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A man who was convicted of the brutal double murder of an elderly couple when he was a teenager faced skeptical judges on Wednesday as he tried to secure an early release.
Daniel Marsh was 15 years old on April 14, 2013 when he broke into the house of Chip Northup, 87, and Claudia Maupin, 76, in Davis, California by slashing open a screen on a back window. He didn't know the couple, but his father was renting a condominium two doors down from the house, according to CBS News.
Once inside, he committed what Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig told "48 Hours" was "the most horrific, depraved murder I've ever seen as the district attorney in this county," stabbing Northup 61 times and Maupin 67 times. He then mutilated and experimented with the bodies, including placing foreign objects inside each of his victims.
Though he told investigators that he killed Northup and Maupin simply because he saw the open window, he also admitted that he'd taped the soles of his shoes and donned a ski mask and gloves to avoid leaving prints, hair, DNA or fingerprints at the scene. And, he said, committing the murders "felt amazing."
Marsh was charged as an adult in June 2013 with two counts of first degree murder, with four special circumstance enhancements — committing multiple murders, for "heinous and depraved" murder," for "lying in wait" and for torturing his victims — according to the Davis Vanguard.
His attorneys pled not guilty by reason of temporary insanity, but a jury in September 2014 convicted him of the charges against him and found that he was sane. He was sentenced to 52 years in prison, and will be eligible for parole in June 2037.
However, in 2016, California voters passed Proposition 57, which allows juvenile court judges instead of prosecutors to decide if offenders over the age of 14 should be tried as adults. Because Marsh's case was still being appealed when the proposition passed, the Davis Enterprise reported that Marsh's lawyer argued that the law should be applied retroactively to his case. In 2018, the courts agreed that a juvenile court judge should determine whether Marsh should have been tried as a juvenile in the murders. (In California, all juvenile offenders are released by the age of 25 — which, in Marsh's case, would be in 2023.)
The juvenile court in Yolo County then held a three-week hearing in the Marsh case starting in September 2018 and ultimately transferred his case to an adult court in October 2018, thereby upholding his original sentence.
Marsh's lawyers, however, have since appealed the decision to try him as an adult based on California's passage of SB 1391 in 2019, which determined that no one under the age of 16 could be tried as an adult. Though the bill is not retroactive, Marsh's lawyers argued that the transfer hearing was tantamount to a new trial, thus making Marsh eligible for the law because his appeals of the transfer hearing decision stretched into 2019, according to the Sacramento Bee.
The appeals court seemingly rejected Marsh's new arguments on Wednesday.
"There’s nothing to appeal. There’s no retrial. The original judgment [was] reinstated. There was no new judgment," said state Associate Justice Andrea Lynn Hoch to Marsh's lawyer on Wednesday according to the Sacramento Bee.
"You have a final judgment, don’t you? There’s nothing to appeal," said Justice Mauro according to Fox News. "You’ve already had an appeal from that judgment."
The appellate court is expected to rule before the end of the year.
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