The Trial Diaries

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Trial of teen charged with murdering Davis couple begins

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.

Source: Gabriel Roxas, Tauhid Chappell, News10/KXTV


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Mom accused of dumping baby in trash charged


SALT LAKE CITY— A Utah woman accused of dumping her newborn in the trash in an attempt to hide her pregnancy from her parents has been charged with attempted murder, Salt Lake County Attorney Sim Gill said Friday.

Alicia Marie Englert, 23, deliberately tried to kill the baby by depriving her of food and medical care before leaving her in the bottom of her neighbor’s trash underneath other bags of trash, Gill said.

The baby girl was flown to a hospital in critical condition on Aug. 26 after being found suffering from hypothermia and respiratory distress, he said. She has since improved and is now in fair condition, Unified Police said.

“It’s certainly a testament to how resilient these babies can be,” Gill said. “It’s quite remarkable that the baby is doing well and is improving steadily.”

Englert doesn’t yet have an attorney. She is in Salt Lake County jail on $500,000 bail.

Her father, Robert Englert, declined comment when reached by phone Friday.

The Utah Child and Family Services Agency is now in charge of the baby and determining options for custody, Gill said.

Gill offered new details about what happened in the 36 hours leading up to the baby being found by a neighbor in the Salt Lake City suburb of Kearns.

Englert gave birth in a bathroom inside the house she lived in with her family around midnight on Aug. 24, Gill said. She wrapped the baby in a towel and left it on the floor of the basement bathroom, he said.

Englert left for work the following day, leaving the baby alone without feeding her or getting her any care. She came back home that night and left the baby on the floor. The next morning, Englert put the baby in her neighbor’s trash can just before 6 a.m., Gill said.

A neighbor heard sounds of what she thought was a purring cat in her trash can. When she moved several trash bags, she spotted the baby, Gill said. She couldn’t get the baby out and ran next door for help.

There, she found Englert’s father, Robert Englert, who helped get the baby out of the trash can. Emergency responders put the baby on a life-flight helicopter.

The baby was dirty, smelly and had a blood-borne infection, Gill said. “If the baby had not been discovered and not received medical condition, it certainly would have died,” he said.

Investigators don’t believe other family members knew about the baby being in the house, Gill said.

Robert Englert has said previously his daughter has a learning disability and has only recently begun to understand what she has done.

Gill said they had no evidence of any disability and that it was not a factor in his decision about charges. If Englert suffers from any condition, that issue will be dealt with as the case moves through the courts, he said.

Source: BRADY McCOMBS of Associated Press



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Policeman charged with 8 assaults freed on bond


OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma City police officer charged with sexually assaulting at least eight women was released on $500,000 bond Friday two days after his bond was reduced from $5 million, even though a prosecutor said he was a danger to the community.

Daniel Ken Holtzclaw, 27, was released Friday on several conditions, according to Oklahoma County jailers and his attorney. He is under house arrest and can go only to court and his attorney’s office. He must turn in his police gear, guns and badge and is prohibited from contacting any alleged victims.

He successfully petitioned on Wednesday to have his bond reduced.

Holtzclaw was arrested Aug. 21 and later charged with 16 felony counts that include first-degree rape, sexual battery, indecent exposure, stalking, forcible oral sodomy and burglary. He could face up to life in prison if convicted on the first-degree rape charge alone.

He has pleaded not guilty and his attorney, Scott Adams, said Holtzclaw denies the allegations.

“Family and friends rallied and posted his bond this (Friday) morning,” said Adams, after Holtzclaw was released and fitted with a GPS monitoring device on his ankle.

“He’s getting ready to go back to Enid,” where he is to stay with his parents, Adams said.

Holtzclaw was a standout linebacker at Enid High School and Eastern Michigan University and is the son of an Enid police lieutenant.

Prosecutor Gayland Gieger, who argued against the bond reduction and called Holtzclaw a danger to the community, declined comment on Holtzclaw’s release.

“I just hope he follows the conditions the judge set forth,” Gieger said.

According to the charging documents, Holtzclaw told the women that if they didn’t comply with his wishes, they would be arrested or physically harmed.

The investigation began when police said a woman complained that Holtzclaw had sexually assaulted her during a traffic stop on a boulevard about two miles north of the state Capitol.

Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty said when announcing Holtzclaw’s arrest that he had been placed on leave when the allegations emerged in June.

Police Capt. Dexter Nelson said Holtzclaw remained on paid leave as of Friday.

Source: KEN MILLER of Associated Press


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Woman accused of dismembering son heads to trial


ST. CLAIR SHORES, Mich.— A suburban Detroit woman charged with killing and dismembering her son has been found mentally competent to stand trial.

