupin, 76, were slain in their Cowell Boulevard condominium on April 14, 2013. Courtesy photo

WOODLAND — For the 12 years she cleaned house for Oliver “Chip” Northup and Claudia Maupin, Delonda Jones always began the workday with a cup of cappuccino and a long talk with Maupin.

“She insisted on a chat before I started cleaning,” Jones said on the witness stand Wednesday morning in Yolo Superior Court. “We would always laugh, and she called me her fourth daughter. She was very loving — very caring and wonderful.”

Maupin shared that warmth with everyone, Jones said — even the solicitors who reached her by telephone.

“Thank you for doing an amazing job, but not right now,” she’d tell them, according to Jones.

If the Davis couple had a fault, the witness said, it was that they were trusting enough to leave their Cowell Boulevard condominium’s doors and windows unlocked, though they tried changing that habit at Jones’ urging.

Nonetheless, Jones was stunned when she turned on the television news last April 15, 2013, and saw footage of the couple’s condo accompanying reports that the residents had been found slain the night before.

“That’s my client’s house,” Jones, dabbing tears from her eyes, recalled telling her husband. She said she had spoken just three days earlier with Maupin, who had offered the Joneses a ride to their doctor’s office for a medical appointment.

“We’re always together even when we’re not together,” Maupin told her during that final chat, Jones said.

Jones was the first witness to testify Wednesday in the second day of trial for Marsh, the Davis teen being tried as an adult in connection with Northup and Maupin’s fatal stabbings. Davis police say he confessed to the killings, telling them he’d harbored the urge to kill since the age of 10 and that he chose his victims at random after discovering an unlocked window at their home.

Northup, 87, was a longtime attorney and musician for the Putah Creek Crawdads, a local folk band. Maupin, 76, was active in Davis’ Unitarian Universalist Church and occasionally acted in local theater. They had been married for 15 years.

The 17-year-old Marsh has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, his defense attorney claiming during opening statements this week that mental illness combined with the side-effects of antidepressant and antipsychotic medications triggered suicidal and homicidal thoughts that culminated in his violent act.

Following Jones’ testimony, the trial’s focus turned to the crime-scene investigation process that took place after the discovery of the victims.

Current and former evidence collectors for the Davis Police Department took the witness stand Wednesday morning and afternoon, identifying dozens of photographs taken in and around the couple’s condominium that April night.

None of them would reveal a motive for the killings, however, with police finding no telltale signs of a burglary or any other financial motive during their search. Maupin’s purse remained on a bench where she usually left it, the cash and credit cards inside untouched.

Jurors also were shown the window screen Marsh reportedly sliced through to enter the condo’s living room, cutting three sides to create a U-shaped opening. Photos displayed in court showed that the intruder tracked dirt and bits of landscaping bark through the residence to the master bedroom where the couple was attacked.

Mario Alfaro, a Davis police services specialist who helped photograph the scene, described to lead prosecutor Michael Cabral how investigators recorded the locations and dimensions of small blood droplets — about a dozen of them in all — on nearby walls and floors in an attempt to pinpoint what had happened to Northup and Maupin.

Alfaro also identified pictures of bloodstained bedsheets recovered from the scene, one of which was riddled with holes from apparently being pierced with a knife.

“I counted 57 total,” Alfaro said, noting that both victims had sustained what appeared to be numerous defensive wounds.

Deputy Public Defender Ron Johnson used his cross-examination to seize upon what Alfaro called the “small amount” of blood spatter at the scene, questioning whether it was an indication that a majority of the wounds were inflicted postmortem.

In addition to two counts of first-degree murder, Marsh faces several special-circumstance allegations including torture, a count that Johnson tried unsuccessfully to have dismissed early on in the case by arguing that the postmortem injuries did not involve prolonged suffering.

But Alfaro could not say for certain whether the blood evidence confirmed that was the case and, under redirect questioning by Cabral, pointed out that both victims were found partially covered with bedding that could have absorbed their bleeding.

Testimony resumed today in Judge David Reed’s courtroom.

— Reach Lauren Keene at [email protected] or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene

Lauren Keene

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