Judicial Waste, and a Warning for Post-Brown California

In an October 24 ruling, Yolo County judge Samuel McAdam reinstated the sentence of convicted murderer Daniel Marsh and sent him back to prison. This came as some relief to families of his victims, who again had been put through an ordeal.

In April, 2013, Marsh was 15 when he murdered and mutilated Oliver Northup, 87, and his wife Claudia Maupin, 76, in their Davis home. The depraved double murderer, who aspired to be a serial killer, was tried as an adult, convicted, and in 2014 drew a sentence of 52 years to life. Two years later he caught a break.

The 2016 Proposition 57 barred direct prosecution of juvenile cases in adult court. An appeal court applied the measure to Marsh, whose conviction would be reversed pending a “transfer hearing” to determine whether he was suitable for juvenile court. If so, he would serve only until age 25, in comfy juvenile facilities, prospect horrifying to victims’ families.

Defense expert Dr. Matthew Soulier said Marsh had shown substantial growth and was suitable for juvenile court, even though Marsh had a psychopathy score of 35.8 out of 40. Dr. Matthew Logan testified that anyone with such a score was a serious risk for violent recidivism and should not be out in public.

Judge McAdam ruled that the weight of the evidence favored adult court. That had already been rightly decided in 2014, so the entire hearing was a huge waste of court time and taxpayer dollars. One of Marsh’s public defenders just sat there the whole time, and the court delayed the proceedings a week to accommodate his vacation. McAdam reinstated the original sentence and sent Marsh back to prison, but the judge also left a warning.

On September 30, outgoing governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1391, effective January 1, 2019, which bars prosecution of those as young as 14 as adults, whatever the gravity of their crimes. As McAdam’s ruling stated: “It will soon be the law of California that even a 15-year-old who commits a brutal double murder of strangers in his neighborhood will be adjudicated in juvenile court and not adult court, without any weighing of factors.” So in post-Brown California, depraved double murderer Daniel Marsh could be the poster child for the juvenile justice system. As they say, no justice, no peace.

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K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at The Daily Caller.

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