Opening arguments in a high-profile murder case in Yolo County involving a teen charged with torturing and killing an elderly Davis couple began Tuesday.
Daniel Marsh, who was honored in 2009 as a hero for saving his father during a heart attack, is accused of the murders of Oliver Northup, 87, and his wife Claudia Maupin, 76, in 2013. Marsh was 16 years old at the time.
The complaint, filed on June 18, 2013, said Marsh "inflicted torture" on his victims, in what are described as "heinous and depraved" murders. The complaint does not elaborate beyond the description that the "murders were committed in a way that manifested exceptional depravity."
The now 17-year-old Marsh appeared calm for most of the trial Tuesday occasionally doodling on a legal pad during witness testimony, but like many in the courtroom, he was clearly shaken by some of the most gruesome details.
Clean-cut with short hair, Marsh's appearance in court stood in sharp contrast to the long-haired teen from a year ago seen in a police interrogation video that drove Marsh to hold his head in his hands as jurors listened to him describe how he killed his victims.
Police found the couple in their Davis home each with more than 60 stab wounds. At first, investigators had no motive for the crimes, but weeks later police arrested Marsh.
In court, jurors listened as prosecutors claimed Marsh carefully covered his tracks by using tactics he learned as a cadet in a special youth program with the Davis Police Department only to later admit to the crimes to friends who called police.
Jurors watched the video interrogation and listened to Marsh describe how he wanted to know what it was like to kill and got dressed in all black to go looking for easy victims in his old neighborhood. Marsh went on to describe watching his victims sleep before stabbing them to death, telling detectives it was the most incredible feeling he's ever felt.
Prosecutors chose to try the teen as an adult.
Marsh's defense attorney told jurors the boy had long suffered from depression and was taking anti-psychotic drugs to treat suicidal tendencies and homicidal ideation.
The defense said Marsh was even committed to a hospital just months before the murders for posing a threat to himself and others but was released because he never revealed a specific plan. Marsh's attorney went on to describe the teen as the victim of poor care by doctors and therapists who ignored clear warning signs like the abuse of animals and cries for help he said counselors suspected were mere pleas for attention.
Marsh's father was in the courtroom but declined to comment as did attorneys for both sides. In a brief phone interview, a relative of the victims said several relatives did not want to be in court to hear the graphic testimony.