Donna Scrivo of St. Clair Shores appeared in court Friday, where attorneys said psychological evaluations deemed her mentally competent. She waived a District Court hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence to send the case to trial.

Defense lawyer Elias Muawad tells the Detroit Free Press “we want to move on to prepare for trial.”

The next hearing is scheduled for Sept. 22 in Macomb County Circuit Court.

The 60-year-old is charged with first-degree murder and dismemberment. Five bags containing 32-year-old Ramsay Scrivo’s body parts were dumped in February in St. Clair County, about 50 miles northeast of Detroit. An electric saw was found in one of the bags.

Source: AP


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Lawyers for accused Colorado theater gunman oppose televising trial


DENVER- Attorneys for accused Colorado theater gunman James Holmes oppose requests by news media to televise his trial, arguing the presence of cameras would jeopardize his due process rights, a court filing made public on Friday showed.

A group of television news outlets requested last month that Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour allow expanded media coverage of the trial, which is set to begin with jury selection in December.

Colorado law lets trials be televised at the discretion of the presiding judge.

Holmes, 26, is charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder for opening fire in July 2102 inside a suburban Denver cinema during a midnight screening of the Batman filmThe Dark Knight Rises.”

Twelve moviegoers were killed and 70 others were injured in the rampage, and prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty for the California native if he is convicted.

Holmes has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. His lawyers have conceded the former neuroscience graduate student was the lone shooter, but said he was undergoing a psychotic episode at the time.

In their response to the request to televise the trial, public defenders said defense witnesses would be hesitant to testify due to privacy concerns amid what they said would likely turn into “a media spectacle.”

Any reluctance by witnesses could have an impact on Holmes’ right to a fair trial, and to a reliable sentencing hearing should he be convicted, the defense lawyers wrote.

“Their (TV news outlets) primary goal is to attract viewers and make money, not necessarily to educate and enlighten the public on the functioning of the criminal justice system,” they wrote.

“The Court should take pause before transforming this workplace into a ‘set’ for the entertainment of the public, which will most certainly detract from the solemnity of these


Prosecutors have not yet filed their response to the media request. Samour has set a Sept. 22 hearing on the issue.

Source: Keith Coffman of Reuters


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Police: 8-year-old missing Arizona girl strangled


BULLHEAD CITY, Ariz. — An 8-year-old girl reported missing from her Arizona home was strangled, authorities said Friday as they continued to investigate the case.

The Mohave County medical examiner released the manner of death for Isabella “Bella” Grogan-Cannella on Friday. The cause of death was asphyxiation.

Police found Isabella’s body in a shallow grave near her Bullhead City home Wednesday, a day after her family reported her missing.

Isabella was discovered wearing the same green, ruffled, sparkly tank top she had on when she was last seen. However, authorities said she didn’t have any clothing on her lower half and they are looking into whether she was the victim of sexual assault.

Justin Rector, a 26-year-old Bullhead City man with a lengthy criminal history, was charged with kidnapping and first-degree murder in her death. Authorities described him as a family friend who was staying at Isabella’s home at the time she disappeared. He is being held without bond.

Meanwhile, teachers and administrators at the schools Isabella attended remembered her as friendly, loving, obedient, beautiful and inquisitive.

Diamondback Elementary School Principal Martin Muecke told the Mohave Daily News that Isabella paid close attention to detail when crafting sentences. Her second-grade teacher, Kaycee Larson, said Isabella’s favorite subjects were English, language arts and writing.

Desert Valley Elementary School Principal Cynthia Cochran said it’s unfortunate others won’t get to know Isabella.

“I think anyone who has children or who works with children is devastated by this tragedy,” Cochran told the newspaper in Bullhead City, which is on the Arizona-Nevada border about 100 miles southeast of Las Vegas.

Police said they aren’t ruling out additional charges or arrests in their investigation into Isabella’s disappearance and death.

According to court records, Isabella’s mother wasn’t home when her daughter went missing. The mother, Tania Grogan, and her boyfriend, Ralph Folster, were at Wal-Mart. Grogan told Isabella and her 10-year-old sister to lie down in bed and watch a movie. Folster’s mother was home with the children, according to court records.

Folster called 911 around 1:30 a.m. PDT Tuesday to report Isabella missing. In the recording released Friday, he said Grogan was distraught over her daughter’s disappearance and that he had “not the slightest clue” where she might be.

Bullhead City Police Chief Brian Williamson said Thursday that the state Department of Child Safety is involved but did not elaborate. Grogan told KPNX-TV that her 10-year-old daughter was in state custody. Department of Child Safety spokeswoman Jennifer Bowser-Richards confirmed that but could provide no other information on the case.

Source: AP