Wesson tries to fire lawyers

Fresno Bee/June 24, 2005
By Pablo Lopez

Convicted mass murderer Marcus Wesson is a master manipulator who ordered the execution of nine of his children and deserves the death penalty, prosecutor Lisa Gamoian told a Fresno County Superior Court jury this morning.

Gamoian was just starting her closing arguments, when Wesson expressed his dissatisfaction: "Your honor, my lawyers are fired."

Judge Putnam quickly cleared the courtroom to listen to Wesson's concerns. After a 20-minute closed hearing, Putnam ruled he found no evidence to replace defense lawyers Peter Jones and Ralph Torres.

Wesson, 58, was convicted last week of nine counts of murder in the slayings of his nine children inside the family's central Fresno home on March 12, 2004. He also was convicted of 14 counts of rape, oral copulation and sexual abuse of a minor involving three of his daughters and four of his nieces.

Jurors now must decided whether Wesson is sentenced to life in prison without parole or death by lethal injection. They will begin deliberations after lawyers make closing arguments. This morning, Gamoian summarized her case for the death penalty. Her argument was so compelling, at least three jurors cried.

Wesson also wiped tears from his eyes as Gamoian graphically detailed the final, terrifying moments of each victim.

To hammer home her point, Gamoian showed the jurors the end result of Wesson's murder-suicide plan: bloody crime scene photos of the victims, each one of them fatally shot in the eye.

"Don't give him the gift of life," Gamoian told the jurors. "He doesn't deserve it."

Calling himself Jesus, Wesson isolated his family from the outside world - home schooling them and forcing them to life in a tent in the Santa Cruz mountains and on a boat moored in Tomales Bay in northern California, Gamoian said.

Wesson exploited his daughters and nieces, forcing them to have sex with him and have his babies, as well ordering them to have sex with each other, Gamoian said.

Wesson also preached a murder-suicide pact until each family member agreed, Gamoian said, and kept his children in terror with doomsday prediction about the second coming of Christ, or the end of the world.

"Are you ready?" Wesson would repeatedly tell his children, according to Gamoian. The phrase meant: Are you ready to die?

"It's all about control," Gamoian said. "He is the master manipulator. The master puppeteer."

The exploitation of his family, Gamoian said, culminated in "the slaughter" of nine of his children. Wesson then piled their bodies in a rear bedroom as if they were trash, Gamoian said.

Testimony revealed that Marcus Wesson was the father of the slain children. The mothers included his wife, Elizabeth, daughters Kiani and Sebhrenah, and nieces Rosa and Sofina Solorio and Ruby Ortiz.

The slayings were sparked when Sofina Solorio and Ortiz tried to reclaim their children from Marcus Wesson, testimony in the trial revealed.

Wesson's lawyers contend Sebhrenah Wesson fatally shot her eight siblings and then committed suicide.

Jurors conducted in their verdicts that Wesson was not the shooter, but was guilty of the murders because he aided and abetted in the killings or was a co-conspirator in a murder-suicide plot.

As Gamoian made her arguments, Sofina Solorio, her sister, Brandi Sanchez, and their relatives and friends sat on one side of the courtroom. Elizabeth Wesson, her son, Almae Wesson, and daughter, Gypsy Wesson, and Rosa Solorio, sat on the other side.

Jurors must consider 11 factors before sentencing Wesson, such as sympathy for the defendant, prior criminal acts, his age and his mental state.

Gamoian went over each factor which was written on a large posterboard for the jury of seven women and five men to see. As she discounted each mitigating factor, she threw the posterboards to the floor in front of the jury box.

Is Wesson mental disturbed on the day of the killings? Gamoian asked rhetorically of one factor that jurors must consider.

"There's no evidence," Gamoian said, noting that Wesson calmly blocked the front door of his home to prevent police and others from entering, while the children were being shot.

Gamoian said Wesson's age shouldn't be considered because he began his criminal activity when he was in his 40s, first molesting his daughters and nieces and then forcing them to have his children.

"He was God to them," Gamoian said.

In closing her case, Gamoian asked the jury: "What is the proper, morale judgment?"

"You decide. Thank you."

After the noon break, Jones will ask the jury to spare Wesson's life.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.