Californias Third District Court of Appeal has reversed the double-murder conviction of Daniel Marsh and mandated a new hearing to determine if he should have been tried as a juvenile for killing and mutilating Oliver Northup, 87, and Claudia Maupin, 76, in their Davis home in April 2013.
When Claudia Maupins daughter Victoria Hurd got the news, she told reporters, This is so wrong. She has a strong case, on a number of fronts.
The reversal of the murder conviction was the result of the 2016 Proposition 57, which, among other things, barred prosecutors from filing cases directly in juvenile court. In the case of a juvenile (Pablo Lara) who had kidnapped and sexually molested a 7-year-old girl, the state Supreme Court ruled that Proposition 57 applied retroactively.
In February the appellate court applied Proposition 57 to Marsh, who, although 15 when he murdered Northup and Maupin, was tried as an adult. That appellate ruling effectively put Marshs prosecutors, Michael Cabral and Amanda Zambor, on trial for trying him as an adult, which was entirely legal at the time.
The prosecutors decision was also fully justified by the nature of the crime, one of the worst in state and national history. The autopsy report for Northup and Maupin runs 16 pages and 6,658 words. A police report said the killer showed exceptional depravity.
Even so, the appellate court reversed the conviction the prosecutors had worked so hard to achieve. They skillfully refuted an expert witnesss notion that Marsh had been in a dream-like dissociative state and produced hospital records that falsified the claim that Marsh had been born with brain damage.
Marsh, now 20, did not gain the new hearing by a sudden show of remorse or good behavior in prison. His court-appointed attorneys had no need to produce new exculpatory evidence to have the conviction reversed. Nor did they need to advance new arguments.
The hearing was entirely due to retroactive application of Proposition 57.The new hearing comes without any regard for the victims relatives. During the lengthy trial they saw the taped confession of Marsh, who said that killing the couple felt amazing and that he experienced pure happiness and the most exhilarating enjoyable feeling Ive ever felt. That tape proved traumatic even for jurors, and now, as Victoria Hurd said, Its barreling back into our presence.
Marsh was sentenced to 52 years to life with no added time for torture or lying in wait. He is serving time at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego County and will be eligible for parole after 25 years, when he would only be in his early 40s.
If the Proposition 57-based hearing determines that Marsh should have been tried as an adult, the court would restore the murder conviction. But if the ruling goes the other way, he would be re-sentenced as a juvenile and his maximum punishment would be incarceration until age 25. The default view around Davis is that the conviction will be restored, but nothing is a lock in any California courtroom.
Victoria Hurd is correct: This is so wrong. The new hearing for convicted murderer Daniel Marsh is an affront to justice, a waste of public time and money, and a callous assault on the victims of violent crime.