Wesson Defense Suggests Murder-Suicide

Associated Press/April 10, 2004
By Brian Skoloff

Fresno, Calif. -- The lead attorney for a man accused of killing nine of his children says his client didn't do it, and the lawyer's questioning of police investigators appears to point suspicion toward one of the victims.

Marcus Wesson was covered in blood when he emerged from his Fresno home on March 12. Inside, police found a pile of bodies entangled in bloody clothes. Each of the nine victims was shot once in the eye and died almost instantly, according to the coroner's reports.

Wesson, 57, has pleaded innocent to charges he murdered his 25-year-old daughter and eight of his other children, who ranged in age from 1 to 17. He also has pleaded innocent to 33 additional charges of sexual abuse. Wesson is accused of fathering some of his children through polygamy and incest.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Friday, Wesson's lead attorney insisted his client did not pull the trigger.

Police were called to Wesson's home after two women claiming to be the mothers of the children went to the house to retrieve them.

Police have testified that, according to interviews with family members, Wesson had devised a gruesome plan to have his children kill each other if authorities tried to break apart the family.

"We're examining the evidence as it comes in and looking at several possible theories," said Pete Jones, the Public Defender's Office chief attorney.

Jones questioned police officers Thursday at a preliminary hearing to determine whether Wesson will stand trial. The hearing will resume Monday.

Police testified that officers found a .22-caliber gun and a hunting knife with a 5-inch blade under the oldest victim's body, Wesson's 25-year-old daughter, Sebhrenah.

Authorities have conducted gunpowder residue tests on some of the victims' hands but no physical evidence against Wesson, who is held without bail, has yet been made public.

Officer Michael Harris testified the bullet entered Sebhrenah Wesson's eye in an upward direction. Her body was found on top, toward the side, of the stack of other victims, Harris said.

A spokeswoman at the district attorney's office said prosecutors would not comment on specific theories about the murders, adding that the charges "speak for themselves."

Prosecutors claim that all the evidence points to Marcus Wesson, a short, stout man with mangy dreadlocks that hang to his knees.

Police testified that Wesson held total control over his family and likened himself to God, creating a cult-like following among his own children. Authorities have cut off Wesson from the outside world, isolating him inside his jail cell, saying they fear he might order other family members to commit suicide.

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