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Re: This sad, sad story is like a microcosm of TF

Posted by Perry on July 28, 2005 at 15:32:58

In Reply to: This sad, sad story is like a microcosm of TF posted by Perry on July 28, 2005 at 15:29:12:

I thought the link above would take you to the story, but it doesn't, so here it is:

Judge sentences Wesson to death
Family remains split between those who support, condemn him.

By Matt Leedy and Donald E. Coleman / The Fresno Bee

(Updated Thursday, July 28, 2005, 9:02 AM)

On the day a judge ordered Marcus Wesson's execution for the slayings of nine of his children, the mass murderer's family remained split, with some expressing their loyalty and others saying they blame and despise him.

Speeches from Wesson's divided family lasted 45 minutes before Fresno County Judge R.L. Putnam ordered that Wesson, 58, die inside San Quentin State Prison.

"Marcus Delon Wesson, it is the judgment and sentence of this court that you shall suffer the death penalty," Putnam said.

Moments earlier, Sofina Solorio, Wesson's niece, was the first of more than a dozen family members to address Wesson in court. Her son, 7-year-old Jonathon, was among the victims Wesson murdered on March 12, 2004.

"You claim to be Jesus Christ. You claim to be God, but look at you now. You're nothing. You're the lowest of the low," Solorio told Wesson, who had preached to his family inside their central Fresno home and controlled his daughters and nieces through incest, sexual abuse and polygamy.

"I've found my Christ and I've learned, thou shalt not kill, and you've done that," Solorio said, her voice catching. "Nothing will prevent me from going to heaven to be with my children. As you sit in your cell, think of what you've done."

She named the murder victims: Sebhrenah, Elizabeth, Jeva, Sedona, Marshey, Ethan, Illabelle, Aviv and Jonathan Wesson.

"They did not belong to you," she said while Wesson stared forward without looking back at his niece. "They're gone now. Who knows why? It is my goal now to continue to live that I may see them one day."

Solorio sat with relatives behind prosecutor Lisa Gamoian in the last rows of the Fresno County Superior Courtroom gallery. Opposite them sat family members loyal to Wesson.

His sons talked from a courtroom lectern about their love for him and desire to pass his teachings to future generations.

"As your oldest son, I will carry your name on," Dorian Wesson told his father. "I will always represent your teachings, but in a legal way. I love you and will carry on your seed. This is the beginning of God's true task.

"Your spirit will live through me, but in a good way," he said. "You will rest in me, and your soul will be free in me."

Wesson turned to look at his son, smiled and waved.

Another son, Serafino Wesson, told his father: "I will continue my life and carry on for you."

Wesson's wife, Elizabeth, said she doesn't blame her husband for the murders. She said his nieces Sofina Solorio and Ruby Ortiz are responsible because they came to Wesson's home the day of the murders to reclaim their children.

Several of Wesson's daughters echoed the assertion before Ruby, whose 7-year-old son was murdered, rose to defend herself.

"It's sad. Today I see our family split apart. I can never hate my siblings. I have no hate in my heart for them. Someday I know the family will come back together again," she said before addressing Wesson. "He is the only person I blame for my child being dead, and all the children. I hope he doesn't say it's my fault."

Wesson shook his head no.

In addition to the death penalty, Wesson was given a 102-year prison term for 13 sex crimes, including continuous sexual abuse and rape. One sex crime was dropped because the offense fell outside the statutory time limit.

Wesson's case will be automatically appealed to the California Supreme Court. The appeal will be handled by a different lawyer.

With the sentencing, the case ended for Wesson's public defenders, Ralph Torres and Peter Jones, who appeared dejected outside the courtroom. "Right now, I'm depressed," he said. "The last thing anyone wants to see is an innocent man put to death."

During the sentencing, two jurors and two alternate jurors sat in the front to hear Putnam condemn Wesson to death.

Juror 8, a woman who asked not to be named, was surprised by the emotion and animosity that filled the hot courtroom.

"You could see it. You could witness it. You could see it," she said of the anger expressed by some in Wesson's family. "I didn't expect it to be that hard today. It was emotional all over again."

But the juror said her strongest emotion was relief, because earlier in the day, Putnam rejected Wesson's request for a new trial or a reduced sentence from death to life in prison.

In denying the defense motion, Putnam summarized the viciousness of Wesson's crimes, called aggravating factors, and explained why wouldn't reduce the death verdict delivered by the jury on June 29.

He called Wesson's control over his family a "mind-numbing history of exploitation" that spanned 25 years. His rule was so complete, Putnam said, that Wesson dictated how his family members acted, how they dressed, how they were punished and ultimately how they died.

Wesson's power was derived from years of sexual abuse and polygamy, Putnam concluded, and the daughters were turned into soldiers who dutifully carried out his orders.

Wesson contrived a plan that guaranteed his youngest children, who were products of incest, would not be taken away by the government. Instead, they would be killed and "go to the Lord."

This plan was in effect on March 12, 2004, when Wesson's nieces tried to get their children back. Police arrived as a family fight escalated and officers told Wesson that Child Protective Services was headed to his home across from Roeding Park at 761 W. Hammond Ave. CPS workers were called, they said, because Wesson and his family were refusing to give Solorio and Ortiz their children.

After an 80-minute standoff with police, Wesson emerged from the home wearing bloody clothes.

Inside, officers found the nine bodies stacked in a corner of a rear bedroom and recovered Wesson's .22-caliber Ruger pistol. The victims ranged in age from 1 to 25.

In finding Wesson guilty of nine counts of first-degree murder, the jury concluded that he didn't pull the trigger, but he aided and abetted in the slayings and/or was part of a murder conspiracy.

Defense lawyers argued that Wesson's daughter Sebhrenah fatally shot her eight siblings then herself without any direction from her father.

That contention "goes to the heart of what our defense was," Jones told Putnam Wednesday morning before the sentencing. "Clearly, our position was that Mr. Wesson did not shoot anyone or order or direct anyone to shoot anyone."

But Putnam said there was no doubt he initiated the killings and acted with malice. The judge said the only mitigating factors were the continual love of Wesson's family members.

Alternate jurors Alex Flores and Christina Berard said the jury's death verdicts were validated by Putnam's formal sentencing Wednesday.

"I wanted to see the death penalty. What he did was very wrong," said Berard, who during trial felt, "indignation for Wesson for taking the word of God and using it for his own gratification. It's unforgivable."