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David Marsh

David Marsh, his wife, and their two-month-old daughter, Ashley Nichole Marsh, were living with Mrs. and Mr. Petry, the maternal grandparents of Ashley. Although they were living with the grandparents, David and his wife were the sole caretakers of Ashley. On the morning of May 22, 1984, Mrs. Petry left for work and later testified that when she left for work, Ashley was uninjured. Mr. Petry testified that he overheard David and his wife arguing and then they left the residence and returned sometime later. When they returned, he heard Ashley crying loudly. By the time David entered the house with Ashley, she had stopped crying. Shortly thereafter, Ashley stopped breathing. Ashley was rushed to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital where she was placed in the Intensive Care Unit. Pat Meyer, Associate Director of the Child Abuse Team, spoke with Ashley’s family regarding her extensive injuries. David claimed that Ashley had fallen from a kitchen counter while he was attempting to change her diaper. When David was confronted about the critical nature and severity of her injuries, he became hostile. David shared with Ms. Meyer that he heard Ashley’s ribs popping when he picked her up. When Ms. Meyer told David that she was going to make an official report, he fled from the hospital. As a result of her extensive injuries, Ashley died the following day at Cincinnati 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. During the trial, Deputy Coroner Dr. Ross Zumwalt described the injuries that appeared during the autopsy including multiple fractured ribs that were in the process of healing. 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. At the time of her death, she was only two months or approximately eleven weeks of age. On the left 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 from a fall, such as David described. Two of the skull fractures he observed where of different ages, one was starting to heal while the other was fresh. Additionally, 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 also not have resulted from the fall that was described by David. 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. Furthermore, 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 Cincinnati 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, Mrs. Petry, testified that there were 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 noticed that Ashley would cry when David picked her up. David gave various stories to law enforcement indicating that he and his wife, Becky, frequently fought about him getting high on dope. David repeatedly claimed that the child had fallen, although he gave inconsistent descriptions of how the injuries occurred. Following a jury trial, David was convicted of murder and child endangering. He was sentenced to fifteen years to life on the murder charge and an additional two to five years on the child endangering charge, to be served consecutively. It is our understanding that since he has been incarcerated, he has been convicted of two additional offenses, in 1997 and 1999, both of which involve the possession of weapons while in prison. In addition, prior to serving his current sentence, he had a history of passing bad checks.

Location: London Correctional Institution
Offenses: Murder
Child Endangering
Min Sentence: 17 years
Max Sentence: Life
Date Admitted: 10/26/1984
Next eligibility Hearing Date:

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