Wesson child shot twice, jurors learn

Doctor testifies on autopsies in Fresno murder trial

Fresno Bee/April 30, 2005
By Pablo Lopez

Jurors in the murder trial of Marcus Wesson learned Friday that one of the nine victims slain during a child-custody dispute in March 2004 was shot twice in the right eye.

Robert Barbery, a police identification bureau technician, testified in Fresno County Superior Court that he photographed the two entry wounds on 17-year-old Elizabeth Wesson. No testimony was given Friday about why she might have been shot twice.

The evidence was collected by Dr. Venu Gopal, who testified Friday that he performed the autopsies on the nine victims.

After four days of testimony regarding the crime-scene investigation, jurors in Judge R.L. Putnam's courtroom began learning about the forensic evidence, which could help prove whether Marcus Wesson shot the victims or, as Wesson's lawyers contend, his daughter Sebhrenah did.

Marcus Wesson, 58, is charged with killing nine of his children inside his 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 Wesson had children with 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 has shown.

After the domestic dispute ended, the bodies were discovered stacked in a corner of a rear bedroom in this order, from top to bottom: Sebhrenah, 25; Elizabeth, 17; Jeva, 1; Sedona, 1; Marshey, 1; Ethan, 4; Illabelle, 8; Aviv, 7; and Jonathan, 7.

Each victim was shot in the right eye, except for Marshey, who was shot in the left eye, testimony has revealed.

At the crime scene, police recovered a .22-caliber Ruger pistol underneath Sebhrenah's body, a bloody knife near Elizabeth's right arm, and 10 shell casings.

Gopal began his testimony saying Sebhrenah was shot at close range because her wound was consistent with the heat of a gun's muzzle touching the skin around her eye when it was fired.

The gun's front sight also left an imprint on the skin to the left of her eye, Gopal said.

Gopal took temperatures of the livers of some of the victims to help determine the order in which they were killed. Because testimony was limited to a half-day on Friday, Gopal will return to the witness stand on Monday.

Earlier, police technicians Barbery, Laura Lathrop and David DeSoto told jurors about the evidence they collected at the morgue.

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