Wesson led a pampered life, diaries indicate

Fresno Bee/April 20, 2005
By Pablo Lopez

His children worked and catered to his needs, daughter's entries reveal.

Marcus Wesson was living a life of leisure before nine of his children were killed last year, according to his daughter's diaries that were read to a Fresno County jury Tuesday.

Wesson's daughters and nieces frequently scratched his head and armpits, washed his long, gray dreadlocks and worked and paid bills so he could do whatever he wanted, Kiani Wesson's diaries indicate.

Kiani Wesson also wrote several times "Daddy is very sweet" and "I love my daddy very much," but never mentioned her mother, Elizabeth Wesson, as being dear to her.

Prosecutor Lisa Gamoian is using the diaries, which cover the time from 2000 to just months before the slayings, to illustrate that Kiani and her sisters and cousins had an unusual relationship with Marcus Wesson.

Marcus Wesson, 58, is charged in Fresno County Superior Court with killing nine of his children inside his Fresno home near Roeding Park on March 12, 2004. He also is accused of sexually abusing his daughters and nieces. He has pleaded not guilty. Testimony has 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.

For the third day, Kiani Wesson, 27, did not directly answer questions about her relationship with her father. She often said she did not recall events. But in her diaries, she clearly professed her love for her father and for her cousin, Ruby Ortiz, who ran away from the Wesson home in the summer of 2000.

On the witness stand, Kiani Wesson wiped tears whenever Gamoian mentioned her sisters, Sebhrenah and Elizabeth, who were among the slain victims. She also shed tears for Ortiz.

Kiani Wesson testified that she was close to Ortiz and thought of her as a sister. Gamoian, however, pointed out that Kiani Wesson "married" her father, as well as Ruby Ortiz, at the request of Marcus Wesson.

As evidence, Gamoian had Kiani Wesson read a May 21, 2000, inscription on her Bible from Ruby Ortiz. The inscription began: "To my wonderful, sweet wife."

Nearly five years later, the words still had meaning.

"I still love and miss her," Kiani Wesson said, sobbing.

Since the start of the trial on March 3, testimony has revealed that Marcus and Elizabeth Wesson were raising nine children of their own, as well as seven children belonging to Elizabeth's sister, Rosemary Solorio.

Testimony has indicated that Marcus Wesson separated the girls from the boys and began teaching the girls "loving," a term he used for incestuous relationships with them.

Typically, "loving" would begin when the girls were pre-teens; Marcus Wesson would rub the girls' breast and vaginal areas, according to testimony.

As the girls got older, Kiani Wesson testified, they were willing participants in sexual intercourse and other acts.

She also told jurors that they were free to leave and get married at any time, as long as they left their children with Marcus Wesson to raise. Gamoian, however, questioned how that could have happened if the girls were forbidden from talking to boys.

Kiani Wesson was unable to give a clear answer.

Marcus and Kiani Wesson had two children - Illabelle, 8, and Jeva, 1. The children were among the slain victims.

Gamoian hit a nerve when she asked Kiani Wesson whether she would have wanted Illabelle to have a "loving" session with her father.

"No," Kiani Wesson said, explaining she had told her father to stay away from Illabelle. "I wanted her to grow up different."

Kiani Wesson testified that she wanted Illabelle to one day attend private school and get married.

Gamoian then goaded her: "Are you depriving your daughter of her father's affection then?"

Kiani Wesson said no, saying Illabelle received plenty of affection from her mother and other relatives.

"Then is loving a bad thing?" Gamoian asked.

Kiani Wesson replied: "I can't say it's a good thing. When I was young I didn't mind it. I just wanted something different for [Illabelle]."

Gamoian told a sobbing Kiani Wesson that Illabelle was like her mother: home-schooled and trapped in the Wesson home.

Using Kiani Wesson's diaries, Gamoian cited several instances in which Kiani and her sisters and cousins lived a miserable life because Marcus and Elizabeth Wesson never held jobs or paid bills.

Though Kiani Wesson mentioned that she liked to sit on her father's lap and write how "Dads are special in a girl's heart," there were diary entries that suggest she was frequently depressed and worried about feeding the children.

Her depression apparently started on July 18, 2000, when Ruby Ortiz ran away from the Wesson household and never returned.

Over the following months, Kiani Wesson wrote the number of days Ortiz had been gone.

On Jan. 16, 2001, Kiani Wesson wrote that she and her father had "a serious talk about our relationship." In court, she said she couldn't recall what was said.

She also mentioned in her diary that "Daddy is sweet." Gamoian asked her whether the phrase was code words for "loving" with her father.

Kiani said no.

On Feb. 11, 2001, Kiani Wesson wrote: "It's truly the end of time. Dad truly wants to make sure we all get there. Reading some serious Bible text."

Three days later, Kiani Wesson said, her father spoke to the girls about being jealous of one another.

She also wrote that "Daddy was very sweet."

Over the next two years, Kiani Wesson frequently wrote that "the end of time is near," as well as "Daddy is very sweet." She also wrote how relatives would donate food, money and clothing to the family.

In September 2003, she wrote she was tired of life, saying it "felt like a big, black pit." She mentioned that the family was living on a boat moored in Tomales Bay in Northern California with no propane or money and little food for the children.

About a month later, however, the family's fortune changed because Kiani Wesson and her sisters and nieces were able to pool their money and move into a home on Hammond Avenue near Roeding Park in Fresno.

The nine children were slain in that home six months later.

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