On May 22, 1984 the Defendant, his wife and their daughter, Ashley, were living with the maternal Grandparents of Ashley. Ashley was two months, twenty days of age. On that day, the grandmother left for work in the morning and testified that Ashley was uninjured when she left. The grandfather testified that he overheard the Defendant and his wife arguing. They left the residence and returned sometime later. When they returned, he heard that the baby was crying loudly. By the time the Defendant entered the house with Ashley, she had stopped crying and shortly thereafter, stopped breathing. The Defendant, David Marsh, and his wife were the sole caretakers of Ashley.
Ashley was rushed to Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati where she was placed in the Intensive Care Unit. The Associate Director the Child Abuse Team talked with Ashley’s family, about Ashley’s extensive injuries. The Defendant claimed that Ashley had fallen from a kitchen counter while he was attempting to change her diaper. When confronted about the critical nature and severity of her injury, Marsh became hostile. The Defendant also told the Director that he heard Ashley’s ribs popping when he picked her up. When the director told Marsh that she was going to make an official report, he fled from the hospital.
Ashley died the following day at approximately 1:20 p.m. at Children’s Hospital. The Autopsy Report describes the numerous injuries that Ashley suffered, including:
• Blunt impacts to the head;
• Contusions to the face and scalp;
• Periorbital contusions;
• Subscalpular hemorrhages;
• Skull fractures;
• Subdural and subarachnoid hemorrhages;
• Cerebral contusion;
• Left retinal hemorrhage;
• Numerous contusions to her chest and left shoulder;
• Multiple healing rib fractures were detected; and
• Contusions to the buttocks and left leg.
At trial, Deputy Coroner Dr. Ross Zumwalt, described the injuries that appeared in autopsy as well as multiple healing fractured ribs. According to Dr. Zumwalt, Ashley had suffered fractured right ribs at least two weeks prior to her death, six weeks prior to her death and some just a few days before her death. She was only two months, 2o days old, or approximately 11 weeks of age.
On the left of the rib cage, Ashley suffered several similar rib fractures, which varied in age. Dr. Zumwalt also described several distinct hemorrhages to Ashley’s skull, one of which was a result of a “harsh impact”. Dr. Zumwalt also described the subdural skull hemorrhages, resulting from these injuries and the bleeding that occurred as a result of the trauma which caused these fractures. In his opinion, the fractures to Ashley’s rib cage were caused by direct blows to the chest, because the child’s ribs at that age would be extremely flexible and would require a great deal of concentrated force to fracture a rib. In Dr. Zumwalt’s opinion, this is “almost invariably caused by a direct blow, rather than squeezing”.
Dr. Zumwalt testified that the skull fractures could not have resulted in a fall such as the Defendant described, two of the skull fractures he observed where of different ages, one was starting to heal the other was fresh. There were at least five separate injuries to Ashley’s head, which resulted in injuries to the brain that were the immediate cause of her death and could not have resulted from a fall, such as described by Inmate Marsh. Dr. Zumwalt testified that the injuries to her arms and legs were caused by tearing or twisting of her joints, and included fractures in each hand.
Dr. Zumwalt described her injuries as “Battered Child Syndrome” which is defined as “a child that has been injured willfully; willfully inflicted injuries over a period of time; injuries in different stages of healing”.
In addition to Dr. Zumwalt’s testimony, a radiologist from Children’s Hospital examined pre and post mortem x-rays. He described hemorrhages, broken bones and multiple contusions. The fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth rib in Ashley’s back were all fractured in a row, indicative of trauma. Likewise, he found injuries that were in various stages of healing and explicitly testified that none of the injuries he observed were the result of an accidental fall.
The maternal grandmother testified that there had been previous occasions where the defendant would take Ashley into the bathroom and they would hear the baby screaming and crying. In the morning after such episodes, they often found bruises on the baby’s face and that Ashley would cry when the Defendant picked her up.
The Defendant gave various stories to law enforcement indicating that he and his wife, Becky frequently fought about his getting high on dope, and repeatedly claimed that the child had fallen although he gave inconsistent descriptions of how the injuries occurred.
Following a Jury Trial, the Defendant was convicted of Murder and Child Endangering. He was sentenced to fifteen years to life on the Murder charge, as well as two to five years on the Child Endangering, to be served consecutively.
It is our understanding that since he has been incarcerated at the Department of Corrections, he has been convicted of two additional offenses, in 1997 and 1999, both of which involve possession of weapons while in prison. Prior to murdering his 11 week old child, he had a history of passing bad checks.
This office remains strongly opposed to the Defendant’s release from prison. He murdered a helpless, 11 week old child. Not only did he intentionally cause her death, the evidence indicates that she was abused for most of her short life.
The release of Inmate Marsh will diminish the seriousness of the offenses for which he was convicted and will fail to adequately punish him for his heinous crimes. If the Ohio Parole Board considers his possible release, we would respectfully request the opportunity to appear before the entire Board, to state the reasons for our opposition.