Kiani Wesson's tapes played for jury

Fresno Bee/April 25, 2005
By Pablo Lopez

Kiani Wesson said once she heard a gunshot coming from a rear bedroom inside the family's Fresno home, she realized her father, Marcus Wesson, was carrying out the family’s murder-suicide plan, according to her police interview played to a Fresno jury this morning.

Her description of the plan - in which the older children kill the younger children and then themselves - is similar to what authorities believed happened a year ago.

Marcus Wesson, 58, is charged in Fresno County Superior Court with killing nine children inside his Fresno home near Roeding Park on March 12, 2004. He also faces charges of sexually abusing his children and nieces.

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

Jurors in R.L. Putnam’s courtroom listened to Kiani Wesson’s tape-recorded interviews with police - on March 13, 2004 and on March 22, 2004 - because she gave conflicting testimony during six days on the witness stand. In her interviews, she told detectives once she “heard it,” a gunshot, “I knew it was Marcus because he was in there,” the back bedroom where the children were shot to death.

Also in the room, Kiani Wesson told police, was her 25-year-old sister, Sebhrenah, who was among the slain victims.

Wesson’s lawyers, Ralph Torres and Peter Jones contend Sebhrenah Wesson killed the victims and then killed herself.

Though Kiani Wesson told police she didn’t see the victims get shot, she said she “assumed” her father was carrying out the murder-suicide pact that the family had talked years before.

She also told police that the pact was her father’s idea and everyone in the family agreed to it. The pact would be carried out if the government came to split up the family, Kiani Wesson said in the police interview.

Kiani Wesson said her mother, Elizabeth Wesson, went into the home “in the middle of the shooting” and peeked into the rear room where the children were killed. Elizabeth Wesson quickly left the house and fainted outside, Kiani Wesson told detectives. “That’s when everybody heard the shots,” she said.

Kiani Wesson told police her father never taught them how to carry out the murder-suicide plan but told his children: “Don’t let them take them away no matter what.”

She said her father owned a gun, but never taught her how to use it.

Kiani Wesson said she initially didn’t think that the murder-suicide pact was being carried out because the family hadn't talked about it for a long time.

Kiani Wesson cried at times, but appeared calm when she spoke of the murder-suicide pact. She told detectives that she was taught that “if you give it to God, then you’re in righteousness in whatever you do.”

She said she also believed she would: “Rather see them go to God than be taken away.”

Testimony from the crime scene investigators will begin after the lunch break.

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